P I T

January 26, 2015

Strength before Conditioning (part 2)

By Chua Ming Siu - PIT Personal trainer

If no strength, condition what?

In the first part of ‘Strength before Conditioning’, PITMaster Ving went through the importance of prioritising strength work before any metabolic conditioning (or met-con for short) style workouts by dispelling some myths about strength training. If you’ve missed part 1, you can read it here. With that, we’ll take a detailed look into strength training here in part 2.

Adaptation as a Main Law of Training

At the PIT, our personal training clients do not just ‘go through a workout’ at random. All training is properly planned for by our PITMasters and has progressions in mind for them. If a training routine is planned and executed correctly, the result of systematic exercise is the improvement of one’s physical fitness, in this case, strength, as the body adapts to physical stress. Many have heard of the big word, adaptation. Now let’s take a look at it from a practical stand point.

Immediately after a training session, performance usually worsens due to fatigue. Nobody expects to become stronger after one set of barbell back squats or a single training session. So why do multiple training sessions end in performance improvement?

Improvement happens because the body adapts to a training load. The main reason in training is to induce specific adaptations in order to get stronger.

In our Phase 1 Strength Class, I will teach the four fundamental barbell lifts; the squat, bench press, deadlift and front press. Each lesson will be dedicated to learning these lifts, before progressing to the regular strength class taught by PITMaster Ving, where a program will be developed for them. Progression is always the plan for all our PITBulls!

Moving on, we can further break down the adaptation process into four features,

1. Overload or stimulus magnitude

2. Accommodation

3. Specificity

4. Individualisation

Overload

There is a Greek myth that describes the overload principle. Legend has it that Milo of Croton carried a new-born calf on his back every day. As the calf grew bigger, Milo too grew stronger and bigger in size. Milo’s body adapted to the growing weight of the animal(imposed demand) by growing stronger himself.

Figure 1. Progress of Milo and the calf adapted from www.miloandthecalf.com

Now we can replicate this effect in the gym and it’s not necessary to buy a cow and start carrying it on our backs. To put this into training perspective, the imposed demands in this example, is the growing weight of the calf. In the gym, the demands that we subject our bodies to would be the weight or intensity of the exercise. When you progressively increase the training load, positive adaptation (strength,muscle growth,bringing sexy back) takes place.

Accommodation

Improvement in performance decreases when trainees employ the same exercises with the same training load over prolonged periods of time. This is a manifestation of accommodation, whereby the response to a constant stimulus decreases over time. In training context, this is known as the principle of diminishing returns, whereby how much your body adapts decreases even with increased training volume or duration. Because of this, it is inefficient to use standard exercises or a standard training load over a long period of time.

No straps. All raw. Deadlifts are one of the four main lifts you will learn in our strength class.

This is why our personal training clients and Strength Class test their 1RM (how much you can lift for 1 repetition) after each strength cycle to get their training percentages for new programs as they advance. Like in any other process in life, you cannot manage what you cannot account for.

Specificity

It is well known that strength training increases strength (duh) and hypertrophy (getting swole yo), while endurance based training induces changes such as improved aerobic capacity. Because of adaptation specificity, transfer of training gains can differ greatly even for similiar exercise.

Barbell hip thrusters are a great exercise to help fire up the glutes. Though many people end up just firing up the hamstrings. Join our strength class to find out how to avoid this.

As a trainee or athlete becomes more advanced, your gains may get smaller. This is why for advance PITBulls and personal training clients, assistance exercises are employed to address ‘sticky points’ in a lift, e.g deficit deadlift, box squats, hip thrusters etc.

Individualisation

Everyone is different. The same exercise or training methods/programs may work differently for different individuals. This is why most of the time average trainees make no progress or give up on training when their attempts to mimic the training routines of famous athletes have proven unsuccessful. The general concept underlying ‘good programs’, rather than entire training protocols, should be understood and employed creatively and with caution depending on each individual. Only then will you optimise results and benefit from the training program/protocol.

After all that talk…

It feels good to break a sweat and feel sore after training, but it might not be optimal for progress. It is easy to chase fatigue but it takes time and effort for coaches to plan for each client’s progression in a training program. Just do 100 burpees as fast as you can and you’ll know what I mean. If your goal is to get better at doing burpees, then good for you.

It’s easy to plan a workout that hurts. Wether or not that workout will benefit you is an entirely different story

But most of us want to get stronger from our training. So get under the bar and pay your dues today.

We hope to see you soon at the PIT.