Body Mind: Progression, Regularity, Overload, Sepcificity

Babs King 20 February 2010

Pilates is well-known as a mind-body exercise that focuses on connecting physical movement with mental observation. As humans, we are constantly changing and in order to be optimally relevant, alert, and functional in our daily lives we must keep advancing the mind-body connection. In order to continue advancing the mind-body connection it is critical to apply proper training principles. These training principles include: progression, regularity, overload, and specificity, otherwise known as PROS. PROS is designed to facilitate resistance training programs such as the ones utilized by the Pilates reformer. As PROS is applied to positively enhance the body, it simultaneously enhances the mind due to the mind-body connection inherent in Pilates.

The first principle, the principle of progression, states that the demands placed on the body must progressively increase. In order to make physical advances, training should progress relative to individual goals and needs. Over time, training sessions should become more challenging and encourage the body to adapt to higher levels. As the principle of progression is applied to the body, the mind digs deeper into its internal awareness system to execute the exercise. In Pilates, progressing the body progresses the mind, and vice versa.

The next principle is regularity. This principle is simple: in order to make gains in Pilates, training must occur regularly. Physical adaptations and changes will be significantly increased if training is consistent. Practicing Pilates three times a week with adequate recovery will result in increased core strength, flexibility, and longer and leaner muscles. Additionally, regularity increases the time per week in which the mind is being exercised. The mind-body connection continues to grow.

Overload is the next training principle. The principle of overload states that the body must train beyond its normal threshold in order to make physical advances. Overload may be achieved through changing training intensity, duration or frequency. Applying the principle of overload to the reformer for example, may mean manipulating the spring resistance. Manipulating the spring resistance by either increasing or decreasing it, can increase the intensity of a Pilates reformer workout. Here, the mind is challenged through intensity, duration, or frequency just as the body is to perform the exercise.

Lastly is the principle of specificity. This principle states that adaptations are specific to things like exercise range of motion, muscle groups, muscle actions etc. For example, bicep curls will increase bicep strength but will not affect hamstring strength. Specificity is applied to the Pilates reformer based on an individual's needs. For example, end-range footwork may applied to someone with unstable knees to help with daily activities such as stair-climbing. Furthermore, specificity challenges the mind more deeply to connect to the body in a specific area for a specific purpose.

In addition to PROS, factors that will influence training include: heredity, diet, current fitness level, and health habits such as sleep. PROS can be applied to the Pilates reformer to maximize physical and mental gains. When these principles are applied appropriately a student can experience the results that they are looking for, as well as realize that the journey of health and well-being is an ongoing process.