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
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.