The Fundamental Principles of Strength Training and Muscle gain

So we are here to discuss the BASIC and the most important PRINCIPLES of conditioning, strength training, and muscle building. That means that if you are going to ignore or forget any “principle” at all; it better be none of THESE!

One can basically create thousands of pages of training manuals, programs, and articles using these BASIC grandfathered principles: That is the power of these principles that we are about to discuss and share with you. These are so powerfull one could call them THE SEVEN COMMANDMENTS OF GAINING MUSCLE!

The Law of Individual Differences
Each and every individual; all human beings share the SAME ANATOMY and PHYSIOLOGY; one cannot deny that. Lest one person or group of people would have their own “Clemente’s Anatomy” on their own behalf – then the practice of medicine would not have been possible since medicine in that case would not be applicable to everyone.
But in spite of that fact each and every human being would not have an exactly identical physical condition and different factors affect the state and condition of each and every one of us.
Different people are also borne of different lineages and tribes; and these tribes thrived (look at the rhyming word play there haha!) on different conditions at some point of their existence which greatly affects their present generation making them easily accustomed to some things but not on the other.

Not to mention that there are minor differences regarding the exact composition and percentage of distribution of fast twitch muscle fibers vs. slow twitch muscle among different individuals.

There is also this difference among our traits and genetics. This will also affect the level of hormones of each individual therefore each person might require different rest periods, training intensity, duration adaptation, etc. Therefore one must change up elements of their training once in a while to adjust to their needs and prevent stagnation.

The Overcompensation Principle
The body is organic; one can even say that the body is another living thing altogether with a consciousness and a mind of its own.

The body overcompensates with every training session and once it is exposed to the same stimulus within its period of overcompensation (after recuperation from the last training session) it will respond accordingly which will allow you to do the next wave of sessions or stressors with relative ease.

This is the overcompensation principle simply put; the body does the necessary increments in strength and fitness so that it will be able to keep up with the training you are doing. Here’s one tip: never allow it to do so. Always keep the body on its toes trying to keep up. Keep it guessing and you keep on gaining size and strength. And I am not saying that you must never allow it to recuperate; just keep in mind that you cannot keep on doing the same thing over and over again and expect results to continue.

Test Question: How many times did I say the word “keep” above? A lot!

 Like what I said above; change it up from time to time like in our Basic training program– if this week you did barbells for flat bench press; therefore you shall do it with dumbbells on the alternating week. And as always; strive to increase the load or the weight if you can afford to lift the same weight for more than 12 reps.

The Overload Principle
Yes, the body overcompensates but you must do your part and provide it with more and more challenge. Well, most of the explanation about this has already been said above; like gradually increasing the weight lifted and/or the intensity of each workout.

Check out our articles about manipulating “overload”

The Use/Disuse Principle
This is very simple: USE it or LOSE it. This has been a part of every clinical year pathology lessons; for example if a nerve isn’t used it will atrophy; therefore the organ connected to it can never be used again- why? The body detects that it isn’t being utilized/needed therefore it throws it away.

The same thing goes with conditioning- let’s say you’ve spent 10 years building a herculean physique- then after that  you’ll spend another ten years without visiting the weight room because you’ve been busy with your job or whatever. It wouldn’t take a genius to predict that you will lose all the gains that you’ve had when you were training. Why? Because you just signaled your body that you don’t NEED that herculean body anymore.

But let’s say you stopped going to the gym because you had a job- but your new job would involve physical exertion- then you might end up keeping most of your gains after all since your body detects that it needs the muscles anyhow.

See, what I told you; your body is smart; so smart I could even hire it as my personal accountant – and so smart it pisses you off!

The SAID Principle (Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands)
This is related to what I said on the article about marathon runners and sprinters; if the body detects that you are training for endurance- it will give you endurance and it will not give you size and strength.

This is the most neglected principle of all- why would you train your muscles for many reps and expect gains in size? Why would anything need size if it’s designed to endure long bouts of low intensity activity?

One of the reasons why boxing trainers don’t want their boxers getting too big is because all those size will consume too much oxygen and will get in the way of the boxer. As a rule in fighting a bigger guy; you keep distance and tire him out on the first few rounds (while avoiding his deadly blows) and once he tires out you can begin to finish him off or outscore him.

So what is the point in talking about boxers? To prove that the way one trains affects his outcome and that even boxers know their SAID principle. If you’re a bodybuilder obviously you want to be the big guy of course and therefore you cannot train for endurance but for power and size. PERIOD!

The GAS Principle -General Adaptation Syndrome
General adaptation syndrome states that you must take it easy once in a while to let your body adapt. This one has something to do with letting the body recuperate or else how will it have a chance to replenish itself and make your muscles bigger?

Picture a building; an earthquake can stimulate the men to make it stronger but if the earthquakes occur non-stop it will destroy the building even before the people living in it can make the necessary adjustments to make the skyscraper stronger.

The Specificity Principle
If you never did bench presses- you will never be strong in bench presses even if you always do smith machine presses and heavy dumbbell presses.

The most important point of this principle is that each and every move involves different dynamics and fires different sets of muscles (stabilizers, protagonist, and antagonists) and fires them in different angles and varying movement patterns no matter how similar they may seem. Even a change in hand position can make huge differences.

Guys use all of these to your advantage. Heed the laws of the Lord your God and you shall be blessed and will your muscles! Plan your weight training sessions according to these principles and you will be all set for great results. And don’t forget your eggs!

A-Lifter- Don't forget to leave your comment/feedback below.  If this article was helpful, I am sure our book Real Talk Muscle will help you even more in your quest for muscle gain. Check it out you can read the first few chapters as well.
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