While building a training program is a highly personal endeavor, and no two programs will ever be exactly alike, the PKRS.AI philosophy is consistently grounded in four central pillars of training. The four key elements of any good regimen are: Endurance Training, Strength and Conditioning, Nutrition, and Recovery.
At PKRS.AI, your team of coaches and nutritionists is well-rounded by design – we believe that neglecting any one of these pillars can easily interrupt your progress and become an obstacle to peak performance. Even elite athletes can find room to improve in at least one of these categories, and what may seem like minor improvements in a single pillar can have a significant impact on your fitness as a whole.
In this article, we’ll break down the four pillars, understand how each one contributes to overall wellness, and a handful of tips to consider.
Endurance training, put simply, is improving your ability to exert consistent effort for an extended period of time. With training, that period of time can continue to grow.
But as you might expect, a lot goes into endurance. It’s important to consider the two types of endurance that can be trained; Cardiovascular endurance is the ability for your heart, lungs, and blood vessels to deliver oxygen to the muscles that need it, and muscular endurance refers to how certain types and regions of muscles receive that oxygen, as well as how they fatigue and to what effect.
Cardio is relatively simple – by frequently exerting effort for an extended amount of time, you are essentially conditioning your heart, lungs, and blood vessels to perform their jobs in that situation. And as with all things, improvement comes with practice! Your cardiovascular system will become more efficient and effective in delivering oxygen to your muscles with more time spent under duress.
Enhancing your cardio training might be as simple as not neglecting it in the first place – many proponents of programs like HIIT (high-intensity interval training) or CrossFit favor short bursts of highly-intense exertion, but your body can always benefit from a “low and slow” session. Try to slow down your pace and go a little further than usual, then after getting used to it, maintain the distance and increase the pace consistently. You might surprise yourself!
Muscular endurance is a bit more complex; it has to do with understanding the three types of muscle fiber and building a training program that optimizes the growth of each type to match your performance goals. The three types are Type I (slow-twitch), Type IIA (fast-twitch oxidative), and Type IIB (fast-twitch glycolytic). To grossly oversimplify these three, think of them as slow, medium, and fast, respectively.
Type I fibers receive the most blood and oxygen, and therefore have the slowest rate of fatigue, enabling them to output power over a long period of time – at relatively low intensity. Endurance athletes like Iron Man competitors will want to build a higher percentage of these fibers through their training regimen.
Type IIA and B are both known as fast-twitch fibers, with A being slightly slower (a sprint or a quick climb) and B being slightly faster (weightlifting a single rep at max capacity). Both types of fibers are ultimately needed so that your body can perform with strength, with power, and for a significant duration of time.
Strength and conditioning
If endurance training is all about how long you can sustain power, strength and conditioning is about the quality of that power. Creating the time to accommodate both strength and endurance training is vital, but the program that is perfect for you, your body, and your goals is going to be a highly personalized blend of specific workouts.
With that said, this second pillar is usually the most romanticized, the most celebrated, and as a result, the least neglected. But just because it’s probably not being ignored in your regimen doesn’t mean it’s not worth a closer look for potential optimization. Work smarter, not harder!
To (again) grossly oversimplify what’s happening here, strength training is simply about creating resistance to your muscular contractions. If you let your arm hang down by your side, then suddenly lift it up to point ahead of you, you just contracted a bunch of muscles to make that happen. But it was probably pretty easy, right? Your muscles are strong enough to move the parts of your body on command because it has to do so frequently. (Doing that motion 100 times? Now that’s muscular endurance – see above!). But what about when you have to lift something heavier than you’re used to? Or when you’re competing in an event, race, or sport where being able to make that motion harder, stronger, or faster would give you an advantage? Simple – just add resistance and do it, do it, do it.
Strength and conditioning programs can be tailored to certain muscle groups, certain muscle types, and more to fit your personal needs. Similarly, every program should consist of some element of stretching, warming up, and warming down to prevent injury and increase range of motion.
Nutrition is a key pillar of training because without fuel, none of the work you’ve done in pillars one and two will matter. Nor will it even be possible in a few days sans nutrition! The actions of pillar one and two are simple – make your heart beat more and it will get better at its job, make muscles work harder and they’ll be stronger. Nutrition is much more complex. It’s about identifying what your body needs, in what amounts and frequencies, and how to deliver it in a way that benefits your training, yes, but also suits your lifestyle, budget, and skill level.
Nutrition is also not something that can be “accomplished” in a daily session or a short-term program. It’s a 24/7/365 regimen that needs to be practiced and iterated upon constantly. PKRS nutritionists work with our members to design plans, but also to check in on those plans and ensure they’re having the desired effect. Allergies, dietary constraints, and intolerances also add complications to nutrition, but your nutritionist is there to help ensure that you’re providing your body with everything it needs, while feeding it nothing that might inhibit peak performance.
Your training regimen begins and ends with recovery, and it’s in the recovery phase that your progress for the day is realized. Even more importantly, how you recover sets the tone for your next training session and can determine tomorrow’s peak. Train hard, recover well, and the next day’s peak can be even higher than today. Train hard, but recover poorly, and you might find yourself disappointed no matter how hard you work. You may even increase your risk of injury by slacking in recovery.
Aspects of recovery include warm-down practices, post-workout snacks and hydration, transitioning out of workout-mode and into regular-life-mode, and eventually, sleep. It also includes a whole market of recovery aids, from lotions and salves, to massage devices and rollers, to shakes and smoothies, and beyond. While the offerings can seem overwhelming, many of these products can be extremely helpful, and finding the right balance of practices, habits, and tools can help you take your performance to the next level. Recovery also factors heavily into mental and emotional health beyond your training program, and can help you realize your goals and ensure that your routines are sustainable for the long haul.
With these four pillars at the center of your training program, and at the core of everything we do here at PKRS.AI, you’ll be sure to take a holistic approach to your well-being! Let’s get started – we’re in it together.
The race towards your better self
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