Top Ten Training Principles
1. The Progressive overload principle.
On any training program you must push yourself to progressively work harder or you will not experience any improvement. If the body is consistently challenged with the same resistance then it has no reason to adapt. However this comes with a warning: all gains in strength and fitness should be made gradually, never allow form to suffer as you progress and always listen to how your body feels on the day.
2. The Consistency Principle.
You need to work out consistently and on a regular basis. You start to lose your fitness after as little as ten days of inactivity. A two week holiday is more than enough time to see your strength and endurance slide. Ensure that if you have a busy period, you keep up what you can. You can maintain your current level of fitness for a while by training with as little as one third of your normal frequency if you still keep the intensity high.
3. The One hour Principal
Testosterone levels peak after 15 minutes of training and level off after a further 30 to 45 mins of training. Cortisol levels start to rise after 55 minutes. If you want to see gains in muscle than you need to keep testosterone high and cortisol low otherwise your results will suffer. Forget training for two or three hour sessions, because hormonally you won’t get the response you want, and training form often suffers with longer sessions, as fatigue kicks in and mental concentration declines. Train for one hour or less and keep the intensity high for the duration of your workout.
4. The Adaptation principle.
Contrary to popular belief muscles adapt and become stronger while your resting, not while you’re working out. The workout is the catalyst for change but the real results are made by ensuring you support your body after the workout. Ensure your post workout nutrition is up to scratch providing the fuel you need to recover and that you get an ample amount of sleep. The body usually needs 48 to 72 hours rest and recovery before it can repeat the same or a similar workout again. Training muscles a second time before they are fully recovered can cause overtraining and lead to injury. If you want to workout more regularly than you will need to cross train with other training methods or break up your workouts so that you are not working the same muscle groups and movement patterns every day.
5. The Weakest link principle
You really are only as strong as your weakest link and so if you want to make significant gains, you need to train your fixator and stabilizer muscles. If stabilising muscles are weak than they will shut down the neural output to the larger muscles, to prevent you doing more than you can handle. For example if your shoulder stabilisers can only do 10 push ups but your chest can handle more then you will never reach your full potential because the stabilizers will fatigue at 10 before your chest muscles have had a chance to reach their limit.
6. The Superset principle.
The pairing of muscle groups allows you to get the biggest bang for your buck; allowing you to contain the maximum number of exercises in your program while minimising fatigue. You can be training one muscle group while the other gets the appropriate rest and recovery. In programs, I often use supersets for antagonist (opposing) muscles to help prevent imbalances and disruption of the bodies’ alignment.
7. The Variety Principle.
Changing your program frequently is imperative since the body is smart and can adapt to any constant stressor. When it does, you can kiss results goodbye, as progress stops dead! If you follow the overload principle then you will progressively work harder and grow fitter but even then, at some stage you will begin to plateau. You will not be able to make any more gains on your current program. This signifies that you need to change your program and give the body a new stimulus. Complete beginners can do a program for a longer period before they need to change but for those who are trained they will adapt to programs much quicker and so must consistently seek out new ways to challenge the body and mind.
8. The Balance Principal.
If training as a form of stress is consistently and correctly applied the body will adapt in a positive way. If the stress is applied in an improper or inconsistent manner the body will either not adapt or will adapt in a negative way leading to overtraining or injury. Often times people will over emphasize particular muscle groups or energy systems in their training program and this can lead to muscular imbalances or neural fatigue causing overtraining and predisposing them to injury.
9. The Success Principal.
Maximal voluntary contractions are essential to the strength training process. The last rep of each set is usually accomplished by the muscle reaching fatigue ie. You cannot perform another repetition. When you have fatigued the muscle it is then time to let the adaptation principle take over, give the body the appropriate rest it deserves so that it will grow stronger for next time.
10. The Recovery principle
The length of the rest period is dictated by your training goal. Whether it is endurance, strength, relative strength or hypertrophy you are aiming for, the length of the rest period will dictate the bodies’ hormonal response to the workout. When training high repetitions you need to keep the rest periods short to help produce as much lactate as possible. When you are training low repetitions, for strength, then the nervous system needs longer to recover and your program should reflect that.