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Workouts Principles – How to Use These 7 Laws to Build Muscle

7 principles of workout plans

What are the 7 principles of all workouts that you must know if you are serious about building muscle, burning fat, or getting strong? Frederick C. Hatfield, Ph.D., is known as “Dr. Squat” to those involved in strength training, weightlifting, and bodybuilding.

Hatfield was an American world champion powerlifter with a world record squat of 1,014 pounds and has written over 60 books covering every aspect of sports science. 

Over his 50-year career, he trained hundreds of professional athletes, including Mr. Olympia Lee Haney.

His strength training and successful coaching led Hatfield to identify seven common laws that came to be known as the Granddaddy Laws of Training.

  1. Principle of Individual Differences. Fitness isn’t one-size-fits-all. We each have a different genetic make-up, different body types, age, and sex, which all affect how we achieve our fitness goals. No training program will work for everyone, so find the one that works for you.

  1. Overcompensation Principle. Your body is designed to adapt to changes and the demands that you put on it. Think you can run a marathon? You can, if you run a little further each day for a year. This is your body adapting to your changing demands. The same principle holds in the gym: add a small amount of weight each session, and your body will work to push that weight.

  1. Overload Principle. If you continue to overload a muscle by adding more weight, that muscle will adapt and grow larger and stronger. Lifting the same weight for the same number of reps will maintain its size and strength, but it will not grow.

  1. SAID Principle. The Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands (SAID) principle states that you must challenge your body in a specific way that you want to improve. If you want to be stronger, you must strength train. If you want a stronger heart and lungs (cardiorespiratory system), then you need cardiovascular training.

The 7 principles of all workouts, when followed, turns building muscle and burning fat into a science.

  1. Use/Disuse Principle. Use it or lose it. If you train hard, your body will adapt and improve. Once you stop training, your body will quickly return to its original “untrained” state. The good news is that once your training has stopped, that skill will be much easier to recover than it was to train and gain originally. You have laid a neurological foundation that makes it easier to recover the lost function.

  1. Specificity Principle. While general training is beneficial to overall health and fitness, you must advance to specialized training to improve specific areas or skills. Want the biggest bench press in the gym? It would be best if you bench press. Want to improve your speed? It would be best if you had speed drills. While “ancillary” or supporting exercises and movement is beneficial, specific movement skills improve with specific training.

  1. GAS Principle. The General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS) explains how your body reacts to exercise, lifting weights, or running laps on the track. It is useful in understanding how someone new to exercise has different training needs than someone who has been training for years. The GAS principle also explains the need for rest periods so that your muscles have time to repair and recover.

How the Granddaddy Laws affect your training. Your approach to fitness and the training programs you follow must be tailored to your fitness goals. When choosing or designing your program, ensure that it targets your goal, is specific, and challenges you to push beyond your current strength and fitness levels. Follow these 7 principles of all workouts, and you will reach your fitness goals!