Principles of Athletic Training

When engaging in any fitness regime, it is beneficial to understand a few key principles of athletic training. When adhered to, these principles encourage progression and minimize injury.


  • Is the exercise environment safe?
  • It is also important that individuals know what they are getting themselves into.
  • Risk for injury can be reduced when individuals understand both how an activity should feel, and the proper technique behind a movement.
  • Research and talking to experts can be beneficial.

Progressive Overload

  • The body is good at gradually adapting to increased stresses and loads. These stresses need to be progressively increased over time.
  • A one time overload, such as a 60 minute run, following inactivity has the potential to cause injury.
  • To gain strength and endurance, muscles need to be progressively and consistently loaded beyond what is normal.


  • If the goal is to run a 4 minute mile, training on the rowing machine will probably not produce the desired results.
  • Adaptations to the body are specific to the type of activity performed.
  • Therefore, the goal of the individual should determine the type of activity performed.
  • It should be noted that while some activities may not provide the greatest benefits, they may provide complimentary benefits. For example, endurance training on the rowing machine will translate some benefits to endurance running.


  • We are not all built the same, therefore a great program for one is not necessarily a great program for all.
  • Individuals can have markedly different needs, and respond differently to the same training bout.
  • The ability to identify areas in need of development is a great asset for both individuals and coaches.


  • Consistently training hard — at high intensities with large volumes — can result in maladaptations.
  • It is important to cycle through periods of high intensity and periods of low intensity.
  • The body needs time to recover and rebuilt itself.


  • Unfortunately, when a training program is reduced or stopped, the recent improvements made are reversed.
  • Fitness reaches a level that meets the daily demand.
  • Elite athletes who demand 15+ workouts per week from their body reach high levels of fitness.

Minimal Stress

  • Often, individuals train close to their physiological limits during exercise sessions.
  • A good training program considers all aspects of life (especially those aspects that are particularly stressful), and allows time away from exercise, or encourages less stressful exercise sessions when needed.