Physical Fitness Concepts
intent of this web page is to educate all individuals on
physical fitness concepts that everyone should know and
practice, to reduce the onset of obesity, reduce common health
problems due to the lack of physical activity, and to learn how
to increase your fitness level for a better quality of life.
Principle of Progression/Overload
The principle of overload states that a greater than normal
stress or load on the body is required for training adaptation to take
place. The body will adapt to this stimulus. Once the body has adapted
to the stress, then a different stimulus is required to continue the change.
In order for a muscle (including the heart) to
increase strength, it must be gradually stressed by working against a
load greater than what it has adapted. To increase endurance, muscles must work for a longer period
of time than they are used to. If this stress is removed or decreased
there will be a decrease in that particular component of fitness. A
normal amount of exercise will maintain the current fitness level.
For more information click on this title and read "
The Role of Progressive Overload in Sports Conditioning"
Principle of Specificity
The principle that the body adapts very
specifically to the training stimuli it is required to deal with. The body
will perform best at the specific speed, type of contraction, muscle-group
usage and energy source usage it has become accustomed to in training.
In order to improve your strength, endurance and fitness, you
have to progressively increase the frequency, intensity and time of
your workouts. A simple way to stimulate your body is to try different
Because the body will adapt in a highly specific way to the
training it receives, a strong athletic foundation is needed before
specific training methods will work optimally. The
Specificity Principle simply states that for these reasons, training
must go from highly general training to highly specific training.
For example, if you are a sprinter, you may start out with easy running
and general strength training before moving on to explosive training in
the way of plyometrics or sprinting out of the blocks. If you try to do
explosive, high intensity training too soon, you will run the risk of
such training being ineffective and possibly resulting in injury. The
principle of Specificity also implies that to become better at a
particular exercise or skill, you must perform that exercise or skill. Your strength training exercises should try to emulate the same
movements that you intend to perform during
For more information go to:
Principal of Variation in Exercise
Variation in your exercise routine is very important to keep you
moving towards your fitness goal, to keep you from hitting a fitness
Because your body adapts quickly to the stress that is applied to your
need to change your workout routine every 4 to 6 weeks, and consider
cross-training to keep your workout routine fresh.
Variation in your workout can occur in several ways;
- Change the intensity level of your workout.
- Change the repetitions along with the intensity level of your
Note: When the intensity level goes up the repetitions should go
when the intensity level goes down the repetitions should go up.
- Change the duration/time/length of the workout.
- Change the types of exercise/apparatus used during the
- Change the sequence of exercises you are already doing to
create variety and a new overload.
Because the muscles are being fatigued in a different order or
pattern, they must adapt to this change in stimulus.
- Replace some or all of the exercises in your routine.
- Utilize Cross Training in your workout routine to make it
For more information click on this title and read
Variation: An Important Component of Training"
The term cross training refers to a training routine that
involves several different forms of exercise. While it is quite
necessary for an athlete to train specifically for their sport if they
want to excel, for most sports enthusiasts, cross-training is a
beneficial training method for maintaining a high level of overall
fitness. For example, you may use both biking and swimming each week to
improve your overall aerobic capacity, build overall muscle strength and
reduce the chance of an overuse injury. Cross-training limits the stress
that occurs on a specific muscle group because different activities use
muscles in slightly different ways. Cross training can help keep
you motivated and interested in continuing your program, as well as
stimulate greater strength gains. For optimal muscular development,
variety is the name of the game.
Benefits of Cross Training
- Reduces exercise boredom
- Allows you to be flexible about you training needs and plans (if
the pool is closed, you can go for a run instead).
- Produces a higher level of all around conditioning
- Conditions the entire body, not just specific muscle groups
- Reduces the risk of injury
- Work some muscles while others rest and recover
- Can continue to train while injured
- Improves your skill, agility and balance
For more information about Cross Training go to:
For more information about Cross Training click on this title and
Wisdom of Cross Training"
How often do you exercise per week? (exercise sessions per
Aerobic activities must be performed at least three times per
week to reach an adequate level of cardiovascular fitness.
How hard is your exercise session? (Level of intensity) To obtain the greatest
cardiovascular benefits, the
American College of Sports Medicine recommends that the
intensity of your training be sufficient to increase your heart
rate to a range of 60% to 90% of your maximum heart rate.
This is your target heart rate zone. To find your target
heart rate zone;
220 - (minus your age) x .90 = Upper limit of your target heart
220 - (minus your age) x .60 = Lower limit of your target heart
here to find your Target Heart Rate.
To read more about Target Heart Rate Zone, click here:
Understanding Your Training Heart Rate
How long do you exercise? (Duration of the exercise
session) To achieve all the values of
cardiovascular training, you must
maintain the target heart rate (60% - 90%) for a minimum of
20 minutes. As you become more fit, you should
increase the your time in the target heart rate zone to gain a
higher level of fitness. However the intensity level may
need to be reduced or lowered, in order for your body to
accommodate or handle the stress from the increase in time.
What type of activity/exercise did you choose;
Aerobic (Cardio Respiratory
Training) or Strength Training
Proper Rest and Recovery
Consecutive days of hard resistance training for the same muscle
group can be detrimental. The muscles must be allowed sufficient
recovery time to adapt. Strength training can be done every day
only if the exercised muscle groups are rotated, so that the same
muscle or muscle group is not exercised on consecutive days.
There should be at least a 48-hour recovery
period between workouts for the same muscle groups. For
example, the legs can be trained with weights on Monday, Wednesday,
and Friday and the upper body muscles on Tuesday, Thursday, and
Recovery is also important within a workout. The recovery time
between different exercises and sets depends, in part, on the
intensity of the workout. Normally, the recovery time between sets
should be 30 seconds to 3 minutes.
Proper Rest Interval Comparison Chart
to 1 minute
1 to 2
2 to 3
1 to 3
(moderate to long)
Overtraining syndrome is a serious problem marked by
decreased performance, increased fatigue, persistent muscle soreness, mood
disturbances, and feeling 'burnt out' or 'stale.' The diagnosis of
overtraining is usually complicated, there are no exact diagnostic criteria,
and physicians must rule out other diseases before the diagnosis can be
made. An orthostatic challenge shows promise as a diagnostic tool, but the
subjective feelings of the patient remain one of the most reliable early
warning signs. Prevention is still the best treatment, and certain
subjective and objective parameters can be used by athletes and their
trainers to prevent overtraining. Further studies are needed to find a
reliable diagnostic test and determine if proposed aids to speed recovery
will be effective.
For more information about Overtraining Syndrome go to:
Benefits of proper
warm-up and cool down
Both a warm-up and cool-down period
are essential parts of any exercise session. Warming up brings
about important physiological changes that reduce the risk of
injury, while also preparing the body for higher levels of
effort and energy utilization.
Specifically...a gradual warm-up:
- Leads to efficient calorie burning by increasing your
core body temperature
- Produces faster, more forceful muscle contractions
- Increases your metabolic rate so oxygen is delivered to
the working muscles more quickly
- Prevents injuries by improving the elasticity of your
- Gives you better muscle control by speeding up your
neural message pathways to the muscles
- Allows you to work out comfortably longer because all
your energy systems are able to adjust to exercise,
preventing the buildup of lactic acid in the blood
- Improves joint range of motion
- Psychologically prepares you for higher intensities by
increasing your arousal and focus on exercise
Blood tends to accumulate in the
lower body when a vigorous exercise session is stopped
abruptly. With reduced blood return, cardiac output decreases
and lightheadedness may occur. Because muscle movement helps
squeeze blood back to the heart, it is important to continue
lower level physical activity after the exercise session is
completed (i.e. the cool-down period).
The best activities for both are
simply to work at a much lower pace in an
aerobic/cardiovascular activity that you are using for
training. Examples include slow cycling on a bike or walking
on a treadmill. As a general guideline, a 5 – 10 minute
session should be dedicated for both warming-up and
OF PHYSICAL ACTIVITY
- Adolescents and young adults, both male and female, benefit
from physical activity.
activity need not be strenuous to be beneficial.
amounts of daily physical activity are recommended for
people of all ages. This amount can be obtained in longer
sessions of moderately intense activities, such as brisk
walking for 30 minutes, or in shorter sessions of more
intense activities, such as jogging or playing basketball
for 15-20 minutes.
amounts of physical activity are even more beneficial, up to
a point. Excessive amounts of physical activity can lead to
injuries, menstrual abnormalities, and bone weakening.
half of American youths aged 12-21 years are not vigorously
active on a regular basis.
- About 14
percent of young people report no recent physical activity.
Inactivity is more common among females (14%) than males
(7%) and among black females (21%) than white females (12%).
- Participation in all types of physical activity declines
strikingly as age or grade in school increases.
- Only 19
percent of all high school students are physically active
for 20 minutes or more, five days a week, in physical
enrollment in physical education classes dropped from 42
percent to 25 percent among high school students between
1991 and 1995.
designed school-based interventions directed at increasing
physical activity in physical education classes have been
shown to be effective.
support from family and friends has been consistently and
positively related to regular physical activity.
physical activity that is performed on most days of the week
reduces the risk of developing or dying from some of the leading
causes of illness and death in the United States. Regular
physical activity improves health in the following ways:
build and maintain healthy bones, muscles, and joints.
control weight, build lean muscle, and reduce fat.
or delays the development of high blood pressure and helps
reduce blood pressure in some adolescents with hypertension.
- Reduces the risk of dying prematurely.
- Reduces the risk of dying prematurely from heart disease.
- Reduces the risk of developing diabetes.
- Reduces the risk of developing high blood pressure.
reduce blood pressure in people who already have high blood
- Reduces the risk of developing colon cancer.
- Reduces feelings of depression and anxiety.
build and maintain healthy bones, muscles, and joints.
older adults become stronger and better able to move about
- Promotes psychological well-being
For more information go to CDC:
Physical Activity for Everyone
For additional information see
CDC: How much physical activity do children need?
Benefits of Flexibility
- Allows greater freedom of movement and improved posture
- Increases physical and mental relaxation
- Releases muscle tension and soreness
- Reduces risk of injury
Some people are naturally more flexible. Flexibility is
primarily due to one's genetics, gender, age and level of physical
activity. As we grow older, we tend to lose flexibility, usually as a
result of inactivity rather than the aging process itself. The
less active we are, the less flexible we are likely to be. As with
cardiovascular endurance and muscle strength, flexibility will improve
with regular training.
For more information see:
Benefits of proper Hydration
activity, a sports drink and/or water would be the preferable
beverage, and if the event lasts more than an hour, the sports drink
would be the drink of choice. However, fluid consumption during
meals can include drinks like milk and juice, as well as sports
drinks and water.
Douglas J. Casa,
PhD, ATC, CSCS, chair of the NATA Position Statement on Fluid
Replacement for Athletes points out some basic signs and symptoms of
first indicators of dehydration are thirst, irritability, and
general discomfort," said Casa. "And, if the dehydration progresses
the signs and symptoms may include headache, cramps, chills,
vomiting, nausea, head or neck heat sensations, and decreased
Water is one of the
most essential components of the human body, yet many people do not
understand the importance of a well-hydrated body nor how much water
is lost during the day.
Water regulates the
body's temperature, cushions and protects vital organs, and aids the
digestive system. And, because water composes more than half of the
human body, it is impossible to sustain life for more than a week
are some tips to keep you well hydrated:
Drink fluids frequently
Drink one to two cups of fluid at least one hour before the
start of exercise.
Drink eight ounces of fluid 20 to 30 minutes prior to
Drink four to eight ounces of fluid every 10 to 15 minutes or so
Drink an additional eight ounces of fluid within 30 minutes
Drink two cups of fluid for every pound of body weight lost
Drink at least eight cups of fluid a day, or more if physically
Make fluids easily accessible
Carry individualized fluid containers
Begin all summer activity well hydrated
During activity, drink the equivalent of how much you sweat
Don’t just drink when you’re thirsty
Both caffeine and alcohol can have a diuretic effect, so be sure
to compensate for this additional water loss.
Benefits of proper Nutrition
It is the position of the American Dietetic Association, Dietitians
of Canada, and the American College of Sports Medicine that physical
activity, athletic performance, and recovery from exercise are
enhanced by optimal nutrition. These organizations recommend
appropriate selection of food and fluids, timing of intake, and
supplement choices for optimal health and exercise performance. This
position paper reviews the current scientific data related to the
energy needs of athletes, assessment of body composition, strategies
for weight change, the nutrient and fluid needs of athletes, special
nutrient needs during training, the use of supplements and
nutritional ergogenic aids, and the nutrition recommendations for
vegetarian athletes. During times of high physical activity, energy
and macronutrient needs — especially carbohydrate and protein intake
— must be met in order to maintain body weight, replenish glycogen
stores, and provide adequate protein for building and repair of
tissue. Fat intake should be adequate to provide the essential fatty
acids and fat-soluble vitamins, as well as to help provide adequate
energy for weight maintenance. Overall, diets should provide
moderate amounts of energy from fat (20% to 25% of energy); however,
there appears to be no health or performance benefit to consuming a
diet containing less than 15% of energy from fat. Body weight and
composition can affect exercise performance, but should not be used
as the sole criterion for sports performance; daily weigh-ins are
discouraged. Consuming adequate food and fluid before, during, and
after exercise can help maintain blood glucose during exercise,
maximize exercise performance, and improve recovery time.
Athletes should be well-hydrated before beginning to exercise;
athletes should also drink enough fluid during and after exercise to
balance fluid losses. Consumption of sport drinks containing
carbohydrates and electrolytes during exercise will provide fuel for
the muscles, help maintain blood glucose and the thirst mechanism,
and decrease the risk of dehydration or hyponatremia. Athletes will
not need vitamin and mineral supplements if adequate energy to
maintain body weight is consumed from a variety of foods. However,
supplements may be required by athletes who restrict energy intake,
use severe weight-loss practices, eliminate one or more food groups
from their diet, or consume high-carbohydrate diets with low
micronutrient density. Nutritional ergogenic aids should be used
with caution, and only after careful evaluation of the product for
safety, efficacy, potency, and whether or not it is a banned or
illegal substance. Nutrition advice, by a qualified nutrition
expert, should only be provided after carefully reviewing the
athlete's health, diet, supplement and drug use, and energy
requirements. J Am Diet Assoc. 2000;100:1543-1556.
Suggestions for food intake
Low-energy diets will not sustain athletic
training. Instead, decreases in energy intake of 10% to 20% of
normal intake will lead to weight loss without the athlete feeling
deprived or overly hungry. Strategies such as substituting
lower-fat foods for whole-fat foods, reducing intake of energy-dense
snacks, and doing activities other than eating when not hungry can
If appropriate, athletes can reduce fat intake
but need to know that a lower-fat diet will not guarantee weight
loss if a negative energy balance (reduced energy intake and
increased energy expenditure) is not achieved. Fat intake should not
be decreased below 15% of total energy intake, because some fat is
essential for good health.
Emphasize increased intake of whole grains and
cereals, beans, and legumes.
Five or more daily servings of fruits and
vegetables provide nutrients and fiber.
Dieting athletes should not skimp on protein and
need to maintain adequate calcium intakes. Accordingly, use of
low-fat dairy products and lean meats, fish, and poultry is
A variety of fluids—especially water—should be
consumed throughout the day, including before, during, and after
exercise workouts. Dehydration as a means of reaching a body-weight
goal is contraindicated.
Encourage athletes not to skip meals, especially
breakfast, and not to let themselves get too hungry. They should be
prepared for times when they might get hungry, including keeping
nutritious snacks available for those times.
Athletes should not deprive themselves of
favorite foods or set unrealistic dietary rules or guidelines.
Instead, dietary goals should be flexible and achievable. Athletes
should remember that all foods can fit into a healthful lifestyle;
however, some foods are chosen less frequently. Developing lists of
"good" and "bad" food is discouraged.
Help athletes identify their own dietary
weaknesses and plan strategies for dealing with them.
Remind athletes that they are making lifelong
dietary changes to sustain a healthful weight and optimal
nutritional status rather than going on a short-term "diet" that
they will someday go off.
additional information go to
ADA Web Site
additional information go to MyPyramid.gov
Choose the foods and amounts that are right for you.
Send email to Mark Sissom