noun “a fundamental, primary, or general law or truth from which others are derived”


noun “a procedure, technique, or way of doing something, especially in accordance with a definite plan

Adhering to sound training principles will be the difference between seeing results or not.

Here are 6 that I use.

1. Strength is a skill

Muscles generate force by tensing. The tenser your muscles are, the more strength you display and build.

Training should be approached as a “practice” not a “workout”, and emphasise the technical performance of each exercise.

If you make the effort to turn up, why not perform the exercise to your highest capability and get maximum benefit and results?

2. Avoid muscular failure

When you take your muscles to failure, the quality of your work drops. Muscle co-ordination is lost, sets have to end earlier, weights have to be reduced.

For optimal strength gain, stop when you are around 70-80% of what you could have done.

For many this will seem counter intuitive, and can be difficult for exercise junkies who chase fatigue and soreness thinking that that is the goal.

Training to muscular failure has its time and place. Use it sparingly and perhaps for the very last set once in a while.

3. Cycle both intensity and volume 

Intensity is generally referred to as the weight you are using. Volume refers to the total amount of work performed through sets and reps.

Both need to go up and down consistently over the weeks and months. Yes you need to train with light weights from time to time, this allows the body to recover, and build to new heights.

Cycling is necessary after 6-12 months of consistent training. In the long run, you’ll make better progress.

4. Quality over quantity

This one leads on and ties in with the two previous principles. When fatigue kicks in and your form gets loose, you’re better off setting the weight down and recovering.

Only the good reps count.

5. Continuity of the training process 

Training provides stimulus to whatever system you are trying to improve, muscular, cardio-vascular etc, when the stimulus is not provided, the benefits are lost.

So above all else, consistently showing up and training is always the number one principle to follow. You’ll have days where you feel strong and will naturally push harder, and likewise you’ll have days where you don’t feel great and take it easier.

6. SAID principle

SAID stands for Specific Adaption to Imposed Demands.

In other words, expose your body to higher levels of stress and it will adapt and become stronger/fitter etc

Over time in order to develop strength, fitness, muscle, endurance etc, you must strive to progress in some way. You can improve your technique/skill, you can do more work with a given weight (increase volume), you can lift a heavier weight (increase intensity) , you can do the same amount of work in less time (increase density), which is a great way to improve both the cardio and muscular system simultaneously.

At the end of the day, if your training variables don’t change, neither will your fitness/strength/muscle, your training will become stagnant and this can affect your motivation and results.

Apply these principles into your training today!


Coach and owner of Bristol Kettlebell club