Stress and Adaptation
You’ve probably felt wiped out after working out too many days in a row. Or maybe you decided to take a Muay Thai class in the morning, catch a noon CrossFit class and then come in for BJJ that evening? How did that treat you? Not so great?
What are we really doing to our bodies when we are working out? How does working out affect us and how do we improve? Some of you may already be familiar with this process, but for those who aren’t, we need to understand a few things. First, homeostasis is the body’s uninterrupted resting state, or for our purposes in this post, our current fitness level. We can improve our fitness level through stress and our body’s subsequent adaptation to that stress. Hans Selye coined the term stress in 1936, which he defined as the “non-specific response of the body to any demand for change.” Exercise can be an example of beneficial stress, as long as we apply it in the appropriate dosage and do all the necessary things to allow for proper recovery (eat, sleep, etc..). After full recovery, the body experiences a state that is known as supercompensation. During this time the body’s fitness level is greater than it was prior to the initial exercise session (see above chart). Timing the next workout to coincide with the state of supercompensation will yield optimal results. If you continue to apply new stress before recovery is complete, you begin a downward slide. See the chart below taken from an article on T-nation.
So if you think putting in multiple sessions a day every day is going to be the key to reaching all your fitness goals, please reconsider. As the saying goes, “more is not always more.” Your goals should focus around building yourself up, not tearing yourself down. Recovery is just as important as what you are doing in the gym. The best explanation of this process that I’ve ever seen was in the book Practical Programming for Strength Training if you care to read more. I currently can’t find my copy of that book, so the pictures and info here come to you courtesy of Wikipedia as well as my own recollection of presentations. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask.
Deadlift – 5 reps
Rotational landmines – 10 reps
10 minute AMRAP
20 alternating DB lunges