The Principles of Conditioning

the principles of training, britball, gridiron strong, rehab, strength, fitness


There are five exercise principles that must be followed in order to get the most out of your training.

Each individual has different needs to reach their goal and personal strengths and weaknesses. Therefore, no on exercise programme will suit all. A well designed programme should look at the individual needs and address this within the programme. For instance, one footballer might lack strength and balance at the ankle following an injury. Therefore, their training focus would be to re-train the strength and proprioception at the ankle joint. It is therefore important to understand your personal needs as you train to optimise performance and reduce injury.


The first principle of conditioning is ADAPTATION. The level of adaption is proportional to the demands placed on the individual’s body, such as the volume/quantity, frequency and the intensity/load of training. Training adaption is only developed when the athlete forces the body to adapt to the stress of physical work. If an athlete’s body is presented with a demand greater than it is accustomed to then it adapts to this stressor by becoming stronger. When the training load remains the same, little or no training effect will be had, and thus, no adaptation will occur.

The second principle of conditioning is REVERSIBILITY. This is the reverse of adaptation and is the biggest challenge to developing training goals and a programme design. If you stop working a trained skill then that skill will become weaker and eventually diminish. Such an example would be footballers who experience the effects when returning to training following a holiday. This may be recognised through sore muscles following the return to a session in once strong muscles which have weakened over the break through disuse. The moral of this is to ‘use it or lose it’. Regularly train if you want to maintain the capacity you have worked so hard to get. It should be noted that how often you need to stimulate the stressors to retain the capacity is dependent on the individual dancer.

The third principle is SPECIFICITY. The specific nature of training is sometimes obvious. For example, QB training will not make your legs stronger no many how times you do it. To train your legs you should train them specifically doing a specific skill movement. This principle also applies to capacities as well as movements. Specificity also applies to speed of movement through a particular range and we must match the training we perform to the challenges we face and expect. The influence of gravity is also different during movements, for example, balancing on one leg after a jump and catch is different to balancing after taking a hit. Therefore, practicing a variety of movements will make your balances more versatile as a player. To design a specific exercise or programme we must know the exact movement, speed, range and quality needed. This will best prepare you as footballers for what games may throw at you. This suggests the need to study more than one technique to accommodate the different styles which may be required of you. If you are unsure of what demands to develop and maintain you would do best to train a variety of capacities. This way you will not be far from what is required when you are presented with new challenges. There will still be a period of adaption, however you will adapt quicker and be less at risk from injury.

PROGRESSIVE OVERLOAD is the need to create a challenge to ensure our bodies grow. This can require us to work beyond our comfort zone, something which is no stranger to a footballer. This is called overload. It is when we push our bodies to more than what they are used to in ways such as resistance, repetitions, duration, speed, volume or range of motion.  For example when building strength, increasing the number of repetitions slightly or the number of sets per week will increase the overload of a workout. Changing one part per week is an effective approach to challenging your body. Additional areas to change would be increasing the weight/resistance a little and the number of workouts a week. It takes time to achieve your aim, however following the progressive overload principle is the key to achieving your goals without step backs. A guideline for applying to the progressive overload principle is; challenging your current limits. Ignoring this principle is unsafe and slower, leading to compensation and injury.

COMPENSATION is when you attempt to work too far beyond your current abilities. This leads to compensation in movement patterns which may become a bad habit that will need to be unlearned. Compensation may occur when correct form is not known or the principle of progressive overload is followed too quickly. If compensations are not corrected then you may find yourself injured. The top priorities during training should be to execute the best form. If this is not possible using a said weight or number of repetitions then you must cut back the last few reps or drop the weight slightly. This will allow you to progress gradually and safely.



Brewer, C. (2005). Strength and conditioning for games players. Coachwise Business Solutions.

Welsh, T. (2009). Conditioning for dancers. University Press of Florida.

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