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Program design and fitness myths

All Areas > Health & Beauty > Looking Good, Feeling Great

Author: Will Mbanga, Posted: Friday, 24th January 2020, 09:00

As the year progresses, your fitness needs change as your body adapts to the exercise stimulus you expose it to.

For more experienced fitness enthusiasts, this can be addressed with switching up training, playing with work to rest and recovery ratios, or ramping up intensity/ duration.

For beginner to intermediate types however, this next phase can be quite challenging, particularly for those who set themselves a big goal like losing weight, competing in a race or event, or joining a sports club.

Sport-specific programs

People often ask me for sport-specific drills, workouts or fitness programs. Unless you are an elite or professional athlete, you shouldn’t fool yourself into believing you need special training ‘specific’ to your sport.

Of course, there are going to be differences in approach based on the energy system and physical or tactical demands of a sport or activity. However, those differences are not cause for a ‘sport specific’ program!

Complete conditioning for sport or overall fitness must incorporate a multi-dimensional program; knowing this and following appropriate strategies will put you at an advantage.

For example, a recreational netballer and a competitive amateur footballer both need speed, coordination and agility among other fitness components. Those components don’t require a ‘specific program’ – the job of the trainer or coach is to develop better athletes who happen to play football or netball through applying a common sense, science-based approach to training.

Focusing on fitness training and wellness, it doesn’t matter what sport(s) you play or activities you participate in, the training plan you use has to be based on the same Program Design fundamentals for people of different ages and genders: to improve speed, strength, flexibility, coordination and endurance.

When it comes to your training program design specifics, there are three critical factors you or your trainer need to consider:

1. Understanding your objectives

What do you want to achieve? What is possible, safe, realistic? Do you really need to do one arm handstand push ups to improve your fitness?

2. Timing considerations

How long is an effective session? How much time does it take when warm up, activity, cool down and recovery periods are all factored in?

3. Training stimulus

Ensuring that there is balance between push-pull exercises; upper body, lower body and core; mobility and flexibility; strength and endurance, etc.

Designing your own or someone else’s training program is not easy. Not everyone can create training programs that are safe and effective – it is a skill that takes time and practice (as well as some mistakes!) to develop.

If you don’t have access to a trainer or coach, there is no need to go online and download the “elite X program”. Rather, start with a blank sheet of paper, using the three factors above to guide you.

By focusing on the fundamentals, you can keep building and improving your fitness and sport conditioning at a rate that suits your body and lifestyle.

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