principals to live by, Scott Edards, ISSA
Principles to Help You Perform Exercise… followed by extended comments, in simple terms, by Scott Edwards
From the “Complete Training Guide” -expanded explanations of training principals. The corresponding numbers from each point are described below for easy reference:
- Isolation Principle (All muscles act as stabilizers, synergists, antagonist or agonists. By making one particular muscle the prime mover in any given exercise you have isolated it as much as possible, and therefore the stress applied to it.)
- Quality Training Principle (Gradually reduce the rest between sets while maintaining or increasing the number of repetitions performed.)
- Cheating Training Principle (Swing the weight past the sticking point at the end of a set in order to add stress.)
- Continuous Tension Principle (Maintain slow, continuous tension on muscles to maximize red fiber involvement.)
- Forced Repetitions Training Principle (Partner assisted repetitions at the end of a set.)
- Flushing Training Principle (Do 3 to 4 exercises for a body part before moving to another.)
- Burns Training Principle (2 to 3-inch, quick movements at the end of a set.)
- Partial Repetitions Training Principle (Because of leverage changes throughout any given exercise, it is sometimes helpful to do partial movements with varying weight in order to derive maximum overload stress for that bodypart.)
- Retro-Gravity Principle (Negatives, or eccentrics as they are called, make it possible to get more muscle cells to respond, because you can lower about 30 to 40 percent more weight than you can successfully lift concentrically.)
- Peak Contraction Principle (Holding the weight through maximum contraction at the completion of a movement.)
- Superspeed Principle (Compensatory acceleration of movements used to stimulate hard-to-reach fast-twitch fibers.)
- Iso-Tension Principle (This is a method of practicing posing, tensing each muscle maximally for 6 to10 seconds up to a total of 30 to 44 flexes in a variety of posing positions.)
- Instinctive Training Principle (Bodybuilders instinctively attain the ability to construct diets, routines, cycles, intensity levels, repetitions and sets that work best for them.)
1) Isolation principal. One good example of this in biceps curl. There could be 5 decent ways to train the two heads of each biceps and the reason for the moves are to isolate different regions of the muscle fibers in order to stimulate them. The grip ( in layman terms, I will use overhand, underhand, and neutral grip examples) employed properly will train by essence (isolate) the different places in the biceps. These are commonly known as “hammer curls” “preacher curls” standing barbell curls” sissy bar curls” and such are direct pressure upon the bicep muscle.
The antagonists in this arrangement, ( triceps) are engaged, however, in order to maximize the isolation effect, triceps exercises are not employed to keep the blood or “pump” in the bicep muscle, therefore allowing more resistance on the one muscle and overloading it for stimulation.
2) “quality training principal“ would be where you outline your number of sets and increase the difficulty by taking a shorter rest period in between sets. What happens when you rest is your supply of glycogen to the muscle is replenished. In a shorter rest, there is less time to recharge. This is one way to vary your resistance. Other ways to increase resistance include added weight resistance; eccentric repetitions, pre exhaustion by performing exercise on the larger encompassing muscle group before the isolation moves ( Weider principal) – one reason bicep exercises are better performed after general back training) and environmental difficulties such as temperature, humidity and oxygen during workouts.
3) “cheating training principal“ – Don’t let the term “cheat” be misleading … form over everything! always! …again, I will say, form over everything. However, after some period of steady development, plateaus are encountered. The cheat principal can be achieved in one or two ways if done mindfully to gain some advantage in your training development. Notice how in this description says at the end of your set” This is important that it is not a substitute for your regular reps. It is also important that you have mindfulness not to go swinging carelessly and incur an injury because of the exhaustion of the target muscles and stress tendons and ligaments, the delicate connective tissues, or from sloppy form. These last reps are to thoroughly train the last remaining muscle fibers in an extended range. A reduction of weight can be effectively used if picked up immediately, if needed. This is written in the spirit to furiously go after the weight without holding back but not at the expense of good form or thorough sets and ROMs.
Also, a proper spotter can assist in “failure reps” if performed properly. This gives you a tremendous boost in stimulation to the muscles being trained. Failure reps simply means the spotter will assist on the contraction of the biceps curl because the full extent of the set has been completed and the muscle is too weak to complete one more rep, so a light, guided push is given to assist (note that the athlete still applies full pressure even though failing, stabilizing and pushing thru the repetition) -and then the negative part of the repetition ( letting it down, -is done slowly and carefully. This is a bit beyond the cheating principal spoken of in #3, and is in itself a negative rep, also performed at the end of a set. Also, see “holds”
4) Continuous tension principal… is just that, hanging on to that last rep is a good example. but for whatever reason, every rep should be performed in this way, and can be exaggerated, say, when you pick up a weight that is lighter than your training weight. “holds” is the same thing in a static form. Holding at the end of the set is an eccentric rep in that you are engaging tension and calling on the stabilizers to engage to assist the failing muscle. the point is to apply massive amounts of pressure on the muscle fibers to stimulate them to cause trauma.
5) Forced repetitions principal… I think I covered this above. Forced reps, or reaping beyond failure, is best done with a spotter who understands exactly the right amount of assistance needed to complete the rep… which starts with the minimal assistance. It takes a little practice, but is super effective. Often I find this moment in training quite psychological. When the partner does not realize their own strength and does not realize they are lifting ok, because your spot makes it seem like more help than it is to them. Forget about the appearances of weakness, men, this is where you are training past failure and growing into new territory.
6) Flushing training principal… This is evident in daily body part training. Largest to smallest muscle groups, pre exhaustion, and as in the principals listed in the paragraphs above. In a four day or three day split, when modifying, it becomes more evident and I advise to train largest to smallest and understand where the layover regions may be, such as how shoulders can be generally added after chest or after a back routine, or say after a leg routine. However, The entire area should be trained say, before moving on. you wouldn’t train quadriceps movements and then train deltas in the shoulder area and then return to hamstrings in the leg area. Rather you would train all of legs together, then a series of shoulder movements- like two smaller workouts, back to back. Blood gathers in the engorged muscles groups and can be effective at increasing your lifts and the focus should stay there.
7) Burns Training principal. Im not going to lie. I do not know much about this principal in namesake. I have used the “partial rep method”, say, for example, with biceps again as an example, on a strait bar or sissy bar [actually this [½-¼-¾ rep principal can be used in a variety of adduction motions in this case and it is exampled as, 5 half up reps, 5 half to top reps, then 5 fulln repetitions, and that’s as close as it gets to the short range movements. In theory, it’s another way to fully exhaust muscle fibers and get an incredible pump. In the “15” sets (51/4 repsx3); or “9” (3×3, respectively) are heavier weight and assisted. Another variation is where people go lighter and do “21’s”- (7repsx3 ¼ partials) it gives a heady pump to the muscle and feeds it plenty of blood … leading to…
8)Partial Repetitions Training Principle (Because of leverage changes throughout any given exercise, it is sometimes helpful to do partial movements with varying weight in order to derive maximum overload stress for that bodypart.) I think I covered this one as above. I get ahead of myself!
9) Retro-Gravity Principle (Negatives, one version of an eccentric repetition, as they are called, make it possible to get more muscle cells to respond, because you can lower about 30 to 40 percent more weight than you can successfully lift concentrically.) see above^ The negative contraction is one of my points of interest in my training techniques. Often people will surrender and relieve tension on the last rep on the way down. This is a loss of ½ of a rep. Always hold your negative rep all the way to completion and get the most out of your set!
10) Peak Contraction Principle (Holding the weight through maximum contraction at the completion of a movement.) – This also works at 50% of the range, and 25% of the range also, with a slow, controlled descent as described in the retro gravity principal above.
11) Superspeed Principle (Compensatory acceleration of movements used to stimulate hard-to-reach fast-twitch fibers.) Not to be a substitute for concentration reps. This should be performed mindfully and in good form, usually lighter, and with careful consideration to joint motion also. anytime added weight resistance is added, care needs to be taken with form especially where an instance of speed is applied. by default, a lighter resistance should be used for speed/power reps to assist in good form. the lighter weight will allow a deeper range of motion to assert trauma to these hard to reach muscle fibers.
12) Iso-Tension Principle (This is a method of practicing posing, tensing each muscle maximally for 6 to10 seconds up to a total of 30 to 44 flexes in a variety of posing positions.) ISOMETRIC contractions… this is effective after a few sets to examine the pump and development of a particular region.
Weider Training Principal (not listed) Here is one principal that I have been applying in various forms over the years that is quite important and involves all of the other principals, the Weider principal. This is simply pre exhaustion, and can be applied to enhance resistance in various ways. Pre exhaustion works in making the difficulty of the following move increase by working the main muscle groups extensively so that the supporting groups (stabilizers and agonists) are called upon and over all more muscle is recruited and stimulated. Just like adding resistance, shortening breaks, eccentric reps, changing order and stimulating environment ( heat & humidity or elevation) Weider principal is a form of increasing difficulty with pre exhaustion. For an example of this, several sets of weighted pull ups can be performed as a warm up to a back routine where isolated dumbbell rows will follow. the rows will be harder to perform and therefore more benefit can be attained on this day in this way. As with any mesocycle, this ought to be alternated so adaptation does not occur and so that other times you may lead with the dumbbell row in order to go heavier and proceed normally. I wanted to touch upon this concept briefly because I think it belongs in the group of principals here.
13) Instinctive Training Principle (Bodybuilders instinctively attain the ability to construct diets, routines, cycles, intensity levels, repetitions and sets that work best for them.) THIS MEANS PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE. It’s easy to develop a bad habit instinctually. The human body, thru evolution tries to stay efficient and not move into trauma or pain or exertion. It finds the easiest way, instinctively to avoid effort to move mass. In this way we must be on guard about instinct. It is important that in the process we become highly aware of our bodies and what we are doing to them. So, in general I think this principal is reserved for finely tuned, well trained individuals, and that as an individual to never stops growing, learning and adapting! Its good to get instruction and direction on your journey and yet stay disciplined and consistiant in your program. Always learn and grow, and be the best version of yourself that you can be!