Whether you are training an athlete at the high school, collegiate, or professional level, programming for your athlete can be a rather daunting task at first glance. There is so much information and differing opinions out there regarding how to optimize an athlete’s fitness and performance. Many athletes have had success using different approaches like Mike’s Boyle Functional Training for Sports to Louie Simmons’s popular method of undulating periodization. Who or what should you believe in? When in doubt, always refer back to your principles of training when building any program.

Your strength and conditioning principles will always be the building blocks for your programming. They are the fundamental base of knowledge, our chief guides that explain how things are done and how we should proceed from one situation to the next. For example, principles like S.A.I.D. (Specific Adaptations to Imposed Demands) and overload progression are critical to the success of any program. These concepts go hand in hand with each other.

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The S.A.I.D. principle is defined as when the body is placed under form of stress, it will start to make adaptations to allow the body to withstand that specific form of stress in the future. Overload progression is defined as a gradual, incremental increase of stress that is placed on one’s body during training. Once the muscle has become accustomed to a certain level of stress, the workload must increase to where it exceeds the muscle’s capacity in order to progress. This increase in workload can be accomplished through various means, whether it is increasing the actual weight loaded, adjusting the volume, shortening the rest period between sets, etc. Furthermore, these concepts can be applied to motor learning and neuromuscular control. Learning a new movement pattern can also elicit a different demand on the athlete’s body to enhance their neuromuscular balance, coordination, and control. For example, when you familiarize a client with the hip hinge pattern for the first time or when a more experienced athlete is introduced to a unilateral variation of the hip hinge (ex: Single Leg Romanian Deadlift).

With that said, it’s important to keep in mind the body’s response to the imposed stimulus and how it applies to the demands of your athlete’s sport. Is max strength a necessary component? What is the metabolic demand of your athlete’s sport? Asking these questions and referring back to your principles will create a clearer picture of what your program should look like for your athletes. To learn more, watch this quick video below as Ron McKeefery, former Director of Strength and Conditioning at Eastern Michigan University further discusses the importance of having principles when building any program.

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