Categorized as: Personal Training

5 Basic Laws of Strength Training by Tudor Bompa PhD.

Periodization Principles for Strength
by Tudor O. Bompa, PhD

Training guidelines fulfill a given training goal. Proper application ensures superior organization with the fewest errors. The principle of progressive increase of load in training leads to better adaptation and improved strength gains.

The Five Basic Laws of Strength Training
Any strength training program should apply the five basic laws of training to ensure adaptation, keeping athletes free of injury. This is especially important for young athletes.

Key Words
• Amortization Phase: The eccentric or yielding phase of an activity; also called the “shock-absorption phase.”
• Hormone: A discrete chemical substance secreted into the body by an endocrine gland that has a specific effect on the activities of other cells, tissues and organs.
• Innervate: To stimulate the transmission of nervous energy to a muscle.
• Testosterone: The male sex hormone; it produces masculinizing properties

Law Number One: Develop Joint Flexibility
Most strength training exercises use the entire range of motion of major joints, especially the knees, ankles, and hips. Good joint flexibility prevents strain and pain around the knees, elbows, and other joints. Ankle flexibility (plantar flexion, or bringing the toes toward the calf) should be a major concern for all athletes, especially beginners. Good flexibility prevents stress injuries. Athletes must start developing ankle flexibility during prepubescence and pubescence so that in the latter stages of athletic development it need only be maintained.

Law Number Two: Develop Tendon Strength
Muscle strength improves faster than tendon and ligament strength. Misuse and faulty utilization of the principle of specificity, or lack of a long-term vision, causes many training specialists and coaches to overlook overall strengthening of ligaments. Tendons and ligaments grow strong through anatomical adaptation. Without proper anatomical adaptation, vigorous strength training can injure the tendons and ligaments. Training tendons and ligaments causes them to enlarge in diameter, increasing their ability to withstand tension and tearing.

Law Number Three: Develop Core Strength
The arms and legs are only as strong as the trunk. A poorly developed trunk is a weak support for hard-working limbs. Strength training programs should first strengthen the core muscles before focusing on the arms and legs. The core muscles act as shock absorbers for jumps, rebounds, or plyometric exercises; stabilize the body; and represent a link, or transmitter, between the legs and arms. Weak core muscles fail in these essential roles, limiting the athlete’s ability to perform. Most of these muscles seem to be dominated by ST fibers because of their supporting role to the arms and legs. They contract constantly, but not necessarily dynamically, to create a solid base of support for the actions of other muscle groups of the body.
Many people complain of low back problems yet do little to correct them. The best protection against low back problems is well-developed back and abdominal muscles. Coaches and athletes must pay more attention to this area of the body.
Abdominal Muscles. The abdominal and back muscles surround the core area of the body with a tight and powerful support structure of muscle bundles running in different directions. Since many athletes have weak abdominal muscles in relation to their backs, general and specific abdominal muscle training is recommended. The rectus abdominis runs vertically and pulls the trunk forward when the legs are fixed, as in sit-ups, maintaining good posture. If the abdominal muscles are poorly developed, the hips tilt forward and lordosis or a swayback develops at the lumbar area of the spine because the low back muscles are much stronger.
The internal and external obliques help the rectus abdominis bend the trunk forward and perform all twisting, lateral bending, and trunk-rotating motions. They help an athlete recover from a fall in many sports and perform many actions in boxing, wrestling, and the martial arts. The anterior and lateral abdominal muscles perform delicate, precise trunk movements. These large muscles run vertically, diagonally, and horizontally.
Isolating the abdominal muscles requires an exercise that bends the spine but not the hips. Exercises that flex the hips are performed by the iliopsoas (a powerful hip flexor) and to a lesser extent by the abdominals. Sit-ups are the most popular abdominal exercise. The best sit-up position is lying on the back with the calves resting on a chair or bench. This position isolates the abdominals since the hips are already bent.
Back Muscles. The back muscles, including the deep back muscles of the vertebral column, are responsible for many movements such as back extension and extending and rotating the trunk. The trunk acts as the transmitter and supporter of most arm and leg actions. The vertebral column also plays an essential role as a shock absorber for landing and takeoff actions.
Excessive, uneven stress on the spine or sudden movement while in an unfavorable position may lead to back problems. For athletes, back complaints may be due to wear and tear caused by improper positioning or forward tilting of the body. Disc pressure varies according to body position relative to external stress. Stress on the spine increases during lifting in standing or seated positions or when the upper body swings, such as in upright rowing or elbow flexion. Sitting produces greater disc pressure than standing; the least stress occurs when the body is prone (such as in bench presses or pulls). In many exercises that use the back muscles, abdominal muscles contract isometrically, stabilizing the body.
The Iliopsoas. The iliopsoas is an essential muscle for hip flexion and running. Though not large, it is the most powerful hip flexor, responsible for swinging the legs forward during running and jumping. Sports performed on the ground require a well-developed iliopsoas. Exercises such as leg and knee lifts against resistance are key to training this important muscle.

Law Number Four: Develop the Stabilizers
Prime movers work more efficiently with strong stabilizer or fixator muscles. Stabilizers contract, primarily isometrically, to immobilize a limb so that another part of the body can act. For example, the shoulders are immobilized during elbow flexion, and the abdominals serve as fixators when the arms throw a ball. In rowing, when the trunk muscles act as stabilizers, the trunk transmits leg power to the arms, which then drive the blade through the water. A weak stabilizer inhibits the contracting capacity of the prime movers.
Improperly developed stabilizers may hamper the activity of major muscles. When under chronic stress, the stabilizers spasm, restraining the prime movers and lessening athletic effectiveness. At the shoulders, supra- and infraspinatus muscles rotate the arm. The simplest, most effective exercise to strengthen these two muscles is to rotate the arm with a partner tightly holding the fist. The resistance provided by the partner stimulates the two muscles stabilizing the shoulder. At the hips, the piriformis muscle performs outward rotation. To strengthen this muscle, the athlete should stand with knees locked. While a partner provides resistance by holding one foot in place with both hands, the athlete performs inward-outward leg rotations. At the knees, the popliteus muscle rotates the calf. A simple exercise is for the athlete to sit on a table or desk with the knees flexed. A partner provides resistance by holding the foot as the athlete performs inward-outward rotations of the calf.
Stabilizers also contract isometrically, immobilizing one part of the limb and allowing the other to move. Stabilizers can also monitor the state of the long bones’ interactions in joints and sense potential injury resulting from improper technique, inappropriate strength, or spasms produced by poor stress management. If one of these three conditions occurs, the stabilizers restrain the activity of the prime movers, avoiding strain and injuries.
Unfortunately, few coaches take the time to strengthen the stabilizers. Time should be set aside during the transition and preparatory periods, especially the anatomical adaptation phase for stabilizer training. The core muscles, rotators, and stabilizers should be developed using long-term progression (figure 3.1). A casual approach would be a disservice to the serious athlete.

Law Number Five: Train Movements, Not Individual Muscles
Athletes should resist training muscles in isolation as in bodybuilding. The purpose of strength training in sports is to simulate sport skills. Athletic skills are multijoint movements occurring in a certain order, called a kinetic chain (movement chain). For instance, a takeoff to catch a ball has the following kinetic chain: hip extensions, then knee extensions, and finally ankle extensions, in which the feet apply force against the ground to lift the body.
According to the principle of specificity, body position and limb angles should resemble those for the specific skills. When athletes train a movement, the muscles are integrated and strengthened to perform the action with more power. Therefore, athletes should not resort to weight training alone, but should broaden their training routines, incorporating medicine balls, rubber cords, shots, and plyometric equipment. Exercises performed with these instruments allow athletes to initiate skills more easily.

Principle of Progressive Increase of Load in Training
According to Greek mythology, the first person to apply the principle of progressive increase of load was Milo of Croton. To become the world’s strongest man, Milo started to lift and carry a calf every day. As the calf grew heavier, Milo grew stronger. By the time the calf was a full-grown bull, Milo was the world’s strongest man thanks to long-term progression.
Improved performance is a direct result of quality training. From the initiation stage to the elite performance stage, workload in training must increase gradually according to each athlete’s physiological and psychological abilities. Physiologically, training gradually increases the body’s functional efficiency, increasing its work capacity. Any dramatic increase in performance requires a long period of training and adaptation (Astrand & Rodahl, 1985). The body reacts physiologically and psychologically to the increased training load. Similarly, nervous reaction and functions, neuromuscular coordination, and psychological capacity to cope with stress also occur gradually. The entire process requires time and competent technical leadership.
Several sports have a consistent training load throughout the year, called a standard load. Most team sports maintain 6 to12 hours of training per week for the entire year. Standard loading results in early improvements, followed by a plateau and then detraining during the competitive phase (figure 3.2). This may cause decreased performance during the late competitive phase, since the physiological basis of performance has decreased and prevent annual improvements. Only steady training load increments will produce superior adaptation and performance.
The overload principle is another traditional strength training approach. Early proponents of this principle claimed strength and hypertrophy will increase only if muscles work at their maximum strength capacity against workloads greater than those normally encountered (Lange, 1919; Hellebrand & Houtz, 1956). Contemporary advocates suggest that the load in strength training should be increased throughout the program (Fox et al., 1989). As such, the curve of load increment constantly rises (figure 3.3).

Rowing Technique

Rowing Technique


Beginning each stroke with the correct posture will ensure a positive workout, poor posture in the rowing stroke can result in injury.

To achieve correct posture,
Sit tall on the seat – pull the navel into the spine and lift the pelvic floor muscles
Row with head up and eyes looking forward
During the Rock Over phase, the torso is rocked at the pelvis from a backward (11 o’clock) position to a forward (1 o’clock) position.
It is essential that a strong postural position is maintained throughout the Rowing Action.


To achieve full range of motion, the user must aim to reach as far forward with the handle and compress the legs as much as possible while maintaining a strong upright position. The length of the reach comes from the upper back and shoulders during the rock over phase.

A common problem when rowing is using movement of the torso to contribute to the range of motion. This is usually done by bending the torso at the lower back, therefore weakening the posture (most lower back injuries occur when work is being transmitted through a weak posture).

Another problem is the legs often open up to allow for extra reach (see this video), this may lead to tightening of the muscles on the lateral part of the thigh and in the gluteals. Try to keep the knees together and row with a shorter slide if necessary.


Ratio is the relationship between the work phase (the Drive) and the Recovery phase (the Rock Over & Recovery) of the rowing action. The correct ratio in rowing is 1:2 – spending twice as long to ‘recover’ and move forwards up the slide as was spent driving the legs down. When the correct ratio is achieved, there is a satisfying rhythm to the continuous flow of the rowing stroke.

A common problem in rowing is that people “rush” up the slide, meaning that the ratio of drive to return is more one to one, rather than one to two

Lower Body Movement

The muscles of the legs are the largest and strongest muscle group in the body, and therefore contribute a large portion of the work during the rowing stroke. The muscles of the upper body and torso simply add to the work of the legs, as the angle between the calf and the thigh increases and the effectiveness of the legs declines.

The speed at which the leg angle opens is related to the speed of the boat moving through the water and is relatively slow. The speed of the drive phase is anything from ½ second to 1 second.

Upper Body Movement

Rowing Technique

As the leg angle passes through 90 degrees the contribution of the legs lessens bio-mechanically. At this point the muscles of the upper body and torso are recruited to add to or maintain the acceleration initiated by the lower body. The transition between the two is made seamless by maintaining a flowing motion.

The hands are drawn into the body so that the forearms are horizontal. This is at about the height of the second bottom rib. The hands do not stop at the end of the drive, they flow back out and into the recovery phase, moving in and out from the body at a constant speed.

A common problem when rowing is stopping at the end of the drive. This encourages “two-piecing” of the stroke where the drive and recovery are two separate actions. “Two-piecing” often allows the rower to slump at the release position, encouraging poor posture. The rowing action needs to be smooth and seamless with each phase transitioning into the next.

Stroke Rate

Rowing is a relatively low cadence exercise. Even when racing, stroke rates rarely reach 40 strokes per minute (spm) and most training is done between 18 to 26spm.

The correct way to increase stroke rate is to quicken the hands away during the rock over phase and to have a more powerful drive back during the drive phase. It is important to use this correct way to build the stroke rate, a good technique rower can not increase their stroke rate from 20spm up to 32spm in 1 or 2 strokes, it usually takes around 10 strokes to reach 32spm.

A common fault when increasing stroke rate is to shorten the stroke length and quicken the recovery time. This will result in rowing fast up and down the slide but ‘getting nowhere’.


In a crew boat, it is important that all crew members keep in time with one another by rowing at the same stroke rate. Co-ordinating technique so that everyone does the same thing at the same time improves efficiency and hence speed, and is essential to on-water elements such as boat balance.

22 October 2012 San Diego

CrossFit 619 Monday

Warm Up
3 Pullovers
5 Strict Pullups
7 Hand Release Push Ups
9 Squats
12 Medicine Ball Cleans
15 Kettlebell Swings
20 Walking Lunges Overhead 25/15#
200 Meter Jog
30 Double Unders

Mobility with Indian Clubs and PVC

7×1 Snatch + 2 Overhead Squats

CrossFit WOD
5 Rounds for Time
400 Meter Run
15 Overhead Squats

Gluten Free/Carb Load

As most of us are either Paleo, gluten free or just keeping a well balance diet and watching carbs, there are some good points to know.

• LOCAL LOCAL LOCAL is truly the way to eat. You can assure you know what your food is all about. It is good to know you are getting the nutrients right from the source and the quality is always fresh.
• Check your local bakeries for multiple bread/carb options. Julian Bakery in Bird Rock has a wide variety of gluten free, carb friendly breads. Check them out! Watch out for those unknown and hard to pronounce ingredients in the “low carb” “Fat free” “Wheat Free” even some “Gluten Free” breads. Do your research!
• Carbs are important in the diet as long as they are taken in moderation. This is your energy, your fuel to a great workout or even a long day at work. Carbs are more than just bread and pasta, especially those Paleo Crossfitters – Sweet Potatoes are an excellent source and are delicious and can be prepared in numerous ways. A large grapefruit is not only an excellent source of a carbohydrate as well and provide many other nutrients for the body.

FUN FACT: 70% Diet and 30% Exercise. Remember! We are what we eat and with all the effort and hard work here at 619, make sure to fuel your body the right way for maximum results.

27 September 2012

AM Jorge with our gym mascot Taz the English Staffie

Warm Up
25 Toes 2 Bar
25 Toes 2 Rings
25 Ab Mat Sit Ups
25 GHD Sit Ups


CrossFit 619 WOD
Pull Ups
Ab Mat Sit Ups
2000 Meter Row

Thursday 13 September 2012 at CrossFit 619

Strength Training with San Diego Personal Trainer Chris Keith

Strength WOD

Pick 3 out of the 5 Movements Below:


Bent Over aka Barbell Row
T Bar Row
Single Arm Dumbell Row


Seated Cable Row
Hammer Strength High Row

CrossFit Workout of the Day
3 Rounds For Time
400 Meter Run
21 Kettlebell Swings
12 Pull Ups