The Human Adaptation to Exercise

human evolutionHave you been training for a while and ever noticed a plateau in your performance? There is definitely science behind constantly improving your performance. Exercise training is an adaptive process. The body will adapt to the stress of exercise with increased fitness if the stress is above minimum threshold intensity. Therefore you cannot just go for a 20 min job 3 times a week for a few months and expect to see an improvement. In order to improve you will need to increase the duration or the intensity of exercise to keep ‘stressing’ your body. To ensure this is effective, we must consider factors involved in the adaptation of muscle to stress and deconditioning. These factors include progressive overload, specificity, adaptation, individuality, adaptation and reversibility.

The purpose of training is to stress the body so it improves its capacity to exercise. Physical training is beneficial only as long as it forces the body to adapt to the stress of physical effort. If the stress is not sufficient to overload the body, then no adaptation occurs.

PROGRESSIVE OVERLOAD: should be used when prescribing exercise so as the body adapts, the intensity can be increased to obtain improvements in performance. The variables that contribute to overload during exercise training are intensity, frequency and duration.

SPECIFICITY : derived from the body being able to adapt specifically to demands imposed on it and becomes extremely important when prescribing resistance-training programs

ADAPTATION: Significant improvements in performance occur when the appropriate exercises are introduced into a training program. Physical fitness is generally a reflection of the level of training. When a client works hard, their fitness increases. However, when that training ceases, fitness begins to deteriorate.

INDIVIDUALITY: There is nothing more important in designing resistance-training programs than taking into account the goals, needs, preferences and strengths/weaknesses of the client. As every client is individual in every way, they will react differently to the same program designed for another individual, therefore, you cannot write generic programs for specific goals and expect that all clients you give this to will achieve the same results.

REVERSIBILITY: Ending your exercise program will cause your body to revert back to pre-training state over a period of time. Therefore keep up the training!

When undertaking an exercise program you must continue to overload the training variables (i.e. intensity, duration and frequency) in order for your body to adapt to the training and thus cause an improvement in performance. in summary make sure you keep up the exercise because if you stop training you will quickly revert back to your pre-training state!

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6 thoughts on “The Human Adaptation to Exercise

  1. Aaron Curwen-Walker

    Very interesting… I’ve been training with Luke for about 3 weeks now, and I can already see the results of my body adapting to the stress of the workouts we do 3 times a week. I think it’s also a mental thing as well, in the sense that when I first started my body wasn’t really equipped to deal with the pain that can come from intense exercise. However, even in the short space of time I’ve been training, I’ve started to learn how to not focus on the pain, and it’s become less of an issue. But it’s amazing how quickly the human body can adapt and deal with regular physical exertion even after being completly unfit prior to starting.

    1. Luke

      You are doing an amazing job so far Aaron and are we are seeing the results already. Your changes in output have been huge! Keep up the great work and we will keep seeing these massive changes in you. Well done!

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