Whether you're training for an event or just exercising to be healthier and look better, using the 4 basic training principles to plan your workout schedule is extremely helpful. The principles are specificity, progression, overload, and recovery. I'll explain them in general here and discuss each one in detail over the next couple weeks.
Specificity: This means that you should select exercises or training methods that are specific to your goals. For example, if you want to run a marathon your training program should consist primarily of running and exercises that will improve your running. If you want to improve strength, you should do strength training with weight sufficient to fatigue your muscles.
Progression: Progression means that as your body adapts to the workouts you are doing, you must either increase or change what you are doing in some way. This concept seems to have been replaced with "muscle confusion", a term I really hate. Motor learning is not the same as reaching a plateau and unfortunately the former is often discarded to prevent the latter. I'll get into a lot more detail about this later.
Overload: Simply put, you have to challenge your body with workloads that push the limits of your capabilities in order to see improvements. This doesn't necessarily mean that you should go all out, all the time, on every exercise but it brings to mind one of my favorite quotes, "If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always gotten". If you're not pushing yourself to get stronger, faster, leaner, or whatever you're going for, it's just not going to happen.
Recovery: This principle is just as important as the other three, if not more. If you do not give your body adequate time to rest and rebuild from all the demands you are placing on it, you run the risk off illness or injury. This one is the hardest for many people to incorporate into their training because it feels a lot like wasting time. Trust me, it's not.
Now that you know the basics idea of each training principle, I'll begin delving into each topic in greater detail over the next few weeks. Until then, keep training!