When focusing on resistance training and overall athletic performance, there are seven fundamental principles that guide improvement. When training, try to keep these principles in mind when looking to improve. Often times, people find that they are “hitting” performance; however, if they review their program, they will most likely be neglecting one or more of the following principles:
1. Overload principle
2. Progression principle
3. Principle of specificity
Four. Variation principle
5. Principle of individuality
6. Principle of diminishing returns
7. Principle of reversibility
This is one of the fundamental basics of resistance training. It basically means that if you want to get stronger or grow the muscle, you have to work or “overload” the muscle. When you overload muscle, you are actually tearing muscle tissue on a microscopic level. When this happens, the body tries to overcompensate, anticipating that it must do it again. By doing so, more muscle tissue is deposited, which causes muscle growth.
Again, this is one of the basic principles of weight training. This means that as you get stronger, there is no point in continuing to lift the same weight – you must “progress” by lifting a heavier weight or doing more reps. If the progression is too great, the weight will be too heavy to lift; however, if there is little or no progression, there will be no improvement in performance.
Principle of specificity
The concept of specificity is that if you want to improve your performance in a certain area, train in that area. In other words, train your way of playing! If you want to improve athletic performance in basketball, for example, there is no point running laps around an oval – Do basketball-based athletics such as suicide runs, ball exercises, etc. Resistance training is the same – if you want to improve your push-ups, do push-ups and exercises that mimic that movement.
Some people get confused because variation and specificity conflict. In fact, absolutely not! The idea of variation is that you mix up your training routine so that your body doesn’t adapt too efficiently to what you are trying to achieve. Again, using the push-up as an example, you can vary your push-up workout by switching it to incline or decline push-ups, slapping in the middle, or bringing your hand closer to make it a triceps push-up. Alternatively, you can try a bench press – biomechanically it is almost identical.
Principle of individuality
The individuality principle covers the differences of people with the ‘X’ factor, and those athletic fans who seem to get stronger just by looking at the weights! More seriously, individuality recognizes that all people train at different rates. This individuality can be influenced by factors such as age, sex, race, nutrition, genetic predisposition, and sleep. This is why it is important for people to follow their individual training routine rather than copy what others seem to be doing.
Principle of diminishing returns
The principle of diminishing returns means that as someone gets fitter or stronger, it takes more effort to keep getting fitter or stronger. A morbidly obese beginner will lose a significant amount of weight when they start out, but as they lose more and more weight, it becomes increasingly difficult to continue losing weight. The strength gains are the same. This is why world class athletes train for hours on end every day to try to get a 1-2% improvement!
This is the “move or lose it” rule. It means that exercise must be continued to maintain athletic and strength bases, or the results will be reversed. In general, the elderly are not as strong as when they were young, in part because they are not as active as when they were young. It has been estimated that an athlete on bed rest will lose approximately 10% of their cardiovascular performance. Per week! This is why many athletes will maintain their strength and fitness in the off-season. It is much easier to maintain fitness and strength than to lose it and try to regain it.
These are the seven principles of resistance training. Try to remember them and keep them in mind when writing your next training program!
Written by Shaun Ahearn