1.-PRINCIPLE OF MULTIPLICITY OR ORGANIC UNIT.
When we are strength training, we don’t improve just this quality, because the organism is one unit. The improvement of one of its physical qualities will also mean an improvement in other qualities on which we’re not directly training. An athlete who increase their leg strength, for example, will find that they have also improved their stamina and speed. It is perfectly understandable that if the other variables haven’t changed but the legs are stronger, more power can be developed and also, if a moderate rhythm is maintained, the athlete will have more stamina without tiring of the muscle which is now stronger than before.
This beginning clearly shows us that developing one muscular quality will also improve a group of qualities; it is definite. We don’t need to stay on this point; if we fix on this point we find that it has a second interpretation; if the muscular stamina improved notably, and the other conditions were not affected by the training, it is evident that a sprint could be maintained for a longer time and that maximum strength could be maintained for longer. With good speed stamina training, strength would also increase. If I train to improve muscle speed, resistance and strength will also improve; it’s an equation in which each factor brings power to the other factors.
Keeping these aspects which interrelate with each other in mind, and observing how each muscular quality improves with the others, what we set out to do is to not train depending on what I want to train today, or exclusively on a muscular quality which I want to improve notably; if I intensively train just one of the qualities which I can train with an electro-stimulator, I will impede myself in obtaining better results.
The world of sports training is full of experiences which demonstrate that training which aims to exclusively improve just one motor quality will end up limiting the development of this same motor quality, as well as the others. All of said experiences have demonstrated that athletes who complete a plan that aims to develop, as a group, the stamina, strength and speed obtain better results than those which focus restrictively on one motor quality. If stamina training is capable of improving strength and, thus, strength, and the same occurs multilaterally with the rest of the muscle qualities, we clearly see that the qualities support each other and adequately combining them will allow us to achieve results which could not be obtained when training solely one muscular quality.
As the generic motor qualities develop, our bodies adapt physiologically. Improving the stamina of one muscle increases the number of arterioles and venules which feed it and which extract waste substances. A better irrigated muscle with a higher drainage capacity is not just a more resistant muscle; the improvement of the physical qualities other than that which we’re specifically training is caused by a physiological adaptation to the strain which also improves our potential in aspects which we are not fundamentally training. The same occurs when training is done specifically for strength because, as the size of the fibres increases, we not only have a stronger muscle but also more stamina. Combine it with strength training, and then speed training, and so on.
2.- PRINCIPLE OF FREQUENCY OR CONTINUITY.
It is not just the beginning which we keep in mind in the world of sport; with physiotherapy treatments, the results will depend on the following of treatment guidelines, for recovery of a muscular injury, for example. This is impossible or practically ineffective when the patient does not attend the treatment or jumps sessions; his or her results will remain below the level which could have been reached if he or she had corresponded with the sessions planned by the physiotherapist. Electro-stimulation is used in physiotherapy as recovery treatment and its results depend on the patient completing his or her planned training. The same thing happens in the world of sports; if we want to obtain the maximum benefits from the electro-stimulation in sports, we will have to adapt the training to the frequency which would allow these achievements.
In the world of competition even the rest period should be active rest; it should have a certain quality which improves our motor qualities. For this reason, athletes use electro-stimulators during the rest periods, so as to improve their muscular conditions on which they are not specifically working in that moment in their sport, and also in moments of over-training electro-stimulators are used at low frequencies to produce a relaxing massage effect, thus accelerating the recovery process.
If we train with electro-stimulation today and again next week, we won’t obtain the best results, even though trained athletes do manage to improve their strength with just one strength training session per week. The effort of the first day and the achieved adaptation effect is almost lost, as we have not trained again, so the compensation and possible improvement obtained on the first day is inevitably lost. It is not possible to improve with sporadic training; this doesn’t apply for trained athletes who do strength training once a week, for example. To improve our motor qualities, training must be planned and maintained over time, because to cause organic improvement, which is caused by adaptation to stress, the stress must be maintained for an ample period; if it is undertaken without following a stable plan, there would not be adaptation, nor would we be able to call it training. The same thing happens if we over-train; it is pointless to train without having allowed time to recuperate from the previous training session, and it is equally pointless to train so infrequently that the positive effects of the previous training session have disappeared.
To briefly summarise; if we distance the training sessions from each other too much, we are under-training and therefore will not obtain any results. If the recovery period is too short to allow adaptation we can become exhausted, and the training will be ineffective. We must get to know the correct balance between under and over-training. In the correct amount for rest, the physiological phenomenons of adaptation and stress compensation are produced, and we improve our motor qualities.
3.- PROGRESSIVE LOAD PRINCIPLE.
It is unquestionable that we will not apply the same load on a youth as we would on a trained adult. In fact, the amount time which an athlete can continue to compete, or rather, the sports conditions which will allow his or her sports career to last a longer time, depend on the way in which they have progressively increase their training load from their infancy to their maturity.
Studies and sport have an interesting similarity here; the person who has studied more and to a higher level, can demand more of themselves and learn more quickly, and will be more and more capable of improving his or her aptitudes and academic grades. In the world of sport the athlete who has been undertaking training with a progressive stress load adapted to their capacity will perform better; he or she can demand more of their body and respond better, adaptation is quicker, recuperation periods are shorter, and so on.
With studies as with sports, remaining at a comfortable load level will impede the achievement of the best results possible. With studying, it is unquestionable, and with sport there have been physiological tests which determine that trying to exceed our present physical state incrementally and progressively, the load reduces the threshold of muscular excitement, which causes improved performance. This does not happen when we just stay working with the same comfortable load.
It is very important to gradually adapt to our maximum effort in each sport, always doing so with care but keeping in mind that only when we come close to our limits can we achieve an efficient improvement which allow us to come closer to developing our maximum potential. This doesn’t happen solely because we develop motor qualities but also because we come close to the final point in which a seemingly impassable barrier appears. Repeating this also allows us to strengthen ourselves morally, experiment emotionally to find out of what we’re capable, what we’re capable of doing, that there is something in us that allows us to undertake increasing efforts, and that renovated energy seems to come when we are ready to expend it. We can trust in ourselves and know that we are capable of obtaining more energy, and expending it.
If anything exists that is capable of limiting our effort and impede progress in the world of sports, it’s the lack of tenacity to surpass this threshold which allows us to exceed the present physical condition. This certainly requires firmness, determination, consistency, perseverance, patience and effort; that is, the moral qualities which we need to excel in the world of sports.
4.- OVERLOAD PRINCIPLE.
In short, this principle explains that with low volumes of training, physiological adaptations to the stress do not occur. A certain volume of energy expenditure and physical effort must be exceeded for the organic adaptation to the effort to occur.
It is important to understand the overload principle as much as possible because, if I want to develop a quality such as stamina and I train with weights in the gym with maximum weight, it can be said that I am overloading. However, this large amount of training, even though it was done with a large amount of stress, it is not going to develop the quality which I’m looking for. Therefore, on one hand, I should increase the volume of work, but since I’m looking to develop a specific quality I will have to pay attention to the nature of the exercise which allows me to develop this concrete condition.
If what we want is to have a healthy response to physical effort for the sake of improving our sports performance, we know that on one hand we should exceed a certain threshold which demand organic adaptation responses, and on the other hand not pass that threshold so much that excessive exhaustion is demanded of the body; all of this plus specific training adapted to the quality which we want to develop. So, we always must keep in mind both the level of repetitions and the intensity of the training we are doing, so as to meet our programmed objectives.
5.- PRINCIPLE OF ELECTRO-STIMULATION TRANSFER.
The key question with training with neuro-muscular electro-stimulation is, “Will it be useful to me for improving my sports performance? Its usefulness for developing strength, stamina and speed is not in question; but will it be useful for my sport?” What we’re asking ourselves is will there for a transfer of muscular improvement to the improvement in a given sport. We can answer by analysing if there will be an influence from the electro-stimulation training.
The physical condition is essential in sport, but it is not the sole key to results; technique, tactics and strategy are all also essential in all physical activity to achieve valuable results. However much time a football player dedicates to strengthening his legs, whether with weights or electro-stimulation, or both methods, without dedicating the necessary amount of time to improving his technique and other qualities, the transfer of the increase in strength to his sport will not be possible. So, the results will be immeasurable; he will have dedicated time but will not obtain results. To say it another way; paella isn’t just rice, if I try to make paella just with rice it will not come out as desired. Sports practice demands exquisite coordination of a series of physical and mental qualities which we must keep in mind, so that they support each other and so that we can obtain optimal results.
We can achieve muscular strength with an electro-stimulator. In physiotherapy they have used them for exactly this with decades of patients who can not undertake voluntary movement and who are so weak that they become exhausted from a minimal load. It has been tested in infinite ways that the above is possible, but to ensure that it is as efficient as possible we must intensively train the technical skills which allow us to exploit our new strength potential as much as possible. It is necessary to transfer this extra strength and adapt it to the specific movements of the my sport.
It is also essential to know which quality which is more necessary to improve, because it could happen that training is undertaken which train the adequate technical skills and no improvement is noticed. If I have to want to increase the power of my kick against the ball, and I dedicate time to specifically improving stamina, no matter how much I repeat this technical work, there will be no transfer of this stamina training to kicking the ball. Even worse is if I need explosive speed and I dedicate time just to stamina training, what we will probably achieve is a negative influence, because stamina and speed are almost antagonist qualities.
We are not saying that stamina training isn’t necessary, but that in a programme which aims to develop speed, we should start with various weeks of stamina training, then strength, and then training specifically for speed. In this way, when training the technical skills for the desired end, we see this transfer and we achieve effective results with electro-stimulation.