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The Seven Laws of Training

Updated: Sep 4, 2022

Seven overlapping principles serve as guidelines when creating an effective training regimen. Do a little research, and you will find many more than seven. You will also find no shortage of respected industry professionals that boil the seven "granddaddy" laws down to as little as three. They are overlapping, after all. The Lift League addresses all seven and then went as far as to make a big fuss about an eighth principle: The Principle of Variability.

  1. The Principle of Individual Differences is a big one. It states that genetic differences will dictate the rate and magnitude in which individuals will see results, meaning that just because two people run the same program does not mean they will see the same results. There are many other potential contributing factors to why people might see different results, such as poor muscle-mind connection, bad form, and hidden injuries, to name a few. To accommodate individual responses to training, The Lift League provides interchangeable programs that can be repeated or combined with any other program, allowing athletes to progress through the league at a pace that best suits their individual needs and goals.

  2. The Overload Principle states that for an individual to continue to make gains in the gym, they must maintain progressive overload by increasing the stress imposed by training. You can implement progressive overload by increasing the amount of weight, reps/sets, or workout intensity. The Lift League is the only program that uses a scoring system directly tied to training volume and workload to ensure users continually progressively overload their workouts. The catch-22 of the Overload Principle is that your body constantly adapts to the stress of training, eventually making the stress required to cause the adaptation so great that your body ultimately can no longer keep up. But the answer to this problem is simple: The Principle of Variability. The Principle of Variability is not one of the seven training laws because it is considered an inevitable progression of the Overload Principle. The Principle of Variability states that individuals can avoid plateaus by continually adjusting training programs' rest times, reps, sets, weight amounts, or even exercise progression. As you advance through the league, you will encounter overlap between the individual programs, and this is because The Lift League itself is one giant, neverending program. The Lift League implements the Principle of Variability by using Non-Linear Periodization. Athletes can move between all 12 programs in the way that best suits their individual needs. By maintaining progressive overload and incorporating the necessary variability into training, athletes avoid plateaus and continually make gains.

  3. The Overcompensation Principle. Our bone strength increases. Our muscle fibers increase in size and strength. Our hands become callused. These are examples of mother nature's law of overcompensation in response to stress. Concerning fitness, stress comes in the form of training. ​The more you train, the more your body compensates. But overtraining will send you in the opposite direction, which is why you need to train smart. Listen to your body, progress when you are ready, frequently deload, and most importantly, eat right and allow your body the time it needs to recover.

  4. The SAID Principle (Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands) states that our bodies adapt physiologically depending on how we train, aerobically or anaerobically. Aerobic exercises are activities performed in the presence of oxygen, like swimming and running. Weightlifting is anaerobic because it requires short bursts of intense effort while depriving the body of oxygen. What is essential to know about the SAID Principle is that aerobic and anaerobic training cannot be performed simultaneously.

  5. The Use/Disuse Principle states our bodies will adapt to stress and adapt to the lack thereof. If you give yourself too much or not enough time between workouts, you will have a tough time making progress. Too little time and your body will not effectively recover between training sessions. If you wait too long between training sessions, inactivity will undo all your hard work. Once people get going on a training program, momentum has a way of taking over. Gamification doesn't hurt, either. But the longer the training cycle, the longer the recovery session you will need. You should take a week off from heavy training once every 3-5 weeks. The problem is that a week off can accidentally become a month all too easily. To avoid untraining, The Lift League promotes active recovery through week-long deloading sessions which is a common method of reducing fatigue and increasing preparedness for successive training cycles.*

  6. The Specificity Principle states that you must move beyond foundational training and perform more specialized training to achieve your specific goal. The basis of neuromuscular adaptation is that you get better at squats because you repeat the exercise. But most people do not set out to be the best there ever were at squats. Some do. Most do not. But for those looking to increase lean muscle mass, reduce excess fat, or work on our six-pack, we must move on to more specialized training. The Lift League offers a variety of programs allowing you to choose the specificity that best suits your individual goals.

  7. The GAS (General Adaptation Syndrome) Principle combines aspects of the Overcompensation, SAID, and Use/Disuse Principles. The GAS principle states that our bodies undergo stress in three specific stages: alarm, resistance, and exhaustion. The act of training causes alarm. Resistance is the process of adaptation. Our goal is to avoid exhaustion, which is often experienced as varying degrees of performance fatigue and accompanied by a greater probability of injury. To prevent exhaustion, we must train in cycles and incorporate periods of low-intensity training after bouts of high-intensity exercise. So after you complete your first advanced training program, move back to a beginners program. Start light and build your way back up again. Resistance training is about the long game. Play it right, and your body will thank you.

Very few training programs adhere to the 7 Laws of Training and let's face it, the only training program that is perfect for you is the one built specifically for you by a knowledgeable trainer. The Lift League is an assemblage of the best training programs available that athletes love to run and programs we have created, tested, and continue to run ourselves. We provide knowledge, promote agency, encourage organization, institute schedules, and motivate our clients to get the most out of those programs.

*Kirby TJ, Erickson T, McBride JM. Model for progression of strength, power, and speed training. Strength Cond J 32: 86–90, 2010.


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