By Ernesto P. Cruz, Jr.
ISSA-CFT

There are numerous training philosophies evolved in the fitness industry. From books to magazines to videos and the Internet. Some works for strength, others for size. Some for cuts, others for speed. Some for sports, others for fitness. Some for hard gainers, some for beginners.

Even if you have time to persue all of them and adequate knowledge of training science to make informed choices, uncertainly to which is best can still paralyze you. Science must then guide you. But all too frequently, science is often misinterpreted leading to confusion.

There are several well documented principles that are important in judging the merits of any training system. Most of the training systems popular in current magazines adhere only in part to the Seven “Granddaddy” Laws. (ISSA edition 8.1.5) that determines whether a training system is more or less effective than the other and how these laws are implemented to the best advantage of the trainee and whether or not they are even considered.

•  PRINCIPLE OF INDIVIDUAL DIFFERENCE.

These observation suggest that the difference between a nerve and a muscle cell depends upon which genes in the muscle are able to form m RNA and thereby, the corresponding proteins. The problem of cell differentiation is related to the general problem of regulating protein synthesis.

The protein associated with DNA in the nucleus may inhibit various genes by preventing access to the DNA surface where m RNA (messenger RNA responsible for transformation of information codes from DNA to the protein synthesizing sites) can be formed. To understand the more complex process which of cell differentiation a great deal must be learned to understand more about the process which regulate protein synthesis in the cell of the higher organism. (Human Physiology, 1970)

“We all will have similar responses and adaptations to the stimulus of exercise, but the rate and magnitude of these changes will be limited by our differing genetics. Some are fast responders, some are slow. Some have the capacity to reach elite status and some do not. If we have everyone perform the same exercise program, they will not receive the same benefits at the same rate or to the same extent.” Says David Q. Thomas, Ph. D

This is a very important principle to teach to people wishing to start an exercise program or youngsters just coming into sports for the following reason:

•  To set realistic goals

•  To avoid frustration after not seeing miraculous result in their performance

 

•  PRINCIPLE OF OVERCOMPENSATION

One way of reducing input to the central nervous system (CNS) is by adaptation where in progressive decrease in action frequency in neurons during a period of constant stimulus strength. (Human Physiology; The Mechanics of Body Function, Means of Limiting Afferent Information, 1970) For example, the adaptive responses (e.g. calluses build-up from friction, muscular hypertrophy in response to training) involve Mother Nature’s law of overcompensation for a stress response making it the survival mechanism built into the genetic codes of the species.

•  OVERLOAD PRINCIPLE

In order to gain strength, muscle mass or endurance from any training, you must exercise over a normal resistance. Using the same amount of weight on the same number of repetitions per workout produces no continued improvement beyond the point where your body is already adapted.

Your body is wonderfully adaptable to stress imposed during training. As you get stronger, the stress levels required to adaptation rises up to the point that your recuperative powers will not keep up. The solution is very simple. At this point you must go into SPLIT system of training. Then later perhaps double or even triple split. The only other solution will be for your training progress to plateau or worse, you will enter a state of overtraining as you are not giving your body ample time to recuperate, and further adaptation to occur.

The best solution: PERIODIZATION: refers to how one’s training is broken into discreet time periods called macro cycles, monocycles, and mycrocycles

•  S.A.I.D.- The Specific Principle

Your muscle will adapt in a highly specific ways to the adaptive stress you impose upon them in your training. This also applies to the various bodily systems and tissues other than your muscle. “Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands”. Your training adaptation goes along with your training objectives.

This principle is uncompromising in its highly research tenet of training “specifically” that problem frequently arises if one possesses more than one training objective at a time. For example, training for aerobic strength endurance will severely limit the level of strength one can attain. Your adaptive responses to exercise can change dramatically over time. Particularly as you age. Clearly this can only be achieved with the use of illegal and dangerous drugs or through the use of certain supplements.

Simply with just recovery, your body has become a different body, so the adaptation mechanism has changed.

 

•  USE/DISUSE PRINCIPLE

This applies to both training and cessation of training. In other words, “use it or lose it”.

If you stress your body well enough, it will adapt to meet the stress. For example, in a bodybuilding program, increased in muscle size or hypertrophy occurs in the trained muscle. If you stop stressing it (disuse or detrained), it will adapt to meet the lowered stress wherein atrophy (decrease in size) occurs.

Fortunately, it takes less time to become detrained. This detraining effect is known as the “law of reversibility”. This training -related changes in your neuromuscular system remains over a long period of time (muscle memory), which allows you to regain your strength or size more quickly than starting from scratch.

•  SPECIFICITY PRINCIPLE

This states that you must move from foundational training to specific and highly specified training as your final objective whether for optimum fitness or athletic competition.

This relates to the factor involved in both neuromuscular adaptation as well as technique functionality. Neuromuscular changes occur over time as an adaptation to repetitive moving patterns. For example, you get stronger in squat by doing squat in opposed to doing leg press and you will achieve greater endurance by running long distances than you do by cycling long distances.

•  General Adaptation Syndrome or G.A.S. PRINCIPLE

This is composed of three stages (Dr. Hans Seyle)

•  The “alarm stage” caused by application of intense training stress or the overload principles

•  The “resistance stage” when our muscle adpat in order to resist stressfull weight more efficiently to the Overcompensation, SAID and Use/Disuse Principles.

•  The “exhaustion stage” where in , if we persist in applying stress and exhaust our reserves and then be forced to stop training.

Confusion often arises in applying this principle. Some tissues or cellular components may have been stressed very little or not at all and are in need of little or no rest.

If a heavy negative training is performed, musch rest is needed because this form of training is highly traumatic to the muscles. On the other hand, if the same exercise is performed with the same resistance and the speed but the eccentric (negative) stress is removed, the rest would be far less.

ARE THERE ANY OTHER PRINCIPLES?

In addition to the one listed above, Dr. Mel Siff and Yuri Verkoshanky discussed many of the important principles of strength training in their book, Super training : Special Strength Training for Sporting Excellence (1996). This is the “Principle of Central Nervous Control”which states that all patented activity and computerized instructions to the nervous and endocrine system come from the highest command and integrating centers in human.

The ” Taper Principle ” by Patrick Neary, Ph.D., also states that the physiological adaptations of training is maintained with the reduction of training volume and frequency ( intensity and duration) to allow body to perform maximally. This appears between the fine balance between the amount of rest and amount of exercise performed. If you rest too much you lose the physiological adaptations of training hence, if you exercise too much, you overstrain.

Charles I. Staley, B.Sc., MSS added the ” Principle of Variability ” wherein he stated that even if the training load is specific to the desired outcome, the organism eventually accommodate to the stress. Various studies as well as in trench observations shows that varying various aspects of the training load (character, volume, intensity, density, etc.) allows the client to make more progress before accommodation sets in.

There are many different points of view when it comes to this laws and principles, and they work for many in the “trench” despite this, you should not be close minded about rejecting any of them or embracing any others for that matter, if sufficient scientific evidence warrants the change.


 

References: ISSA, Fitness: The Complete Guide 2004 pp 392-394
Human Physiology; The Mechanics of Body Function,1970 Means of Limiting Afferent Information, p 534, Cell Differentiation p 123, Protein Synthesis: Messenger RNA p 105-106

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