LiveWild Radio's 10 Commandments Of Training
Updated: Apr 27, 2020
People make training much more complicated than it has to be. Part of the reason is that their business model is offering the "secret key" that you can only find if you pay for it.
I've been coaching athletes for a long time and I've distilled my philosophy down to these key ideas. The idea is to get the most return for the effort you put in.
If you have heard of the Pareto Principle which was derived from economics, apply it here. Roughly speaking 80% of your progress will come from 20% of your effort. The key is to break down what gives the most bang for your time and effort buck. By reducing the amount of work that isn't beneficial and optimizing what is you will be able to maximize your fitness with the least amount of overall training time.
The goal of training should be better performance and looking good while staying healthy and injury-free for the long haul. Read on below for our list of Top 10 Training Commandments or check out our video for the Coles notes version. Enjoy!
Rule 1 - It's better to do something than nothing
The key to progress is consistency so even when you are short of time get something in. Hill sprints, Tabata workouts, bodyweight squats, burpees, and pushups can all be used to get a quick workout in so you stay on track.
The number one driver of progress is consistency so getting in your workouts, even if it was less than planned will build the habit and help supply a regular stimulus to keep you progressing forward.
Rule 2 - You get good at what you do
If you want to improve cycling then ride a bike. The same goes for rock climbing or hiking. Even without structured training, you will see improvements if you do an activity regularly. When you do, new gains come quickly as your body is gaining the neurological efficiency that comes with learning a new skill but after a certain point, you will need to be systematic in your planning to continue to improve. The more advanced you get the more specific your training has to be.
For your strength training, streamline around the core movement patterns of squat, hip hinge, lunge, push, pull, and carry. By focussing on core movement variations you will see progress while building a balanced physique that will help make you injury resistant.
This goes for mobility and pre-hab/re-hab work. You are never going to get good at it and see the benefits if you only do the fun stuff. Staying injury-free is your first goal so make sure you are doing the work to stay that way.
Rule 3 - A little more is often better
You need to challenge the body to get progress. Your muscles and cardiovascular system are good at conserving energy so you need to do a little more overtime to force the body to adapt. This can be more reps, more weight, higher average speed or shorter rest periods. Progressive overload is often a slow process but by slowly adding workload over time it adds up to big improvements.
This doesn't mean having to do longer and longer workouts. Increase the density of training by getting more done in the same amount of time.
Rule 4 - You grow when you rest
Training damages the muscles and they get stronger when they recover. Prioritize quality sleep. Make sure you are well fed around your workouts with adequate protein and carbs to fuel the training and refuelling.
Recovery techniques like massage and sauna can help you recover faster. When you start training, 3 times a week is enough but as you progress you will need more frequent training as the body recovers quicker.
When looking at your training year, make sure that you have a deload week every couple of months. This is a time when you still train but cut the workload in half so your body can fully recover. Life can naturally throw them at you so keep a training log so you can see how the reality of your training matches up with the plan.
Rule 5 - You can't do everything at once so pick what is important now
You can't optimally increase your max squat and train for a marathon. Learn to periodize your training so you emphasize the fitness qualities you want to maximize now. You can work at multiple qualities concurrently but know that you will have to structure your program to put a priority on specific traits while maintaining others.
This is the principle of periodization. You break your training year up into periods or cycles leading to a goal. For someone who is aiming at general fitness, this can be as simple as breaking the year up into three 4 month cycles of General Physical Preparedness, Specific training for your sport, and the Season when you are doing your activity.
For the general athlete who does different activities through the year just make sure that you are mixing periods light, medium, and heavy training to keep from beating up your body.
Rule 6 - You can't run a race car on cheap gas
If you want to optimize your athletic performance you need to feed your engine well. You should be eating mainly unprocessed foods with lots of vegetables. Focus on getting .8-1 gram of protein per pound of body weight. The rest of your calories will come from carbs and fats.
Experiment with this to see whether you feel better on more fat, more carbs, or a balance of the two. If your activity is long duration such as hiking then you may do well on high fat, low carb diet while high output sports like sprinting and rock climbing will do well with a moderate to high carb approach.
If you want to lose weight then start with a caloric base of your body weight times 13. This will be a good starting point to cut fat while still supplying enough energy for workouts.
Rule 7 - You should do what you suck at
We tend to do what we are good at and stay away from the things we suck at. You can see great progress by focussing on your weaknesses. Maybe it is hill climbing (which will always benefit from you being leaner and lighter) or one-legged movements. By bringing up your weaknesses your whole game will improve dramatically.
If you have been doing a specific activity like deadlifting for a while it will take a lot of work and time to see an improvement but if you add a new movement like kettlebell swings which work the same movement pattern, you will see a quick improvement as the loading pattern is new to you. By systematically rotating variations in load, exercises, rep ranges, rest periods, rep tempo, and frequency you can see quicker gains and reduce the chance of injury.
Always keep an eye out for things you are a noob at so you can learn new skills and build on your foundation of fitness.
Rule 8 - Train with people better than you
One of the easiest ways to get fitter is to train with people who are better than you. When you are surrounded by people who are strong or faster than you, the effort will go up because no one wants to be at the bottom. This can be for a specific workout like going on a weekly group ride with stronger riders or doing a group fitness class. Just keep in mind you don't want all your workout to be at a maximum effort so it is wise to use this approach only once or twice a week.
Rule 9 - For general health, lift heavy, walk a lot, sprint a little and stay limber
If your goal is general fitness then mirror our ancestors and build your training around lifting heavy things, lots of walking and some sprinting. Cap this with regular mobility work such as yoga, stretching and movement drills that keep you able to move freely.
Weighted hikes and loaded carries such as farmers walks will build both endurance and strength.
Squat deeply every day to open up the hips and keep the back loose. Perform halos to keep the shoulders mobile.
Rule 10 - The fitter or older you are the longer it takes to warm up
You can't progress if you injured and going hard before you are warmed up is one of the leading causes. Start with the general movement to get your core body temperature and heart rate up. Then roll out any tight areas for a couple of minutes. Follow this by multiple high reps sets for the areas you are going to train to activate the muscles and get the blood flowing. Plus if you are lifting weights use a few warm-up sets you work up to your working weight.
The Wrap Up
By using these principles you can streamline your training to focus on what gives you the biggest return for your effort. Keep it simple: Build strength with the core movement patterns, conditioning with steady-state moderate work and a small dose of hard sprinting, eat real food, and get lots of sleep.