The 7 Laws of Training

Kevin S. Turner – Turner Strength & Performance

This is also referred to as the “Seven Granddaddy Laws” by Dr. Fred Hatfield. Dr. Fred Hatfield, Aka Dr. Squat, who in 1987 at the Budweiser World Record Breakers Invitational Powerlifting Championships, used these principles to help guide him to perform his famous 1,014-pound squat at the age of 45! He later went on to Co-found the International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA). By using the following laws to evaluate a training program, you can determine the effectiveness of one program over another by how these laws are implemented or even if they are considered at all.

1. The Principle of Individual Differences

Everyone will have similar responses and adaptations to training but it is our specific genetic blueprint that will determine the rate and magnitude at which these adaptations will occur. This principle tells us that there is not a one size fits all program. People are built differently, there are variances in strength, ability to recover, coordination, mobility, age, stress level and occupation to name a few.

2. The Overcompensation Principle

Our bodies react to stress by overcompensation so that it can handle more stress in the future. For example, the result of training is that our muscle fibers grow in size and strength.

3. Overload Principle

This principle is directly related to the Overcompensation Principle, meaning that in order to improve strength, muscle growth or endurance you have to do more than you did previously. By continuing to use the same resistance as before, you will not be able to improve past your body’s last adaptations. The simplest way to accomplish this would be to add more weight but as you become stronger and stronger the stress levels needed to produce new adaptations will outpace your ability to recover. At this point, it will be necessary to periodize your training.

4. S.A.I.D Principle

 S.A.I.D. is an acronym that stands for Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands. What this means is, your body will adapt in highly specific ways to the demands that your training places on it. If your goal is to be strong, then you will have to train for strength. If your goal is to become more explosive, you will have to train explosively.

5. Use/Disuse Principle

The old adage “use it or lose it” applies to this principle. When learning any movement pattern, it takes practice to maintain it, repetitively greasing the groove over and over again. Once you stop performing the movement, your capacity to perform at the previous skill level begins to atrophy as more time passes.

6. Specificity Principle 

This principle states that in order to be good at a something, you have to do it. If you want to be good at the barbell back squat for example, you will need to perform barbell back squats as opposed to leg presses. You will achieve greater endurance for a marathon by running long distance as compared to cycling.

7. G.A.S. Principle

G.A.S. is the acronym for General Adaptation Syndrome. According to the originator of this principle, Dr. Hans Selye, the General Adaptation Syndrome is comprised of 3 stages.

1. Alarm stage- Is the result of applying intense stress from training. (The Overload Principle)

2. The Resistance Stage- When our muscles adapt in order to resist stressful weights more efficiently.  (The Overcompensation, Use/Disuse and Said Principles)

3. The Exhaustion Stage-Where if we continue to apply stress, we will exhaust our reserves and be forced to stop training.

What this means is that there has to be a period of low intensity training or complete rest and recovery after strenuous high intensity training. This gives your muscles the time to recover and adapt to the level of training that was applied.

In conclusion, we all have unique backgrounds, technical abilities, strength levels and even skeletal structures that have to be taken into account when designing a training program. By measuring a program based on the preceding principles, we can create or choose better programming that will be more advantageous and suited specifically for each person and their individual needs.

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