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Formula for Fitness

Formula for Fitness

What's operation overload?
What if I don't overload every time?
What if it's too hard?
Think EFIT

Overload principle sounds like something you might do at an all-you-can-eat pizza party or what might happen when an unpopular teacher hands out homework. Actually, the overload principle is part of the formula for fitness. If you don't use it, you won't get faster, stronger, or more flexible. back to top

What's operation overload?
The overload principle says that to improve your fitness level, you have to work a little harder than you are used to every time you exercise. This can help you build your cardiorespiratory fitness, muscle strength and endurance, and flexibility. The idea is to challenge your body to jump farther, lift a little more weight, do one more push-up, or do one more hamstring stretch than you did last time. Of course, you don't want to push too hard and end up hurting yourself. Slow and steady progress is the goal here. back to top

What if I don't overload every time?
The overload principle helps you improve your fitness level. You can maintain your current fitness level without overloading, but you probably won't get any faster, stronger, or more flexible. Think you're fit? Test your fitness flair. back to top

What if it's too hard?
Improving your fitness level isn't easy. And using the overload principle means you will sweat a little more, breathe a little faster, and push yourself a little harder every time you exercise. The good news is that you'll notice that your fitness level is improving little by little all the time. back to top

Think EFIT
You can be your own personal trainer! Just keep the EFIT formula in mind when putting together your exercise program. EFIT stands for exercise, frequency, intensity, and time.
  • Exercise
    The exercises you choose should help you accomplish your fitness goals. If you want stronger arms, spend more time doing bicep curls, tricep dips, and push-ups rather than running. On the other hand, running is a good way to improve your cardiorespiratory fitness if that is your goal.
  • Frequency
    Do some form of exercise three to five times a week. Devote the other days to rest, and maybe a little stretching. You deserve it! Even if you want to exercise more often, it's important that you don't do strength training more than three times a week or two days in a row. Your muscles need time to recover.
  • Intensity
    Intensity is the measure of how hard your body is working. It isn't always easy to tell how hard you are working, but it's important to figure it out if you want to get the most out of your workout. Using a heart rate monitor is a good way to measure how hard you're working. Some exercise equipment, like treadmills and elliptical trainers, have a built in monitor or you can buy a portable model at a sporting goods store. You can monitor your own energy level: On a scale of 1 to 10, think of 0 as your lowest level of effort (vegging) and 10 as your highest (gasping for breath). Aim for an intensity of 7 or 8 on this scale to improve your fitness level.

    Maybe the easiest way to monitor your energy level is to take the talk test. While you are exercising, say a short sentence out loud, like "Are we almost done?" If you can speak briefly without gasping or running out of breath, you're getting the most out of your workout. If you can talk for as long as you want, pick up the pace. Try it out with a workout buddy if you feel goofy talking to yourself.
  • Time
    Exercise nonstop for at least 20 to 30 minutes at a challenging pace. If you have a heart rate monitor, make sure you stay in your target heart rate zone. This is especially important for improving your cardiorespiratory fitness. If you stop exercising to say "hi" to friends, go to the bathroom, or slack off, reset that timer and start over again. back to top
Last Modified Date: 4/2/2001
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