A Christian Guide to Body Stewardship, Diet and Exercise

Chapter 8: Exercise Programming 177 • Specificity. The principle of specificity implies that in order to become better at a particular task or skill, you must regularly perform that task or skill. According to the principle of specificity, running on a regular basis will be much more effective for improving your run performance than regular participation in biking and swimming. Additionally, regularly performing the back squat will be much more effective at improving squat performance than regular participation in cycling or lifts such as leg press or leg extensions. • Recovery. Research shows that the physiological adaptations associated with hard training occur during recovery (Haff & Triplett, 2016; Israetel et al., 2015). Additionally, the effects of hard training are cumulative thereby affecting the body’s ability to fully recover. As a result, it is recommended to introduce periods of reduced training intensity and/or volume in order to facilitate full recovery. One effective strategy to combat cumulative fatigue is to incorporate a deload (aka active rest) week every 36 weeks. Some of the different deload options include taking a week off from training or performing the same exercises but at a reduced load and volume (e.g., reduce the weight used and number of sets performed by 50%). • Intensity. According to Zatsiorsky & Kraemer (2006), exercise intensity and volume are the two most important variables for producing maximal gains in muscle size and strength. Again, intensity is based on percentage of maximal heart rate (MHR) for endurance training, one repetition max (1RM) for strength training, and the level of discomfort while holding a stretch for mobility training. • Volume. Volume refers to the total number of exercises, sets and reps completed in a particular training session. Volume is based on the duration or distance for training, the number of sets and reps performed in strength training, and the number of stretches and reps performed in mobility training. • Variation. If you recall from Chapter 6, the principle of accommodation states that the body’s response to a constant stimulus decreases over time. With that in mind, it is recommended to periodically change the stimulus used in order to prevent accommodation and training plateaus. However, we also learned, according to the principle of directed adaptation, that we need to use the same stimulus long enough (up to several weeks in most cases) in order to fully develop and retain the physiological adaptations associated with that stimulus. Therefore, similar to combating cumulative fatigue, an effective strategy for implementing variation is to change up the exercises (stimulus) used every 3-6 weeks.