How does ‘adaptation’ work?

​I’m going to start by giving you an example. Take a marathon runner, for instance. When a runner first begins the mission to compete in a half or full marathon you observe them drop weight pretty quickly or lean out (seeing their muscle definition) in their process of increasing their ability to perform such a long race. But then, say a few years down the road, you see a picture of them then and now and notice they look the exact same, though they continue to train in their sport and maybe have even increased their duration. But still, they look the exact same way.
Our body is capable of so much! But it also works to adapt to whatever stress you place on it. During the beginning of someone’s fitness journey any form of training will elicit a difference in composition, endurance, weight loss, etc. because it’s something new to the central nervous system, muscle fibers, and body entirely. But because our bodies are designed to adapt, after a while if the training doesn’t produce progressive overload, the very same training will inherently do little to nothing in continuing to change the composition of ones’ physique.

What is progressive overload?

Progressive overload is simply put, adding more stress to your training, as your body adapts to the current loads, to continue to produce more strength and composition change. If you stick with the same 10-pound dumbbells for the same exercise at the same number of reps every week for a year, I can guarantee your body has adapted to the point it feels little to no stress and therefore no longer sees it as challenging and ultimately doesn’t produce change to your physique or increase your strength.

How do you make sure you are ‘progressive overloading’ in your training regimen?

My #1 piece of advice to you (if your goal is to change your body composition/physiques, increase strength, and be on a legit efficient and effective fitness journey) is to get on a program! By this I mean you do not need to – nor is it beneficial to – change up your weekly workouts every single day or week. Your body needs time and consistency to adapt to the lifts you choose so it can increase strength and performance in that lift. Change the angle and you change the exercise. Once you have put in enough work to hit strength, hypotrophy, and power in your lifts (around 8-12 weeks) you can then adjust your program to incorporate new lifts. The other tip I have for your training program is to follow a daily undulated periodization model. Yeah, I know. Alyssa, stop speaking gibberish. This simply means each day of the week, though your lifts stay relatively the same week-to-week, the set and rep schemes change. There is more scientific data to back up this training model than any other form of periodization when your goal is muscular strength, muscular size, change in body composition, and weight loss. So for example, day 1 of your training can be for strength, day 2 for volume, day 3 for power, and any days in between are for smaller muscles aka accessory training. But that is a whole different blog post that I could write about for weeks! If you are interested in learning about DUP training models I highly suggest reading the book Optimizing Strength Training by Kraemer and Fleck. Or! Higher an educated trainer to lead you down the straight and narrow/efficient and effective path. 🙂

xoxo, LB

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