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True Principles of Training

No Bull – Ancient, Tried-and-True Principles of Training

You are ready to start your fitness journey or you are ready to take it to the next level. Where do you begin? Over the course of your training, what should you change? When? You determine the details, such as whether to play tennis or do a Swiss ball workout, but a few axiomatic principles guide all fitness training programs. Even the ancient Greeks knew these principles. They are like the Ten Commandments of fitness. 
The story of Milo, the ancient Greek Olympic hero, illustrates three foundational fitness principles. On the first day of the Olympics, Milo carried a full grown bull across the length of the track. Milo did not have Smith machines, free weights, Nike shoes, or a gym membership to help his training. He simply worked with a brand new calf. He did not start by lifting a full grown bull. Each day he lifted and carried the calf. As the calf grew, Milo’s body adapted to the increased demand. Milo kept training when the calf grew to full size. Perhaps Milo selected a calf that would be full grown in time for his Olympic debut. Milo probably could not imagine lifting and carrying a full grown bull when he started his training, but with each small adaptation, his confidence probably grew and his vision of his capabilities probably grew. 
Today top athletes and fitness enthusiasts follow the same principles. First, training should be progressive. Milo gradually increased his ability to carry the bull by first carrying it while it was a calf and then continuing to carry it daily until it grew to be a bull. Second, training must progress toward an event or predetermined time period. This principle keeps our sessions focused and motivating like mini graduations to the next grade level. This second principle encompasses the concept of periodization. Milo planned his training to build to a peak at the Olympics just as trainers today plan training cycles to progress to higher levels at a future time or event. Third, good training requires vision. Some may call this day dreaming. Do you see yourself hitting a hole in one, swimming to the end of the pool, wearing a certain outfit, or crossing a finish line? Milo probably day dreamed about carrying the bull across the tracks at the Olympics, but he probably would not have wanted to lift the bull on the first day of training. In other words, strive to feel good about your vision, your training at each stage, and know what you are willing to do to reach your goal.
Lastly, I add a fourth principle that applies to more than fitness training. Let your vision excite and motivate you, but enjoy each minute of your training. We do not have complete control over the outcome of our training. Train anyway. I call this the Michelle Kwan principle. Michelle is the most highly decorated female athlete in the United States. She is a marvel to watch. She skates with the power of a bull and the grace of a butterfly. However, she never won an Olympic gold medal. During her last Olympic games, she suffered an injury and withdrew from the competition. Does her lack of an Olympic gold medal detract from accomplishments? In this fan’s opinion, I believe not. I hope Michelle remembers her solitary hours in practice as fondly as her stunning competitive events. I hope she does not regret a minute of her career even though some may say a part is missing. Your character means more than your statistics. Training builds character. Character grows stronger with time. The memory of one-hit wonders fade, but we always remember the contributions of lifetime heroes. 
If you remember these principles when you plan each session, you will enjoy focused, purposeful sessions; greatly increase your chance of success; give yourself flexibility in planning your routes; reduce your chance of injury, and avoid plateaus. Test any “latest and greatest” program against these principles. If it does not meet the Milo test of progressive, periodized training toward a time or event that meets your vision of success, you may not get the short or long term results you desire.
Source: Cook, Gray. Athletic Body in Balance. Human Kinetics, 2003, pg. 2-3.

This article was provided by Free Movement Fitness Inc.
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