Over, Under, and Optimal Training
The assumed goal of any physical fitness or sports training program is to maintain or improve the body's state of fitness health or state of sports performance capability.
In the state of optimal training, the exercises and activities utilized are done in just the right amount. The body, in its recovery period after the exercise session is over, is able to regenerate itself and grow to an improved state of fitness. With proper rest, diet and health habits, this is the optimal state of fitness.
In the state of over-training, the exercises and activities utilized have been done in excess. The body, during recovery, is unable to regenerate itself to a minimum recovery level, that is, to the baseline-state of training before the exercises or activities were performed. Over-training, except on rare occasions, usually causes no injury or adverse consequences as long as you realize that more time than usual needs to be taken to recover before the next exercise session. If a person subjects their body to multiple exercise sessions where recovery is incomplete, then over-use injuries will occur and fitness will decline. This will cause a loss of your "drive" to exercise and the feeling of well being gained from participation in fitness activities will be lost. Most overuse injuries and other problems associated with fitness programs are directly due to over-training.
In the state of under-training, the exercises and activities utilized have been done in amounts too small to improve your present state of fitness. The exercise performed was done in an amount that requires no recovery period, or a recovery time of a short duration. Just as over-training should be avoided for it's increased injury potential and potential for fitness loss, under-training must be avoided when fitness gains are a goal of your fitness plan. However, when injury or medical complications are present, or in the period of time when an unfit person is initiating a fitness program, under-training is desirable to allow the body's systems time to undergo the initial adaptations necessary to prepare someone to exercise more vigorously.
In the successful fitness program, exercise is "dosed" in an amount needed to gain or maintain fitness improvement, avoid injury and make optimal utilization of the time devoted to fitness activities. For athletes and serious fitness enthusiasts, their success is dependent upon proper manipulation and balance of fitness dosing and periods of rest and recovery.
As you proceed through the aging process and continue to pursue your fitness activities, the goal of your fitness program progressively evolves into that of maintaining the fitness factors already possessed. A solid base of fitness factors developed throughout a lifetime of exercise and activity will allow you to pursue your exercises or activities at a level
where the state of optimal training is reached in the proper “dose”. This will to allow these activities to continue indefinitely, without the interruptions and fitness losses caused by constant over-training.
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