Chapter 4: Fitness Principles


  1. Describe the origins of exercise
  2. Define physical activity and exercise
  3. Discuss principles of adaptation to stress
  4. Provide guidelines for creating a successful fitness program
  5. Identify safety concerns


  • Physical activity – any activity that requires skeletal muscle and requires energy aimed at improving health.
  • Exercise – a subset of physical activity that is planned and structured aimed at improving fitness.
  • Health related components of fitness – types of activities dedicated to improving physical fitness categorized as cardiorespiratory endurance, muscular strength and endurance, flexibility, and body composition.
  • Skills related components of fitness – types of activities dedicated to improving physical skills categorized as speed, agility, coordination, balance, power, and reaction time.
  • Principles of adaptations to stress – guidelines related to managing the application of stress during physical activity/exercise.
  • Overload Principle – a principle of adaptation to stress suggesting the amount of stress applied during exercise must exceed a threshold level to stimulate adaptation.
  • Volume – the term used to describe “how much” stress is being applied by combining the duration and frequency of exercise.
  • Progression principle – a principle relating to how much additional stress that can safely be introduced to gradually improve fitness without risking injury or overuse.
  • Specificity – the principle of stress suggesting activities should be closely centered around the primary outcome goal, i.e. train the way you want to adapt.
  • Reversibility – the principle that adaptations to stress can be lost over time if training is modified or stopped.
  • Principle of rest and recovery – the concept that adaptation not only requires overload but also requires rest to avoid over-stressing the body.
  • Periodization – a method of organizing workouts into blocks or periods. These cycles consist of work/stress periods and rest periods.
  • Overtraining syndrome – a condition of chronic stress from physical activity affecting the physical and psychological states of an individual or athlete.
  • Detraining – the act of no longer training at all or decreasing the amount of training.


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Introduction to Exercise Science for Fitness Professionals Copyright © 2021 by Amanda Shelton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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