The story is as old as fitness itself. At the beginning, you were motivated, excited and couldn’t wait to get that next workout done. But, after a few weeks, it’s a different story; your training mat is your worst enemy and your unused sports bottle glares at you accusingly from the kitchen cupboard. The body you see in the mirror is no longer something you’re proud of, but something to be concealed beneath layers of clothing. Sound familiar? Read on to discover how following the training principle of repetition and permanence could change your attitude to training, and lead to the transformations you thought impossible.
Ambitious expectations, the temptation to fall into bad habits and a loss of discipline can all too often lead to the abandonment of a training program altogether. So, how to conquer this? The training principle of repetition and permanence refers to how the physiological and psychological transformations you’re aiming for are only achievable when you train frequently and for a long period of time. If you want results, it shouldn’t be a choice between training regularly and training permanently; the two are not mutually exclusive. Training hard every day for a week then not at all for the rest of the month, for instance, has the same effect as training regularly just once a month. In short, changes only come with long term effort. But what, specifically, are these changes? And how long before they become apparent? Training expert, Timo Kirchenberger, has the answers:
Metabolic changes: These occur within 2-3 weeks. Stiffness and sore muscles become less likely as frequent training forces your body to adapt and become more adept at recovering.
Physiological changes: Within 4-6 weeks, close friends and family might start to notice a change in your physique. After a couple more weeks, even casual acquaintances might begin to notice a change in your physicality.
Central nervous system changes: After anything from 3 to 6 months, psychological changes will begin to take hold as new habits and routines become second nature. Skills and techniques will become automatic, allowing you to focus on performing them adeptly with speed.
So, how often should you train to optimize these changes? According to Timo, the frequency and repetition of your training depends on your individual fitness and performance levels. Professional athletes will train almost every day, but someone with a busy working and personal life will have a reduced tolerance towards difficult training. Either way, the longer you continue with good exercise habits, the greater the change and development.
How can you put this principle into practice? First, when the Coach asks you how often during the week you can train, don’t go for the maximum you think you could do, go for what is realistic. This makes it more likely that you’ll stick to your training plan in the long term and see the changes you’re looking for. Secondly, keep your workouts varied. Doing the same Gods each session? Mix it up. Not only will this exercise different muscle groups, but you’re less likely to become demotivated and give up. Finally, keep pushing yourself. Training regularly will yield no results if you don’t push yourself to your limits. As the saying goes, no pain, no gain.