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    Exercise Programs: Create, Design, and Adjust Exercise Plans for Better Results

    How to exercise?

    Do you know how to structure and build an exercise program safely for best results?

    Exercise Program Running

    In the study of exercise science, there are universally accepted scientific fitness principles that must be followed in order to get the most from exercise programs and improve both physical fitness and functional physical performance. These principles behind the development of exercise programs include:

    Exploring Fitness Program Design

    Individuality, assessment, program design, and implementation—these are critical components of training that demands optimal benefits are achieved by devising training programs to suit the specific needs of individual athletes, novice, beginner, intermediate, and advanced exercisers alike—each exerciser should have an individualized exercise program. This component ensures that exercises and exercise programs are tailored to meet the requirements of the individual, and would minimize the risk of overtraining and overuse injuries. Well prepared exercise programs should be based on our individual differences and responses to exercise. This is extremely important to remember when evaluating a new exercise program or workout routine—this is the initial responsibility of a qualified personal trainer.

    Exercise Modality: Choosing between Exercise Modalities

    Exercises are chosen based on an individual’s specific needs, limitations, goals, influences, preferences, and current ability levels. One might use various forms of exercise, exercise tools, exercise machines, and or aids. For example, one modality of knee articulation resulting in lower leg extension, utilizing the quadriceps, moving the lower leg away from the back of the thigh (commonly referred to as “leg extension”) requires that an individual use a leg extension machine to exercise muscles of the upper leg. This movement or exercise strengthens the quadriceps muscles of the upper leg. Another example of a similar exercise used to strengthen the quadriceps of a person recovering from a knee injury might be a modified “leg lift” which strengthens the quadriceps without deep knee flexion or extension.

    The above mentioned modalities serve to address very different strengthening, limitations, and client needs.  The two simple quadriceps exercise modalities detailed above may involve the same muscle groups to a varying extent—but, chiefly they address very specific needs and goals in two very different clients. The client recovering from injury utilizing a modified version of the leg extension exercise will strengthen and utilize several exercise modalities to meet his or her goals. Once an exercise helps a person meet an established goal, the participant will follow progressive modalities utilizing a wide variety of tools, applications, and methods to accomplish greater goals. A mix of specific exercise modalities can keep a client on the sure and steady track to ultimate success.

    Exercise Overload: Stress, Resistance, and Weight Load

    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 used to. To increase endurance, muscles must work for a longer period of time than they are used to or at a higher intensity. For example, training with a set stress load on your body for long periods of time will produce little result. You must increase, progressively, the stress applied to a body, muscles, skeletal system, and connective tissues in order for all involved to become stronger, more resilient, and better functional.

    Exercise Progression: Stress, Duration, Frequency, Intensity & Specificity Over Time

    Exercise progression or progressive exercise 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—in fact, because of the infrequency with which a weekend warrior exercises, progressive, continuous, increases in heart, cardio, strength, endurance, and body composition values may change very little. Additionally, the likelihood of over-use injury or strain is high, while your body does require proper rest and recovery, the body responds best to moderate intensity levels and frequency best.

    Exercise Adaptation: Adjustment to Physical Demand

    Adaptation refers to the body's ability to adjust to increased or decreased physical demands. It is also one way we learn to coordinate muscle movement and develop sports-specific skills, such as batting, swimming freestyle or shooting free throws. Repeatedly practicing a skill or activity makes it second-nature and easier to perform. Adaptation explains why beginning exercisers are often sore after starting a new routine, but after doing the same exercise for weeks and months they have little, if any, muscle soreness.
    Additionally, it makes an athlete very efficient and allows him to expend less energy doing the same movements. This reinforces the need to vary a workout routine if you want to see continued improvement.

    Muscle Dependence on Exercise: Muscle, Connective Tissue, and Bone Strength

    This simply means that your muscles hypertrophy with use and atrophy without use. This also explains why we decondition or lose fitness when we stop exercise. Hundreds of years ago people worked very hard, physically, to manage day to day life. Often we hear stories about a grandfather who ate bacon and sausage gravy with buscuits every morning, slept very little, and lived to be 100 yrs old. Yes, but he also probably worked very hard physically. Our bodies are capable of enduring and recovering from great stress. The more we exercise our bodies the stronger the muscles, tendons, heart, circulatory system, bones, and joints become. When living a sedintary lifestyle, our body becomes very weak and much less likely to endure or recover from great stress. So, use it—or lose it!

    Exercise Specificity: Becoming a Better, Stronger, Faster and Skilled

    Exercise specificity simply states that exercising a certain body part or component of the body primarily develops that part. Specificity demands that, to become better at a particular exercise or skill, you must perform that exercise or skill. A golfer who wants to become a better golf player must spend time on the golf course, a runner should train by running, a swimmer by swimming and a cyclist by cycling, etc. While it's helpful to have a good base of fitness and to do general conditioning exercise routines, if you want to be better at your sport, you need to train specifically for that sport. Personal trainers will add additional guidelines and principles to this list. However, these basics are the cornerstones of all other effective exercise methods. These cover all major aspects of a solid foundation of athletic and general fitness training programs.

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