What is the principle of individual difference and how does it relate to exercise?

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Personal/Fitness Training Blog

The principle of individual difference states that each person is unique and therefore everyone’s response that they experience toward exercise is different. Training programmes should be uniquely developed for each individual person.

An athlete’s genetics, fitness, skills, adaptability and experience have to be considered when determining the length of a session and the resting time in between multiple sessions.

What does the term ‘inter-individual differences’ mean? 

Inter-individual differences are differences from person to person. These are the most common genetic differences. For example, some people have a genetic predisposition towards stronger muscles in addition to a quicker recovery.

Lifestyle also factors insignificantly. In other words, someone who lives a healthy lifestyle will be able to recover faster and be more energetic. They will be able to handle more intensive training on a regular basis.

Fast-twitch fibres will help an athlete to be more successful at powerlifting which makes them better at the sport however they can’t necessarily do more work. This is because these fibres take longer to recover and are bigger than slow-twitch fibres. People with better developed fast-twitch fibres will be phenomenal powerlifters but won’t be able to often tolerate high training volumes like the individuals with more developed slow-twitch fibres will.

What does the term ‘intra-individual differences’ mean? 

Intra-individual differences are differences within the same athlete at different points in a training year or different points in their training career. At different points in the year, an athlete’s MRV and other factors will change based on their lifestyle. They might be focusing more on their diets at some point during the year, use different supplements throughout the period, have higher stress levels than usual at some point due to relationships, work as well as studies.

Age also needs to be considered. Improvement and longer training sessions mean they will have a higher special work capacity and be able to handle the stress working out inflicts on your body better.

Intra-individual differences change throughout the year owing to many factors. This is as compared to inter-individual differences which are genetics-based and remain the same.

What does the term ‘maximum recoverable volume’ (MRV) mean?

MRV is how much training an athlete can effectively recover from. When an athlete trains for increased periods of time their special work capacity increases and they will be able to perform more work than they could previously.

What does the term ‘fatigue and fitness decay times’ mean?

The term ‘fatigue and fitness decay times’ refers to how quickly can an athlete recover from fatigue during training sessions and how long can they are able to sustain their level of fitness during periods when they don’t train. More experienced athletes can tire more. Although they won’t be able to overload and train as frequently they will maintain their fitness level better than a lesser experienced athlete.

Lifters at different points in their career will have different needs. Less experienced lifters lack muscle mass and will need to do more hypertrophy training. Consider which muscle groups the athlete is lacking and this will determine which exercises to select and goals to work toward.

Many factors have to be considered when it comes to the principle of individual difference and creating a training programme for a specific individual. It helps to develop the athlete and pushes them to their full potential.

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