Adaptation: the foundational law of training

To get a full understanding of how preparedness is improved, we have to start with understanding how and why humans survive in any given environment and/or situation. It has been said that man is the most adaptable creature on the planet, and indeed this adaptability is the key to surviving and thriving in nearly any situation.  This is what allows any sort of training to be effective.

The purpose of training is always to cause an objective improvement in a trainee’s (or your own) physical fitness. A physical load is applied to the organism through a training program and by adapting to the stress, the organism arrives at a higher level of physical fitness and well-being. A training routine must be planned and executed correctly in order for this mandatory process to take place.

An understanding of the biological process of adaptation is clearly the foundational element of effective training program design and implementation.  This the law of training for any purpose from Bodybuilding, to combat sports, to bat-and-ball games, or any other physical activity.

What is Adaptation?

If you ever moved to a new area, or even just took a vacation to a place with a very different climate, you had to adapt.  In biology, adaptation is considered one the main features of an organism, the key to its very survival; we adapt or we die.  When we do eventually perish, it is because a stress came along we couldn’t adapt to quickly enough.

Exercise or regular physical activity is a very powerful stimulus for positive adaptation. The body produces force as a highly integrated system when compound barbell lifts are executed and this, in turn, causes a training effect in all of the organism’s processes. Squats, Deadlifts, Presses, Cleans, and Snatches all have a positive adaptive effect on the neurological (intra and intermuscular coordination), glandular (hormonal) systems, cardiovascular, strength, bone density, muscle anabolism and energy metabolism, and even the functioning levels of the internal organs.

The five-pound incremental loading system of the barbell allows for an exact programming of intensity for different training levels and purposes. This makes for an exact prescription of overload stimuli in training (we can program for the exact type of adaptations we want according to our training purpose), which is exactly the stress that causes training adaptations to occur.

What is an Overload Stimulus?

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A training adaptation will take place only if the magnitude of the training load is above a habitual level. In reference to Adaptation, the magnitude of the load refers to that of the internal load.  The magnitude of the internal load of a training session (or microcycle, mesocycle) is determined by the interplay between the magnitude of the external training load (the product of the average intensity and total volume of the training unit) and the current state of two physiological factors of the trainee: Fitness and Fatigue.

The Two-factor theory of training: Fitness and Fatigue

Fitness and fatigue are the two components which make up a trainee/athlete’s preparedness.

The two-factor theory is based on the idea that preparedness (the current potential for performance) is not stable but varies with time. It is the product of the interplay between physical fitness and physical fatigue at any given moment.  Read More


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