Back To Basics 1

23 Jun

Listen a lot of us aren’t successful in the gym. We put in the time. We put in the effort. We want results and we aren’t getting them.

We are quick to hop onto the newest and best thing. Mechanical Drop Sets, Density Training, HIIT, the list of big words and fancy Acronyms goes on and on.

Step out of your body for a second and look at it. Do you have a jaw dropping physique, do you think that body you’re looking at can amass a 1,000 lb. total right now? Can you even do a proper pull-up, just one. I’m not here to ride you, hell I was in the same boat as you.

Come to grips with who you are and what you’re capable of today. Ask yourself, honestly, if you’re ready to employ advanced techniques to your workout. With a reasonable sense of your capabilities, can you really argue with the idea that the basics are going to get you farther than any flashy program from FLEX magazine?

Today I am going to start a series of posts, adding one per week, on getting back to the basics. I’m going to use some common sense and lessons from the classic text “The Science and Practice of Strength Training.” In doing so I will break it down baby talk. All of this, in order to get you to the root of what you’re trying to accomplish, and aid you in building that impressive physique. Let’s get moving.

What is it exactly that you are doing by exercising? What process are you facilitating? The answer is adaptation. When we begin strength training and conditioning our bodies we are forcing the body to adapt to a level above where it began. In order to squat more than you can right now you have to adapt. In order to run farther or faster than you did last week, your body has to adapt. It’s a fundamental process.

In their text “The Science and Practice of Strength Training,” Vladimir M. Zatsiorski and William J. Kramer identify four features of the adaptation process in relation to sport training:

  • Stimulus Magnitude (Overload)
  • Accommodation
  • Specificity
  • Individualization

Overload is principle to the adaptation process. In order to make a change you must apply a stimulus greater than normal. You can utilize this principle in two ways.

First, you can change the training load. You have probably seen the words volume and intensity thrown around quite a bit. The volume of your training refers to the total amount of work you accomplish in a training session (sets, reps, etc.). Intensity does not refer to how hard you work out, or how loud you yell mid pull on your deadlift, but rather how hard your body has to work, most easily expressed as how “much” (i.e. weight) you lift. Increasing these, increases the training load / stimuli. Therein, causing an overload. These factors are applied to the same exercise. For example If your body is accustom to squatting your body weight. Then you will effectively cause an overload by adding an external load (barbell) or performing more body weight squats in the same workout than you did last go. Make sense?

Secondly, you can apply an overload by changing the exercise. Given that your body is not accustomed to the new exercise.

This idea is often overlooked when people attack their workouts. How often have you seen guys / girls using the same load for an exercise week in and week out. Even worse how often have you seen a person using weights far lower than they are capable of moving. Women are especially guilty of this. It’s a poor example because it’s a poor exercise choice, but I see women curling 2.5lb dumbells all the time. They are capable of moving much higher weights but don’t. By doing so they are actually detraining. This brings us to our next point.

The authors offer that training loads can be measured by three magnitudes:

  • Stimulating – Load is greater than normal and causes positive adaptation
  • Retaining – Load is normal and no adaptation occurs
  • Detraining – Load is less than normal and can cause a decrease in performance and function of the person

Very simply If you and I both squat 135 for 4 sets of 10, and I decide to add a set to my workout while you decide to either stay at 4 sets or drop down to 3 sets, I will get stronger while you will remain the same or get worse respectively.

We will talk at length about it later on, but progressive overload is paramount to you making a change. If I am continually making changes to my workout by utilizing the overload principle I will continue to adapt. As I adapt I will become stronger and more muscular than you.

The idea is pretty basic, but are you utilizing it in your training? I could walk into the gym right now and I would estimate maybe 10% of the people in there are aware of it, maybe less.

That’s all for today but stay tuned as we continue this discussion and put the basics to work for you. Take what you learned today and start applying it right away, once you are conscious of the overload principle and start progressively loading your workouts you will start to make some real gains.

LEAVE SOME COMMENTS / QUESTIONS / CORRECTIONS / ANYTHING! I’D LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU!

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2 Responses to “Back To Basics 1”

  1. Terry B June 23, 2010 at 1:47 pm #

    It really is odd how often this is overlooked. Nice post, look forward to the rest!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Guest Post: 3 Principles of Program Design « Greg Robins - April 4, 2012

    […] response. The Science and Practice of Strength Training (Zatsiorsky and Kraemer) states that Overload, Accommodation, Specificity, and Individualization are the basic concepts of physical training. To […]

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