The Dynamorphic Training System (DTS): A return to first principles
The first principle to learn in resistance training is a modification of a theory developed by the German anatomist and surgeon Julius Wolff (1836–1902) in the 19th century. The original theory states that bone in a healthy person or animal will adapt to the progressive loads under which it is placed. Too little load and adaptation will not occur. Too much load and injury occurs. This is a perfect metaphor for life as well. Challenging ourselves to the right degree leads to growth (and too much leads to injury – either physical or mental).
If loading on a particular bone increases, the bone will remodel itself over time to become stronger to resist that specific type of loading. While this law was developed for the skeletal system, it applies to the musculoskeletal system as a whole, as well as many other body systems. Animals are highly adaptive organisms.
Another way to state this is “form follows function”. A proper amount of stress on a bone stimulates the laying down of new bone, strengthening the existing structure. Muscle, tendons, and ligaments are all subject to mechanical forces and adapt in response to these. Increase the mechanical stress and an adaptive response is produced. But increase it too much and injury results.
The important thing is to apply the mechanical force safely and properly, with steady progression over time.
This also means that an exercise should be performed with focus and control in a natural full range of motion (ROM). Partial repetitions of an exercise should not form the core of your workout. Partials were advocated in “Power Factor Training” and while power factor made a great step in quantifying the work done during a set and a workout, limited ROM reps will lead to decreased flexibility/mobility for your body – not a desired end state.
Further, it does you no good to perform exercises in an unnatural way, not having the strength gains tranfer over to everyday living (running, playing ball, climbing a mountain defending yourself on the street). Therefore, for the most part, machines are OUT. Besides, you don’t just want to look awesome, but perform awesome as well.
Form is critical to mature muscular development.
To restate: The first principle in DTS is to apply a force to the muscle in a natural, safe, and focused manner. Drop your ego and be honest with yourself. Use only the amount of resistance that you honestly need to develop your muscles. Honesty with yourself…another great virtue that is reinforced by spending time with the iron 🙂
If you take in more calories than your body expends, they will be stored as fat. Your body does not excrete calories like it does a water soluble vitamin. Calories are stored if not used. The storage tissue in the body is fat (termed adipose tissue). If you take in slightly less than you expend then you will lose fat (and muscle if not done carefully). Aerobic exercise can accelerate this process but it is not as effective as consistent caloric control. More powerful than any supplement you can take….
Conversely, if you don’t take in enough fuel you won’t be able to engage in effective exercise at all. You will fizzle before you even get started. The key to knowing how many calories to consume per day is to calculate your maintenance requirements. This will vary slightly depending on the speed of your metabolism. Maintenance requirements for kcals are calculated in general by multiplying your lean body mass (in lbs.) by 15.
To calculate your lean body mass requires you to know your body fat percentage. Body fat % is most commonly calculated with the use of skin calipers that most trainers at a gym will have. Take out the weight of your body fat and you are left with your lean body mass. Thus a 190 pound man at 10% body fat (19 pounds of fat on his frame) with a lean body mass of 171 pounds would need to take in approximately 2600 kcalories per day in order to not gain fat and not lose muscle if he has an average daily energy requirement. The kcals should be approximately distributed over several meals (ideally 6 but no less than 4). Individuals do vary slightly in their metabolic rate so you may need to use a factor of 14 or 16 instead, but 15 is a good starting point from which to adjust the total. You will learn more about adjusting calorie levels later, depending on your fitness goals.
-Lanny Littlejohn, M.D.
Please feel free to provide any feedback you have on the understanding, use, and effectiveness of these principles. They are meant as a foundation to both get someone starting on a rational exercise program and as a means of reaffirming proper principles in those who have been training for years.