Principles of Training

principles of training

In order to get the most out of your training, you must follow some basic simple training principles which are overload, specificity, reversibility, and variance.


Overload means we must put our bodies under more stress than normal in order for adaptive changes to be made. Specificity relates to ensuring the training done is specific to the sport or activity. Reversibility means if you don’t keep it up you will lose it and variance relates to varying the training activities.

What are the basic principles of training?

The basic training principles for all physical exercise are:


In order to progress and improve our fitness, we have to put our bodies under additional stress. Applying this training principle will cause long-term adaptations, enabling our bodies to work more efficiently to cope with this higher level of performance. Overloading can be achieved by following the acronym FITT:

Frequency: Increasing the number of times you train per week

Intensity: Increasing the difficulty of the exercise you do. For example, running at 12 km/h instead of 10 or increasing the weight you are squatting with.

Time: Increasing the length of time that you are training for each session. For example, cycling for 45 minutes instead of 30.

Type: Increase the difficulty of the training you are doing. For example progress from walking to running.


This principle of training relates to the type of training that you do. It should be specific to you and your sport. You should train the energy system which you use predominantly (i.e. don’t run 5,000 meters in training if you’re a sprinter!) and the fitness and skill components most important to your sport, for example, agility, balance, or muscular endurance.

Another example is to swim a lot in training and then expect your running to improve significantly. Your general fitness will improve so, therefore, your running may also improve, not nowhere near as much as if you focus on running instead of swimming.

You should also test the components which are important in your sport to see your strengths and weaknesses. With this information, you can focus on improving your weak points.


Use it or lose it! Basically, if you stop training then the improvements you have made will be reversed. So if you are ill or have a holiday and do not train for a period of time (even as little as a week) you may not be able to resume training at the point where you left off.


Try to vary your training. This keeps you interested and gives your body different challenges. Remember a change is as good as a rest with this training principle. Many professional athletes will play a completely different sport in between their main seasons, to keep their fitness up whilst still having a rest!

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