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              A significant feature of the nature of living things is the quality of adaptation. This is a characteristic of living things that allows them to deal successfully with changes in their environment by adapting, i.e. increasing or decreasing in some quantity of some characteristic in order to respond to changes in their environment to ensure survival.

     In the field of exercise physiology or bodybuilding sciences we find a few different examples of adaptation. One type of adaptation is the compensatory buildup of lean tissue or muscle mass in response to the imposed stress of weight training. As the stressors are increased through progressive increases in resistance- and through increased intensity-there is a compensatory build up of muscle mass.

      A second type of adaptation is the build up of calluses in response to friction encountered when holding and gripping a barbell. Obtaining a suntan by going out for a sufficient duration in the summer sun is another type of adaptive response. Increases in cardiovascular capacity in response to applied aerobic demands are another familiar adaptive response. Weight loss is not an adaptive response of this type, but is simply a

loss of stored energy in the body due to a caloric deficit-i.e. more calories are being expended than are being taken in.

      All well and good, you may say, but how does this help me, an individual trainee, achieve my goals? The answer is simple as soon as you understand that adaptations are specific responses to a specific stimulus. You don't get a sun tan by lifting weights. Nor do you gain muscle by going out and lying in the warm sun. By understanding that adaptation is specific to a specific stimulus, then you can begin to apply adaptive specific training to your own workouts. Next,  I shall examine further how this is done.

    It was explained earlier that muscles adapt to increases in resistance and intensity by growing larger and stronger. Although the exact mechanism is not yet understood, it has been shown by researchers for over 100 years that intensity is the key variable in stimulating muscle growth. Volume, i.e. amount of exercise, is only important up to a certain limited amount, after that, added volume does not sitmulate any additional muscle growth, but merely makes deeper inroads into the body's recovery ability, making the likelihood of overtraining ever more likely.

     One can use this knowledge to help achieve one's goals by applying the above facts to the place where it counts the most -the gym. By focusing on increasing on intensity as one progresses, rather than volume, increases in muscle mass and strength are stimulated beyond existing levels. As one climbs further up the ladder, further increaes in intensity (and subsequent reductions in volume) are necesary to make further progress.

     

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Copyright 2004, 2012 James Vandervest