The 3 Principles Of Exercise
Legendary football coach Vince Lombardi would begin every season with a speech to his team. He would say, “Men, this is football..” and then he would start breaking down the fundamentals of the sport.
Well folks, this is fitness and there are fundamental principles that we need to learn and follow.
The three principles (fundamental truths) are specificity, overload, and progression. It doesn’t matter if you are strength training, running or pole dancing. If you want to get results and continue to move forward you need to stick to these principles.
Simply put, you get what you train.
The exercise you choose should match what you are looking to accomplish. Let’s say your biggest desire is to change the shape of your body. To do this, you’ll need to change the way you eat and do physical activity that forces the musculature of the entire body to work. Your body won’t change with fresh air and good intentions. It needs a reason to change.
When most people think about changing the shape of their body, they think about losing weight. Now, losing weight can be accomplished without exercise, but all you’re really doing is making a smaller version of the same body.
The scale has changed and you may be smaller, but you can still have the same slumped shoulders, jiggly arms and squishy belly. Changing the actual shape of the body will require strength training and conditioning.
You’ll have to lift weights. You can lift light weights and bodyweight for high repetitions (15+). You can lift moderate loads (weights) between 6-14 repetitions or you can lift heavier weights with low repetitions (3-5). Spending time in all three ranges is a smart choice.
You’ll also need to move a lot (conditioning). You can walk, hike, ruck (walking or hiking with a weighted pack), swim, bike, row, run (preferably at different speeds and distances), do circuit training or play sports. The important thing is that you do something.
Pushing your body to do work it’s not accustomed to doing. GET OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE. I’ll mention again that these principles apply to whatever you are doing. Coach Dan John said it best – Intensity trumps volume.
Exercise needs to be intense. Let’s continue to use weight loss (fat loss) as an example. Everyone gravitates towards running to lose fat. You begin running a mile and burn 100 calories in 15 minutes- just an example. You’ve gotten better at running that mile and now you are more efficient at using energy (calories). Don’t get excited because efficiency means you are burning less calories to run that mile. You either have to go longer or faster to increase the intensity. Why would you want to run 20-30 minutes to burn the amount of calories it took in 15 minutes? How do you make it more intense? You go faster, run up a hill, or carry someone on your back.
You’ll learn quickly though that you can’t always keep going further, faster or longer without diminishing returns.
Remember when fitness pole dancing was a thing? Let’s say you got hooked on pole dancing and that’s what you really enjoyed doing for fitness.
Do you remember how sore you were from swinging around the pole a few times? Your muscles never worked that way before. It felt great. You created a new stress and the muscles responded. You even broke a nice sweat and burned a decent amount of calories. You’re hooked!
As you continue to take classes, you get really good, but your body isn’t responding as it once did. You need to step up your game and progress to more challenging moves. You begin climbing, flipping and spinning faster around the pole. Your friends start chanting, “go Jade, go, go, go Jade (your stage name of course) and you really turn up the intensity. The next day you are sore and really feel the extra work. That’s because you stepped out of your comfort zone and created more stress that forced the body to adapt and eventually change. This is progression.
Those are the three principles of strength training and exercise. Make sure you are doing the appropriate stuff for your goal (specificity). Challenge yourself with the proper intensity (overload) and make sure to make steady progress.