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Strength and Conditioning: Meaning, Principles, and Benefits

What is Strength and Conditioning?

Strength and conditioning (S&C) is an approach that aims to improve an athlete’s or regular person’s strength, endurance, power, and overall fitness performance. It involves a variety of training modalities, such as weight training, cardio, and plyometrics, to increase a person’s physical capacity and reduce injury risk. Each program is tailored to individual needs.

Strength and Conditioning Principles

The primary purpose behind S&C is to improve how a person moves and boost athletic performance in team and individual sports

In recent years, S&C has also made its way into the average person’s workout regimen to improve fitness capacity, develop specific characteristics (e.g., strength and endurance), and prevent or reverse an age-related physical decline (sarcopenia).

The best approach for coaches is to get familiar with the S&C principles that make it easier to build more effective programs:

  • Specificity – the specific adaptations to imposed demands (SAID) principle dictates that the body adapts to the stress imposed. This means workout plans must be relevant to the athlete’s needs and goals.
  • Overload – for adaptations to occur continually, the training stress must gradually increase. This means doing more total work, training at a higher intensity, working out more frequently, or finding other ways to increase the difficulty (e.g., taking shorter rest periods between sets).
  • Individuality – every person has unique abilities to adapt and recover. Trainees come from different backgrounds, and some have dealt with injuries that affect their current abilities. As a coach, you must consider individual differences when writing training plans. For example, low-impact strength training might be better for some clients.
  • Periodization – tweaking training variables in the long run and having easier and more challenging training periods can keep workouts more engaging, align the S&C work with athletes’ in-season and off-season schedules, and reduce the risk of performance stagnation and overtraining.
  • Recovery – an adequate training stimulus is crucial for progression, but recovery allows for adaptations to occur. This principle ties into the one about individuality, as coaches must recognize each athlete’s unique recovery capacity and design workout plans that provide a challenge but also allow for proper recovery.
  • Reversibility – it simply means that not training for an extended period leads to a loss of the positive adaptations someone has made. As a coach, you must discuss the importance of consistency with your athletes.

The Benefits of Strength and Conditioning

Strength and conditioning training offers a wide range of physical and mental benefits for athletes and the general population. These include:

  • Gaining muscle
  • Building stronger bones, joints, and connective tissues
  • Developing endurance, explosiveness, and agility
  • Improving neuromuscular efficiency
  • Improving balance and stability
  • Helping with general physical preparedness (GPP)
  • Boosting muscle flexibility and overall mobility
  • Developing confidence for athletic pursuits
  • Losing body fat
  • Improving metabolic and cardiovascular health
  • Boosting mental health and reducing the risk of depression
  • Reducing the injury risk (including fall-related injuries in older people)
  • Boosting one’s body image and confidence


1. What is an example of strength and conditioning?

CrossFit is a popular example of strength and conditioning training that aims to improve people’s strength, endurance, power output, stability, and mobility while providing various health benefits. The conjugate method is another approach that’s praised for its ability to build strength, endurance, and explosiveness.

2. What does conditioning mean?

Conditioning refers to training that aims to improve a person’s overall physical capacity, often through specialized cardio work.

3. Does strength and conditioning training build muscle?

So long as the training stimulus is good enough and there is consistent overload, programs primarily focusing on strength and conditioning can also build muscle mass.

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