Using Conditioning & Training Principles

Instructor: John Hamilton

John has tutored algebra and SAT Prep and has a B.A. degree with a major in psychology and a minor in mathematics from Christopher Newport University.

In this lesson, we will discuss conditioning and training principles. We review some of the principles associated with these two concepts. We present training plans for running and Crossfit. Importantly, we also discuss nutrition, rest, and recovery.

Conditioning and Training

Who hasn't wanted to improve their physical condition? Who hasn't sat on a couch eating potato chips and dreamed of crossing the finish line at the New York City marathon? Training and conditioning principles are available to the average athlete as well as the professional, but they require some discipline, tenacity, and knowledge. However, there are so many confusing options out there the average person isn't always sure how to get started. In this lesson, we will define some principles of training and conditioning and then discuss two of the most popular methods to achieve an athlete's goals.

New York City Marathon Finish

Defining Principles


Overload is adding more physical or mental stress than normal to the body or the brain in order to improve. A common mistake among new athletes is adding too much stress too soon. As a result, the body and the brain suffer the consequences.


Periodization is the principle behind switching a workout schedule around to achieve better results. In other words, if an athlete lifts the same number of reps in the same way repeatedly, he may see reduced gains (this is known to lifters as the law of diminishing returns). Thus, the athlete should mix up reps and sets as well as intensity to achieve better results.


Progression is the simple concept of gradually pushing the body to improve. As mentioned with the concept of overload, it is critical that this be gradual and not overdone, or injury and mental fatigue may result.

Sports-Specific Training

This is somewhat self-explanatory, but the athlete must practice the sport he wants to improve in for most of his practice time. He can add supplemental training, such as weightlifting or running, to augment the training.


We would be remiss to discuss conditioning and training without a discussion of nutrition. The way professional athletes have come to view nutrition has changed so dramatically over the past thirty years that many actually employ personal chefs, dietitians, and nutritionists. Sports scientists now know that each sport requires its own unique blend of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats for its athletes to operate at peak capacity. For example, a Tour de France bicyclist eats large amounts of carbohydrates along with ample proteins and good fats, while a bodybuilder eats mostly protein along with limited carbohydrates and good fats.

Tour de France

Rest and Recovery

Many average amateur athletes do not realize that exercise does not actually build up the body but rather damages it. Rest and recovery is when the body heals itself and makes gains. Thus, it is possible to overtrain and be injured, and it is also possible that if an athlete does not sleep enough, he will not improve or make gains.

Utilizing Principles

Running Program

Running is probably the most popular conditioning method in America. Road races and marathons are everywhere, and women as well as men have taken to the sport with heart. Beginners do best by utilizing a 10-week plan, outlined below, to gradually and safely build up to running three miles:

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