What is Specificity in Fitness Training?



The specificity principle states that physiological adaptations are highly specific to the type of training stimulus applied. You adapt specifically as demanded by activity.


  • Your body adapts specifically to imposed demands. Endurance-focused training induces endurance improvements. Strength training increases strength.
  • Sport practice elicits changes matching sport needs. Aerobic training does not transfer perfectly to strength sports and vice versa.
  • Some carryover exists between resistance and endurance training due to general activity benefits. But best results come from matching training and goals.
  • Following programs designed for your targets provides the right specificity more so than haphazard workouts. Consistency and progressive overload drive adaptations.


  • Heavy squats and deadlifts to improve powerlifting totals.
  • High rep olympic lifts with short rest for CrossFit conditioning.

Related Terms

  • Bio-individuality, exercise selection, training adaptations

Common Questions

  • Will any exercise give benefits? To a degree, but targeted training produces far better results matched to goals.
  • Don’t I need comprehensive fitness? Yes, but emphasize specificity first and build other capacities in support.

Do Not Confuse With

  • General physical preparedness (GPP) – Broad fitness without specialization.
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