According to renowned trainer Stephen Cabral, men can improve their health and physique by adhering to a few simple principles. In his book, A Man’s Guide to Muscle and Strength(Human Kinetics, 2011), the 2011 Personal Fitness Professional (PFP) Personal Trainer of the Year condenses thousands of hours of research on exercise and training into a list of the most powerful training principles for transforming any workout program.
“If you follow these 10 principles and put them to work for you in your workout programs, I believe your results will be nothing short of amazing,” says Cabral, who has spent 12 years training everyone from professional athletes to A-list celebrities. “Plus, these principles have withstood the test of time and have been proven to work for all guys no matter what their genetic makeup.” Cabral is convinced that if a man did nothing else but follow these 10 principles, he’d have close to 90 percent of the skills needed in order to advance in weight training.
1. Follow the SAID principle. The acronym for specific adaption to imposed demands, this principle encourages men to keep pushing the bar higher each week by making small and steady improvements that add up to massive gains over time.
2. Implement EDT. The system of escalating density training means that men should keep each workout to 45 minutes in length, cutting out all the “water-cooler talk” and rest periods in order to complete more work in less time or the same amount of time.
3. Move in multiple planes of motion. By focusing on both side-to-side movements and rotational work, instead of just moving forward and backward, men can develop greater strength and become more functional and well-rounded lifters.
4. Focus on movements, not muscles. More free-weight and cable-based exercises will help a man create a stronger, more functionally fit body. A body has to work much harder when not seated in a stationary machine.
5. Use full ROM. Unless a physical therapist or doctor advises against it, Cabral recommends working through a full range of motion in order to maximize the degree to which the muscle fiber is being stressed and recruited during each movement.
6. Push, pull, and twist. Because the body can work in only three ways, men should ensure that they do pushing, pulling, and rotational work in each workout in order for their bodies to stay balanced and in proper alignment.
7. Use a fast–slow combo. Since the goal is to increase strength and develop a lean, muscular body, Cabral wants men to use a 1-0-4 tempo for the majority of lifts. This means pushing the weight quickly over one second, not pausing at the top, then lowering the weight over approximately four seconds, creating greater muscle growth.
8. Lift with your legs. Cabral stresses that running or doing cardio does not work the legs. To increase leg strength, functionality, balance, alignment, and shape, men must train them with some type of resistance.
9. Use only anabolic-based programs. For men lifting three times a week, it is essential that they focus on major muscle groups and preferably total-body training sessions in each workout. “You want working out to be a part of your healthy lifestyle, not your workout to be your life,” says Cabral.
10. Rest. Ignoring the forgotten principles of rest, recovery, and regeneration in strength training will lead to countless overuse injuries to joints and muscles.
“By using these principles, you will dramatically improve your chances for achieving your goals in gaining strength and muscle while keeping your body healthy,” Cabral concludes. “Once you’ve mastered the techniques and knowledge from these 10, you can begin to branch out from there and expand your exercise education.”
In addition to more specific details about these principles, A Man’s Guide to Muscle and Strength is packed with over 140 exercises and more than 300 photos, delivering straightforward strength training programs designed for real guys who want real results. For more information on A Man’s Guide to Muscle and Strength or other health and fitness resources, visit www.HumanKinetics.com