Build your own personal fitness house - Part 1 BASE FITNESS
Training and exercise are the tools of our trade here at Mt Stuart PT and at Balance Point Health and Fitness. In both facilities, you will find health professionals preaching and practicing the benefits of daily exercise. Research supports the many health benefits of exercise and we have all experienced these benefits through the recovery of our clients as well as first hand growth and improvement of our own movement system. Still, we all have a bit of a different approach based on our personal interests as well as our personal needs and goals for being more healthy or just plain having fun. Where does it all end? When we exercise, do we just keep magically improving by getting stronger and improving our endurance infinitely? What about injury? Can our body sustain and benefit from running around Ski Hill 3 days a week and doing 20 push up and crunches every day?
The answers to these questions are always more complicated than is convenient for our full time work, full time family, full time-full time lives. I hope today to introduce a few concepts to help create some format for spending your exercise time wisely. This will help to avoid injury as well as make the time spent exercising as productive as possible.
This concept has been popular for some time now due to the work of several researchers (Balyi 1991, Bompa 1994, Poliquin 1992) who subscribe to the model that if you specifically mix up your training types and intensities over time you body will achieve maximum performance growth.
I like to think of this model much like any building project. It works best if done in a certain order and over a certain amount of time. Of course there are different ways to build that house but we can usually go back to a somewhat standard building practice. Most of the time to build a successful structure one starts with a foundation. In exercise we would call this base fitness or base training.
Base training is done to establish a foundation to build further performance on. It usually of low enough intensity to improve sport specific connective tissue time to develop the ability to handle loads of increased intensity when training intensity increases. The base phase also helps to establish the ability of the body to feed the specific muscles used during a specificactivity. Like the foundation of a house, it works much better if it is the correct shape and design to support the house you want to build. The foundation under your neighbor's house won't work for your house and cycling won't effectively work as a running base. The body will use PARTS of the cycling muscles and circulatory system but anyone who has both ridden a bike and tried to run for exercise knows that these are two different exercises and need two different sets of muscles to work. If you want to be a hiker, work on hiking-specific tasks and muscles. If you want to be a swimmer, work on swimming-specific muscles and so on.
This is the makes the planning of any exercise program a bit easier in the short term. Know what your goals are and build your body to reach those goals. It also helps to shake things up a bit during the year and add variety to your exercise routines. If you like to alpine ski in the winter and kayak in the summer, an exercise program to help keep you paddling and making turns will be different enough to keep your body moving in different directions.
I will take a look at moving beyond the base or preparatory phase of exercise in my next article. If you have further questions, stop on in and as either of our trainers at Balance Point. Liz Ryen and Carly Fuerborn both have exercise science degrees and can help to get your body on a solid foundation for the activities you love, and want to do well!
Luke P Astell, PT
The approach any person uses should be goal directed and measured in some way to determine if all of the “Sweat equity” we are investing is paying off.