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S.P.O.R.T - The Principles of Exercise Training

In keeping with mine and my company's stated goal to try to make some of the mysteries surrounding Fitness and Nutrition a tad clearer, today's article is about "Exercise Training"

There are thousands of training programmes out there these days - but only a handful that actually deliver results. That's because most training programmes lack direction, and don't take into account the basic principles of S.P.O.R.T.

If you've never heard of it before, S.P.O.R.T is an acronym that is used to break down the five key principles to consider when creating a training programme. No matter what your sport or training goals; if you want results, it is key to keep these give components in mind.

Are you stuck in a rut with your training programme, or not making the progress you are hoping for? Consider applying these five principles to your programme and see what a difference it makes.

To help you get started, we've taken a look at each individual component of S.P.O.R.T below.


The first component of S.P.O.R.T is specificity - in other words, creating a training programme that is tailored specifically to your sporting or athletic goals. For example, if you wanted to improve as a football player, your training programme may consist of some steady state running drills to build endurance, some lower body resistance work to build power in your legs, and some sprint work to increase your explosive speed over short distances. It may also include a small amount of upper body work so that you are more resilient when defenders try to barge you off the ball.

Even if you're not training for a sport, it helps to have a clear goal in mind in order to keep your training specific. If you wanted to build bigger legs, for example, you would make heavy squats and deadlifts a regular feature in your workouts.

It's no good walking into a gym or out onto the running track without a clear goal in mind. Know what you're training for, and you'll get there much more quickly.


If you're lifting the same weight or running the same distance each week, how are you ever going to improve? In order for a training programme to be successful it must apply the principle of progression, meaning that you must be consistently looking to better your results. Progression comes in many forms; adding more weight, more repetitions, more distance, faster speed or less rest. However you do it, progression is about achieving better results every time you go out on the track or in the gym. This may sound overly simplistic, but it's amazing how many people can get stuck in a rut with their training if they're not consistently looking to progress.


This principle works closely with progression. As your body adapts to the demands of your training, you must apply the principle of overload in order to progress. This means pushing your body outside of your comfort zone to a limit that will force it to adapt - this may be putting more weight on a bar, or adding an extra kilometre onto your run. The principle of overload can be applied in a number of ways, but the key is to keep challenging your body in order to drive progress.


No training programme is complete without adequate attention to recovery. For motivated athletes, this is often the hardest components to grasp, but it is essential in order to keep applying the principles of progression and overload. If you do not allow your body sufficient time to recover, it won't be able to adapt and grow stronger, meaning all your hard work in training will bear no fruit.

There are many factors that can affect your recovery, most notably your sleep and nutrition. For more information about how to optimise your recovery, read this article.

The Individual

Granted, the final part of the S.P.O.R.T jigsaw could quite easily have been written as just 'Individual' or 'Individuality.' But S.P.O.R.I doesn't quite have the same ring to it, does it?

The most important part of any successful training programme is that it is tailored to The Individual. There is no such thing as a 'one size fits all' training programme; we all have different needs depending on our age, gender, current fitness levels and even our genetics. Whilst you or I may respond well to a particular training programme, this does not mean that the guy next to us in the gym will do the same. The key to creating a successful training programme is finding what works for you, and using that knowledge to maximise your results.

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