PROGRESSION: An often overlooked, yet absolutely necessary key to better health fitness.

Introduction to the Principle of PROGRESSION

 


by STEFAN, BAppSci, IBLS-AIS, CFT

You would not believe how many people, whom after training consistently for a few weeks or even months, shy away from a health fitness lifestyle because of dismal results. This hardly makes a great motivator. Most of these people who invested their time and to some degree their energy into a health fitness program rarely keep going. Unfortunately, these individuals never get to experience the full benefits that come with a health fitness lifestyle.

When asked to review a health fitness program, you get the ones that keep a record of their workouts and the ones that don't. But one thing is common. Both failed to take the appropriate steps to implement a progress focused health fitness system. They simply go through the same motions every time they work out. Don't get me wrong any workout done is better for you than the one you didn't do, but I'm here to show you how you can get the most out of your health fitness investment.

The human body is an incredibly adaptive system. Some more adaptive than others but this basic survival system is there in all of us. For example when working bare hands in a construction site, or even lifting weights, over time calluses develop. The first time your skin may even break leaving the tissue below exposed. Over time the body's regulatory mechanism acts to ensure this never occurs and the body will hopefully never experience this disturbance. In other words, the body has in built safety systems that are able to handle this and other kind of stresses and continues functioning normally.

In order to force adaptation, one main thing must be in order. The key word here is force. The body must be forced to adapt or it never will. Simply wishing adaptation doesn't work, believe me I tried it. The stress imposed on it must be slightly higher than what it has already experienced or is used to. The body only responds to stresses that it's never experienced before. Its response is like, "oh yeah, see if you can hurt me again". If you impose the same stress that you imposed earlier and keep imposing it, the body starts laughing at you. It will not take you seriously and nothing much will occur. The stresses imposed must be higher and higher over time.

Another important aspect of this, is that the body responds best to stresses that are slowly imposed on it and not too much higher than it's used to. This way the body is able to track changes and act accordingly over the required amount of time to ensure this never happens. In general the more slowly you impose the stress or in smaller increments, the better the body can respond accordingly and invoke positive changes.

Getting back to our example of the calluses on your hands, your body will adapt and correct itself if the stress imposed is not too strong initially to do major damage and you allow it enough time to correct itself before imposing the stress again. If you start work today and break your skin pretty badly, and you follow it up with more hard work today, tomorrow and the next day without gloves or protective gear, I can assure you that your skin will have a hard time adapting and growing stronger. You'll continue to do damage without letting the body enough time to adapt. The body will try to change but you've hit it again causing damage.

Unfortunately, this is what many people do to try and force adaptation in strength training. They figure that if they annihilate the muscle they will somehow 'shock' the body into getting bigger muscles. It's sad to see beginners at gyms do a set of 10 heavy reps with seven of them being assisted by his equally enthusiastic and similarly developed (or underdeveloped) friend. Total annihilation is for hardcore people, people that have been training for years and even then, these techniques must be used in moderation.

Take cardiovascular training. If you have are riding the bike for 20 minutes at 80 rpm (revs per min) today, in order to get fit, your goal somewhere down the track must be to better this. You should aim to be riding the bike for 20 minutes at 100 rpm. Or another progression system may involve riding the bike for 30 minutes at 80 rpm. Both ways force the body to adapt. Why? Because you have exposed it to a stress that it has not experienced before.

It' no wonder some people come to me after six months of working out and then they wonder why their cardiovascular fitness is pretty much the same. In your very first workout after a period of inactivity, you could do anything and that 'anything' is a stress that your body has never seen before. Even walking to the gym. You go from doing nothing to doing something, anything, and your body will adapt.

After the initial few workouts which should be aimed at conditioning the exercise habit, if you're serious about bettering yourself and your body, you must practice progression. You must go after it with a vengeance. It's pretty much the best indicator that you're on track and one step closer towards your goals. Remember numbers don't lie. Measure your numbers and seek to progressively improve on them.

Not only will you get sure fire results, but you'll also the intrinsic satisfaction stemming from knowing that you can run faster for longer, lift more weight and jump higher.

In upcoming articles I'll review some of the progression techniques in more detail.

Train with passion... Train with progression.

Stefan Angheli
Editor healthfitness.com.au

 
 
   
   
 


In order to force adaptation, one main thing must be in order.
The stress imposed on it must be slightly higher than what it has already experienced or is used to. The body only responds to stresses that it's never experienced before.

 
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They figure that if they annihilate the muscle they will somehow 'shock' the body into getting bigger muscles. It's sad to see beginners at gyms do a set of 10 heavy reps with seven of them being assisted by his equally enthusiastic and similarly developed (or underdeveloped) friend.
     
REFERENCE:
*· ABS Catalog 4805.0 National Nutrition Survey 1995
 
   

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