Physical Fitness and Exercise p2

...Physical Fitness and Exercise p2



To develop muscle strength, the weight selected should be heavier and the RM will also be different. For example, the exerciser should find that weight for each exercise which lets him do 3 to 7 repetitions correctly. This weight is the 3-7 RM for that exercise. Although the greatest improvements seem to come from resistances of about 6-RM, an effective range is a 3-7 RM. The weight should be heavy enough so that an eighth repetition would be impossible because of muscle fatigue.

The weight should also not be too heavy. If one cannot do at least three repetitions of an exercise, the resistance is too great and should be reduced. Traniners who are just beginning a resistance-training program should not start with heavy weights. They should first build an adequate foundation by training with an 8-12 RM or a 12+ RM.

To develop muscular endurance, the trainer should choose a resistance that lets him do more than 12 repetitions of a given exercise. This is his 12+ repetition maximum (12+ RM). With continued training, the greater the number of repetitions per set, the greater will be the improvement in muscle endurance and the smaller the gains in strength. For example, when a lifter trains with a 25-RM weight, gains in muscular endurance will be greater than when using a 15-RM weight, but the gain in strength will not be as great.

Whichever RM range is selected, the trainer must always strive to over-load his muscles. The key to overloading a muscle is to make that muscle exercise harder than it normally does.

An overload may be achieved by any of the following methods:

  • Increasing the resistance.
  • Increasing the number of repetitions per set.
  • Increasing the number of sets.
  • Reducing the rest time between sets.
  • Increasing the speed of movement in the concentric phase. (Good form is more important than the speed of movement.)
  • Using any combination of the above.



When an overload is applied to a muscle, it adapts by becoming stronger and/or by improving its endurance. Usually significant increases in strength can be made in three to four weeks of proper training depending on the individual. If the workload is not progressively increased to keep pace with newly won strength, there will be no further gains. When a lifter can correctly do the upper limit of repetitions for the set without reaching muscle failure, it is usually time to increase the resistance. For most people, this upper limit should be 12 repetitions.

For example, if his plan is to do 12 repetitions in the bench press, the exerciser starts with a weight that causes muscle failure at between 8 and 12 repetitions (8-12 RM). He should continue with that weight until he can do 12 repetitions correctly. He then should increase the weight by about 5 percent but no more than 10 percent. In a multi-set routine, if his goal is to do three sets of eight repetitions of an exercise, he starts with a weight that causes muscle failure before he completes the eighth repetition in one or more of the sets. He continues to work with that weight until he can complete all eight repetitions in each set, then increases the resistance by no more than 10 percent.



A resistance-training program should provide resistance to the specific muscle groups that need to be strengthened. These groups can be identified by doing a simple assessment. The exerciser slowly does work-related movements he wants to improve and, at the same time, he feels the muscles on each side of the joints where motion occurs. Those muscles that are contracting or becoming tense during the movement are the muscle groups involved. If the person’s performance of a task is not adequate or if he wishes to improve, strength training for the identified muscle(s) will be beneficial. To improve his muscular endurance and strength. in a given task, the trainer must do resistance movements that are as similar as possible to those of doing the task.



Exercise must be done regularly to produce a training effect. Sporadic exercise may do more harm than good. One can maintain a moderate level of strength by doing proper strength workouts only once a week, but three workouts per week are best for optimal gains. The principle of regularity also applies to the exercises for individual muscle groups. A person can work out three times a week, but when different muscle groups are exercised at each workout, the principle of regularity is violated and gains in strength are minimal.



Consecutive days of hard resistance training for the same muscle group can be detrimental. The muscles must be allowed sufficient recovery time to adapt. Strength training can be done every day only if the exercised muscle groups are rotated, so that the same muscle or muscle group is not exercised on consecutive days. There should be at least a 48-hour recovery period between workouts for the same muscle groups. For example, the legs can be trained with weights on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and the upper body muscles on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.

There should be at least a 48-hour recovery period between workouts for the same muscle group.

Recovery is also important within a workout. The recovery time between different exercises and sets depends, in part, on the intensity of the workout. Normally, the recovery time between sets should be 30 to 180 seconds.



When developing a strength training program, it is important to include exercises that work all the major muscle groups in both the upper and lower body. One should not work just the upper body, thinking that running will strengthen the legs.

It is important to include exercises that work all the major muscle groups in both the upper and lower body.

Most muscles are organized into opposing pairs. Activating one muscle results in a pulling motion, while activating the opposing muscle results in the opposite, or pushing, movement. When planning a training session, it is best to follow a pushing exercise with a pulling exercise which results in movement at the same joint(s). For example, follow an overhead press with a lat pull-down exercise. This technique helps ensure good strength balance between opposing muscle groups which may, in turn, reduce the risk of injury. Sequence the program to exercise the larger muscle groups first, then the smaller muscles. For example, the lat pull-down stresses both the larger latissimus dorsi muscle of the back and the smaller biceps muscles of the arm. If curls are done first, the smaller muscle group will be exhausted and too weak to handle the resistance needed for the lat pull-down. As a result, the trainer cannot do as many repetitions with as much weight as he normally could in the lat pull-down. The latissimus dorsi muscles will not be overloaded and, as a result, they may not benefit very much from the workout.

The best sequence to follow for a total-body strength workout is to first exercise the muscles of the hips and legs, followed by the muscles of the upper back and chest, then the arms, abdominal, low back, and neck. As long as all muscle groups are exercised at the proper intensity, improvement will occur.



A major challenge for all fitness training programs is maintaining enthusiasm and interest. A poorly designed strength-training program can be very boring. Using different equipment, changing the exercises, and altering the volume and intensity are good ways to add variety, and they may also produce better results. The trainer should periodically substitute different exercises for a given muscle group(s). For example, he can do squats with a barbell instead of leg presses on a weight machine.


Workout Techniques for

Muscular Endurance or Strength

Workouts for improving muscular endurance or strength must follow the principles just described. There are also other factors to consider, namely, safety, exercise selection, and phases of conditioning.



Major causes of injury when strength training are improper lifting techniques combined with lifting weights that are too heavy. Each person must understand how to do each lift correctly before he starts his strength training program.

One should always do weight training with a partner, or spotter, who can observe his performance as he exercises. To ensure safety and the best results, both should know how to use the equipment and the proper spotting technique for each exercise.

A natural tendency in strength training is to see how much weight one can lift. Lifting too much weight forces a compromise in form and may lead to injury. All weights should be selected so that proper form can be maintained for the appropriate number of repetitions.

Correct breathing is another safety factor in strength training. Breathing should be constant during exercise. The lifter should never hold his breath, as this can cause dizziness and even loss of consciousness. As a general rule, one should exhale during the positive (concentric) phase of contraction as the weight or weight stack moves away from the floor, and inhale during the negative (eccentric) phase as the weight returns toward the floor.



When beginning a resistance-training program, the trainer should choose about 8 to 16 exercises that work all of the body’s major muscle groups. Usually eight well-chosen exercises will serve as a good starting point. They should include those for the muscles of the leg, low back, shoulders, and so forth. The exerciser should choose exercises that work several muscle groups and try to avoid those that isolate single muscle groups. This will help him train a greater number of muscles in a given time. For example, doing lat pull-downs on the "lat machine" works the latissimus dorsi of the back and the biceps muscles of the upper arm. On the other hand, an exercise like concentration curls for the biceps muscles of the upper arm, although an effective exercise, only works the arm flexor muscles. Also, the concentration curl requires twice as much time as lat pull-downs because only one arm is worked at a time.

Perhaps a simpler way to select an exercise is to determine the number of joints in the body where movement occurs during a repetition. For most people, especially beginners, most of the exercises in the program should be "multi-joint" exercises. The exercise should provide movement at more than one joint. For example, the pull-down exercise produces motion at both the shoulder and elbow joints. The concentration curl, however, only involves the elbow joint.



There are three phases of conditioning: preparatory, conditioning, and maintenance. These are also described in the Fitness Introduction section.

The three phases of conditioning are preparatory, conditioning, and maintenance.


Preparatory Phase

A beginner should use very light weights during the first week (the preparatory phase) which includes the first two to three workouts. This is very important, because the beginner must concentrate at first on learning the proper form for each exercise. Using light weights also helps minimize muscle soreness and decreases the likelihood of injury to the muscles, joints, and ligaments. During the second week, he should use progressively heavier weights. By the end of the second week (4 to 6 workouts), he should know how much weight on each exercise will allow him to do 8 to 12 repetitions to muscle failure. If he can do only seven repetitions of an exercise, the weight must be reduced; if he can do more than 12, the weight should be increased.


Conditioning Phase

The third week is normally the start of the conditioning phase for the beginning weight trainer. During this phase, the lifter should increase the amount of weight used and/or the intensity of the workout as his muscular strength and/or endurance increases. He should do one set of 8 to 12 repetitions for each of the heavy-resistance exercises. When he can do more than 12 repetitions of any exercise, he should increase the weight until he can again do only 8 to 12 repetitions. This usually involves an increase in weight of about five percent. This process continues indefinitely. As long as he continues to progress and get stronger, he does not need to do more than one set per exercise. If he stops making progress with one set of 8 to 12 repetitions per exercise, he may benefit from adding another set of 8 to 12 repetitions on those exercises in which progress has slowed. As time goes on and he progresses, he may increase the number to three sets of an exercise to get even further gains in strength and/ or muscle mass. Three sets per exercise is the maximum most lifters will ever need to do.


Maintenance Phase

Once one reaches a high level of fitness, the maintenance phase is used to maintain that level. The emphasis in this phase is no longer on progression but on retention. Although training three times a week for muscle endurance and strength gives the best results, one can maintain them by training the major muscle groups properly one or two times a week. More frequent training, however, is required to reach and maintain peak fitness levels.

As with aerobic training, the trainer should do strength training three times a week and should allow at least 48 hours of rest from resistance training between workouts for any given muscle group.



Timed sets refers to a method of physical training in which as many repetitions as possible of a given exercise are performed in a specified period of time. After an appropriate period of rest, a second, third, and so on, set of that exercise is done in an equal or lesser time period. The exercise period, recovery period, and the number of sets done should be selected to make sure that an overload of the involved muscle groups occurs.


Cardiorespiratory Fitness

Cardiorespiratory (CR) fitness, sometimes called CR endurance, aerobic fitness, or aerobic capacity, is one of the five basic components of physical fitness. CR fitness is a condition in which the body’s cardiovascular (circulatory) and respiratory systems function together, especially during exercise or work, to ensure that adequate oxygen is supplied to the working muscles to produce energy. CR fitness is needed for prolonged, rhythmic use of the body’s large muscle groups. A high level of CR fitness permits continuous physical activity without a decline in performance and allows for rapid recovery following fatiguing physical activity.

Activities such as running, road marching, bicycling, swimming, cross-country skiing, rowing, stair climbing, and jumping rope place an extra demand on the cardiovascular and respiratory systems. During exercise, these systems attempt to supply oxygen to the working muscles. Most of this oxygen is used to produce energy for muscular contraction. Any activity that continuously uses large muscle groups for 20 minutes or longer taxes these systems. Because of this, a wide variety of training methods is used to improve cardiorespiratory endurance.


Running enables the body to improve the transport of blood and oxygen to the working muscles and brings about positive changes in the muscles’ ability to produce energy. Running fits well into any physical training program because a training effect can be attained with only three 20-minute workouts per week.

Failure to allow recovery between hard bouts of running cannot only lead to overtraining, but can also be a major cause of injuries. A well-conditioned person can run five to six times a week. However, to do this safely, he should do two things: 1) gradually buildup to running that frequently; and, 2) vary the intensity and/or duration of the running sessions to allow recovery between them.



Interval training works the cardiorespiratory system. It is an advanced form of exercise training which helps a person significantly improve his fitness level in a relatively short time and increase his running speed.

In interval training, a person exercises by running at a pace that is slightly faster than his race pace for short periods of time. He does this repeatedly with periods of recovery placed between periods of fast running. In this way, the energy systems used are allowed to recover, and the exerciser can do more fast-paced running in a given workout than if he ran continuously without resting. This type of intermittent training can also be used with activities such as cycling, swimming, bicycling, and rowing.

Monitoring the heart-rate response during interval training is not as important as making sure that the work intervals are run at the proper speed. Because of the intense nature of interval training, during the work interval the heart rate will generally climb to 85 or 90 percent of HRR. During the recovery interval, the heart rate usually falls to around 120 to 140 beats per minute. Because the heart rate is not the major concern during interval training, monitoring THR and using it as a training guide is not necessary.

As the runner becomes more conditioned, his recovery is quicker. As a result, he should either shorten the recovery interval (jogging time) or run the interval a few seconds faster.

After a runner has reached a good CR fitness level using the THR method, he should be ready for interval training. As with any other new training method, interval training should be introduced into his training program gradually and progressively. At first, he should do it once a week. If he responds well, he may do it twice a week at the most, with at least one recovery day in between.

As with any workout, one should start interval workouts with a warm-up and end them with a cool-down.



In Fartlek training, another type of CR training sometimes called speed play, the runner varies the intensity (speed) of the running during the workout. Instead of running at a constant speed, he starts with very slow jogging. When ready, he runs hard for a few minutes until he feels the need to slow down. At this time he recovers by jogging at an easy pace. This process of alternating fast and recovery running (both of varying distances) gives the same results as interval training. However, neither the running nor recovery interval is timed, and the running is not done on a track. For these reasons, many runners prefer Fartlek training to interval training.



Cross-country running conditions the leg muscles and develops CR endurance. It consists of running a certain distance on a course laid out across fields, over hills, through woods, or on any other irregular terrain. The speed and distance can be increased gradually as one’s conditioning improves. At first, the distance should be one mile or less, depending on the terrain and fitness level. It should then be gradually increased to four miles.