To understand why we get the results we do from the same workout we must first understand a physiological phenomenon called 'adaptation'. In this article I will attempt to make the exercise enthusiast aware of the adaptation process as to why some people get results while others do not.
Of course, there can be hidden factors why a person does not get results such as having a physiological predisposition. However, before one blames one's body as the way it is and always will be as an excuse for not getting results one must first rule out the adaptation process, which is difficult to do if one truly exercises, that is, exercises well .
What Is Adaptation?
Adaptation is a process by which the body accustoms itself to physical stress. A certain amount of stress is good for the body. In life the right amount of stress caused by outside stimuli enables one to progress in whatever one wants to advance in by the means of accustoming oneself to the stress in order to adapt to achieve favorable results.
Adapting Inside The Gym:
Inside the gym is where the body learns the adaptive process on condition that the body is stimulated by exercise stress by the exerciser so the body can be superimposed to change its form of composition. In other words, to have more energy and to look and feel better is the rewarding effects from the fruits of a painstaking effort.
Three things must occur in the following order for a physiological change in the body to take place, i.e., altering the body to change its form of composition (which is why most of us exercise):
- Stress must be stimulated (what you must do).
- Adaptation is learned (what the body does as a reaction to stress).
- Change is activated (what happens to the body when stress is applied and adaptation occurs).
When you (1) stimulate a sufficient amount of exercise stress (2) your body reacts by learning to adapt to the stress, but if and only if a sufficient amount of stress is applied. Change (3) is the result achieved from applying (1) stress, which triggers (2) a learning response from the body to adapt.
In short, when you impose stress on your body you stimulate it by forcing it to react by learning to adapt, which in turn activates change. Physiological change cannot take place first without proper stimulation of stress, which in turn follows an adaptive response from the body.
This is indeed positive because your body learns from what you have habitually been doing well or what you have become well at doing. The following sequence of events cannot be overemphasized enough:
Stress Stimulates Body Adapts Change Occurs
Adapating Outside The Gym:
Outside the gym adapting oneself to stress can either be positive or negative, depending on how one reacts to it (and not reacting to outside stimuli is a decision not to react at all). To accustom oneself to life's changes, generally, is to adapt to the stress one is reacting to in a positive way, which is learning how to use it to one's advantage.
If one does not react to stress in a positive way it consumes one in a negative way (consciously or not), which leads to a spiral downfall of oneself. If one does not experience any kind of stress it means that person is either content with it or apathetic to it.
Generally, when one consciously accustoms oneself not to adapt to stress one wishes to remain what is termed an "apathetic loafer". If so, then all potential change from learning to adapt in life is regarded as a negation of life. This gives way to a psychosis of not reacting at all to anything (hence, what is termed "apathetic loafer") and is characterized by antipathy as a kind of revenge for one's life against living.
Click Image To Enlarge.
If One Does Not React To Stress In A Positive Way
It Consumes One In A Negative Way.
The Training Effect
If there is a significant amount of stress imposed on the body it will invariably undergo a change as a reaction to this stress placed on it. A constant increase in exercise stress will keep on strengthening bodily changes in terms of increased functional ability. Hence, the body undergoes not one adaptation process but many.
How many depends on the level of stress imposed on the body at each same workout. Functional changes in the body are caused by what is called the training effect. The training effect is the body's way of adapting or accustoming itself to physical stress. From the training effect follows improvements in neuromuscular function (increased strength), cardiorespiratory function (increased endurance), and hypertrophy (increased muscle).
Adaptation Limits & "Reaching A Plateau"
Of course, the improvements are not never-ending. Improvements gradually begin to slow down until an individual's body reaches its limit of adaptation. When the body reaches its limit from going through consecutive adaptation phases one may be said to reach a "plateau". But one does not reach a plateau without first passing through many adaptations, which results in a plateau.
A plateau is when the body becomes stubborn to adapt, and therefore, change, despite the heightened level of intensity, change in training loads, change in training methods, change in training regimen, etc. Just as there are limits to each person's adaptive capacity there is a limit to each person's plateau capacity.
To break a plateau is to join the utilizing pains of knowledge, effort, and compliance. Breaking plateaus concern the advanced fitness enthusiast and not the beginner or intermediate. If you are a beginner or intermediate fitness enthusiast and you think you have reached a plateau because you are not getting results... think again. Evaluate your training on two criteria:
If the advanced fitness enthusiast meets these two criteria she must consider a third:
Cycle training means a change in training loads, training methods, and training plan as a "regular" alternative to a customary training regimen to combat plateaus. This article, however, is limited to discussing the adaptation process not cycle training.
The Same Workout & Adaptation
To get the best training effect from the adaptation process you must be compliant and consistent with the same workout regimen for a certain period. The reader must understand: Adaptation will follow necessarily if and only if the same workout regimen is executed and not a different workout regimen every month. Sticking to the same workout adaptation necessarily follows, which in turn changes your body and improves your fitness.
These days, pretentious fitness enthusiasts say they "change up" their training frequently to "confuse the body" so it doesn't adapt in order to elicit change. This kind of believing is like the aged and well-known dictum: "No Pain, No Gain."
Having knowledge but no understanding of something through misappropriation yields neither knowledge, nor understanding, nor wisdom. A person who changes up their training frequently to "confuse the body" so it does not adapt is what most fitness enthusiasts are doing, which is the opposite of what they are supposed to be doing â€" what this article talks about! This means that most fitness enthusiasts are doing the opposite of what they are supposed to be doing! They skip out on doing the same workout out of boredom and disinterest and it is not surprising, though they talk about eliciting change, they still look the same!
These pretentious fitness enthusiasts are indeed sincere and kind and I enjoy their company but their sporadic month-to-month and hit and miss day-to-day workouts speaks for itself: they do not possess an aesthetic looking muscular body with a highly conditioned cardiorespiratory system.
Based on their "years of training" they falsely give themselves advanced training status when they are far from it. They imagine themselves a competitive bodybuilder too whose article they must have read that pertains to such a high level of athletic performance and adaptability when they are in fact an intermediate or a beginner fitness enthusiast with a lower level of performance and adaptability.
A person thinks just because she has many years of training she automatically must think her body, i.e., functional ability, to be in the advanced stage. It's like thinking one's chronological age has something to do with one's mental age, when in fact the opposite may be true: a 40 year-old who is intelligent but fashions his actions like that of a 20 year-old is neither mature nor responsible.
Years of experience in training does not always equate to a higher level of performance or aesthetic appearance or functional ability. Years of training could be years of interrupted training (hit and miss workouts) rather than consistent training because for most of us there is life outside the gym.
Instead of changing up your training frequently to confuse the body by reading training articles by advanced athletes I offer this principle:
Subject your body to the same workout for a period of time. This forces your body to become accustomed to the physical stress imposed on it so it can adapt to the "new" stress for a physiological change, i.e., to increase, to strengthen, and to improve.
When you subject your body to a significant amount of stress it becomes accustomed to the stress. The result is that the body adapts to the stress, which in effect causes a physiological bodily change in increased functional capacity.
Workout Frequency & The Adaptation Response
Generally speaking - concerning workout frequency in regard to the adaptation process:
A beginner should use a beginning three-day full body workout regimen at least for six months exercising each muscle group three times per week.
An intermediate should utilize a four-day split routine up to at least a year exercising each muscle group two times per week.
The advanced individual should use a five-day split routine at least exercising each muscle group once every five to six days per week.
The kind of workout regimen depends on what your training experience is and what your physiological functional ability is. In other words, the kind of workout regimen that you should follow to allow your body to adapt depends on two factors:
- Training experience
- Level of functional ability
On the other hand, one may have two to three years of training experience and because of consistent and laborious workouts will have a high level of functional ability. This person may either be an intermediate or a beginner. On the other hand, one may have two to three years of training experience but because of consistent and laborious workouts may have a high level of functional ability. This person is an advanced competitive athlete.
Both factors either taken separately or combined determines if you are in a beginning stage, an intermediate stage, or an advanced stage. Each stage represents a grade of knowledge and experience of the exerciser and level of functional ability as a precondition for advancing to the other stage.
For example, one cannot be an intermediate exerciser if one has not gone through the beginning stage first, thereby conditioning one's functional ability that meets the beginning stage. This means, on the one hand, if one is truly a beginner exerciser then he will naturally begin at the beginning stage before advancing to the intermediate stage.
On the other hand, if one considers herself an advanced fitness enthusiast but has not sustained the motivation of consistent and laborious workouts then she should begin at the beginning stage anew before advancing to either the intermediate stage or advanced stage.
She may stay with the beginning stage until she is certain her workout consistency breeds a sustained motivation to exercise, which gives her the green light to advance to the other stage. In other words, be honest with yourself.
Understanding the phenomenon of adaptation and knowing how to use it to one's advantage is an important component to experiencing the training effect. To get the best training effect one must use the same workout for a certain period depending on whether you consider yourself to be in the beginning, intermediate or advanced stage.
The best training effect is accomplished by triggering a maximal specific adaptation from each same workout that occurs over a certain length of time. The body is capable of undergoing the best physiological changes that is triggered by the adaptation of stress from a set program for a predetermined length of time.
Unexperienced exercise enthusiasts (one who has pretentious know-how) who believe they are exercising sufficiently but observed otherwise by a fitness trainer and complain they have not gotten results after a month or months of training seem to unknowingly confuse 'adaptation' with "reaching a plateau" believing these to be synonymous physiological properties, which they are not.
It is most likely unexperienced exercise enthusiasts have never even come close to exercise adaptation to qualify for reaching a plateau. There are four reasons why:
- They lack exercise effort, and therefore, exercise stress.
- They confuse work with exercise.
- They lack sound exercise nutrition.
- They adhere to an unsuitable training regimen or none at all.
There is a saying that goes, "Familiarity breeds contempt." In the case of desiring results from exercising smart, relying on the same workout does not breed contempt.
Subjecting oneself to the same workout might be a burden but the reward is that it raises honor and appreciation to both the mind and body working together (the mind controls the body and the body gives honor to the mind) because the same workout helps one develop a higher level of intensity to stimulate stress, which allows the body to adapt to stress for change to occur.
Copyright © 2006 By Randy M. Herring