One of the foundations of Sport Science is the SAID principle. SAID is an acronym for Specific Adaptations to Imposed Demands. This means that your body will adapt specifically to whatever you train it to do. Therefore, if you want to improve a certain ability or skill you must regularly practice that skill, or engage in activities that place similar demands upon the body as that particular skill does.
For example, if you want to become a better golfer, you do this by playing golf. But there’s more to it than that; with any sport, a strength and conditioning program is essential to achieve peak performance. Therefore, when engaging in a strength and conditioning program you also need to practice the SAID principle. This is done by doing exercises that simulate the demands placed upon the body during that event.
If, for example, you are a golfer, you would want to include some exercises in your routine that involve spinal rotation, such as the medicine ball side throw.
While holding medicine ball above the waist, rotate torso and throw medicine ball against cement wall or to training partner. Catch the ball on it's return and repeat for desired number of reps.
It’s an intuitive concept, and most people would agree that this makes total sense. However, this principle is often ignored completely by trendy fads in fitness and athletic performance. For example, a common question runners ask is; will a training program like P90X benefit me? One could argue that any exercise routine that is challenging provides some benefits, and it typically does. However, if the routine doesn’t simulate the demands placed upon your body during your sport, any improvements in your particular sport will be minimal. Therefore, since these types of routines, while challenging, generally do not simulate the specific muscular demands of running, they are not the best use of your training time.
Your time is better spent doing running specific exercises. An example of such an exercise is the Suitcase Deadlift, which is running specific because it requires the obliques (side ab muscles) to be activated in order to stabilize the torso in an upright position, as is done when running.
Perform a squat with a dumbbell in one hand and shoulders even.
Since certain muscle groups are more heavily emphasized during some events than others, it is also important to do movements which engage the lesser used muscle groups, thereby eliminating strength imbalances. Strength imbalances can lead to injuries.
As an example, let’s look at rowing. When rowing, a dominant upper body muscle group is the back. It is certainly important to have a strong back to perform well; however, to avoid excessively disproportionate strength levels, the chest should be utilized in the training process as well. The exercises don’t need to be as numerous for the chest, but the muscle group itself should not be ignored in the routine. Examples of chest exercises include the dumbbell chest press (bench press with dumbbells) and pushups.
Practicing the SAID principle is also important for addressing muscle imbalances we incur in everyday life. Since much of our days are spent in poor postural positions from excessive sitting, it is not uncommon to have strength imbalances. For example, if muscles of the mid-back are weak (which can occur from excessive slouching or rounding the neck and shoulders) extra attention needs to be placed upon torso exercises so that the mid-back is strengthened in a manner that puts it in proportion with the opposing and surrounding muscles.
A challenging group fitness class may give you a great workout but it most likely won’t effectively address imbalances. Therefore, it shouldn’t completely replace a personalized strength and conditioning program. Your time is valuable, be sure to spend it wisely.
As an experienced Advanced Health and Fitness Specialist and athlete, I specialize in conditioning programs which incorporate the SAID principle and address individual needs and abilities; making them both efficient and effective. In my 16 years of training I’ve helped countless people reach levels they never thought possible. I would be honored to do the same for you. Contact me for a free consultation to get started.