First of all, what is specificity?

Specificity is the level of similarity or proximity of an exercise/workout according to competitive reality. The further you go, the more nonspecific. The closer you get and the more variables you respect, the more specific. 

Depending on the moment and goals, you decide if you are more or less strict with that specificity. 

When correlated with competitive reality, specificity is variable in each sport, although some may have more similarities depending on the variables in which we are looking: type of surface, spaces, opposition or not, teammates or not, etc. but since no two sports are the same, each one will have its peculiarities.

The specific work is the one that produces the most improvement in athletes due to the similarity of stimuli and greater transfer of adaptations. The problem is that this specificity also implies having an unequal impact on specific joints and movement patterns (typical of that sport).

This can generate decompensations at different levels, especially in asymmetric sports, which use one arm or one leg more than the other, or in apparently symmetrical sports but where the athlete’s laterality or his/her position on the field will also lead to that asymmetry.

For this reason, non-specific, complementary and compensatory work is also important, and what characterizes a good professional is knowing when the best time is for each thing and in what dose.

Let’s define an example

Workout / Initial Proposal:

Continuous jogging through the mountain where it will combine flat surfaces, uphill and downhill

Context for the practical case:

Basketball player in an off season period

It is very important to remember that specificity depends on the context and the sport, because if were to talk about a Mountain Racing Runner, this session would already be very specific for him/her, regarding what it would mean for a basketball player, a swimmer or a goalkeeper.

Amended Proposal towards a higher specificity:

So far the imagined practical case modifying variables and stimuli. You could use all the options, some of them or even create a progression for different sessions.


Is this 2nd proposal the most specific? No

Is this 2nd proposal more specific? Yes

Oh well, have I already prepared tomorrow’s workout? NO

Should we do this workout? No, or at least “I don’t know”. For a specific athlete, a qualified professional must decide which is the best option at that time.


Specificity is not a button with two options:

It is a gradual line that goes from less to more and that allows you to classify your tasks according to this criterion, even within the same task/activity, introducing variants or modifying stimuli.

This invented case study is not a prescription or a training recommendation, it is simply the demonstration that although thinking in black or white apparently makes things much easier for us, there are also many greys, and not only that: the color palette offers many more options and combinations.

Your expertise, the context, the moment and the needs of the athlete, will define the goals and lead the way. Then it’s time to color.