8 Factors To Take Your Fitness To The Next Level & Beyond - Part 2 of 3

Feb 26, 2019

Welcome back! In part 1 we discussed the value and benefit of movement & exercise. The awesome feelings of confidence, energy, a wholesome feeling about life and more. I then dove in to the first 2 of 8 key factors to take your fitness to the next level and beyond! Let's resume with factor 3!

A recommendation: pick one of the 8 factors and work on that first. Once you've gotten a hang of it, explore the next variable! 

Here we go! 

3. Time = the length of a single training session
i.e. how long you spend in the gym, on the field, on a court etc., completing a training session

4. Type = the type of training you will complete

The type of training could be:

  • Strength / weight lifting – isometric, dynamic, eccentric, concentric, etc.
  • Cardiovascular – aerobic, anaerobic intervals, sprint - speed & agility training could fall under this category
  • Flexibility
  • Plyometrics
  • Balance / Stability
  • Mobility
  • Reaction time / reflexes

Type can also refer to the type of equipment, although this is often referred to as exercise modality: e.g. elliptical, vs. rower, vs. assault bike, vs. sled etc.

5. Volume = the total amount of exercise

As you’ll see in the sample training log (located at the end of this blog post), when lifting weights, volume can be recorded by multiplying the (# of reps)*(# of sets)*(weight lifted in lbs or kg).

Olympic lifters, and power lifters pay extremely close attention to volume, and have certain thresholds that they follow daily, weekly, and monthly given the cycle of their training. I’m not suggesting that you need to do this, but just thought I’d share!

6. Progression = increasing, or advancing your training program

Adaptation is the key to achieving all of your goals. The idea of progression is directly related to adaptation. Our bodies are extremely resilient, and designed to adapt to stimuli. We must change things up (either increase intensity, volume, time, frequency, or change the type, location and timing of training we complete), in order to progress. 

When we first start a training program, we often notice solid improvements over the first few weeks. This is due to neural adaptations (i.e. increased connections between our brain and body). After the first few weeks though, we hit a plateau. Our body has adapted to the stimulus we provided, and unless we do something differently, stagnation will be our only friend.

In a nutshell, if you keep doing the same thing over and over, your body gets used to it and you will not see any progress beyond what you’ve already achieved, hence the need to change things up!

7 & 8: When & Where: The subtleties

When: More is constantly being learned about circadian rhythms; the idea that our bodies revolve around sun light and perform certain functions better at certain times of the day. Several research studies have shown that aerobic fitness, anaerobic fitness, strength, power, and several other variables perform better later in the day (e.g. 17:30), when compared to the morning (e.g. 7:30). This is linked to body temperature. Our body temperature peaks later in the day, and a higher body temperature has several benefits (from carbohydrate metabolism to improved muscle mechanics to develop force) – ref #6

Where: Obviously training options are limited by your location, and cost. Generally speaking, one would consider a gym, club, sporting facility, or the best option (in my humble opinion), the outdoors!

Outdoor training has a very positive impact on our bodies, ranging from absorbing vitamin D via sunlight, to breathing fresh air. From a performance perspective, outdoor training tops indoor training. Changes in terrain (when running or cycling), distraction from pedestrians and automobiles and other similar factors enhance our levels of concentration. Training outdoors also yields more of a euphoric feeling. A feeling of freedom; potentially connecting us with a higher power.

The bottom line: When looking to perform at your best, potentially consider exercising or competing in the late afternoon or early evening. Train outdoors to challenge your senses and abilities in a whole new way!

This Seems Like a Lot of Work: Why Should I Implement Any of This?

If for some reason you feel like this is all too much, or not relevant to your circumstances, please, think again. As I mentioned earlier, you don’t need to track each variable diligently, but you do need to track some.

By now I hope that you agree that adaptation and progression are two of the most critical elements to improving fitness (and so much more). In order to progress, you need to change what you’re doing. In order to know what you’ve been doing, you need to track your progress. FITT-VP-WW gives you the optimal template to track your training.

If you aren’t in to fitness, or you’re just doing it for the sake of moving around, don’t bother with this post. If you’re at all in to improving, challenging yourself, and seeing results, you should implement this ASAP!

How Do These Variables Apply to my Workouts?

I’ll separate the answer to this question in to two parts:

a. Cardiovascular training is grounded in the FITT-V, with progression being the goal. The chart below shows you a general trend between intensity of cardio, time completed, and the type of training. As you can see, at extremely high intensities, total time will be limited, as will frequency and volume. At relatively low intensities, longer duration, frequency and volume of work can be completed

Extremely intense training cannot be completed too frequently; often not more than 2-3 times per week because recovery takes a lot longer.

The type of training is also dependent on time and intensity. Very short, high intense cardio workouts will be comprised of sprint training, while longer, slightly lower intense training will be made up of longer, slow intervals (e.g. treadmill, bike, elliptical or rowing intervals), or steady state endurance (on any piece of cardio equipment / outdoors).

Think 100m sprint vs. a marathon. 

Note: The statistics in this chart are for illustrative purposes only

b. Strength Training is also grounded in the FITT-V variables, with progression being the goal. 

A reminder: The type of training you complete: low volume, extremely high intensity, shorter time, and less frequent sessions will have a very different physiological impact on you relative to high volume, low intensity, longer duration, and more frequent workouts.

Both can lead to over training, injury and similar negative outcomes. Alternatively, both can lead to very positive outcomes. As I’ve stated in numerous places before, you need to align your goals and objectives with your effort

Note: Figures are based off Cal Dietz research (ref #2)

How Diligent Do I Need to Be with these Variables?

This really comes down to how serious you are about your training, and / or your personality:
1) Are you looking to compete in a sport or activity?
2) Do you like to be extremely thorough in everything you do?
3) Do you hate leaving things to chance?
4) Do you set goals and work hard to achieve them?

If you answered yes to any of the questions above, then you do need to pay at least some attention to these variables! The more serious you are, or the greater your goal, the more diligent you need to be!

Review the sample training log at the end of part 3 to see how simple it is to track these variables!

There you have it guys. Review this information more than once if needed. As always, if you have any questions, reach out to me here and I will be more than happy to help.

See you at part 3! Much love,