Why you need to consistently exercise to provide stimulus to muscles causing them to adapt

I wanted to write this blog post for a long time. What I am about to write in the next paragraphs are the fundamentals of achieving any fitness goal. You see, fundamentals are the key. Any accomplished athlete became so good in practicing fundamentals that naturally he or she arose to heights of success. Fundamentals are like first principles in physics, truths that have been proven by science and are hard to dispute. In the case of fitness, our bodies are built in a certain way and there are fundamentals that explain our progress towards our stronger, fitter self. Let’s begin.

The keyword that you need to remember is adaptation. That is the single purpose of personalised exercise programme, to induce adaptations. To cause the body to adapt as a consequence of repeated exposure to the exercise that causes stimulus to our muscles. But first, let’s define adaptation in a more scientific way.

An adaptation is a change in a structural, physiological, or behavioral characteristic that enables a living organism to survive.

Simply said, in our exercise context, our biological system must be subjected to stress i.e exercise to stimulate adaptations that get us results. No adaptations, no results.

So, improvements in fitness occur when there is exposure to repeated training stress.

Ok, let’s see now a very interesting image that explains this in-depth. Take a look at the image below.

Supercomensation diagram, Yakovlev.

Right after our exercise session, our biological system will go into an alarm phase which is the phase of a temporary decrease in performance. However, this phase is important because it will cause the system to return to, or exceed the initial capacity.

This phenomenon is called super-compensation. Super-compensation is the desired outcome of personalised exercise programme.

In order for us to achieve this super-compensation phenomenon, we need to apply a systematic progressive overload strategy. How? Progressive overload is usually achieved by systematically changing training programme variables like:

  • volume or quantity of work
  • intensity or rate of work
  • frequency or number of exercise sessions within a time period
  • exercise selection
  • order of exercises
  • rest periods

For your exercise programme to be effective and produce results, you need to consistently meet the adaptation threshold by implementing an appropriate training stimulus and recovery periods. But, this threshold varies from individual to individual. By that I mean, your fitness level, your recovery capacity etc. This is why we so stress that your personalised exercise programme needs to be completely personalised to you.

Another interesting caveat, as your fitness improve, your next exercise set needs to provide a new adequate overload to meet your new adaptation threshold. If you don’t meet this threshold again, you will not get to that next stage of your fitness improvement. On another side, if you exceed repeatedly your adaptation threshold, you will experience fatigue and your fitness performance will decrease. So, you need to find your balanced adaptation threshold each time on your fitness improvement journey. How? One word. Recovery.

We will talk more about recovery in one of our next blog posts.

Until next writing,

Damir Pervan, Founder and CEO, CROFIT Group

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