Working out, exercising, getting fit, being physically active…whatever you call it we all know that it plays an integral part of an active and healthy lifestyle. If you’re certified as a Personal Trainer, Group Fitness Instructor or Health Coach, you play a critical role in helping others learn how to become more physically active and, more importantly, make it a regular habit. From Ashtanga yoga to Zumba, there are myriad ways to exercise. The challenge is helping our clients find ones that are suitable to their interests and abilities.
We need to be mindful that any form of exercise is simply a physical stress applied to the physiology of the human body. The specific exercise stress and how it is applied determines the outcome. This is known as the principle of specificity, described by the acronym SAID for Specific Adaptations to Imposed Demands. An exercise program designed for the purpose of achieving a specific, desired outcome should include:
1. A health risk and needs assessment to determine an individual’s current health status and to identify any special factors such as a soft-tissue injury or a chronic health condition
2. An appropriate application of the variables of exercise program design. Exercise selection, intensity, repetitions, sets, tempo, rest interval and post-training recovery should all be consistent with the individual’s health status, training experience, current fitness level and desired goals.
3. Sufficient intensity, volume and frequency of the workouts to stimulate the desired physiological adaptations
4. Adequate periods of recovery after workouts to optimize the physiological adaptations
Over the course of my career as a trainer, instructor and educator, I’ve always been amused when I see other trainers use exercises that seem better suited for a circus than a gym because they’re trying to create a “challenging” workout for their client or class. The purpose of an exercise program is to apply the variables in a way that results in a desired outcome, not have clients perform silly tricks.
An exercise program doesn’t need to be overly complicated to be effective. Manipulating just a few of the variables, such as intensity, repetitions or rest intervals, can change the demand on the body and produce vastly different outcomes. This blog series will review the principles and variables of program design and discuss how they can be applied to create results for clients. Research can provide some insight into how the human body may adapt to an exercise stimulus but factors responsible for each individual’s specific training outcome include:
3. Existing fitness level
4. Training experience
5. Genetic profile
6. The amount of time allotted for rest and recovery after exercise
7. Nutritional intake
9. Other emotional and physical stressors such as pressures from work or family
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