T Nation

Rules vs. Guidelines

As of recently, I have begun to realize that a lot sources that I have researched for the most part have actually been compilations of guidelines, rules of thumbs, principles, heuristics, and/or ideas and not hard-and-fast rules or laws. However, I believe that to some extent there have to be some golden rules that every athlete or trainee must follow in order to make specific desire gains. Right? So with regard to strength training and conditioning, what would be rules that every athlete and trainee must follow in order to achieve success? I believe that having perfect or near perfect form on all your exercises and having at least a basic understanding and acknowledgement of anatomy/physiology of the musculoskeletal, cardiothoracic, and nervous systems would be considered rules. However, what else would be considered rules and not guidelines?

I wouldn’t even consider the things you mentioned to be ‘rules’. You really believe every exceptional athlete is using near perfect form on all exercises? You think perfect form on all exercises can even be clearly defined? Look at all the differences in opinions on dead lifting if you believe there is a true perfect form out there. Arched versus rounded back, sumo versus conventional, pulling out slack versus not, etc.

There are also plenty of really, really dumb bodybuilders out there. If your coach understands anatomy/physiology, you don’t need to. Also, genetic freaks don’t need to know much to grow.

Resistance training in some form is essential for strength gains and hypertrophy. Sufficient dietary consumption is necessary. Dedication/perseverance/hard work are necessary.

These are the only rules. And depending on how you define “success”, not even all of these are actually set in stone.

The reason there are a lot of guidelines and not a lot of hard and fast rules is because everybody’s different. Like flipcollar said, some guys are just genetic freaks and will grow no matter what they do. And you can get away with being dumb if you have a smart person telling you what to do. The only rule that I can’t think of an exception to is get enough rest, though there will be some variation from person to person regarding what “enough” means.