We’ve all seen the adverts for fitness dvd’s and equipment – get fit and lean in 90 days, lose weight and tone up in 4 weeks blah blah blah but I want to know, how quick can you get fit?
Everyone wants results NOW! But I’m really sorry to say that really true physical fitness (measured on how quickly you recover etc etc) takes time. In my opinion, becoming “fit” will take quite some time really if you want to do it right, with minimal injuries (which are usually caused by doing too much too soon), and becoming athletically fit.
It’s such as shame that very few people are willing to have the patience and consistency that is needed to work towards physical fitness. I’m such an advocate for health and fitness in general and how important it is for any age of person to understand what they are doing to their bodies by the lifestyle they choose to lead and to know what they need to do to stay healthy and active for their whole lives.
In reality, becoming physically fit takes planning and lots of it. You may have heard of Periodising Programmes, these programmes are usually associated with sports programming, however using a tool such as this will definitely go a long way to preparing you mentally and physically for your training.
Usually there is an end point to periodised programmes. It’s the race or event that you have been training for so the training needs be organised and planned for in advance. The programme also needs to consider the individual’s potential, his/her performance in tests or competition, and calendar of events. The programme also needs to be flexible as its content can be modified to meet the individual rate of progress.
Periodised Programmes are made up of cycles. The macrocycle, mesocycle and microcycle.
A macrocycle refers to an annual plan that works towards peaking for the goal competition of the year. There are three phases in the macrocycle: preparation, competitive, and transition.
Preparation is the beginning phase and would consist of building an aerobic base for an endurance athlete such as running on a treadmill and learning any rules or regulations that would be required such as proper swimming stroke as not to be disqualified. In non-athletes the preparation phase is also the time where you build in new habits and begin exercising. Starting off by training say 1-3 times per week then slowly increasing the amount of time and the amount of intensity of training as the person gets fitter so that the individual is training on a regular basis and at a good to vigorous intensity over a number of times per week. Depending on the individual this can take quite some time so usually the preparation phase is a matter of months not weeks.
The competitive phase can be several competitions, but they lead up to the main competition with specific tests. Testing might include any of the following: performance level, figuring out what pre and post race meals work best, ways to reduce anxiety before a race, or the length needed for the taper. When the pre-competitions are of a higher priority there is a definite taper stage while lower priority might simply be integrated in as training. The competitive phase ends with the taper and the competition.
The transition phase is important for psychological reasons, a year of training means a vacation is in order. A typical weekend warrior (someone who races at the weekend or for charity events etc) might take three months while they decide on what next to train for while a professional athlete might take as little as two weeks.
A mesocycle represents a phase of training with a duration of between 2 – 6 weeks. The goal of the planner is to fit the mesocycles into the overall plan and make each mesocycle end on one of the phases and then to determine the workload and type of work of each cycle based on where in the overall plan the given mesocycle falls. The goal in mind is to make sure the body peaks for the high priority competitions by improving each cycle along the way.
A microcycle is typically a week because of the difficulty in developing a training plan that does not align itself with the weekly calendar. Each microcycle is planned based on where it is in the overall macrocycle.
A micro-cycle is also defined as a number of training sessions, built around a given combination of acute program variables, which include progression as well as alternating effort (heavy vs. light days). The length of the micro-cycle should correspond to the number of workouts – empirically often 4-16 workouts – it takes for the athlete or fitness client to adapt to the training program. When the athlete or individual has adapted to the program and no longer makes progress, a change to one or more program variables should be made.
The annual plan
The annual plan is important in that it directs and guides athletic training over a year. It is based on the concept of periodisation and the principles of training. The objective of training is to reach a high level of performance (peak performance) and an athlete has to develop skills, biomotor abilities and psychological traits in a methodical manner.
This phase consists of the general preparation and specific preparation. Usually the general preparation is the longest of the two phases. And the specific preparation is the shortest.
This phase may contain a few main competitions each containing a pre-competitive and a main competition. Within the main competition, an uploading phase and a special preparatory phase may be included.
This phase is used to facilitate psychological rest, relaxation and biological regeneration as well as to maintain an acceptable level of general physical preparation. This phase lasts between 3 – 4 weeks (maybe longer) but should not exceed 5 weeks under normal conditions and may be sports specific. It allows the body to fully regenerate so that it is prepared for the next discipline.
So as you can see fitness is not quick and it takes a lot of time, effort, consistency, hard work and determination to achieve. Obviously you can lose weight and gain muscle in 8 weeks but for lasting physical fitness you need to think long term.
Enjoy your training.