Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Characteristics of effective training

After years of training & coaching people (including myself) in various types of physical activities, I've decided to highlight the most important characteristics of effective training (whether it be fitness, combatives, or any other sport/skill) & share them to as many people as I can. There are only three: Knowledge, Consistency, & Intensity.

Knowledge
1. Knowledge of each exercise technique to ensure its effectiveness within the context of the workout.
2. Knowledge of how the body learns & adapts to new movement patterns & stimulus to ensure the workout's effectiveness within the context of the entire program, anywhere from 3 months to one year.
3. Knowledge of how to motivate & inspire people to keep them on the program until they achieve their goals.

Remember, fitness is on the same continuum as wellness & sickness. Yet, the general population understands that when we need to move from sickness to wellness (not sick), we need to consult the advice of a health professional, a doctor of some sort. But when it comes to moving from wellness (not sick) to fitness (healthy & vibrant), many people think they can do it on their own by reading an issue of Muscle & Fitness magazine or by buying the latest ab machine from an infomercial to hang your laundry off of. It's no wonder why 75% of people who exercise do not get the results they want. And out of the people that do get results, 90% of them are working with a trainer. Get a trainer & do it right.

Consistency
Regular repetition. Significant change & growth does not happen instantaneously, but rather, incrementally; & it is impossible to have incremental change without regular & consistent practice & training. This is something that a trainer can emphasize & encourage, but in the end, this is really up to athlete. I have given exercise programs to highly dedicated clients & seen phenomenal results (including losing up to 95 pounds in 9 months), as well as given exercise prescriptions to some clients who give me nothing back but excuses. No excuses, just do it.

Intensity
Get out of your comfort zone! No growth happens when we are comfortable. One thing that intrigues me is aerobic exercise. The human body has three major types of energy systems that are used to supply the body with energy depending on our exertion level. The aerobic system is the predominant energy system when your exertion or intensity level is low, like when you're jogging, walking, & sleeping. Wait a minute... The same energy system used while sleeping? Yes, that's right. Another way to think about it is that the aerobic energy system is predominant when we are comfortable or just "cruising." We've all experienced that sensation when you try to run faster than you are capable, & your legs start to burn like they're on fire. So what do we do? We slow down to a "comfortable pace" so we can continue the exercise for the desired amount of time. A trainer or coach can yell or scream @ you, but in the end, you have to push yourself because no one else can. You need to give it your all before you get anything back. Make it count.

Notice that of the three characteristics, only one of them can be truly provided by an external source, that is knowledge from the trainer/coach. The last two characteristics must really come from the athlete directly. It's true that a trainer can motivate & inspire people to come to the gym more often & push harder, thereby increasing their consistency & intensity, but in the end, it is still up to the athlete to choose how to respond to the trainer. In a society that is all about automation, where our children would rather call/text/chat with friends on-line instead of walking or riding a bike for a mile to their house to meet with them in person, it is no wonder why the general American population is obese & our future generations are predicted to be even worse. But we can change this. We need to set the example for our children. Will your legacy be one of laziness & obesity? Or will it be one of hard work & dedication? It's your choice...

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