What Are The Scientific Strength Training Principles Every Athlete Must Know?

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Personal/Fitness Training Blog

In the study of exercise science, there are several universally accepted scientific principles that must be followed in order for athletes to get the most from exercise programmes and improve both physical fitness as well as sports performance.

These rules apply to all types of athletes, from beginners to elite competitors. Of course, it’s not necessary for you to follow every one of them all the time, however, if you want to get in better shape, improve your sports performance, get better at a specific fitness discipline, or avoid stalling and back-slides, these core rules are the hidden force behind your ability in order to change your fitness level.

Every Athlete Has Their Bit To Say

These days, it appears as if every athlete has advice to give on how to train most effectively. Their ideas and philosophies are often a consequence of the athlete’s own experiences with training as well as racing. Quite often, these have some merit but when it comes to athletic training principles, it’s certainly true that we really don’t know what we don’t know.

Personal trainers and sports coaches often get asked to review athletes’ training programmes. While it can be challenging to make a judgment without knowing what both the athlete and their coach are attempting to achieve, sessions and programmes that are so complex that perhaps people have forgotten the fundamental principles of exercise physiology.

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Scientific Training Principles Athletes Should Be Following


In order for any adaptation to take place, it is necessary for the human body to exert itself beyond the normal stress levels that it experiences during training. Simply put, you need to ‘suffer’ during training in order to progress. This doesn’t mean that during every single session you need to be putting yourself into the ‘pain cave’ however you will need to check in regularly in order to ensure that you are pushing yourself enough in order for the body to reset its current fitness levels.


Progression is a very close relation of overload. The term ‘overload’ refers to the stress of a single session while progression relates to the short-, medium- and long-term development of an athlete.

In a well-periodised exercise programme, the athlete should be regularly challenged to attain new levels of fitness so that better performance ensured. The higher the calibre of the athlete, the more difficult this becomes to elicit.


The adjustment to overload takes place during rest periods. When you are pushing your body’s limits you are breaking down your muscle fibres. During the recovery phase, your body experiences a ‘super-compensation’ which results in the body making adjustment to suit new levels of fitness. Remember that you cannot expect to feel recovered for every exercise session. If you waited to be fully recovered before the next session you would not get very much done. It is OK and normal to train when you are fatigued. So, when proper and planned phases of recovery are prescribed you can expect to feel great.

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