Specificity and context in post-exercise recovery: it is not a one-size-fits-all approach

Geoffrey M. Minett, Joseph Costello

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The  concept of specificity of exercise prescription and training is a long standing and widely accepted foundation of the exercise sciences. Simply, the principle holds that training adaptations are achieved relative to the stimulus applied. That is, the manipulation of training variables (e.g., intensity or loading, mode, volume, and frequency) directly influences the acute training stimulus, and so the long-term adaptive response (Young et al., 2001 ; Bird et al., 2005).  Translating this concept to practice then recommends that exercise be prescribed specific to the desired outcomes, and the more closely this is achieved, the greater the performance gain is likely to be. However, the  cardiovascular and metabolic adaptations traditionally associated with long, slow distance training  types, similarly achieved using high-intensity training methods (for a review see  Gibalaetal., 2012), highlights understanding of underlying physiology as paramount for effective training program design. Various other factors including illness, sleep, and psychology also impact on the training stimulus (Halson, 2014) and must be managed collectively with appropriate post-exercise recovery to continue performance improvements and reduce over training and injury risks (Kenttä and  Hassmén, 1998).
Original languageEnglish
Article number130
Pages (from-to)130
JournalFrontiers in Physiology
Early online date11 Apr 2015
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2015


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