Understanding the principles of fitness

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Guest Blog By Andrew Fletcher – Learning and Development Trainer – The Gym Group

Whether you are getting started with fitness, or an avid gym goer, we should all keep in mind the basic principles of fitness which will bring us back on track to our health and wellbeing objectives.

Individuality

Just like an opinion on Brexit, everyone has their own views based upon their experiences that make them, THEM. Our bodies have individual body types, movement potential and risk to injury. Therefore fitness is not a one size fits all approach, Personal Trainers put the ‘personal’ into training. Try to choose a regime that suits you best for time and your ability to stay consistent with the programme.

Specificity

Imagine you are studying to get a degree in business, so you can learn about how to run a company with a successful turnover… You decide to buy a book on accounting, so you can recall all the information on book keeping. Although book keeping is important when having a business, it doesn’t mean that having a successful business is dependent on your own ability to book keep. Your efforts should be more specific to your goals – fitness is the same, if your objective is to feel more energetic and improve your ability to think and get through this term, perhaps you should substitute the heavy weights for a high intensity cardio workout with lots of movement whist using your whole body. Studies have shown that there is a strong correlation between cardiorespiratory fitness and cognition, which can even prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s later in life.

Progression

When learning maths from a young age, we learn to list numbers, then how to use those numbers for division and multiplication with BODMAS. Eventually we can have the right toolset to problem solve. Fitness follows the same pattern. If you are new to the gym, try starting with core conditioning and endurance workouts to build your foundations, the next step is gaining muscle (hypertrophy) and then strength. Building a strong core will reduce the likelihood of injuries in the coming months, especially of the lower back .

Overload

You wouldn’t expect to pass your degree whist revising from your A-level book, simply because you are not challenged enough to be able to learn the skills needed to get through your exam or dissertation. The body needs to be pushed continuously to achieve more. Try to increase in intensity with each workout by a moderate percentage, whether that means increasing the incline, speed or kilograms.

Adaptation

The first time I drove to college after passing my test, I was driving by-the-book out of fear of losing awareness for a moment and crashing. A month later I was much more relaxed, missing a mirror check or two along the way because I adapted to my environment. The body needs 3 weeks to adapt to a new physical stimulus in the gym, so don’t try to change your routine too soon . Give your body a chance to get used to the workouts and don’t be disheartened by the aches in the early stages.

Recovery

Just as you need to close the books and switch on a Netflix series, your body also needs time to shut down. Your body is in a catabolic state (breaking down) whist you are working out, followed by an anabolic state (building up) afterwards – providing adequate rest and nutrition. Research has shown that an extra 6g of essential amino acids 1-2 hours after resistance training can improve the regeneration of muscle 3.5 times.

Reversibility

Have you ever used a laptop so much day to day that you find it difficult to write with a pen and paper? Unfortunately, if you don’t use it… You lose it! Although it is great to gain functionality in one area, the chances are that we will digress in another area. So, it is all well and good trying to benefit our cardiorespiratory system and improve our physique, however this can lead to stiffness and later injuries. The ACSM guidelines for stretching state that static stretches should be done ideally every day and held for 10-30 secs per muscle group.

It is a good idea to reflect on your current practices in the gym and weigh them out against these fundamental principles. It is too easy to get side tracked when trying to reach our destination, however if we follow the sign posts we can make sure we are heading towards our goals in the most efficient way.

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