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Rules are a great way to get people into a good/bad mindset or feeling guilty more often than not. If you break the rules you’re bad; if you use the principles as a guide, then you’ll remain on track. Let’s use the aeroplane analogy to talk training principles. Now, I’m no pilot, but a plane is said to be off course between 80 & 90% of its flight. The plane is then steered and realigned back on course by the pilot to end up in the place we intended.

Lets talk training:

Think about your training life in 168-hour blocks, also known as a week; there may be certain weeks that don’t go as planned. Rather than the guilt that comes with breaking the rules. Let’s use your training principles to ensure we remain on track.

The first is specificity: start with your goal in mind. Let’s use strengthening the hips and thighs as an example. Your program design needs to use those muscles; the back squat would be a great exercise specific to that goal. The plane may be slightly off-course, but as long as some squats are being done in the week, then we are back on track. The second principle is overload: overload refers to the amount of stress placed on the muscle group we are trying to develop. We achieve this via increased weight, a back squat increasing from 50kg to 55kg as an example. Let’s calculate this out. If we squat at 50kg for 10 repetitions that = 500kg when we do 3 sets we lift 1.5 tonnes through those muscle groups. By increasing to 55kg, we increase the load by 50kg per set of 10 and your total load increases to 1.65 tonnes. Another way to manipulate load is to increase repetitions.

For example, an increase of 2 reps per set or 100kg, taking our load per set to 600kg and our total load through the muscle groups to 1.8 tonnes.

The other slight variation on the overload principle can be the manipulation of time under tension. Let’s say, for example; you wanted to stick exclusively to bodyweight exercise without any additional load. A way you could increase the total load is to increase the time the muscle is under tension. Maintaining the same form and time it takes to perform the exercise in this case a squat, however, increasing the time from 30 seconds to 45 seconds. This manipulation is typical of a group or interval-style training. You may also find it a useful principle for your isotonic holds; wall sits, planks and hollow holds.

If you can get comfortable being uncomfortable, then your overloading and challenging appropriately, the plan is back on course.

The 3rd principle is a progression; if we aren’t continually adapting to the overload, then we are not progressing. Here, is where the art and science come in, we need to know your body and progress while also responding to the body’s feedback. Soreness, flexibility, range of motion, rate of perceived exertion and energy levels to ensure the plan stays on track. Otherwise, we may have to pull into a nearby airport for some refuelling or downtime for appropriate fatigue management.

So the three principles

  • Specificity- make sure your training the muscle groups you want to achieve your goals
  • Overload – we need to manipulate load through resistance/ weight, repetition or time under tension
  • Progression – stretch the comfort zone, get comfortable being uncomfortable to ensure we keep heading toward that goal!

Where is your training plane heading right now?

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