If Improvement Is Your Goal...

You show up to the gym. You do the work. You’ll continue to get better, right? Well, maybe not...

I’ll frame this by saying that if improvement in weight loss, strength, power, conditioning, or just getting in shape is your goal, then you will need to do more than show up and work. You need a plan and that plan is a weekly rhythm of training that follows the General Adaptation Theory.

This theory is the science behind how the body changes. The following steps must occur in order to see change. First we have to have a stimulus. This stimulus must be great enough that it forces fatigue. Then we have to have to allow for recovery. Only then do we get adaptation or change in the body. 

Basically, when you look at how this might apply to you it is as simple or as complex as you make it. Move and get tired, recover, and do it again in order to see change. Now, it can be that simple, but for some of us, we want to understand more. Well, here are my tips for how to organize a potent week of training in order to allow for Stimulus, Fatigue, Recovery, and Adaption to take place. 

  1. Mix the stimulus you are getting each day. Consider not running or biking or doing the same thing each day. Is the boot camp class you take or the yoga class you take 3x per week the same or similar type of stimulus? I’m talking big wide brush strokes in stimulus. Get in the gym and do some strength training on one day and then on another day do some endurance work on a bike, rower, or running - something that makes it more cardio based. When there isn’t variation we tend to plateau and we break the cycle of stimulus, fatigue, recovery, adaptation. Your body gets used to doing too much yoga or too much biking. You need to learn new things and be challenged.

  2. By mixing stimulus, you create more space for recovery. Understand that a heavy lifting day is a much different stimulus on the central nervous system than is a cardio conditioning day. Too much of one type doesn’t allow the body to recover. However, alternating and switching up the stimulus will allow the body to recover more, while still being able to train. The perfect week for general adaptation (not referring to specificity in athletes, rather, people like me and you who just want to look better and feel better) is to have a couple of strength days, have one or maybe 2 conditioning only days, and then have 1 or 2 mixed days that include a combination of both strength and conditioning. 

  3. Know when to push and when to rest. We are all different. We all have a different tolerance for intensity. We are all starting in a different place with our fitness - different ages, different goals, and different lifestyles. So only you know when to work and when to rest. For those of you who know you have a tendency to overdo things, like me, you can build in a buffer for more rest and recovery. If in doubt, it’s probably ok to err on the side of rest. However, for those of you who have a tendency to underdo when it comes to fitness, you may want to consider leaning towards exercising and moving when you are in doubt.  

Do you have a plan? Are you plateauing in your fitness? Have you ever given thought to what you should be doing to really optimize the time you spend working out?

Maybe I can be helpful.

See you in the gym,

Aaron
CSCS, PN1