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Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The 17 Basic Principles of Fitness Training

The seventeen basic principles of fitness training

.1. Train the way the person wants their body to change. This is the most important training
principle. The body adapts to stress in a highly specific way, therefore the best way to
improve performance in a sport is to practice that particular sport.

2. Eat a well balanced diet. The right diet can improve performance and reduce excess body
fat. The diet should supply enough calories to meet energy needs but still allow athletes to
control their weight. The diet should be high in fruits, vegetables, fish, and whole grains.

3. Establish realistic goals. Goals should reflect capability and motivation. Once a goal is
achieved, reevaluate and set a new goal. Setting achievable short term goals is critical for
long term success.

4. Have a workout plan. Analyzing the elements necessary for achieving a clients’ goals is
key to setting up a good workout plan. A training diary is the best way to help the athlete
to obtain each month's goals.

5. Train all year round. Athletes who take too much time off from their exercise program will
lose the gains they have made. They may also be more susceptible to injury if they
attempt to get back in shape too rapidly. Establish a year round program; have specific
goals and procedures for each period of the year—and encourage the athlete to stick to

6. Get in shape gradually. Trying to increase fitness too fast may lead to injury or over training.
Introduce the stresses of exercise gradually so the person eventually becomes more fit with less 
chance of injury. 

7. Do not train when ill or injured. The body has problems trying to fight more than one
stressor. Training when sick or injured can seriously hinder progress or even be
dangerous. It is particularly important never to train with a fever. After an injury, athletes
can return to normal training once they are healed.

8. Train first for volume and later for intensity. Repetitive, low intensity exercise prepares the body
to withstand more intensive training with less injury risk. High intensity training designed to develop
power and speed pushes the body to its limit. If athletes first develop a “fitness base” and increase the
intensity of training gradually, they will develop power and speed with less risk of strains, sprains,
and muscle cramps.

9. Listen to the body. Athletes should not adhere to the planned program too stubbornly if it
does not feel right. Sometimes the body needs to rest more than it needs exercise.
Athletes must work hard to achieve high levels of fitness, yet too much or too intense
training can be counterproductive. Proper rest is just as important as intense training to
improve fitness.

10. Vary the volume and intensity of workouts. Athletes must balance rest and moderate
intensity workouts with high intensity exercise sessions. You should not exercise at maximum
intensity every time you enter the gym. This is where periodization, or cycle, training comes in. It
allows the body to recover more fully and to train hard when hard training is called for.

11. Emphasize the athletes' weakness. Analyze your weaknesses and correct them systematically.
You can do this only if you establish goals and then systematically assess the athlete’s capability of
achieving them.

12. Train systematically. Have a plan to comfortably and consistently improve fitness. A
training partner is important for motivation and safety. A coach, training partner, and
training diary will help workouts become more systematic.

13. Warm up and cool down. Muscles work best when they are slightly warmer than at rest
and have adequate blood flow. Cool down helps to gradually restore normal resting blood
flow levels to the inner organs.

14. Train the mind. To become physically fit, or to succeed in competition, athletes must
believe in themselves and their potential. This requires discipline and is an ongoing

15. Listen to coach pain. The athlete will have little joint or muscle pain if they
perform sports movements correctly. Back, shoulder, and elbow pain are usually indicative
of improper biomechanics. Pain indicates that something is wrong with the program, with
the technique, or both.

16. Learn all you can about exercise. If an athlete knows why the various components of
training are important, they are much more likely to plan an intelligent, effective program.

17. Finally, Have fun and keep the exercise program in proper perspective.

Apply these 17 principles to your fitness program and you will see progressive and retainable
progress. If you found these principles to be helpful, then please like, comment, subscribe and share
with your friends and family. Stay tuned and I'll have more for you soon.


Fahey, Thomas. Strength and Conditioning, 3rd Ed. Carpinteria: International Sports Sciences Association, 2013. Print

Eric Dempsey
Master Sergeant, US Army, Retired.
MS, ISSA Elite Trainer
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