The basics of training

In this article I would like to talk about the basics of training to help you understand why it is important to think in a system to see the whole picture. If you read my First Steps in Fitness eBook, you probably already know why the regeneration, the eating habits and the training are equally important to maintain a healthy and fit life.

What does „training” mean?

Training is the repetition of systematic, planned and targeted muscle contractions which lead to morphological and functional changes. (Hollmann&Hettinger, 1990)

  • Targeted means that only the exactly right dose of training stimulus lead to the individually desired training effects.
  • Progression of loads, variation of exercises and changing training methods help us to design our training routine systematically from step by step.
  • And since all measures are related to each other, we must plan a logical training program in advance (keeping an eye on the principles of sport science).

For how long should you do an exercise?

We all know that from personal trainers usually we get the answer: 8-12 repetitions. In group classes most of the time this interval is 2-4 minutes (length of a track). But does “more time and more repetition” provide us more improvement?

As usual, I would like to ask you to use your imagination. I want you to prepare for a 400m running competition in 4 weeks. There are two training methods you can choose:

  • Run everyday as hard as you can and as much as you can.
  • Run everyday 400m three times but always focus on just one lap at a time.

Of course, none of the above is ideal but maybe it demonstrates my point well.

You need to train not just hard but smart as well.

More repetition doesn’t necessary mean that you will achieve better results. I would like to show you 4 different methods that can help you to see what is happening in your body.

TRAINING METHOD REPETITIONS TIME UNDER TENSION (second)
Max. strength 1-5 (1-3) 12-20
Hypertrophy 6-15 (8-12) 30-60
Muscular-endurance 15-50 60-120
Endurance above 50 above 120

If your aim is to get a leaner and stronger body (without tremendous but very athletic look of the muscles), you should prepare your body for hypertrophy training.

Why is it important to understand this?

I bet you would love to drive a F1 car, just like me. However, I am 100% sure that if you don’t have the experience and the knowledge, you will smash the car after the first corner. It is the same with your body. You need to prepare it to be able to do an effective hypertrophy session, otherwise you may get injured or you will go at 50 km/h sitting in a F1 car unable to use its maximal potential.

So, how to plan your training?

Structure

The problem I see at the moment is that, most of the time (especially in group classes), people do exercises randomly, and they wonder why their body doesn’t change. You need a clear and logical structure! There must be a reason why one particular exercise is followed by another particular exercise.

Speed

Here is a common misunderstanding again. Is faster movement more beneficial?
It is true that the faster execution of the exercise gives more challenge for the muscles, however as I always highlight, the quality must come first. There is no point in doing something faster if your form is far from “elegant”. On the other hand, remember for the table above, you should keep your muscles in maximum contraction for a certain amount of time to get the best result.

Moves

In the First Steps in Fitness we talked about the primal moves. Now it is time to decide how to put them into a program. There are many options to do it correctly (starting with big muscles, antagonist-synergist supersets, etc), but whatever your choice is, I would like to highlight two main rules:

  1. Try to do exercises involving as many muscle groups as possible (unless you want to be a professional body builder).
  2. Try to use free weights or your own body as many times as possible.

„The negative effects of fitness machines lie in that they have been created for the development of muscles and not for the advancement of human movement.” Vladimier M. Zatsiorsky

Do you need a trainer?

I believe everyone needs a GOOD trainer, who is a mentor, a role model and a real teacher who loves helping people. For me, someone who just stands on the stage or next to you (counting numbers or telling stories) is simply not a trainer, more of an instructor. Maybe he/she is a good motivator (which is important) but this is just one factor. One of the most important skill of a trainer should be the ability of correcting people. Here is some advice what to check during every movement:

The position of your:

  • ankles
  • knees
  • hip
  • lower back (neutral spine position)
  • shoulders
  • head
  • elbows
  • wrists
  • fingers

Breathing

If you can speak during the exercise it means that you are clearly not focusing on yourself. Please find an extract of our deepWORK® manual that explains the importance of breathing well:

As our body adjusts breathing to a given situation, it is also possible to support given actions by the use of different breathing techniques in favour of a desired goal. Strengthening exercises require different breathing techniques than relaxing exercises. Exercises which require taking deeper breath must be supported by breathing differently compared to those exercises that are executed dynamically and require a lot of power.

In the next article, I am going to share some advice on how to use the principles above to design an athletic training, and why working out on barefoot should be an important part of your routine.

In the meantime, please feel free to visit our Facebook page for the latest news. And till next time, just

“Take a deep breath and strike the IRON!” 🙂

Yours,
Attila

Published by

Attila Madarasz

With 25 years of experience in sport and fitness Attila has deep understanding of the challenges that athletes, instructors and managers must face in order to create a successful career.