Three training principles for fitness success

There are many benefits to resistance training, and many of us make it a consistent part of our fitness routine. Individual motivation can range anywhere from improving athletic performance to increasing muscle tone and definition.

No matter what you are trying to achieve, there are certain training principles that should be followed to ensure long-term success.

First is the principle of overload. A greater than normal stress or load on the body is required for training adaptation to occur.

The body will always adapt to exercise over time, and once this happens a different stimulus is required for additional strength gains. The process should be gradual and is usually accomplished by altering training intensity or increasing the amount of weight lifted.

As a rule, when you can perform two or more repetitions over your repetition goal in the last set of two consecutive workouts, intensity should be increased. Weight increases should range between 2.5 to 5 percent for isolated exercises (such as tricep pressdowns) and 5 to 10 percent for exercises that utilize larger muscle groups (such as the bench press).

Second is the principle of variation, or a combination of training variables. Specifically, speed of movement, rest periods, training frequency, exercise order, or style of exercises.

We could vary a dumbbell lunge, for example, by switching to split jumps which would alter two variables — the speed of movement and the style of exercise.

Last is the principle of specificity. This one is critical for the athlete or weekend warrior. This principle implies that for optimal training carry-over, exercises should mimic the demands of the sport as closely as possible. For example, a baseball pitcher in a pitching motion involves lunging, pushing and twisting. A pitcher’s program then would include exercises such as cable chops and rotational lunges to closer mimic the demands of the sport.

While it may be helpful to have a good base of fitness and to do general conditioning routines, it is key to train specifically for your sport for optimal performance.

Bottom line: It is necessary to alter your training program every four to six weeks using one or a combination of these principles. By doing so, it will ensure that you remain physically challenged, mentally refreshed and closer to reaching peak performance.

Jason Wanlass, the owner of Champion Fitness Training in Meridian, has more than 20 years’ experience in the fitness industry. Contact him at or