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5 Basic Principles To Know

Kevin Mullins, a master trainer and exercise science author, wrote about the “Five Basic Exercise Principles Every Good Personal Trainer Must Know” for the PDTC. As I was reading and resonating with the subject matter as a trainer, I realized this is something that clients and avid gym goers should also put into practice and understand for themselves. To take the science talk out of it, what I’ve done here is simplified these principles and make it more applicable to the client and not only the trainer.


1. Energy systems: What they are, and how to train them

Aerobic: This is your default system used to do your normal daily activities. To actively train it, you must be doing 20+ min of exercise at a steady pace. (running, swimming, biking)

Phosphagen System (ATP-CP): Short bouts of exercise training quick bursts of power and speed. All out efforts no more than 10 seconds.

Anaerobic glycolysis: Glucose for energy. This is the system typically used for much of what we do in the gym. Interval training and strength training for somewhere between 30 seconds -2minutes before a break is needed to continue.

2. Force vectors: Why they matter

Movement takes place against some form of resistance. This pertains to how you set up your movement to optimally be able to perform the movement. For instance, if you lift your arm above your head it doesn’t take much to do that however if you add weight in that hand, you’ll need to recruit muscles in the arm, neck, back abdominals, and legs to effectively and safely move that weight.

3. SAID principle: The crucial link between actions and adaptations

Kevin said it perfectly here, “SAID can be negative and positive. If you spend long hours slumped on the couch in front of the TV, your body will adapt to sitting on your couch. Your posture will worsen, key muscles will shorten or lengthen, you’ll lose strength and mobility, contractile tissues will atrophy, and you’ll almost certainly decrease your cardiovascular output.

On the other hand, if you run several days a week, gradually and progressively increasing the speed and distance of your runs, your body will adapt to running. Your VO2 max and stroke volume will improve, you’ll increase capillary density, and your resting heart rate will decline. Your lower-body muscle fibers will remodel themselves to become more endurance-oriented, and your bones will thicken to make them more resilient to repetitive impact. You’ll also get better at running, with more efficient form that requires less effort on each stride.”

4. Stress: How it affects your clients in and out of the gym

The age old saying “you bring yourself wherever you go” is applicable here. That’s why a client who has their lifestyle dialed in can push themselves hard and still see improvements, while for another, even a modest training program can leave them exhausted and frustrated. The stressors in their life ensured that any workouts could leave them effectively overtrained. It’s important to know where YOU stand when you walk into the gym and to express it as well so you and your trainer know what the needs of your programming are.

5. Psychology: What your clients don’t say can make or break your program

Trust and respect are key components of a good relationship between a client and a trainer. It's best for the client to express what their likes, dislikes, and comfortability levels are to the trainer and the trainer to give the client insight into why they’re programming certain movements. With knowledge comes understanding.






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