Principle of Specificity

Mastermind Weekend 1/16

Hey there!

I'm Tina

I’m the owner of Carrots ‘N’ Cake as well as a Certified Nutrition Coach and Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner (FDN-P). I use macros and functional nutrition to help women find balance within their diets while achieving their body composition goals.


An in-depth, 4-week reverse dieting course for women who feel like their metabolism has slowed down, think they might have hormonal imbalance and can’t lose weight no matter what they do.

Holy crap. I am so sore this morning. I mean, everything is sore. I can’t remember the last time a Body Pump class kicked my butt like that. It sounds like the principle of specificity to me!

Ready for some science?!? (I totally just felt like Mal writing that. He says that any time he wants to teach me something new.)

The principle of specificity is often refered to as the SAID principle, which stands for specific adaptation to imposed demands. Essentially, this means that the body will specifically adapt to the type of demand (training) placed on it. Lance Armstrong’s experience in the 2006 New York City Marathon is a great example of the SAID principle.


Armstrong barely met his goal of breaking 3 hours in his first marathon. Rumor has it he pretty much walked the last couple of steps of the race. For real. He said no alpine climb on his bicycle had ever been as tough as the New York City Marathon.

For the level of condition that I have now, that was without a doubt the hardest physical thing I have ever done. I never felt a point where I hit the wall, it was really a gradual progression of fatigue and soreness.

Ok, Lance finished in 2:59:36, which is still an amazing time, but he really struggled.

I think I bit off more than I could chew, I thought the marathon would be easier. [My shins] started to hurt in the second half, especially the right one. I could barely walk up here, because the calves are completely knotted up.

Even though I’m sure he trained for the marathon, Armstrong’s body was likely much more adapted to the endurance cycling training he placed upon it. (I mean, he kicks ass at cycling for a reason!) According to, “Armstrong’s build presented a stark contrast to the elite men’s runners who preceded him on the course. The cycling champion’s heavily muscled legs and powerful chest set him apart from the slender Kenyans who traditionally dominate the race. Even Armstrong compared the leaders’ legs to pencils.” Hello, SAID principle.

Obviously, I am no Lance Armstrong, but the same principle applies. After all of that training for NYCM, my body adapted to those demands, which helped me to run a 4:21 marathon and not die doing it. However, I wasn’t strength training as much at the time, so my muscles were definitely surprised by a new demand placed upon it yesterday during Body Pump.

Interesting stuff, right? Studying for this NASM exam is actually a lot of fun. I hope you guys don’t mind me sharing this type of info with you. I think it’s really neat, and it helps me learn it!


Yummmm! Great breakfast this morning!

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I made an oatmeal pancake with peanut butter, maple syrup, and banana slices on top. I amped up the nutrition of the pancake by adding 1 tbsp of ground flaxseed and 1/2 scoop of vanilla protein powder to the recipe.

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Murphy and I are off to the dog park!

Enjoy your Saturday!



  1. I found that strength training during marathon training is actually a great combination – great for injury prevention too! I think my twice weekly TRX sessions were a key to keeping me healthy during Ironman training earlier this year. It’s always a bit of a balancing act trying to fit everything in, but totally worth it. 🙂

  2. I just passed the NASM exam in August. You will do great! I think it is awesome that you are posting about what you are learning. It is a great refresher for me. Enjoy your Saturday!

  3. I am so relieved to read this. My efforts over the last 6 weeks were focused towards running and on Tuesday I did a weights workout…it killed me yet 6 weeks ago, I would have crushed that same workout!

  4. Really interesting to read about the SAID principle. I notice that whenever bodypump gets a new release, I’m SO sore the next couple of days. Initially, it made no sense (since they essentially just mix up the same moves), but it’s interesting that even the slight changes have such a big impact.

    I unfortunately have a minor knee injury (dr. said it was over-use) and need to skip bodypump for the next 3 weeks. I tried going this week and just skipping the lunges/squats, but even things like dead lifts and rows agitate my knee. Definitely a bummer, but I’m going to try to keep up with the upper body work on my own.

  5. I have heard that when you heat up chia or flax seeds they loose their nutritional value. Is this true?
    Enjoy Murphy today! I have 3 pugs.

  6. VERY interesting topic, Tina! It makes so sense when you think about it but it’s hard to keep in mind when trying to get fit. After training for my 10k ended, I’ve been trying to maintain a more balanced fitness life but my body has changed a lot. Less lean with added body pump classes and only 2-3 runs a week. Any recommendations for being more well rounded? I do spinning sometimes too.

  7. I love the science additions! (or as my boyfriend would say “SCIENCE!”) Its always fun to learn why your body does what it does. 😀

  8. Great info! It’s so much easier to remember things when you understand them, and from your application, you clearly do!
    It’s so hard to keep your workouts well rounded when in training, how am I supposed to have a good run when I’m sore from strength training? I know it’s ok to power though some soreness, but I’m sore for days after. Balance is hard!

  9. I love hearing about stuff like that, too. Thanks for sharing. We all know it in practice, and have experienced it — but I love hearing about other people’s experiences. I’m so out of the loop, I hadn’t even heard that Armstrong ever ran the marathon. Still, less than 3:00 is nothing to sneeze at, but I appreciate that he admits that it was a struggle to get that.

  10. Tina, I follow CNC pretty regularly but rarely comment. I just wanted to thank you for sharing the SAID principle, I think that stuff is so interesting and I hope you continue sharing with us : )

  11. that;s pretty interesting, i didn’t know he ran a marathon and had a hard time, haha although i wouldn’t call under 3 hours sub-par by any means. I’ve been upping my distance running, but trying really hard to keep up strength training too. Finished a 10 mile race this morning!!!

  12. Very interesting post! I started running a couple months ago in place of cycling and I was surprised how much harder it was. I was used to cycling the California hills and canyons, which is pretty tough (I’ve got the scars to prove it ;), and now I’m running the flatlands of Michigan and was surprised how I struggled with it. I was wondering what the deal was, and here you have this post!

    Cool. I’d love to see more posts about things like this that you’re learning. I don’t feel so bad now!

  13. I love oatmeal pancakes. I have been making a few different flavors, but never make one big one. Great idea!

    I am getting back into strength training after cutting back to marathon train. It has been tough to get back and I was much happier doing my 90 minute run this morning!

  14. I think it’s awesome that you’re sharing these things with us as you learn them! Articulating what you’ve learned is a great way to make it sink in and confirm if you’re retained it. Plus, we get to reap the benefits:-)

  15. Ha that’s really cute about how mal.will say that when he teaches you science.

    Also, I just wanted to add in that the physiology of weight lifting and marathon running is different, which is why you were sore.

    Weight lifting and use of quick spurts of energy uses anaerobic respiration and fast twitch muscles.

    Distance running on the other hand, uses aerobic respiration and slow twitch muscles instead.

    That is also why the physique of sprinters is so much different than marathon runners.

    weight lifters and sprinters need those quick spurts of energy therefore they are more muscular, vs skinny marathon runners.

    Ok just wanted to share some knowledge since I’m learning some of this in med school 🙂

  16. This explains why I feel out of shape doing anything besides running…. I think I sort of already knew this (?), but thanks for posting the science behind it! Good reminder to mix it up post-marathon!!

  17. That is a truly fascinating principle. It TOTALLY makes sense. I love it. It kind of motivates me to do more cross training.

    By the way, I would LOVE to hear more about kind of your process for getting personal training certification.

  18. I had to laugh when I read your post today because:
    1 – I spent yesterday holed up in Starbucks studying for my ACSM exam and definitely made myself a little flashcard for this.
    2 – I’ve been sharing my info on Fitness & Feta as I go too!

    Thanks for reinforcing 🙂

  19. Although lots of people refer to some information as useless, I find every information is of value for somebody. And even though I read it in a book called “Unnützes Wissen” (= useless knowledge) that Stalin was born in Georgia, it wasn’t useless in that one episode of “Who wants to be a millonaire”. Unfortunately I was watching that episode on tv, so it didn’t help me that much. But you never know. So if it’s up to me – please share whatever you like ;)!

    The Queen of useless knoweledge. 😀

  20. I just wanted to say that I really liked this post. I’ve never heard of this SAID principle. It makes a lot of sense, and explains why even at my best shape, I find running to be so insanely difficult. I’ve even said before that being fit doesn’t necessarily mean you are fit to do just any activity. Nice to know there’s actual science behind this random thought of mine.

  21. i’m a science nerd so i loved this! it totally makes sense. i’m a runner– but whenever i hop on the bike at the gym (a rarity) i find it SO. DIFFICULT. like, i can barely last 10 minutes at a decent speed. now i know why!

  22. Thank you so much for this info. Please continue to share about this in your blog. It totally make sense in my own experience in how my body adapts to specific exercise.

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