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The Principle of Reversibility

Principle of Reversibility
   The Reversibility Principle states that athletes lose the effects of training after they stop working out; however, the detraining effects can be reversed when training is resumed. In short,

   While rest periods are necessary for physical recovery, extended intervals of resting will actually cause an actual reduce physical fitness. The physiological effects of fitness training diminish over time, causing the body to revert back to its state prior to training.

   Detraining starts to occurs within a relatively short time period after training ceases. Approximately 10% of strength is lost after 8 weeks of inactivity, but 30-40% of muscular endurance is lost during the same time period.

   Researchers report athletes usually feel the effects - losses in endurance and conditioning - due to missed workouts in a relative short period of time. 

The Reversibility Principle Does Not Apply to Skill Retention
     Coordination is required for continuous motor skills (walking, biking, etc.). These skills appear to be stored in long-term memory with very little degradation. See Memory Techniques. Over an extended period of inactivity physical strength, endurance, and flexibility decline and eventually are lost; however, the knowledge an athlete acquired to execute motor skills and strategies is retained long after they are unable to execute the physical skills.

    The challenge often concerns regaining precise timing after detraining. In other words, the motor skill programs remain intact but the body's physical tools for executing the programs become rusty and must be regained.

Applying the Reversibility Principle
  • Conditioning. After taking a long break from training, begin a conditioning program to rebuild sport fitness. After several weeks of not raining, athletes should gradually increase their general conditioning/fitness before resuming the training volume and intensity previously attained.
  • Resting Active. During the off season, active participation in other sports or activities minimizes detraining effects and may even have some transfer or facilitation of skill acquisition.
    Avoid long rest periods with complete inactivity.

    Returning to training. Increase exercise gradually and progressively after long periods of inactivity. Athletes should avoid performing intense workouts without first participating in a conditioning program.
  • Resumption of training Athletes who are restarting their weight training will remember how to properly execute the lifts, but can sustain an injury if they overestimate the maximum weight they can lift compared to their previous best lifting performance.
  • Flexibility. Emphasize stretching exercises to regain previous levels of joint flexibility. This is particularly important for older adults who participate in senior sports.
Recommended Reading:
  • PDF Socializing the Knowledge Transfer Problem  A central issue in acquiring knowledge is its appropriate transfer beyond the contexts and contents of first acquisition. In contrast to dominant "common elements" transfer theory, an interpretive perspective is developed, according to which "appropriate transfer" is a concept socioculturally rather than objectively defined.
  • PDF Cognitive Skill Acquisition  Review of research conducted in the past ten years on cognitive skill acquisition. It covers the initial stages of acquiring a single principle or rule, the initial stages of acquiring a collection of interacting pieces of knowledge, and the final stages of acquiring a skill, wherein practice causes increases in speed and accuracy.
  • PDF EFF Research Principle: A Contextualized Approach Research on the transfer of learning. teachers starts with real-life contexts and is weaved into all stages of every teaching and learning process. Instruction and assessment are aimed directly at the skills and knowledge adults need to perform tasks they have identified as important and meaningful to them. The focus is on the application rather than on the possession of basic skills and knowledge.
  • Specificity of Training  Volume 1(2): January, 1996. SPECIFICITY OF TRAINING. This edition of Coaching Science Abstracts reviews articles concerned with the Principle of Specificity.
  • Specificity | Fitness and Health Nov. 28, 2006 ... Specificity states that your training should move from general to highly specific training. It also dictates that in order to improve a particular skill.
  • PDF Focusing on Specificity Training  Focusing on Specificity Training ·.Written by NFPT Staff Writer Friday, 03 February 2012 00:00. The personal trainer will encounter athletes of all stripes.

The Reversibility Principle in Sports Training The Reversibility Principle dictates that athletes lose the effects of training when they stop working out. It also means that detraining effects can be reversed.

BBC - GCSE Bitesize: Principles of training The best training programs are built on principles of specificity, overload, progression and reversibility. You can use the FITT acronym to help incorporate add the detail of Frequency, Intensity, Time, and Type.

The Three Principles of Training improves an athlete's performance obeys the three principles of training, summarized here. Specificity; Overload; Specificity, Overload, and Reversibility.

Principles of Training Athletes:


The following internet links have been gleaned from personal communications
combined with information from public institutions and athletic organizations/
associations that have a web presence with information concerning team and
individual sports programs:

Principles of Sports Training:
Principles of Training Athletes
Developing Skills for Figure Skating
Acquiring Sports Skills
Amount of Time to Acquire Sports Skills
Biomechanics of Sports
Balanced Principles For Training
Sports Skills & Mechanical Techniques
Physical Fitness & Preparedness
Individual Differences
The Overload Principle in Training
Recovering From Training
Principle of Reversibility
Principle of Specificity
Transference of Knowledge & Skills
Training Variation
Psychomotor Domain
Objectives of Psychomotor Goals

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