Scientific Rules to Get Fit

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In the study of exercise science, there are several universally accepted scientific exercise training principles that must be followed in order to get the most from exercise programs and improve both physical fitness and sports performance.

These rules apply to all athletes from beginners to elite competitors. Of course, you don't need to follow every one of them all the time, but if you want to get in better shape, improve your sports performance, get better at a particular fitness discipline, or avoid stalling and back-slides, these fundamental rules are the hidden force behind your ability to change your fitness level.  

To design an optimal exercise program, workout or training schedule, a coach or athlete should adhere to the following fundamental principles of exercise science.


1. The Principle of Individual Differences
The principle of individual differences simple means that, because we all are unique individuals, we will all have a slightly different response to an exercise program. This is another way of saying that "one size does not fit all" when it comes to exercise. Well-designed exercise programs should be based on our individual differences and responses to exercise.

Some of these differences have to do with body size and shape, genetics, past experience, chronic conditions, injuries and even gender. For example, women generally need more recovery time than men, and older athletes generally need more recovery time than younger athletes.

With this in mind, you may or may not want to follow an "off the shelf" exercise program, DVD or class and may find it helpful to work with a coach or personal trainer to develop a customized exercise program. Some things to consider when creating your own exercise program include the next batch of exercise science principles.

2. The Principle of Overload
The exercise science principle of overload states that a greater than normal stress or load on the body is required for training adaptation to take place. What this means is that in order to improve our fitness, strength or endurance, we need to increase the workload accordingly.

In order for a muscle (including the heart) to increase strength, it must be gradually stressed by working against a load greater than it is accustomed to. To increase endurance, muscles must work for a longer period of time than they are accustomed to or at a higher intensity level. This could mean lifting more weight or doing high intensity interval training workouts.


3. The Principle of Progression
The principle of progression implies that there is an optimal level of overload that should be achieved, and an optimal time frame for this overload to occur. A gradual and systematic increase of the workload over a period of time will result in improvements in fitness without risk of injury. If overload occurs too slowly, improvement is unlikely, but overload that is increased too rapidly may result in injury or muscle damage. For example, the weekend athlete who exercises vigorously only on weekends violates the principle of progression and most likely will not see obvious fitness gains.

The Principle of Progression also stresses the need for proper rest and recovery. Continual stress on the body and constant overload will result in exhaustion and injury. You should not train hard all the time, as you'll risk overtraining and a decrease in fitness.