Rules To Train By

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This banner hangs by the front door at Ambition Athletics.  It likely goes more unnoticed by many as time goes on, but these training rules become no less important.  Some of the points are rather simple and self explanatory while others maybe not at all.  Let me break it down for you.


Although a concept with various names and applied by many over the years, Max gave it the name The 80% Rule.  Call it what you want, training sub-maximally, not to failure, etc, we believe it is the best way to train and make it sustainable.  For the vast majority of us training is a long term journey and not a short term destination.  The 80% Rule will keep you on the path.

Better Every Day

If your training is sustainable and you are not always working at max effort/to failure, you should be able to make small improvements very regularly.  It doesn’t always mean linear progression in the weight you are lifting but rather constantly working on your technique, your movement quality, mastering more difficult exercise progressions and skill of strength.

Quality Over Quantity

This one really ties into the first two.  If your focus is on the quality over the quantity you’re going to get more out of your training.  Getting more is awesome.  Doing more is not always better.  A higher quality is better. Consider the term Minimal Effective Dose.  The amount that you need is just enough to train the qualities you wish to train.  Nothing more. Think of it in terms of medicine or food.  Only the right amount is best, not in excess.

Set Goals. Achieve. Repeat.

This is pretty simple.  It’s good to have goals.  Whether you get there or not you can still learn from the journey.  It will help you gauge progress but also ask yourself, did you put in the work?  Now that you’ve been working towards X, is it something you really want?  Maybe it directs you on a new path with a new goal.  That’s ok too.  Working towards something will always help guide your focus as it relates to the previous rule.

Make It Look Easy

Just another part of the previous rules.  If it looks hard it probably was, meaning that you weren’t likely training at 80%.  This is fine once in a while but likely means that quality was diminished, especially in the case of newer, less experienced trainees.  Max likes to say keep a happy face.  Others say Avoid the Pain Face and you will be more efficient.

Educate Yourself

Education is one of the 3 pillars of Ambition Athletics (Movement, Strength, Education). First and foremost we as coaches are here to teach.  We don’t necessarily expect each and every person to always pursue more training knowledge but do hope that people ask questions and take some interest in why it is we do what we do.  As it relates to previous points, we could just work at what feels like 100% effort, keep the quantity really high and that might feel like a really great “workout”, but there is more to it than that.  Ideally you can distinguish between that which is training, and just working out.

Have Fun!

Whatever it is you are doing it has to be fun on some level.  If it’s constant torture it’s unlikely sustainable or that you will want to continue long term.  I’ve said it before, If It’s Not Fun, Don’t Do It.  Training  shouldn’t be about punishing yourself or others for that matter.  There are many ways to be active and make yourself better.  If you are happy with your results and the way it makes you feel then you have yourself a winner.  If you aren’t happy let’s find something you can enjoy and get maximal results at the same time.

Don’t Forget The Team

Lastly, let’s not forget that it says Team Ambition at the top.  This includes everyone.   We are all here, regardless of a specific goal to get better every day through movement, strength and education.

– Mike Baltren