CFA’s Training Principles
Below are the exact training principles that we adhere to at CFA. We pride ourselves in supplying a safe, effective and fun training environment. The fitness industry is loaded with extreme training programs that ignore many of these principles. It is quite easy to design a workout that will crush someone. Anyone can put together this type of workout. But this is poor and random exercise programming that will lead you or the people you work with down the wrong path . Let’s take a look at these key principles:
Know your weaknesses. If you are tight, you need to stretch. If you lack strength, you need to strength train. If you have a poor diet, you need focus on clean eating. If you need mobility and all you do is lift weights without attention to tissue work, eventually your joints will start to hurt. Aching joints leads to inflammation, friction and eventual injury. Don’t just do what you are good at. You can have a qualified fitness professional complete a movement assessment on you to find your weaknesses.
Following progressions. This is a principle that is constantly ignored in the fitness industry. Just because something makes your sore and tired doesn’t mean it was an effective workout. Completing random, hodgepodge workouts is not sustainable and can increase your chances of injury. What did you do last week? What is the plan next week? You should follow a system that is set up for you to be successful. A simple way to progress is by slightly changing one of these components: sets, repetitions, tempo, or slight variation of a specific exercise. Here’s an example: (you can use this scheme for basically any exercise)
Week 1: Squats, 2 sets of 6 repetitions
Week 3: Squats, 3 sets of 6 repetitions
Week 3: Squats, 4 sets of 6 repetitions
Week 4: De-load week, 2 sets of 8 repetitions
Week 5: 1-leg squat 3 sets of 6 repetitions per leg
Week 6: Squats, 4 sets of 6 repetitions
Listen to your body. Discipline is needed for this principle. You must be attentive to your body. If you have a high level training session planned and your body is lacking energy, is showing signs of unusual fatigue and motivation is low, these are all red flags that need attention. It would be wise to modify the workout that day. Your body is telling you to hold back and save that high level workout for another day. Don’t think you need to sludge through the workout. This just leads to overtraining, injury and sickness. I would say that most people could handle 2-3 (at the most) hard training sessions a week. These are sessions where you are pushing and getting after it. If you do more than that, you really aren’t accomplishing much except crushing your body.
Pre/post workout nutrition. Eat to train. This principle sets your mind to consume healthier foods to support your workouts. You are “eating to train”. As your workout nears, you need to start thinking about fueling the body to prepare for your training session. Before a workout you need healthy carbohydrates to fuel your muscles, easily digestible fats and proteins for muscle building properties and adequate liquids (water and/or electrolytes) for proper hydration. Without a quality pre-workout snack (30-60 minutes before your workout), you will have low-level energy and your workouts will suffer. Examples: 1 banana/1 handful of raw nuts, 1 slice of whole wheat bread/1 tablespoon of almond butter, 1 apple/1 tablespoon of natural peanut butter, ½ of a Cliff bar. Once your workout is over, you have a 30-45 minute window where it’s the best time to rebuild and recover. My go to choice: 6 ounces of low fat chocolate milk. You can also use the same foods as above for post-workout fueling as well.
Movement mastery. Can you perform 20 push-ups? Now let me ask this question in a different way, can you perform 20 perfect, fluid push-ups? Sloppy push-ups are not the same as perfect push-ups (watch any push-up video on YouTube and you will see what I mean). The wrong muscles will be utilized when performing an exercise incorrectly. When the wrong muscles are being used, dysfunctions set in. When movement dysfunction happens, pain and injury arise. Be diligent with your exercise technique. Dan John, who is a nationally known strength coach says, “Regressions are the best corrections for exercise technique.” If you are trying to perform a push-up on the ground and cannot do it perfectly, simply “regress” to an incline push-up (on a high bar or table). Continue with this step until you can “progress” (see #2) to the more difficult level.