The seven “granddaddy” fitness rules
Whatever your goal is in fitness, you can always confront your very own experience to those laws. Just to make sure you are doing it right. The following seven fitness rules might help you understand why one cannot pick a workout program out of internet or a magazine as is.
1. Principle of individual differences
We all have a genetic blueprint, that a fact. This diversity is a major reason for why humanity exists. Randomness is a force that helped us to make it through the ages, giving some resistances to certain individuals and doing the job of the natural selection.
We then all have similar responses and adaptations to the stimulus of exercise, but the rate and magnitude will be limited by our genetics. While nobody is doomed by a supposedly poor athletic potential (nothing has yet been scientifically proved, on that topic), it is necessary to adapt your training to be able to maximize your results.
2. Overcompensation principle
Overcompensation occurs as a response to a stress. Scars for a wound, muscle for exercise. Do not expect to change if you are not providing a stress within the overcompensation range.
3. Overload principle
Related to overcompensation, one should train against a resistance greater than that “normally” encountered. This also induces the famous sentence “do not expect changes if you are doing the same thing all the time”. The main issue with this concept is that by getting stronger, you may reach a stage where your recuperative powers simply cannot keep up. Therefore the concept of periodization, keystone of the modern fitness concept, should be implemented into your training routine.
4. SAID principle
Acronym for Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands, simply means that your body adapts to the kind of exercise you are applying to it. Do not expect to be a powerlifter if you do aerobics. Don’t expect to be a sprinter if you are only pushing iron. Bodily reactions are multiple and engage multiple systems, such as the musculo-skeletal, sympathetic and parasympathetic ones. To master your craft, DO IT!
5. Use/Disuse principle
The basic biologic definition of an organ. What defines an organ is its function. If you don’t train a body part, expect mother nature to take back what you gained. That’s part of our survival plan written in our genes. Body tends to lower its energetic consumption if not needed. That has been pretty much useful for humanity when food became rare back in the days.
6. Specificity principle
Correlated to SAID principle, this principle states that you must move from general training (don’t you dare skipping it!) to specific and highly specialized training as your final objective draws closer. Why not directly moving to the highly specialized training? Do you feel it is a good idea to abruptly turn a couch potato into a deadlift powerhouse? Getting a solid back and rugged tendons/ligaments before, anyone? Hmm?
7. GAS principle
For General Adaptation Syndrome. This one is fundamental to promote gains while avoiding the pretty unknown yet quite dangerous state of over training. Which is a serious chronic condition!
GAS principle states that, body is responding to stress following those steps over time:
- Alarm stage, caused by the application of intense training stress
- Resistance stage, in which your systems (muscular among others) are adapting
- Exhaustion stage, in which the body reached its fatigue phase. Any more exercise will exhaust reserves
This introduces the concept of cycles in training: micro, meso and macro cycles. If those are not respected and tailored for your very own organism, you incur either no results at all or falling into an over training state which takes weeks to months to recover from.