The Four Principles Of Training

In order to get the maximum out of your training you need to apply the four key principles of training – specificity, progression, overload and individualisation – to what you do.

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The principles of training are the four key areas that you need to focus on and are as follows:



The stresses that are applied to the body in training must be the same as those experienced in your chosen sport or adventure. For example, if you’re planning to really get into walking or cycling and only have a limited amount of time to train, then you must spend time on those disciplines and not on other sports like squash or tennis.

If you’re planning to use walking or cycling as part of a general fitness programme this principle is nothing for you to worry about. If you are going to focus on walking or cycling only, then it’s something you should be very aware of.



This is a crucial principle, the fundamental fact that everyone is different! Everyone responds to training in a different way. If you are walking or cycling with a friend, and doing exactly the same amount of training, don’t be concerned if one of you gets fitter faster than the other – this is what individualisation is all about.

It might be that one of you is having some pressure at work or difficulties at home, but wherever it is, it’s surprising what can affect your training. Some days your training can go really well and the next day, even though it was exactly the same length workout, it can be a nightmare. This is individualisation.



This is all about the need to gradually increase the workload that you put your body through. It is essential to combine training and rest whilst at the same time increasing the stress that the body is put through. This so-called ‘stress’ is a combination of the frequency, duration and intensity of the workout.

Progression is all about small increments. It is not a case of doing a two hour walk one day and a five hour walk a couple of days later. You should only progress gradually, by around 5-10 per cent at a time. The safest approach is to increase your weekly activity by no more than five per cent.



Overtraining is a very common problem and comes about when you don’t get enough rest during your training schedule. This should not be confused with overload which is the planned exposure to an increased workload and the right amount of rest between each session.

Without the correct amount of rest you will suffer from overtraining. With the correct amount of increased training and the right rest, you get overload. Overload is essential if your performance is to improve. You do not want to get the reverse effect – overtraining.