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Physical Education

Principles and methods of training

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Getting the best out of your training requires a little planning. The best training programmes are built on principles of specificity, overload, progression and reversibility.

You can also use the FITT acronym to help remember the key things to consider when tailoring programmes for individual sporting goals. It stands for; Frequency, Intensity, Time and Type. Calculating the target zone also helps assess how much aerobic or anaerobic training you need to do to improve fitness. Just don’t forget to warm down!

Principles of training

Three freestyle swimmers competing

Training should be matched to an individual's needs

By using the principles of training as a framework we can plan a personal training programme that uses scientific principles to improve performance, skill, game ability and physical fitness.

A successful training programme will meet individual needs which are personal fitness needs based on age, gender, fitness level and the sport for which we are training. A successful training programme will also include exercise in the correct heart-rate target zone.

The key principles when planning a programme are:

  • Specificity – training must be matched to the needs of the sporting activity to improve fitness in the body parts the sport uses.
  • Overload - fitness can only be improved by training more than you normally do. You must work hard.
  • Progression – start slowly and gradually increase the amount of exercise and keep overloading.
  • Reversibility – any adaptation that takes place as a result of training will be reversed when you stop training. If you take a break or don’t train often enough you will lose fitness.

In planning a programme, use the FITT principles to add the detail:

  • Frequency - decide how often to train.
  • Intensity - choose how hard to train.
  • Time - decide for how long [how long: If you are studying the AQA specification this is known as 'duration'. ] to train.
  • Type - decide which methods of training to use.

You should also consider the principle of moderation. It is important to have rest periods which allow the body to adapt. Too much training (overtraining) can lead to injury.

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