Specificity Training – What and Why



Without this key element, training just isn’t quite as personal. Specificity is one of the most important elements in client training programs and a big part of helping them to reach their goals, whether it be training for a sport, losing weight, or working on improving activities of daily living.

What is Specificity Training?

Specificity in training is essentially training in a manner that is applicable, appropriate and course-specific in order to produce the desired outcome. For example, if a client is working with you to improve their running abilities, you need to prescribe movements that will help to directly improve their form, gate, cadence, and speed.

Just like anything else in life, practice is the key to improving performance. More importantly, specific practice improves performance. This means that if your clients want to improve on a specific exercise or skill, they need to perform that exercise or skill. Your running clients can perform squats and lunges all day, but if they don’t also run, then they won’t see improvements. Although specificity training should be a ‘no brainer,’ for your clients, it may not be as simple as it sounds.

Your client may have the mindset that any exercise is good exercise. Although that mentality isn’t a bad one to have, if they have specific goals for their bodies, they need to be specific in how they execute the steps to reaching that goal.

Why Specificity Training?

1. Being specific in your training will help you and your clients to keep your goals in mind during every aspect of training. Remember, these goals need to be SMART- Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. 

2. Being specific in your training will help you to better accommodate your client’s interests. Not all clients needing to increase their muscular strength and endurance will enjoy Olympic lifting; maybe they really love circuit training instead. Being specific also means being individualized. Keep your client’s interests in mind.

3. Being specific in your training will help to prevent injuries by tailoring your exercise prescriptions to your client’s initial fitness level. As time goes on, your client’s specific training program will guide them to preventing injuries in their exercises in the long run.

4. Being specific in your training will help your clients to reach their goals in a more timely and high-quality manner. Specificity will make for less time wasted on exercises that won’t improve their goals or skills. This ensures the time you do spend will be of the highest quality for their goals or skills.

5. Being specific in your training will help to build confidence in your client’s individual abilities. Not all bodies are created alike, and now more than ever it is as easy as hopping on to Instagram or Facebook to find someone with the “ideal” figure to compare to.

Your client may struggle with comparing themselves with celebrities, their friends or even you, but being specific with their programming will help them to realize exactly how remarkable they are as an individual. Use the specificity of their program to point out their unique goals, strengths, abilities, and interests.


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Hanna Riley B.S. in Kinesiology, NFPT CPT is a passionate trainer, writer, and graphic designer. Hanna's greatest passion is working with people who want to better themselves physically, mentally, and spiritually. She believes that we are all stronger than we think and she aspires to extend patience, kindness, education, self-motivation, confidence to her clients to help them unleash their strength. For more from Hanna, connect on social media on Facebook as Hanna Riley and Instagram as @house.ofhanna.