Basic KLT Theory
Functional Strength Training Concepts
All KLT exercises and workouts adhere to several basic functional strength training concepts:
- Stand up to train – this means no seats and no benches. When you remove all external supports, you have to use your own lower body strength and endurance plus core strength and control for every repetition of every exercise.
- Perform integrated movements – this means to concurrently move the upper body and the lower body for every exercise. In the science of biomechanics we learn that the body is perfectly designed to spread forces across as many muscles and joints as possible to perform functional tasks – this is known as The Kinetic Link Principle. For example, when we lift a heavy box above our heads we use our legs to help with the lift, not just to protect our spines, but because the majority of the strength of the lift comes from the gluteals and leg muscles not just the upper body muscles. When you throw a ball it is totally natural to both step forward and rotate the trunk to assist the power of the action – this is not something we need to be taught – it is just the way the body wants to move.
- Demonstrate appropriate levels of stability and posture control – this means you should only train the prime movers (the big superficial muscles) to the extent that the stabilisers (the deep, small, often hidden muscles) can provide sufficient support to adequately control the core and peripheral joints. KLT exercises should always performed with excellent posture, looking smooth and graceful.
Strengthening Natural Human Movements
When performing Kinetic Link Training you will exercise in a way which creates progressive strengthening of natural human movements in multiple planes of motion. This is achieved by performing a wide variety of integrated and co-ordinated upper and lower body movements through a stable core.
All KLT exercises and workouts promote your ability to:
- Move with ease (pain-free motion through an appropriate range of motion).
- Move with efficiency (multiple muscles all contributing to the performance of every exercise).
- Move with strength (the capacity to generate force through full-body movement patterns).
- Move with control (strong, stable and fluid motions with safe and precise exercise technique).
Training Variables Terminology
Several training variables must be considered when giving guidelines for completing a resistance exercise program. The training variables we will explore are:
- Repetitions (Reps)
- Rest Between Sets
Manipulation of these variables will influence your training outcomes. Any time you are studying KLT and learning new workouts you will be guided as to the best way to manipulate these variables to achieve the best outcomes.
The number of times that a movement is repeated (from start position to finish position and back again).
In KLT, we suggest working within a specific rep-range to achieve a specific outcome. For example, 12 to 16 reps is a great start for those aiming to achieve movement control and muscular endurance.
Whenever a rep-range is suggested there must be a clarification of tempo. How many should I perform? And how fast should I move?
The speed at which a rep is performed. That is, the time it takes to move from the start position to finish position and back again. The standard rep tempo suggested for those that are new to KLT is a very controlled 5 seconds per rep.
Tempo is an extremely important (although rarely acknowledged) variable. Whenever there is a discussion about rep numbers there needs to be a clarification of rep tempo.
It is a fact that 10 reps performed at a 2 sec/rep speed will have a very different training effect than 10 reps performed at a 5 sec/rep speed. In the first case, the movement is under load for 10 reps x 2 seconds = 20 seconds. In the second case, the movement is under load for 10 reps x 5 seconds = 50 seconds (more than double the volume of work is being performed).
In exercise science, the product of reps multiplied by tempo is known as time under tension.
A single set is a series of repetitions performed with continuous time-under-tension.
In KLT we have determined that, for good results (and for simplicity), 2 sets of each exercise is adequate for a short duration workout and 4 sets is ideal of a an extended training session.
For example we may suggest that you complete an exercise for 2 sets of 14 reps at a 5 second/rep tempo.
Rest Between Sets
The rest period between successive sets of reps.
In KLT, the rest period between sets will vary slightly depending on the specific outcome to be achieved. Typically, training with heavier weights requires longer rest periods (1 – 2 minutes or more) between sets. And you should be fine with shorter rest periods (just 30-60 seconds) if the loads are quite light.
The amount of weight being lifted / moved / controlled.
This is arguably the most important variable to choose correctly. Load choice will ultimately determine the intensity of the effort required and therefore directly influence the number of reps and tempo (or time under tension) that can be performed with control before experiencing fatigue.
Now let’s consider the concepts of Intensity, Fatigue & Good Technique.
Exercise intensity refers to how hard your body is working during physical activity. Your health and fitness goals, as well as your current level of fitness, will determine your ideal exercise intensity. Typically, intensity is described as low, moderate, or high (vigorous).
Low intensity suggests that you are exercising at a level of effort that you would describe as “gentle and not very hard” (without being boring).
Moderate intensity suggests that you are exercising at a level of effort that you would describe as “challenging and somewhat hard” (without creating anxiety).
High intensity suggests that you are exercising at a level of effort that you would describe as “very challenging and very hard” (without creating pain or excessive discomfort).
Be aware, it is normal to experience mild muscular aches for a day or two after performing moderate or high intensity resistance training. Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is especially common if you are not used to this type of physical activity.
When first learning the exercises in this course, we suggest you should be exercising at a low to moderate level of intensity. Once you feel confident performing the introductory workout (and as you move onto future KLT workouts) you may choose to train at a moderate to high level of intensity. Apart from during elite athletic training – it is rarely necessary to take exercise to the extreme (high risk) levels of maximum effort or exhaustion.
Warning: If (in the rare event) you experience any of the following symptoms, stop exercising and seek medical help:
- extreme breathlessness
- breathing problems such as wheezing or coughing
- chest pain or pressure
- extreme perspiration
- dizziness or fainting
- severe muscle pain or cramps
- severe pain in any muscles or joints
- extreme and long-lasting fatigue after exercising
In KLT, Fatigue is defined as “compromised technique or impending loss of movement control during an exercise”.
Fatigue is not necessarily ‘feeling the burn’ or localised weakness in a specific body part or muscle. Once you notice adverse movement quality, such as loss of postural control, the set should stop. Movement fatigue indicates a breakdown in performance of one (or more) of the joint-motions or muscles involved anywhere along the entire kinetic chain (anywhere from toes to finger tips – and everything in between). For those new to KLT, it is often the small deep stabilising muscles that fatigue first. These small muscles are working quite hard in all KLT exercises – they are difficult to see and feel and are often ignored in the traditional gym environment. However, the strength and endurance of these ‘deep little muscles’ is very important for the prevention of injury and for long term optimal physical performance.
With more Kinetic Link Training experience (once the muscles of the entire body have had more practice at ‘playing well together’), fatigue tends to be more generalised along the entire kinetic chain or most evident in the prime mover muscles of the focus movement (the bigger more superficial muscles).
Because we have removed the use of seats and benches and other external supports in KLT, you will always be training in standing (never sitting or lying down) for all exercises, using a variety of squats and lunges as the base on which all your upper body actions are performed. So it is to be expected that, if you are new to this type of full-body functional strength training, you may primarily experience fatigue in the lower body during your workouts until the lower body muscles develop improved levels of strength and endurance. We commonly hear the feedback from our clients …” Wow – I can really feel this in my legs!”
In Kinetic Link Training we love to celebrate good technique.
Unfortunately, it is easy for poor technique to develop when you are not fully aware of what good technique actually looks like – so it is always important that you watch the videos in this course carefully and take note of the narrated key points for optimal movement control. Movement control for every single exercise includes the picking up and putting down of the weights. Every exercise starts the moment you lift the weight and is not over until the weight is safely and gently put back down again. We certainly would never encourage (or tolerate) dropping your weights.
It is common for technique errors to develop when one is too focused on simply “lifting heavy” rather than “moving well”.
We often explain to our clients that “you earn the right” to lift heavy (if you wish to do so) by first demonstrating excellent technique under lighter loads.
If you train too heavy or you move too fast, or if you are simply not focussed on the quality and gracefulness of your movement, technique errors may be allowed to creep in and persist. Poor technique quite simply means that your long term strength and movement control will be compromised and your injury risk will be significantly increased.
When exercises are performed with precision and mindfulness with well-controlled good technique then long term strength and improved performance is ensured and risk of injury is minimised.