6 Commandments for a Right Training Philosophy

Hi! I am the author and founder of Old School Calisthenics

Table of Contents

It’s counterproductive to abuse your body with excessive outdoor training for the sake of burning more calories or building up performance when you are not in a situation where you can afford it. If you are overweight, sedentary, or simply extremely tired, under these circumstances, take an active rest or do a light physical activity that goes in harmony with the climate, your mind and body capabilities at the moment being.

Very often is a better call to go and swim, run or ride the bike at an easy pace just for relaxation. Perhaps it’s Sunday night, and instead of recharging for the week ahead, you may be sprinting like a madman in a hunt to burn calories or build muscles. In many situations, it’s smarter to go easy instead of doing high-intensity workouts, more so when it’s dark, cold, and when there is a lot of humidity, and where, on top of all, the air pressure is overwhelming. Your body will take all this impact and stress, and if it cannot handle it, you will spend your following days or weeks recovering.

Does one futile intense workout replace 4 or 5 of easy and moderate intensity? Never!

A healthy and correct training philosophy will help prevent unpleasant outcomes. I got inspired to write this article because I used to be an extremist in sports. I trained at -18 degrees Celsius. I ran the mountains at high altitude in a shirt when outside was below 0. I ran a mountain semi-marathon during the warmest time of the year, trained in the storms and so on. I was also a pro swimmer and did plenty of calisthenics or bodyweight training outdoors, so I genuinely understand what it means to follow certain commandments of what composes a productive training or sports philosophy.

This is only if you care about making incremental and steady progress in fitness or sports, achieving results lasting for a lifetime.

Amateurs or newbies often train more intensively than real athletes!

Just yesterday, before I intended to write these words here, it was a dark and autumn Sunday evening, very wet, with overwhelming air pressure. During my relaxing walk in the park, I spotted some fellows, all of them out of shape, sprinting and sprinting and sprinting. They barely did some light jogging.

Based on their chaotic and extremist training style, I assumed they intended to burn as many calories as possible to get fitter and more athletic eventually if they persevered with the same training strategy on and on. It’s also true that every time you finish a hard workout, you get a feeling of gratification, regardless if your body can handle it well or not.

I was there to take a relaxing walk and recharge my batteries for the next week, even though my initial plan in the afternoon was to jog for 50 minutes. Seeing these guys, I instantly asked myself why someone would train to maximum capacity on a Sunday evening and under all these circumstances when they should better go easy instead. After all, I’m an athlete and can handle a workout at a much higher intensity, but I didn’t even plan to be a badass on the track that day. I changed my plan because it was dark, cold, wet, Sunday and because I still have plenty of days when I can commit more seriously.

When you know you are into this for life, there is no rush. I like moderation and balance. Newbies usually don’t understand the meaning of balance and moderation. They have two gears: maximum and nothing at all.

I would have adopted a different approach than these guys did. Why? And this leads us to my six training philosophy commandments.

training philosophy

Moderation is key when training

I’ll begin with another short story but from a few years back this time. It was the beginning of January when I went to the athletic field for a jogging session. The track was all covered in snow and freezing temperatures. My running pace was light, just enough to enjoy my workout and to gradually start the new year with a type of workout that I could manage best, cardio. No rush into high-intensity training just yet because there were plenty of days to catch up and train as truly desired. It was after the holiday where I feasted and stayed awake late in the night. Therefore, I intended to restart my consistent training more gradually.

While jogging on the 400m track, all of a sudden, a fellow overtakes me. This time, it was a skinny guy. He ran at a much higher pace than me. He said hello and presented his intention to chat a little bit. So I increased the speed up to his pace so we could discuss without forcing him to slow down. I respected his workout, after all.

Huffing and puffing, he was all tired up even though he barely started his running session. He hardly ran 2-3 miles in total, including the distance having me in his company. I recall asking him why he was running so fast, considering the temperatures, recent holidays and so forth. On top of everything, he was completely inactive during this time except for one workout before Christmas.

The guy was skinny, out of shape and trained on occasions only. He is not consistent over the year, but each workout session meant high intensity for him. He responded to my “why” very vaguely, without having the right notions about proper training. I invited him to run at my pace so we could enjoy the discussion furthermore. Otherwise, he would have needed to stop.

Before asking him, I thought he was preparing for some competition or so. Based on his answer, I realized he just wanted to burn a lot of calories and body fat after a period of excessive feasting and drinking.

During our jog and conversation, he told me that he tried to do somewhere to 200 pull-ups in a workout some days before Christmas if I recall right. In reality, he could barely withstand 70 pull-ups. The sheer volume is too high for him and very often even for someone used to hardcore training. I bet his form was incorrect, and the range of motion was cut in half. I didn’t ask though about these aspects either. He said he needed one week to overcome the extreme muscle soreness caused by training and another week for his back to release the strain. He interrupted his workouts during this time, obviously. He probably pinched some nerves or got stiff by overtraining because his pain endured more than the naturally delayed muscle soreness.

I advised him on how to approach his training based on his fitness level, weather and body capabilities. I could sense that his training philosophy was practically nonexistent, so I had to provide a healthy one for him. My fellow just trained when he could, more than his body could handle, without considering anything of any sort whatsoever. He went purely based on instinct.

In a way, I agree that one needs a lot of hard work and volume (sets, reps, training frequency) to build athleticism, endurance, motor skills, improve cardio, get stronger or leaner, and even build a more massive body. An amateur or a starter in fitness, sports or bodyweight training usually checks no box. Many don’t even have a sports background. This means one finding himself into this category might need to build cardiovascular endurance, burn out body fat, get a stronger body, tone the muscles, adapt to harsh environments, build muscular endurance, and the list goes on and on. Thus, what’s your starting move because desperately training for a week or two to get stronger arms and legs won’t solve the other physical weaknesses. You will need a lot of time, probably years.

training philosophy

In reality, you could do 5 tough strength workouts and then realize that you might also need to improve cardio and burn some extra body fat because it bothers you a lot. Will you do another 10 extremely hard workouts on top of the other 5 tough strength sessions? Could you handle the pressure, because it adds up?

You need to build the foundation on which you add more bricks, one at a time. Otherwise, you will collapse! So train your foundation moderately, do a hardcore workout because your body can handle the intensity and pressure and not because your ego speaks.

Include pleasant physical activities as well as aerobic. Use it mostly when your body recovers from strength workouts. If you did one workout that left you sore, then see what else you could do instead. Could you jump the rope this time even if your legs suffer? Or do you need to take 5 days off because of severe training? Learn how to balance because you increase the training capacity with time and as you accumulate workouts, your body gets more adapted to new stimuli.

Intensity doesn’t always transfer into more weights or more reps. There are many different types of training intensities. For instance, when you train in a circuit or do a high-intensity workout, you can also include light intensity exercises like the jump rope, leg lifts, and box jumps. Not all exercises should be about deadlifting and squatting heavily or sprinting at maximum power.

Obviously, doing sprints, pull-ups, pushups and weighted squats in a circuit is awesome and will not only make you sore but will take your organism into an anaerobic metabolism as well. That’s a workout for the most fitted out there! Learn how to balance the intensity. Perhaps it’s smarter to jog 20 minutes, then do some sprint intervals along with some sets of squats at the end and finish with stretching. You got the point!

Don’t train like a maniac when the weather is awful!

Generally speaking, pro athletes or those very fit can literally push their boundaries more often and under extreme conditions – they are adapted and crafted real training intuition that comes with years of practice.

When you go to train outside totally unadapted and unequipped, your body will try to deal with the weather first and foremost, and it surely doesn’t want you to overload with severe and intense exercises. It’s also very difficult to warm up well under these conditions, and if something is missing entirely from an amateur’s training plan, it’s definitely a proper warm-up routine. Take one quick warm-up in freezing temperatures from me:

Be consistent, not “Beast Mode On” every time!!!

First and foremost, be aware of how you feel and what your body can manage during the day you plan on training harder. It doesn’t matter what you planned for Monday if you have, for instance, high pressure in your eyes and a headache and cannot withstand a tough strength high-intensity session. Or maybe you will still feel very stiff, experience back pain or lower back blockages. These are all issues that hold you back, which means it isn’t the time to go “beast mode on”.

Suppose you feel enormous pressure and tension due to heavy air or simply because you woke up feeling bad. In that case, you should attempt aerobic exercise or anything else that is of gradual intensity and more pleasant as physical activity. It could be a hiking session. That still burns body fat if prolonged exercise at a steady pace and with a good degree of elevation gain.

Switch ON the “beast mode” when you can do it and certainly after a period of adaption to consistent training. If you read my stories carefully, you’ve already grasped a general idea of approaching your training with the right mentality and following a healthy philosophy.

A healthy training philosophy is like a training bible that will keep you out of injuries, pain and discomfort. Therefore, be consistent and train almost daily and the best you can. We all have bad days, no need to exaggerate all the time.

Don’t stay exposed to cold if you are all sweat!

If you have a healthy body but out of shape, you shouldn’t exchange wellness for an awesome physique. Try to keep yourself healthy and functional while you improve your aesthetics, athleticism and strength. Health should come first and if you have it for granted, at least maintain it. An optimized person possesses a lucid mind, a strong body that is also fit and lean, and more so healthy on the interior.

Staying shirtless during winter when all sweat can hit you very tough. I’ve made this mistake and learned my lessons. It’s the same when you wear inadequate clothes. If it’s winter, wear something comfortable that allows dynamic movements and dress in layers. Stay warm but not too warm because you will sweat. I usually wear a hat, gloves, proper shoes and socks, and good clothes.

My grandma always suggested that I must take care of myself when the weather is harsh because I might pay the price when I get old.

Never train if deprived of sleep!

Being deprived of sleep and yet training hard, it’s almost always bad and can literally bounce back unpleasantly. Your immune system is always affected by sleep deprivation, and if you add this one on top of what I said above, you will most definitely regret it.

Performance drops dramatically if you don’t get sufficient rest. I am not referring to those situations where you have a night or two where you sleep 6 hours because that’s not the case here. I am talking about a lifestyle that is very chaotic or too dynamic in a sense it affects not only the quality of sleep but also the quantity. You need as many sleeping hours as possible. Some can genuinely function properly with 6-7 hours of sleep, while others require more than 8. I fluctuate from 7 to 9, depending on how many activities I have during the day and how exposed I am to external stress.

A friend of mine used to have a very tough morning routine, waking up early in the morning at 5,30 and then engaging in high-intensity training. He is a fit and adapted guy, a former soldier used to tough times but even so, overlapped with a very dynamic and stressful lifestyle with 10-12 hours of work a day, he fell into this trap of sleep deprivation. He got affected, and he often complained about headaches and high eye pressure or general tension and stiffness.

At his request, I gave him one of my training routines, and he particularly liked it because it includes uphill sprints, jumps, squats and pushups, only that the workout is a calorie burner that demands a fresh body and mind, which he rarely had when trained. He injured his back eventually and could barely walk, all bent and like an old granny. I had to take him to acupressure to release the strain from the nerves and muscles and have his blood flow back to normal. It took him a week to get over it, and this was due to my call and advice. Otherwise, he could stay with the pain for another 2-3 months.

Even after you’ve managed to increase your fitness level, get adapted, fit and work with success through all conditions I’ve talked about, this one particular commandment will always be of crucial importance.

Build a training program based on your weaknesses

A good training philosophy is based on wisdom and common sense. Building a good training program requires knowledge. Get educated about exercises and biomechanics or kinesiology. Learn a bit about physiology and metabolic processes, so you know what happens with you during exercising, more so about cause and effect.

Keep it all basic because it’s the most simplistic training plan that will deliver most of the results. You will build a solid frame and foundation only if you understand the importance of compound and basic exercises. Almost everything invented in the past years in this fitness industry is stuff or apparatus you actually don’t need.

Leg lifts, sprints, hill sprints, VO2 Max running/swimming sessions, coordination exercises, plyometric exercises, squats and variants, burpees, bench press, deadlifts, back extensions, pushups, pull-ups and the list goes on, are all essential in building up an optimal body. I suggest you focus on your weaknesses. If you know your cardio is bad, then try to do more aerobic, HIT, VO2 Max workouts, and so on. If your pulling strength is weak, dedicate more time to mastering pull-ups.

I don’t point towards bodyweight exercises only even though I am a bodyweight training coach, but you should definitely integrate as much calisthenics as possible.

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