Principles of Training

Overload, Progression, Specificity, Reversibility, Placement, Individual Difference, Adaptation.

The Principles of training are a set of guidelines used to assist individuals (from any fitness and exercise level) in improving their overall fitness levels and performance. These are the foundations on which exercise programmes should be designed and progressed.


In order to improve fitness levels, an individual must work the particular component e.g ‘Cardio-Respiratory endurance, Muscular strength’, against a load ‘greater than normal’. As an individual’s fitness level increases the load needed to be ‘greater than normal’ increases.                                                                                                                            The  overload principle is achieved through the use of  FITT                                                                                                    F-Frequency – How often an individual trains ?                                                                                                                           I-Intensity – How hard one trains ?                                                                                                                                                 T-Time – How long ?                                                                                                                                                                           T-Type –  Type of training (aerobic, resistance, circuit training etc.)

Progression                                                                                                                                                                                         This principle indicates that as a person becomes fitter, a higher intensity of exercise is needed to create an overload.

Specificity                                                                                                                                                                                         The result of the type of exercise performed is specific both to the muscle groups being used and to the energy system involved.

Reversibility                                                                                                                                                                               Training effects gained are reversible if the workouts stop.

Placement                                                                                                                                                                                           This refers to the scheduling of the training within the week/month etc, and within each session itself.

Individual Differences                                                                                                                                                                     This Principle states that the capabilities of each person varies, and that each person will adapt in a different manner to an exercise programme.

Adaptation                                                                                                                                                                                          This refers to the way the body changes as a result of training, e.g. muscles becoming stronger.