Nutrition & Health OnLine Magazine
 
BASICS OF TRAINING: Part 1
Davey Dunn
It is almost amazing how little is known by the average person that works out about the "basics of training" even though it is crucial for success to know the basic training principles. I guess there are a number of reasons for this lack of knowledge but maybe the biggest reason is that most workout facilities are basically unstructured in the way they allow people to train. The problem with lack of structure is that few people are ever exposed to the wealth of training principles that have been researched and utilized with world class athletes. That's right, the world class athletes follow the basics because failure to do so would result in diminished performance and probably defeat. It is equally important for you to also utilize basic training principles it you ever want to achieve any real results from your training.
The place to start when talking about the basics of training is at the beginning: Develop a Plan. It sounds so simple but I am willing to bet that most of the people reading this article have never actually sat down and planed out where they want their training to take them. The two key elements that comprise a training plan are the goal you want to achieve and the means by which you will achieve that goal. If that sounds complicated it really is not. Think in terms of taking a trip. Before you depart you should know where you are going to go, which is your goal, and an idea of how you are going to get there, the means for achieving your goal.
Lets say you really want to benchpress 300 pounds and you currently benchpress 250. If you want to achieve this "Goal" as quickly as possible then you should devise a program that practices the benchpress movement and strengthens the muscles associated with benchpressing. This means that doing aerobic training six days a week is out. There is nothing wrong with doing aerobics but if your goal is to increase your benchpress by 50 pounds in as little time as possible then any aerobic training will be detrimental to your ability to gain strength.
What if on the other hand your goal is to increase your bench to 300 from 250 but you also want to lose 10 pounds of fat at the same time. You can accomplish both of these goals but you will need to structure your training a bit differently than if you were only interested in increasing your bench and it will probably take a lot longer to reach a 300 benchpress. For this goal, you would still want to focus on exercises that strengthen the muscles related to benchpressing but you would also want to do total body movements that burn a lot of calories and probably do some aerobic training a couple days a week. Yes aerobics is still detrimental to gaining strength, which is why it will take longer to reach a 300 bench. If you know that before you start you are less likely to get discouraged and quit when your benchpress increases slowly.
Hopefully the above examples demonstrate how important it is to clearly define your goal. I have seen far too many individuals who have stated that their goal was to increase their bench and then all they ever did in their training was arm curls. Arm curls are fine if your goal is to increase the size and the strength of your biceps but will do virtually nothing toward increasing the benchpress. THE MAIN REASON SO MANY PEOPLE NEVER MAKE ANY NOTICEABLE GAINS IN THEIR TRAINING IS BECAUSE THEY REALLY HAVE VERY LITTLE IDEA WHAT IT IS THAT THEY WANT TO ACHIEVE.
The easiest way to clearly define your goal is to do a self-evaluation of your body and then determine what you really need to accomplish. If you have a "beer belly" and your body fat percentage is around 30 % then it would probably do you a lot of good to lose 10 pounds of fat over the next 1-2 months so that should be your primary goal. On the other hand if you are 6 foot 3 and weigh 135 pounds and you feel self conscious about being too skinny then your goal will probably be to gain 10 pounds of muscle over the next 2-3 months.
Once you establish what your is goal is going to be you need to make sure it is attainable. If your goal is to gain 10 pounds of muscle and you want to accomplish that goal in 4 months then with proper training and nutrition you will have a good shot of being successful. If your goal is to look like Arnold in his prime in six months and you currently weigh 135 pounds you are in for a big disappointment. Setting goals that are achievable and then achieving them helps you to make continuous improvement. Continuous improvement is what will eventually give you a fantastic body that will be envied by everyone.
After establishing a clear and attainable goal it is much easier to determine how you will actually train. Lets go back to our example of trying to increase the benchpress from 250 to 300. If this is an experienced lifter then it will take quite an effort to increase the bench by 20 percent but it is still possible. By contrast someone that is just starting out will make larger percentage increases because of the way the body adapts to stress. Assuming this is an experienced lifter I would probably set up a training program that would last about 6 months and go through two peaking cycles. (To better understand a peaking cycle reference the article on Periodization) I would have the lifter benchpress 3 times a week with 2 heavy workouts and 1 light day. For assistance exercises I would pick exercises like dips, close grip benches, tricep extensions and other pressing movements.
For an actual training program I would map out each and every workout to include the goal for that day and every exercise that should be performed on that day. The scope of this article is to convince you of the importance of having a plan BEFORE you begin training. This should be the starting point and is the first principle of training. If you have never been on a pre-designed training program before you should give it a try for 3 months. I think you will be amazed at how much better your results will be. Next issue I am going to show you a complete program for increasing your bench by 10 percent in order to show an actual planed out program lasting 3 months. Between now and then try to think about your own training and see if you can at least identify your main GOAL.
 

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