Taking your fitness training to higher levels

As a general rule, you should exercise at least three times each week.

Whether you are new to fitness or possess some experience, your training program should include a number of components (training factors). The idea is to choose the factors that are important to you and plan your program based on them. Common factors are strength, endurance, flexibility, body composition and, in some cases, balance, posture, coordination and stress management.

If you are new to fitness, it is important that you get screened to determine your readiness. There are a number of conditions that can be made worse when certain types of exercises are attempted. Keep in mind that it is wise to put your plan you intend to follow on paper as you attempt to improve your fitness. You might want to seek the help of a fitness instructor, trainer, health educator or a nurse.

To establish a good plan and develop these factors into an effective training program, you should understand certain concepts, rules and guidelines. These concepts are referred to as training principles. Applying them will help to make your training program an effective one. They include the following:

Principle of adaptation: When stress is placed on the body (such as when you run, lift weights, etc.) in a safe and reasonable manner, the body will adapt to the stress. The result will be a body that is stronger, more flexible or have a greater endurance capacity.

Principle of overload: This principle works hand-in-hand with the above. It states that the best way to train the body is to make it do more than it’s accustomed to.

Principle of progressive resistance. The best way to overload the body is progressively: small steps or stages at a time.

Exercise intensity, frequency and duration. These three elements are three of the most important things you will consider as you develop you program. Intensity refers to the amount of stress a particular exercise will place on your body. If you run a distance of 100 yards as fast as you were able to, the intensity of that run would be 100%. If you were to perform the bench press, lifting the heaviest weight you are able to, the intensity of that press would be 100%. If you tried to touch your toes and were able to get your fingertips three inches from your toes, and no further, the intensity of that stretch would be 100%. The idea behind intensity is to get you to choose an exercise or activity that will permit you to perform at an intensity that will produce benefits while, at the same time, offering safety. Frequency refers to the number of times you exercise each week. As a general rule, you should exercise at least three times each week. Duration refers to the length of time each exercise session will last. Twenty to 30 minutes is the shortest your exercise session should be. Forty five minutes to an hour would be considered ideal. Longer sessions are OK if you require the time and are fit enough to make use of it.

For more information, visit the Cultural Center of Charlotte County Fitness Center at 2280 Aaron St., Port Charlotte, or call 941-625-4175, ext. 263.

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