Understanding the basic training principles will help you when choosing or designing training programmes for yourself. When ever you are about to start a rugby training programme check that it is relevant and applicable by checking its compatibility with the following training principles.
The Principle of Individual Differences
The principle of individual differences simple means that, because we all are unique individuals, we will all have a slightly different response to a training programme. Well-designed programmes should be based on our individual differences and responses to exercise. Some of these differences have to do with body size and shape, genetics, past experience, chronic conditions and injuries. Such as the physical differences between fronts row forwards and outside backs.
The Principle of Overload
The exercise science principle of overload states that a greater than normal stress or load on the body is required for training adaptation to take place. What this means is that in order to improve your fitness, strength or endurance, you need to increase the workload accordingly. In order for a muscle (including the heart) to increase strength, it must be gradually stressed by working against a load greater than it is used to. For example to increase endurance, muscles must work for a longer period of time than they are used to or at a higher intensity.
The Principle of Progression
The principle of progression implies that there is an optimal level of overload that should be achieved, and an optimal time frame for this overload to occur. A gradual and systematic increase of the workload over a period of time will result in improvements in fitness without risk of injury. If overload occurs too slowly, improvement is unlikely, but overload that is increased too rapidly may result in injury or muscle damage. The Principle of Progression also stresses the need for proper rest and recovery. Continual stress on the body and constant overload will result in exhaustion and injury. You should not train hard all the time, as you’ll risk overtraining and a decrease in fitness.
The Principle of Adaptation
Adaptation refers to the body’s ability to adjust to increase or decreased physical demands. It is also one way we learn to coordinate muscle movement and develop sports-specific skills. Repeatedly practicing a skill or activity makes it second-nature and easier to perform. Adaptation explains why initially you are often sore after starting a new training routine, but after doing the same programme for a few weeks you have little, if any, muscle soreness.
The Principle of Use/Disuse
The Principle of Use/Disuse implies that when it comes to conditioning, you “use it or lose it.” This simply means that your muscles hypertrophy with use and atrophy with disuse. This also explains why we decondition or lose fitness when we stop exercise.
The Principle of Specificity
The Specificity Principle simply states that exercising a certain body part or component of the body primarily develops that part. The Principle of Specificity implies that, to become better at a particular exercise or skill, you must perform that exercise or skill. A rugby player should do specific rugby related conditioning exercises as part of his programme, such as a flanker doing varied short distance shuttle sprints with bag tackling and shield driving mixed in to mimic game requirements, as part of his anaerobic training. While it’s helpful to have a good base of fitness and to do general conditioning routines, if you want your performances on the rugby pitch to improve, you need to train specifically for rugby.
These are not the only training principles, however, these six basics are the cornerstones of all other effective training methods. These cover all major aspects of a solid foundation for conditioning.
Many thanks to Rugby Conditioning.