You all know the conventional training principles that have governed your efforts in present training. Here are some of these principles: specificity, overload, intensity, recovery, adaptation, progression. There are many more. For a refresher course, the gist of these principles can be found here.
But it’s a new year, and you may be seeking a new plan for your training. If so, you may need to overhaul your previous program to better approach your goals. Maybe you can apply the following pragmatic principles to get you to your goal:
The Principle of Show Up
The majority of readers on Breaking Muscle are highly motivated. You get on a program and stay with it. There are also those who have great intentions to train on a regular basis but you cash in your chips after a few weeks into a program. Excuses then ensue. “Well, I didn’t have time.” “I had other commitments.” “I just didn’t feel like it.” People, if you want results, show up at the training venue and work. It doesn’t have to be every day. Be reasonable on your available training days. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Three days per week is much better than zero days per week.
The Principle of Sensible Exercise
You can obtain great results by following sensible and orthopedically safe exercises and training modes. It has always been that way and it’s not going to change. You don’t need the latest popular gadget or program advertised on an infomercial. Work hard using time-proven devices and methods. Run, sprint, work on agility, do intervals, stretch, practice skills, squat, press, and pull like all successful people have done in the past. There is nothing revolutionary out there in 2013. Trust me. If there is, it’s probably something recycled from the past.
The Principle of Being Safe
Do you want to make it through a training cycle with minimal injuries? How about training for years without a major, debilitating set back? If you are engaging in exercise that is risky – that is, activities that obviously compromise your joints and muscles – then stop it. Educate yourself. There are much safer ways to achieve your goals without the excessive pounding and ballistic forces encouraged by the pseudo-experts. Remember, injuries occur when the structural integrity of a body part is exceeded. If it seems dangerous and risky, avoid it.
The Principle of Hard Work
Hello? It’s exercise, for the love of Jack LaLanne. Altering your body requires an overload stress that requires discomfort and a temporary pain tolerance. Yes, you will sweat, breathe heavily, experience muscle burn, or possibly even become nauseous. Understand you’re attempting to make physiological changes. If it were easy, the average person could simply walk in the gym, go through the motions, and walk out with the proper exercise stimulus that would elevate them to superior status. The truth is, to obtain the best results your mentality should be “walk in, crawl out.” Anything short of one hundred percent effort will result in less than maximal gains. Train at eight percent of your potential and you will get only eighty percent of what you are seeking. The only way to assure one hundred percent of your goal is to exude one hundred percent effort.
The Principle of Documentation
A lot is going on when you train: many exercises, resistances, and repetitions are used when strength training. Numerous runs, distances, targets, and rest times are used when conditioning. Performing a continuous exercise bout? What is the distance/time and intensity used? Whatever the specific case, record the details for future reference. You need to know what you did in workout one for you to progress in workout two, three, and four. How difficult is it to document your results (pencil to paper or keyboard to computer)? Unless you have a photographic memory, document all you do.
The Principle of Allowing for Results
I completely respect those who work hard. Good job! Now, to reap the benefits of that hard work, the body must be allowed time to adapt. Using the analogy of a flesh wound, if you experience a minor skin cut, you clean the cut and apply a bandage. It will not be completely healed the next day. Now, to completely heal that wound (i.e., tissue regeneration, formation of a scab, scab displaces itself, flesh wound is fully healed), it takes a biological timeline. This may take two to three days. The lesson learned: work hard, rest adequately, don’t pick the scab off prematurely, and reap the benefits of your hard work. Understand human biology may require multiple days to realize the results of your efforts.
The Principle of Doing More Over Time
If you can lift 100 pounds ten times on day one, make sure you can lift more than 100 pounds ten times weeks later. Similarly, if you can run 1,000 meters in a certain amount of time in week one, make sure you can run those 1,000 meters in a faster speed weeks later. If you do not have a plan of progression established, you will get nowhere.
Yes, the “new” principles may resemble some of the conventional ones. That is comforting. However, if not, take the new 2013 principles and apply them to your current training plan to assure you are getting the most from your efforts.
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