Last week I gave you a brief introduction to sport-specific training. We left off on how the most logical way to initiate an effective sports-specific exercise prescription is to identify the general conditioning category in which a sport falls. Anaerobic, incremental, and aerobic are the basic conditioning categories.


  • Sports that involve activities requiring significant muscle strength with little muscle endurance
  • Are performed at low cardiorespiratory intensity and high muscle contractile intensity
  • Require comparatively short bursts of energy maintained over periods of short duration
  • Do not normally elevate the average exercise heart rate to extreme
  • Rely heavily on carbohydrate energy sources.


  • Sports that involve comparatively moderate muscle strength and endurance
  • Require the intermittent performance of both high and low intensity muscle and cardiorespiratory activity
  • Are performed over periods of moderate duration
  • Cause a varying fluctuation of training heart rate with a moderate to high average exercise heart rate
  • Rely on both carbohydrate and fat energy sources.


  • Sports that require muscular endurance and little strength
  • Require the performance of moderate to high intensity “steady-state” cardiorespiratory activity
  • Are performed over periods of longer duration
  • Cause a steady, moderate to high average exercise heart rate
  • Rely most heavily upon fat energy sources.

Being able to categorize sports and athletic activities in terms of the above-required conditioning parameters is important. It enables us to develop and prescribe an optimal sports-specific program of exercise to compliment an athlete’s existing coordination and motor skills. Proper specificity training can best be prescribed only after the performance of a close preliminary analysis of the individual athlete’s existing genetic attributes, motor skills, past experience in the sport, current physical condition, etc. Secondly, a detailed understanding of the inherent conditioning demands imposed upon the athlete by the sport itself is required. Given ALL this information, you are ready to formulate a physical conditioning, sports-specific exercise prescription.

Ron Clark

Ron Clark is the Founder of National Federation of Professional Trainers, NFPT. From U.S. Marine Staff Sergeant to Competitive BodyBuilder, then Firefighter and Certified Personal Trainer – he founded NFPT in 1988 with a mission to make fitness training careers accessible to every day fitness enthusiasts who want to turn their passion into their livelihood. Ron has always led with a heart of service, and, in that spirit, he helps people to achieve real and practical career goals that serve a greater good in changing people’s lives. He lives and leads by example, being a personal trainer himself for more than 10 years before setting out to develop a certification program that is real-world and foundational to the goals of personal trainers and their clients. Click Here to learn more about Ron’s story and NFPT’s inception.