Strength Training Principles to Live By: You won’t hear this from most coaches, trainers, or even your doctor!

John pretending to be a monkey in Maui
John pretending to be a monkey in Maui.

If I could teach you one thing it is that you ARE strong and you DO know what is best for your health. This advice will echo throughout all of the Real World Strength Training themes, principles, and articles.

You have an amazing gift that you can use for any physical goal, be it strength training or not – intuition. Deep inside of yourself, you know what is best for your health – you have an internal awareness that provides direction. While many trainers and coaches will belittle you by saying that their workout routines are over-your-head, that you need professional help (or a “specialist”), or that you’re not capable of taking care of your health – they couldn’t be further from the truth. One of the best things you can do to immediately jump-start your progress in your exercise program is to listen to that inner voice – your “physical conscience,” if you will. This will provide more direction for your training than any workout routine, exercise program, or even a professional trainer.

Now, I’m going to tell you something that many other coaches, trainers, and even some corporations won’t tell you…

You are 100% capable of developing your body into a powerful, vibrant display of strength and health – with a physique that is beautiful and a body that is functional. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need any assistance doing this – you don’t need specialized bodybuilding workout routines, supplements, or fancy strength training equipment to obtain the body you’re after. You’re not too old, too young, too skinny, too fat, too sick, or too injured to start working towards better health and a beautiful physique.

Here’s a hard truth: only you are responsible for your health. Let me say that another way: every single choice you make contributes to your health, and only you make those decisions.

If you are unhappy with your body, then it’s not your doctors fault, it’s not your environment or social structure that is causing your body to stay the way it is – the responsibility ultimately rests on your decisions and actions. I trust that you already know this, which has led you to this site. You’re taking responsibility for your actions and using your intuition to guide you. You’re on the right track!

While everyone develops in an unwavering, predictable manner, it is always an individual process – so you will get to learn so much about your body as it develops into that powerful physique you want so badly. While I will provide you with recommendations for exercise programs and workout routines, the real value that I will offer you is in the instructions on how to customize these strength training programs to your individual needs and goals.

It’s best if you take a long-term approach to strength training and health improvement. If you commit right now to take baby steps everyday towards your goals – you will find that your progress is permanent. Don’t rush to find the “solutions” to your problems – this isn’t a contest. Instead, commit to improve daily, and enjoy the process of your personal transformation.

6 Strength Training Principles From Real World Strength Training:

Address the Whole Body – we train movements, not muscles since it is impossible to isolate a muscle and counter intuitive to make substantial progress towards a leaner, healthier physique that is functionally-sound. We train “all the body, all the time.” If you’re looking for a bodybuilding workout routine, or a split exercise program, you won’t find it here because we know those techniques are ineffective and outdated for building real world strength.

Integration – you must integrate your breathing, movement, and structure to excel towards your goals.  Each exercise has a proper breathing technique (control), movement technique (execution), and structural technique (posture).  Inefficiencies in any of the three will affect your total performance, and each component can be adjusted to change the dynamics of the exercise.  All strength training exercises must keep these three components in line.

Sophistication – contrary to popular belief, simplicity is the worst enemy for your health,  strength training-wise. You need to sophisticate (not complicate) your strength training techniques to continue to reach and surpass your goals.

Symmetry – is there any reason you would only train the left side of your body? We can’t think of any either. We train movements, not muscles, so when you train a forward movement, you also train it backwards, etc. Symmetry within strength training workout routines, is important and helps to prevent muscle imbalances and the other host of problems that ensue when breathing, movement, and structure are impaired consistently.

Compensation – Each of us carries a lifetime of stored tension throughout our bodies, while we could go really deep into this, we’ll just stick with the rule for simplicity sake. Whatever your daily activity is, both in training and not, you need to compensate for that activity. For example, if you sit at a desk for work all day, you need to compensate for the imbalances which this creates – perhaps by improving your hip, shoulder, and neck mobility and by strengthening your hamstrings.

Fun – We would never ask you to do something that you don’t enjoy. Strength training should be fun, and we’ll do our best to show you how it can be. While there are many techniques and games to enjoy strength training, what usually must happen first is a mind-set adjustment. Don’t ever look at strength training as a bore, or a dreaded experience. Instead, see it as your own adventure of exploring your potential. Remember that strength training is “me time,” where you get an opportunity in your schedule to do something for yourself. Strength training games help, but are a superficial supplement if substituted for the right attitude.

These are some of the underlying principles which guide Real World Strength Training.  Take them and run!

To your health and success,


John Sifferman NSCA-CPT
Strength Training Expert

One Response

  1. Awesome John!

    The 6 strength training principles are very well thought out and yet simple.

Leave a Reply