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Principles of Fitness

“If you were there once … you’ll get there quicker the next time.”

If you are experiencing a plateau or feel you’ve hit a wall with your training program you might want to think about a few things, the Principles of Fitness.

1)  Principle of Progressive Overload:  The operative word here is “progressive.”  In order to force your body to respond and adapt to a stimulus, activity or workout, you must gradually overload the body.  Rome wasn’t built in a day and your body is the same.  You should focus on the exercises you do, your form, your reps (count), the weight you use, and your speed (faster/slower).  Since I know that you are serious about your training goals, you are keeping a daily log of your workouts.  Refer to what you did last time and change it up!

2)  Principle of Specificity:  Quite simply stated, you get good at what you practice.  Have you heard of the SAID Principle?  SAID is an acronym for, Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demand.  The human body will make specific adaptations based on current activity or stressors in order to make that task easier to handle in the future.  Simply put, the more you do something, the better you will perform at that task.

3)  Principle of individual Variation (Individualization):   Individuals will respond differently to the same stimulus.  This is because we are all different;  age, genetics, lifestyle, nutrition, training age, sleep, gender, hormones, disease, medications.  We are all a bit different, however, everyone responds to exercise.  Adding variety to your exercises will ensure you will continually develop and adapt.  This means you will continue to make gains.  So, change things up every once in awhile in order to continue progression.

4)  FITT Principle:  These are what you should consider when planning and implementing your training program; Frequency, Intensity, Time and Type.

Frequency is how often.  Intensity is how difficult based on your individual ability.  Time is the duration.  And Type is the mode of exercise, or your goal.  Some people prefer to add “E” (FITTE) with E representing enjoyment also.

5)  Principle of Priority:  Before you start, prioritize what is important to you.

Functions of Nutrients

Nutrition is the science of the food we eat and how our bodies use it.

There are 6 Essential Nutrients. The six essential nutrients include the 3 macronutrients, carbohydrates, protein, fat, and the 3 micronutrients, vitamins, minerals and water.

The Principle of Nutrient Interaction states that no nutrient works alone and that nutrients have many roles.

There are three broad functions of nutrients; to build and repair tissue, regulate metabolism and to provide energy.

Carbohydrates are the body’s “high intensity” energy source.  This is the primary function of carbs.  Carbs come from plants (grains, fruit, vegetables).  Our bodies store carbs as glycogen in the liver and muscle tissue (excess can be stored as fat).  The RDA of carbs per day is 45% – 65% of our daily intake.

Protein is the body’s “back up” for high intensity work.  The building blocks of protein are amino acids.  Protein is stored in the body as muscle tissue. Excess protein is stored as fat.  The RDA of protein per day is 10% – 35% of our daily intake.

Fat is the body’s endurance fuel and is used for low intensity energy.  Fat is stored as adipose tissue.  The building blocks of fat are fatty acids.  The RDA for fat is 20% – 35% of our daily intake.


Scope of Practice: 5 Components of Fitness

A personal trainer’s scope of practice:  To enhance the components of fitness for the general healthy population.

1) Cardiovascular Endurance (cardiorespiratory):  the ability of the heart and lungs to provide oxygen to the body.

2) Muscular Strength:  the ability of a muscle to contract one time (1 rep max).

3) Muscular Endurance:  the ability of a muscle to contract repeatedly.

4) Flexibility:  the range of motion at a joint

5) Body Composition:  fat free mass -vs- fat mass as measured by calipers, hydrostatic weighing, DEXA X-ray imaging, Bioelectrical Impedance, and BOD POD.


Cardiovascular Endurance

The #1 Reason People Quit Exercising is that it’s too difficult.  Minimize the urge to quit by ensuring exercise is fun.  Training is exercise with purpose.

Cardiovascular endurance (cardiorespiratory) is one of the five components of fitness. (Ask your personal trainer about the other 4!)  Cardiovascular endurance is the ability of the heart and lungs to provide O2 to the body.

Cardiovascular endurance can be measured using VO2 Max test, which calculates the maximal volume of O2 delivered per minute (Milliliter of Oxygen per Kilogram (2.2 lbs) per minute ).  A VO2 of under 20 is considered to be a Poor score.  The higher your VO2, the better your score.  A VO2 above 40 is considered “Fit”.  A VO2 above 60 is considered “Excellent”.  (For women, deduct 5 points.  Men have larger hearts and lungs than women.)

There are submax and max tests to calculate a person’s cardiovascular endurance.  Three standard submax tests are; Rockport 1 mile Walk Test, 3 minute Step Test, and the 5-7 minute FIT Test.

VO2 Max is calculated for The Rockport 1 mile walk test:

132.853 – (0.1692 * body mass in Kg) – (0.3877 * age in years) + (6.315 * gender) – 3.2649 * time in minutes) – (0.1565 * HR) = VO2 Max

Gender = 0, for female and 1 for male

HR is taken immediately after completion of the walk

1.5 mile Run Test for VO2 Max:

VO2 Max = 3.5 + 483/time in minutes

9 minutes = 57.16 VO2 Max

8:30 minutes = 60.32 VO2 Max

8 minutes = 63.875 VO2 Max

7:30 minutes = 67.9 VO2 Max

Calculator for Maximum Heart Rate and VO2 Max

Muscles, Movements & Actions

“Everyone is happy to do Snow Angels, but not as much about doing jumping jacks, when they’re virtually the same thing.” ~ Tim H. NPTI Instructor

A joint is where 2 bones meet.  Flexibility is determined by a joint’s range of motion.  During muscle flexion, the angle of the joint decreases as demonstrated in a bend or curling motion.  During extension of a muscle, the angle of the joint is increased as demonstrated during a sitting to standing motion.

You may have also heard of abduction and adduction.  An abduction movement is considered to be a movement away from the body’s midline or center (raising your arm to the side and up to your shoulder height).  An adduction movement is a movement toward the midline of the body (clicking your heals together).  There is also horizontal abduction and adduction.  This is simply the same movement within the transverse plane, perpendicular to those just described.  Horizontal movements are demonstrated when we do a chest press, push up, chest fly, or while we are hugging a tree (parallel to the horizon).

An isolation exercise is classified as a movement using only one joint.  A compound exercise is classified as movements utilizing more than one joint.

Gym Movements:

chest press:  (compound) horizontal shoulder adduction in the transverse plane, elbow extension

leg press:  (compound) hip and knee extension

V-grip cable row:  (compound) shoulder extension, elbow flexion

triceps pushdown:  (isolation) elbow extension

biceps curl:  (isolation) elbow flexion

dip:  (compound) shoulder flexion, elbow extension

Types of Muscles & Contractions

There are 3 types of muscle; smooth, cardiac and skeletal.  Both smooth and cardiac are considered involuntary, which means that continue to work whether we are conscious or not, otherwise falling asleep would be a lot less appealing!  (paraphrasing Tim H.)  Skeletal fibers have two types of fibers; Type I, slow twitch and O2 rich blood, and Type II, fast twitch, white, powerful and big.

There are 3 types of muscle contractions; concentric, eccentric and isometric.

Concentric contractions go against gravity or against resistance (muscle force > resistance).  The muscles get shorter during concentric movement and this is also considered the “working part” of any movement.  In the gym, the concentric contraction is the part where you exhale.

Eccentric contractions are the “easy” part of movement (muscle force < resistance).  During eccentric movements the muscle lengthens.  In the gym, you inhale during eccentric movements and it is called the “negative”.

Isometric contractions offer little to no movement at all (muscle force = resistance).  In the gym you will hold an isometric contraction about 15 seconds to 30 seconds, but almost always less than 2 minutes.

Are You Exercising or Training?

The objective of your effort was the premise of Mr. Rippetoe’s article, “Rippetoe Throws Down.”  Perhaps more specifically Rippetoe wrote to induce or justify that increasing strength should be yours and everyone else’s objective, or you’re just sweating and getting tired without purpose.  I would suspect that most of Mr. Rippetoe’s articles take this “get strong or go home” perspective, just a guess of course.  I certainly agree with his stance on strength training.  However, Rippetoe clearly minimizes other physical traits important to life and specifically sports performance like technique, balance, speed, and endurance.  And, “exercise” as described by Rippetoe does go against his claim and produces the long-term benefit of health.

Rippetoe, Mark. “T NATION | Rippetoe Throws Down.” T NATION | The Intelligent and Relentless Pursuit of Muscle. N.p., 15 Apr. 2013. Web. 28 Apr. 2013. <>.

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