Principles of Training

Critical Question 1: How does training affect performance?
Principles of Training

Progressive Overload

If athletes want to continue to experience improvements as a result of their training they must incorporate progressive overload. Training alters the body and when these changes occur, the training must to be increased to ensure that the body is consistently and continuously challenged so that further gains can be achieved.

To ensure that training does not result in injury or fatigue, a steady increase is necessary. Overload can be obtained by boosting the duration, repetition, resistance, intensity, frequency and other elements of exercise. If the training load is too high there can be a faster onset of fatigue and a higher risk of injury. If the load is too low improvements to fitness may stall or even decrease.

The benefits of progressive overload may not be immediately apparent with endurance training having the slowest results.



Exercises should target the muscles, energy systems and movement patterns specific to an individual’s sport. The activities should reflect the goals and needs of the athlete. Incorporating exercises which mimic movements of the activity or target the muscle groups most commonly used will result in the greatest gains in performance.



Once training is over the adaptations that were made are susceptible to a reversible effect. What occurs is a de-training effect, which causes the physiological gains of training to be reversed. Think of the popular phrase, “use it, or lose it”.

Endurance results often remain for longer than gains in strength training. The reversibility principle typically affects athletes during off-season, injury or extended breaks in training.



It is important to include variety when training by mixing different types of activities, settings, drills and training types. For example, by mixing, aerobic exercises with resistance training. If athletes perform the same exercise over and over, it can cause boredom and demotivation.


Training Thresholds

Thresholds are the upper limits of each training zone. When an athlete overcomes threshold they can advance to the next level of training. For example, the aerobic threshold occurs when an athlete achieves 70 percent of their maximum heart rate (MHR), which is sufficient to result in improvements. The aerobic training zone is situated between the anaerobic and aerobic thresholds.

The anaerobic (Onset Blood Lactate Accumulation or Lactate transition 2) threshold sits at about 85 percent of an individual’s MHR. Workouts with higher intensity than this stimulate the production of lactic acid in the body, resulting in fatigue, which may cause the athlete or coach to terminate the session earlier than intended.


Aerobic Training
Working at the anaerobic threshold increases the capacity and function of the cardiovascular and cardiorespiratory systems.

Strength Training
Strength gains are made when resistance is progressively increased. Training for absolute strength – threshold represented by high resistance/load ensuring that only few repetitions can be completed. If training for strength endurance, threshold is represented in terms of quality, with high number of reps being required to effectively challenge threshold



Warm Up and Cool Down

Warm ups typically last for about 20 minutes, incorporating a basic warm-up then a more specific one. The goal is to prepare the body mentally and physically for the activity ahead.

A basic warmup may involve running, dynamic stretching or aerobic activities. An effective warm up will include activities, which target and prepare the muscle and cardio systems which will be used by the athlete when competing.

Performing cool down exercises facilitates the process of active recovery. Typically, a cool down will involve a low-intensity exercise so that blood lactate levels and the risk of muscle soreness are reduced.