The fitness industry is constantly changing. Every year a new bandwagon comes along—keto, paleo, muscle confusion, etc.—and millions of people jump on it.
What’s not changing, however, is human physiology. Our bodies have passed on the same basic DNA for thousands of years. Why so many people are convinced that some new diet or routine will magically change their bodies is a mystery.
Humans have not evolved much (if at all) in the past 5,000 years. So the same strength training principles used by successful athletes in the past are still applicable today. Our understanding of the science behind human adaptation is always improving, but at this point, a “breakthrough study” that fundamentally changes our view is unlikely.
The most effective strength training programs will always incorporate the following principles:
- The program will focus on multi-jointed, compound movements (bench press, back squat, deadlift, shoulder press, power clean, power snatch).
- The program will increase increase the workload for each movement over time in order to induce adaptation specific to those movements.
- As an athlete becomes stronger, the program must become more complex in order to continue driving adaptation.
- The program will account for the fact that everyone responds to training at different rates depending on genetics, life situation, and other factors.
The most useful thing you can do is to incorporate these reliable, time-tested principles into your strength training routine. And that’s what we’re going to help you do.
Individualized, Evidence-Based Training
Science and statistics have been extremely helpful over the years in formulating our understanding of how to train for strength. However, applying this information to your own routine can be tricky. You can’t just take a study or training program out of context and apply it to your own routine. For example, the results from a study conducted on a group of highly trained athletes might not be as applicable to a beginner.
Additionally, scientific sources usually give us generalized data about how the average human responds. You likely fall somewhere above or below the “average,” which means there could be some variance in how applicable certain studies are for you personally.
As you can see from the hypothetical illustration above, the average from a sample of outcomes might not be particularly useful to all individuals.
Now don’t misinterpret this as meaning that science is flawed or unreliable. When designing a strength training program, we definitely want to incorporate what science has to say. However, we want to use it within the context of your unique situation—your age, your experience, and your ability to recover and adapt, which can vary from person to person.
In other words, the basic science of strength training most definitely applies to you. Everyone responds to training in the same fundamental ways. However, because of genetic variation, experience, stage of life, or other circumstances, there is no one-size-fits all program. Your individual response will vary, which will affect how you should train. You want to take into account this “individualized evidence” in order to maximize your results.
You can’t just find some static routine on the internet and start throwing weights around. As a beginner, this strategy might lead to some gains early on, but you probably won’t see sustained improvement for very long. You’ll hit a plateau, then go searching the internet for something else. This is a recipe for failure.
What you need is a program that weighs the evidence against your unique athletic profile, and then tailors it to your individual circumstances. This often means a bit of trial and error to get some initial data, and using that data to improve your routine going forward.
Dynamic, Adaptive Training – The Evolution from Beginner to Intermediate to Advanced
Strength training works because of the body’s ability to adapt. But because your body adapts and gets stronger, your training routine has to adapt as well.
When you first start training, your body can adapt rapidly if you train right, eat right, and sleep well. However, you will reach a point where the program you started on will no longer be as effective.
You can’t expect to make continual improvements by following the exact same routine month after month and year after year.
This has nothing to do with the false concept of “muscle confusion.” It has everything to do with the fact that your body only changes when it faces a stress “overload,” which is simply a physical task that stretches the body beyond what it is currently used to doing. This induces the body to adapt and get stronger in a process that is commonly referred to as the stress-recovery-adaptation cycle.
As a beginner, one cycle is usually just a single workout, then a day of rest. But as you become more advanced, the cycle starts to span multiple workouts and rest periods lasting weeks, then months. It requires more complex combinations of volume, intensity, and rest.
Each cycle must get progressively more stressful in order to drive further adaptation. This principle is known as “progressive overload.” If you’re not increasing the workload for each cycle, your body has no reason to adapt and get stronger.
The evolution from beginner athlete to advanced athlete (which usually takes several years) can be easily understood in graphical form. We like to call this the “athletic performance curve.”
As you can see, beginner athletes demonstrate a high rate of performance improvement. But as you get stronger and start to approach your genetic potential, the rate of improvement starts to decrease quickly. As the performance curve starts to level off, the training cycles get longer and more complex. You have to start doing more and more work to achieve less and less gains in strength.
When to advance from one stage to the next, and how to change the structure of the program will all depend on your body and your training history. This requires a religious adherence to the practice of recording your workouts so that you can analyze your performance and understand how your body responds.
The Fytt Dynamic Strength Training Program
With all this in mind, Fytt has built an algorithm-driven, dynamic strength training software platform.
The program is designed to intelligently guide athletes from the beginner phase of strength training all the way to the advanced phase. It learns from your workout history and automatically adapts as you go in order to optimize your routine.
This is an ambitious and complicated endeavor, to put it lightly. But our aim is to continually learn from the data, and to improve our algorithms so that Fytt can build the most effective strength training programs for any individual.
This is an exciting time for sports and athletic performance. People are getting tired of all the crap—the fads, the pills, the contraptions (“shakeweight?” really?)—because none of it works. The body of legitimate scientific evidence is starting to gain traction in people’s minds.
We want to make this science accessible to everyone, and to help people take advantage of what will work for them, and ignore what won’t. Our mission is to help people achieve measurable improvements in health and athletic performance by giving athletes the tools and the data they need to optimize their training and realize their athletic potential.