The Defining Principles (My Commandments!)

Recently I’ve been researching a system of training for my clients. I’ve discovered a few recurring themes that other strength coaches need to be aware of, and even you athletes should be taking notes! I’ve read a lot of Dan Johns work, Jim Wendlers writing and had several email discussions with fellow strength coach Joseph Lightfoot.


I’ve added in my own experience and philosophy too…. so far then, this is what I’ve found:



  • There are 5 basic human movements, mastery of which will result in athletic prowess. Namely; squat, hinge, push, pull, carry.


  • Set physical standards in each of the 5 and train accordingly to achieve them.


  • Be focused on these standards and always train each movement consistently


  • You can’t train for every component of fitness at once. Don’t try to train for hypertrophy, aerobic capacity, speed and strength all at once.


  • That said; always maintain every component of fitness at some level.


  • Question and evaluate everything you do by comparing it’s usefulness to the physical standards you have set. If there is no use for something, discard it!


  • Simplify all methods used.


If you can live, train and coach using these principles you are GUARANTEED to play hard!


These principles ensure that each week you have a balanced training load. For example, whilst you may choose to focus on increasing strength in your deadlift (pull AND hinge), you also know that you must at least warm-up using goblet squats (squat), then throw in some clean and press (push) and end with farmers walk (carry).


This method holds you accountable for training all 5 human movements.


When choosing a new program to train with, you now have a system to evaluate it’s effectiveness without even having to try it! Basically, does the new program you want to try adhere to these defining principles? Wendlers 5/3/1 program is a great example of a simple and progressive system that trains all human movements. Some lame bodybuilding 6 day split would not adhere to these principles, therefore would not get you to the BEAST level needed in sports.


This method holds new training programs accountable for results.


When setting goals, you now have 5 areas in which to set your goals and a system to ensure simple and consistent progress.


When you need to focus on one component of fitness, e.g. 10m sprint speed, you will always maintain all other human movements and you won’t neglect other areas of your fitness. It’s a much more balanced approach BUT it does allow you to specialise.


If you think of the 5 movements as 5 volume sliders on a stereo, when you need to specialise on something you simply turn up the volume with that slider, but you must turn the other 4 controls down (but not completely off) or you’ll blow the speaker! There is a natural give and take with this system that allows development of one movement whilst maintaining the others.


The beauty of this system is that you don’t have to change your current program, just ask yourself, does it fit in with these principles? If not, simply tweak it until it does!


Now if you have any questions, just drop them in the comments section below!

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Stay strong.