I remember back in 1976 at Appalachian State University in Dr. Thomas’s Exercise
Science class. At that time I was totally into Body Building. Going to class, working and training, what a life, no responsibilities! Now back to Dr. Thomas and his exercise science class! That was over 40 years ago and I still remember him teaching the S.A.I.D. Principle. I love acronyms, they help me remember what groups of words mean, and the S.A.I.D. Principle means:
- S – Specific
- A – Adaptations (to)
- I – Imposed
- D – Demands
This applies to everyone, so my article should be of interest to all! It basically means that whatever demands you place on the body, it will transform and adapt to those demands.
But the key word here is “Specific.” In the strength & conditioning circles there is a saying, “mixed training gets mixed results.” So if one wants changes in the way they
physically appear, then specific adaptations have to be made in the areas of physical conditioning and nutrition. Again, the key word is “specific.” In other words, The S.A.I.D. principle describes that a specific exercise or type of training will produce adaptations specific to the activity performed and only in the muscles (and or energy systems) that are stressed by that particular activity.
Football is a sport that the average play only lasts about 3.5 seconds. So why run long distances when training for football such as we did when I played in the 1970’s? Distance runners are mostly lean with limited muscle because of the demands that distance runners put on their bodies. But football is a series of short sprints. And that is how they train (specifically) by running a series of short sprints with a lot of weight training mixed in, just
look at football players, they’re big and strong!
Let’s get away from sports and go to the real world. Let’s say you’re in our accounting department at Europa. You work with numbers all day, and do you know what you become good at if you work with numbers all day? You become good at numbers! Isn’t that amazing! It’s the demand that you put on the mind, and in return you become good at adding and subtracting! I’m not sure, however, that I would fit into that category!
Another example of the S.A.I.D. Principle; is Mrs. Diana Pietrzak of Europa’s Marketing Department. She trained and ate a certain way (specifically) for 16 long, grueling, weeks in preparation for her Figure Competition at this year’s Charlotte Europa Games in April. It took that long for her body to adapt and make the transformation that she wanted. And with all the hard and consistent work, her body did just that! It adapted and she took home a 2nd place title, with that being her very first show! This transformation didn’t happen overnight,
it was a slow process and Diana’s success was due to the fact that there was a specific plan as to what she was training for!
I see so many people in the gym that want to lose weight and they come to me for advice. They want me to prescribe a workout for what they want to accomplish. I always go back to the S.A.I.D. principle when writing up a program with each person’s goals in mind. A workout that is specific towards what they would like to achieve. If it’s losing body fat, I put in the workout plan and exercises that will burn lots of energy such as full body, multi-joint, exercises. This just stands to reason, the more energy burned during a particular movement, the more weight lost, of course the nutritional plan coincides with one’s desired look.
If the stress put on the body must be Specific to obtain the desired results, then what would be the optimal way for the athlete, bodybuilder or anyone else who wants to add some hard core muscle to their frame? If someone is going to spend an hour or so of their valuable time in the gym, then they should want, and even demand, to know the most efficient way to put on muscle! Yes, resistance training would be an easy answer to a very complex, million dollar question; however it goes much further than that! I basically could write forever on this subject but for this article I’ll keep it short and simple….well, I’ll try!
In my over 30 years of working with athletes, bodybuilders and the general public, there are 3 things that must be accomplished:
- Have a Plan
- Hard Work
- Be Consistent
All of these are so important, however having a plan centered around your exact goals are critical in obtaining maximal results. But remember, the plan must be specific to those goals and must be imposed so intensely that the body is forced into an adaptation that delivers a
desired result. Another key word that is often passed by is “Imposed.” Imposed in this context means forced upon. In other words, sometimes one must go through the hard work, sweat and pain that are being forced upon them in a particular training session. Expecting those adaptations to come easily and quickly is usually not going to happen. There is a saying that I have written on a board in my office which says, “Understand that there is a price to be paid for achieving anything of importance.” And that price usually comes with some very hard work and sacrifice involved.
And like I S.A.I.D. earlier, the Plan, as in any strategy to accomplish a given task, is of the upmost importance. I remember in my earlier bodybuilding days I had a workout partner (one of many I had in those days) that asked me if there was a better way to build muscle. I
started to laugh and then said “of course there is, I just like going about things to get to an objective the hard way!” I laughed then, but as I look back it was a very good and insightful question. What is the best way? Don’t we try to do that in everything one does in life, the best and most efficient way?
As for building muscle, (I could write a whole article/book on this one) research tells us that there must be an overload of at least 70% of your one rep max, which will stimulate hypertrophy. Research also tells us that when stimulating hypertrophy, there must be a point to where one goes to absolute muscular “failure” with every set of 10-12 reps. There are even some studies that suggest that one may use as little as 30% to stimulate the building of
muscle as long as one reaches the point of “failure” with every set! That’s how important going to muscular failure is! In other words, we can’t just rack the weight knowing we got our 10 reps when there was more in the tank, especially if that was your last or even next to last set.
Now we’re talking about hypertrophy, but what about using the S.A.I.D. Principle when dealing with absolute strength? Research tells us that training with moderate weight can also build strength. Even the Westside powerlifters train with sets of 12, 25 and even up to 50 reps, and for these guys and gals it’s all about creating strength. However, that may be only 15 to 20% of how they train. The very best way to get strong is to lift heavy and fast with at least 80% of your one rep max. Notice I said fast; I’ve heard it said time and time again “it’s hard to lift a heavy weight slow.” Lifting the weight fast but under control with no jerking also activates more muscle fiber.
The S.A.I.D. principle also comes into play with the type of muscle developed. The muscle will get bigger by using different types of reps and weight schemes. “Sarcoplasmic” hypertrophy is when there is an increase in volume or reps which stimulates the non- contractile muscle cell fluid which is call sarcoplasm. This fluid accounts for around 25-30% of the muscle’s size. Although the cross-sectional area of the muscle increases, the density of
the muscle does not. This type of hypertrophy is the result of high rep “bodybuilding type
training or even general fitness type workouts. However, on a side note, there is a time and place for even athletes to use high rep hypertrophy training in their periodization program.
The other type of muscle fiber that is developed is called “Myofibrillar” hypertrophy. This type of muscle increases because of the density of the muscle which is caused by much heavier weight and lower reps. Again, the Imposed demands even develop certain types of muscle fiber depending upon the type of stress that is placed on it. It gets very “specific”
I see ladies in the gym all the time doing light dumbbell work with plenty of high reps and they look very lean with their muscles very small. Why, because the demands placed upon the muscles are such that the hypertrophy is very minimal, yet the calories burned are high because of the continuous movement, aerobic work and the energy system that they are using. Once again, their bodies are changing because of the demands placed upon it. Their success also has a lot to do with following a good nutritional plan!
I said earlier in this article that an old saying in strength & conditioning is “mixed
training gets mixed results.” However, in CrossFit the objective is mixed results. One wants to be strong, powerful (the combination of strength & speed) and have one heck of an aerobic work capacity or threshold. The CrossFit community can Olympic lift but also can run a thousand miles. But just think how good they would be if they could just concentrate on one area of their fitness event but, again, that is not their goal. Being Specific in one area is the
key to one’s success, But, again, in the case for CrossFit, they desire to be their best in all events.
So the next time you would like to achieve a certain objective when it comes to fitness, make sure you are being specific when designing a plan to meet your specific goals! And like I S.A.I.D………………….
Chip Sigmon CSCS*D, USAW, CISSN
Strength & Conditioning, Wellness Coordinator, Europa Sports Products
- Vladimir Zatsiorsky PhD. “The Science & Practice of Strength Training”
- Charles Poliquin, Modern Trends in Strength Training, Vol. 1 QFAC Bodybuilding, 2001
- Christian Thibaudeau, The Single Best Muscle Building Method, The New Science Of
Training to Failure