Learn The 4 Principles Of Fitness Training To Create Rock-Solid Workout Plans

There are 4 principles of fitness training which are simple, but absolutely essential to know. They are the difference between success and failure. Once you know them and, more importantly, how to use them, you'll be able to form strong, robust fitness training plans.

Interestingly enough, the 4 principles of fitness training give you 4 key benefits.

  1. You're guaranteed to improve over time.
  2. You get results where you need them the most.
  3. Your plans will be perfectly suited to you.
  4. You don't lose the gains you've made when life gets busy

Below are descriptions of each of the 4 principles of fitness training. After each description there is a box which tells you how to use the principle in your fitness plans. These are the most important parts. Make sure you read them and use them in your plans.


The 4 Principles of Fitness Training

1. Overload Principle

To make improvements in your fitness you need to overload your body. You need to stress or challenge the bodily system (aerobic/musculoskeletal) beyond what it is used to.

Eg. If you lift some heavy weights which are difficult to move, your body says...

"Whoa tiger! I need to get bigger, better, faster"

And that's exactly what happens. Your body changes to accommodate the challenge.

The same thing happens with your aerobic system. If you run for 20 minutes and find it difficult, your body will make improvements while you rest. This makes it easier for you the next time you complete the run.


BOTTOM LINE: You need to subject your body to gradual and progressive overload. That is, make sure your workouts slowly but surely get harder over time.

BENEFIT: You are guaranteed to improve over time.



2. Specificity Principle

Your exercise program must be specifically related to your training goals.

This means you need to overload your muscles in the best way for your particular purpose.

For example, the training you do for building a hot set of 6 pack abs is very different to the training to improve your physical performance at martial arts.

Lets look at why...

6 pack abs training: You would do a large variety of exercises targeted directly on building muscle in your rectus abdominis and your obliques. You would use heavy weights with low reps to build the maximum muscle possible. You would also do some aerobic fitness training and perhaps some HIIT to burn off fat so your abdominal muscles would show through more.

Martial arts training: You would do many compound exercises to build strength in your whole body. You might also do some specific strength training in your arms and shoulders because these are frequently used for punching. You would do high reps with less weight because muscular endurance is required. Interval training would also be important for those short bursts of energy that are necessary whilst sparring (fighting).

Another example of specificity is: The common goal of total body fitness. Your exercise program should be designed specifically to get you to this goal. Your exercise program for total body fitness would include:

  • Aerobic exercise/Cardio
  • Flexibility
  • Resistance exercises
  • etc.

Many people think that by just lifting weights or running that they are building full-body-fitness. However, in reality, a true full-body fitness program covers all bases mentioned above.


BOTTOM LINE: To achieve your fitness training goal... You need to design your program so that you are working the specific areas of your body that you want to improve. You also need to make sure you're exercising in the right way (correct # sets, reps, weight etc.)

BENEFIT: You'll get specific results where you want them.


3. Individuality Principle

Remember this from school? "Everyone is different, which means everyone is special"

As sickeningly mushy as it sounds, your teachers were right.

  • Everyone's body is different.
  • Everyone has got different things which motivate them.
  • Everyone has got different levels of exercise experience.
  • Everyone has had different injuries.

This means that when you take up an exercise program you're going to get different results from Joe Bloggs down the road.

You may be someone who gets rapid strength gains from lifting weights. Whereas Joe might respond well to long distance running.

I know that my body seems to love weight training. I put on muscle very quickly. But my flexibility, on the other hand, comes a lot more slowly. I really have to work at it to get decent gains.


BOTTOM LINE: Building your own fitness training plans is an advantage. No-one knows your body as well as you do which means that no 'off-the-shelf' fitness plans will be as good as anything you can build for yourself.

BENEFIT: Your plans will be perfectly suited to you.


4. Reversibility Principle- "Use it or lose it"

Were you ever really good at something when you were younger? And then years later, after trying it again, you discovered "It just aint what it used to be"

Well then you've experienced the principle of reversibility.

The exact same thing happens with fitness training. If you stop exercising, gradually the gains that you initially made begin to disappear. It's a sad thing, but there's no avoiding it.

That's why it is so important to stick with your exercise programs. Sure, life throws some sticky situations at you every now and again. But the people who keep exercising through thick and thin are those who get the best results.


BOTTOM LINE: Plan for the worst. Build some emergency mini-workouts which you can do when times are tough.

BENEFIT: Stops your hard earned gains from disappearing into thin air.


The 4 principles of fitness training you just learned will strengthen your fitness plans immensely. Use them as the foundation for all training decisions you make and you can't go wrong!



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