If you want to design superior quality training programs and achieve consistently superior results, you must respect and abide by a few key training principles. We’ll cover 3 of those principles in this blog by Glen Carroll and 3 more in the next blog, so stay tuned!
These principles are essential to understand, and they should guide your training prescriptions for all clients and goals. Now, what are the first 3 key principles?
#1 – INDIVIDUALISATION
Whilst there are a few universal requirements we must do to achieve positive returns from our training, it’s crucial to remember the person we are coaching. This is because everyone will have their own unique needs, goals, abilities, context & preferences.
So, two clients may have the same exact goal yet require very different programming. Yet this doesn’t mean you should purely prescribe training programs which only feature things they love.
Rather, you must balance their needs and wants to create the ideal tailored program to achieve their goal, whilst finding the right blend of challenge and enjoyment too. Whilst all good training programs will have key commonalities, to maximise the client result we need to tweak it to suit them.
Individualisation example – Tom and Bob both want to build their Quads. Both Tom and Bob love Barbell High Bar Back Squats, but Tom has been getting knee pain when he squats to full depth. So, you opt to prescribe to Tom for phase 1 a Low Bar Box Squat to control the depth and reduce the amount of knee flexion. Bob is prescribed his preferred BB High Bar Squat.
#2 – SPECIFICITY
When it comes to training and program design, you can do anything you want. Yet that doesn’t mean you will get the exact outcomes you want too!
This is because the specific training you do and how you execute it impacts the specific outcomes which occur. Conversely, if you do random things, you’ll get random results.
This is why training specificity is so crucial and why you need to create programs which specifically suit the individual client and their goal. Whilst sticking to the essentials will help most, if you’re striving for superior results, we need our programming to be more focused.
The S.A.I.D. principle (specific adaptations to imposed demands) perfectly explains the importance of specificity and it is crucial to remember. It means the specific adaptations that occur from training, will be dictated by the imposed demands which come from our programming.
Yet the magnitude of the positive training adaptations that occur will also be dictated by numerous other factors like genetics, effort and nutrition.
Specificity example – Milly wants to grow her Glutes, but you’ve identified a muscular imbalance between the two sides. So, your programming uses a Glute bias but it also features more single leg work to train the sides more independently.
#3 – OVERLOAD
When it comes to progression over time, the name of the game is overload! This is because if you constantly do the same, you’ll stay the same! Why? because there’s no reason for your body to change if it can already handle the training stressor imposed upon it!
Yet overload can come in many forms (load, reps, sets etc) too, whilst the speed and magnitude of progression can vary significantly between clients and scenarios. For instance, a true beginner should achieve more rapid progression, relative to an advanced lifter.
However, slower progression doesn’t mean inferior progression. This is because the advanced lifter has a very different training age and due to their superior neuromuscular efficiency, their progression rates will typically be much slower.
Overload example – Milo of Croton was an ancient Greek wrestler who used a simple yet effective approach to build his strength and size. Legend has it that Milo began carrying a small calf with him everywhere and kept doing so whilst the calf grew into a bull. As the calf grew in size, Milo’s body adapted to handle the greater load which resulted in Milo growing too.
So, there you go, 3 key training principles you must know if you’re a coach who works in the fitness industry! Want to learn more about program design? Then check out our Program Design course as we dive deeply into these principles & showcase how to manipulate them for greater success.
Thanks for reading,