Save your ace for when you need it

More is better?

No… Better is better. It’s about training smarter, not just harder.

Two of the principles of athletic training come into effect here, namely the progressive overload and accommodation principles

In one of our a recent chats, CST and TacFit Coach, Michael Addison and I were discussing training progression, and I happened to say,

“Just because you can, it doesn’t mean you should.”

And this simple sentence has stuck.

You may be capable of turning out a monster training session right now, but that doesn’t mean you’ll get the most benefit from it.

Don’t play your ace too early! Save it until your progress has faltered and you need it to burst through a performance plateau.

Zatsiorsky & Kraemer (2006) summarise the progressive overload principle;

“A training adaptation only takes place if the magnitude of the training load is above the habitual level.” 

You need to train hard enough to me your body adapt (get fitter, stronger, faster, more powerful)…

If the training dose isn’t sufficient, you’ll either de-train (revert backwards) or simply maintain your current level of performance.

If the training dose exceeds your current habitual level, your adaptation results in an increase in your performance.

Although, this performance increase is not directly proportional to the amount you exceeded your habitual level.

The trick is to apply just enough training load to make your body adapt to it. Over do it, and you’ll not only run an increased risk of injury, but you’ll make it harder to constantly improve over time.

This is where the accommodation principle also rears its head: “the response of a biological organism to a constant stimulus decreases over time.”

If you train with a constant training load for a period of time, it soon becomes the habitual level, and therefore ultimately results in de-training.

At some time in your training career, you’ll also eventually reach a plateau in your performance – where you struggle to continue to improve.

If you smashed in that intense training too early, your body will have already adapted to that level…

And to progress further you must increase the training load even higher – you should have saved that ace until you needed it!

The key is a progressive increase in training load – just enough increase to cause adaptation.

Curb the temptation to go all out when it’s not necessary, save it for when your gains falter and stall.

Plan your training, train smarter not just harder. Remember, more is not better… better is better.

Further Resources

Don Heatrick

Founder of Heatrick Strength and Conditioning

Don Heatrick is a family man from the UK, former mechanical design engineer, European Muay Thai silver medallist, former pro Thai boxer (ranked 4th in UK while aged 40-years), a Muay Thai coach, podcast host, and the go-to expert on Muay Thai performance training with over 25 years of coaching experience.

Don helps ambitious fighters and coaches take their game to the next level by bridging the gap between Strength & Conditioning, Performance Science, and Muay Thai.

Follow Don Heatrick on Instagram:

Want to help us invest even more in providing free content? …You can donate here


The Science of Building Champions video series
The science of building a Muay Thai champion’s strength & conditioning, which results in…
  • Fastest possible short-term progress
  • Maximum long-term progress
  • More efficient movement patterns
  • Better technique
  • Relentless endurance (never gas out)
  • Reaching athletic potential as quickly and efficiently as possible (without wasting time on things that aren’t worth doing)
  • Free up more time for technical training AND life!
  • The Optimum 12-Week Fight Camp