THERE are seven principles of exercise or sport training that every individual should keep in mind, said Jerry Diaz, a National Academy of Sports Medicine certified personal trainer.

• First on the list is individuality. Everyone is different and responds differently to training. This is based on a combination of factors such as genetic ability, body type, muscle fiber type as well as mental state and other factors in one's life.

• Next is specificity. To be a great pitcher, for example, running laps will help your overall conditioning but it will not develop the throwing skills or muscular endurance required to throw a fastball 50 times in a game.

• Third is progression. In order to swim the 500 freestyle, you need to be able to maintain your body position and breathing pattern to complete the distance. You also need to build your muscular endurance well enough to repeat the necessary motions needed to finish.

• Overload is next. To increase strength and endurance, Diaz said you need to add new resistance or time/intensity to your efforts. To run a 10-kilometer race, for example, athletes need to build up distance over repeated sessions in a reasonable manner in order to improve muscle adaptation as well as soft tissue strength/resiliency. Warning: Any demanding exercise attempted too soon risks injury.

• Then comes adaptation. Over time, the body becomes familiar to exercising at a given level. This results in improved efficiency, less effort and less muscle breakdown. “That is why the first time you ran two miles you were sore after, but now it’s just a warm up for your main workout. This is also why you need to change the stimulus through higher intensity or longer duration in order to continue improvements,” Diaz said.

• Sixth on the list is recovery. The body cannot repair itself without rest and time to recover. Short periods like hours between multiple sessions in a day, and longer periods like days or weeks to recover from a long season are necessary to ensure your body does not suffer from exhaustion or injuries. Diaz said the more you train the more rest your body needs.

• And lastly, reversibility. If you discontinue or stop performing a particular exercise like running five miles or bench pressing 150 pounds 10 times, you will eventually lose the ability to successfully complete that exercise. Muscles will atrophy or degenerate and cellular adaptations like increased capillaries (blood flow to the muscles) and mitochondria density will reverse. But a person can slow this loss rate  by conducting a maintenance/reduced program of training during periods when life gets in the way. Diaz said this why sports coaches ask their athletes to stay active during offseason.

“These principles show why practicing frequently and consistently are so important if you want to improve you performance,” he added.

For professional fitness nutrition inquiries, contact Jerry Diaz through Instagram at @BBJ_Athletics or Facebook.

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