In order to reach peak fitness, it's important to master five key principles to your workout -- individualization, specificity, variation, overload and reversibility. Understanding these basic concepts can help you increase your gains in the gym and improve your performance on the field.
#1 - Individualization
It's important to tailor your workout program to your personal needs. This requires that you thoroughly assess your current level of fitness, determine your goals, and design a program that's specific to your needs. While some workouts are meant for general fitness, others are designed to improve a specific strength, such as muscular endurance or power.
#2 - Specificity
The principle of specificity states that you're more likely to improve if you train using similar movements and motions as you'll use in the game or during your sport. For example, if you play tennis, you should train with a tennis racquet (or a similar device) to improve your strength and coordination for the sport. If you're not training with equipment used in your sport, your workouts may not be very specific.
#3 - Variation
It's also important to vary the exercises you do on a regular basis. Although it's important for athletes to master certain exercises and perfect their technique, it's also important to use different exercises from time to time. This will help prevent boredom with your workouts and prevent overuse injuries caused by repetitive practice of the same exercise or movement. It will also help prevent injuries by allowing an opportunity for recovery between workouts. And finally, it helps enhance the skills needed in competition by exposing the body to a variety of different movements.
#4 - Overload
Overload means increasing the intensity of your workouts over time -- whether this means lifting more weight, running faster or swimming longer each week. Without increasing the intensity of your workouts, it's difficult to see continuous improvement in your athletic performance. If you're lifting heavier weights or running faster each week, it's a sign that you're successfully applying this principle of training. However, if you're training harder but not seeing any improvement over time, then it may be time to increase the intensity of your workouts.
#5 - Reversibility
Reversibility is an important factor in training that makes sure that you've completed sufficient recovery time before starting another strenuous workout. If recovery is insufficiently addressed in an athlete's program, training will be ineffective because the body will not be able to adapt physically and/or psychologically to hard training loads. For example, if you run two miles one day and four miles the next day without allowing adequate recovery (usually at least 24 hours), then you'll be less likely to see improvement in endurance performance after training because of inadequate recovery time between two hard workouts back-to-back. Additionally, if you have less than adequate recovery time between workouts (perhaps two hours rather than three), muscle damage and soreness could become an issue as well as mental fatigue and burnout because of too much stress placed on the body too quickly without sufficient recovery time between workouts.