General principles of exercise

To maximize the results from your training program, several exercise principles should be understood.


Adaptation means that the body can adjust to any overload as long as it is done in small increments. The amount of progress the body can make depends on adequate rest, consistency of workouts, adequate nutrition, and genetic makeup.


Overload, in exercise training programs, means that a training program causes the body to adapt only when the demands are greater than what the body is accustomed to doing. This does not mean that the overload is greater than your maximum, rather overload is generally greater than 75% of your maximal effort.


The principle of progression states that as the body adapts to the exercise program you must gradually increase the overload to continue to adapt. It is critical that all progressions are gradual and small in nature to prevent over loading the body's ability to recover.


Specificity of training is the principle that your body will adapt to whatever exercises you perform. This means that if you only perform bench presses, your body will not adapt to sit-ups. It may, therefore, be beneficial for you to alter your training to prepare for the Candidate Physical Ability Test.


Over-training addresses the body's need for adequate rest and nutrition following exercise to recuperate before the next exercise session. If recuperation is not adequate, over-training will occur. Signs of over training include: increased injury rate, increased resting hear rate, muscle soreness that does not subside after 48 hours, apathy, insomnia, loss of appetite, lack of adaptation to exercise, and loss of strength. Over-training must be avoided.


When developing a strength training program, it is important to balance muscle development by including exercises that train all major muscle groups of the body. This means that if the chest is trained so must the back; similarly if the upper body is trained so must the legs. When this principle is not followed, joints become imbalanced, and injuries occur.

Cardiopulmonary Endurance Program

Cardiopulmonary endurance is the ability of the cardiovascular and respiratory systems to deliver oxygen to working muscles. It consists of both aerobic and anaerobic energy systems.

Aerobic Fitness

During aerobic activities, the intensity of the exercise is low enough for the cardiopulmonary system to meet the oxygen demands of the working muscles. Aerobic activities include bicycling, hiking, swimming, climbing stairs, and running when performed at a low enough intensity.

Anaerobic Fitness

During anaerobic activities, the intensity of exercise is so high that the working muscle's demands for oxygen exceed the cardiopulmonary system's ability to deliver it. Because adequate oxygen is not available, waste products accumulate. This type of intense activity can only be short in duration. An example of an anaerobic activity is sprinting.

The CPAT Training Program

The CPAT Training program consists of two training programs. The first program is the aerobic training program and the interval program. Both of these programs complement each other and improve your aerobic and anaerobic fitness specific to the Candidate Physical Ability Test.

Aerobic Training

The cardiopulmonary endurance program should begin at a level that is considered "moderately difficult" but not "difficult". Your intensity should not be so high that you cannot speak during the exercise. The program below consists of a series of progressive levels. As you adapt to each step, you should move up to the next level. This program should be done 3 to 5 days per week.

Interval Training

Interval training involves a repeated series of exercise activities interspersed with rest or relief periods. This is an excellent tool for improving both aerobic and anaerobic endurance. In this program running intervals are performed on Tuesdays and Thursdays. It is important that interval days have at least one day of slow easy running between them. This provides the recovered necessary to prevent over training.

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