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A Call to the Novice-Rest, Recovery, and Adaptation

Rest, Recovery & Adaptation

It's no secret that lifting weight can make you strong right?...WRONG.

Lifting weights is actually "hazardous" for your health.

Think about it, the action of lifting weight and causing micro tears in your muscles which on its face, doesn't sound great at all.

You are literally breaking down your body for the whole purpose of getting stronger.

But here is the will NEVER get strong if you only focus on lifting weights.

You get strong once you have RECOVERED from that weightlifting session.

The General Adaptation Syndrome

Hans Selye, a man that would help us understand it all never intended for us to use it for physical activity.

In 1936 his paper was published in the journal Nature titled "A Syndrome Produced by Diverse Nocuous Agents"

Here his researched showed that an organism that goes through a specific set of short term responses and long term adaptations after being exposed to an external stressor.

"Selye's premise is that a sub-lethal exposures to a stressor lead to a tolerance of subsequent exposure to that same stressor, because adaptation to that stressor will be specific to that stress." (Rip.)

What does this mean for you at the gym?

Every time you go to the gym and add a additional pound to your Back Squat/Press/Deadlift/etc. and allow yourself to recover afterwards that your body will adapt to that new weight/stressor.

Lets break this down a little further to help get the idea down...

Stage 1 - Alarm or Shock

In this phase the organism has experienced a series of events that has caused a disruption in its normal homeostasis.

A major characteristic is rapid loss of muscular tone in the next 48 hours.

You might perceive this as soreness, stiffness, or fatigue, regardless of the sensation it is also accompanied with a reduction in overall performance.

Stage 3 - Adaptation or Resistance

In this stage the body is undergoing a multitude of changes; in particular modulation of gene activity, changes in hormone production, increases in structural and metabolic proteins, etc.

The body is attempting to ensure it will survive by preparing itself for another repeated exposure to the stressor.

This process starts with the onset of stress and can take anywhere from 24-72 hours to run its course.

*Of course this varies between level of training between individuals in regards to physical activity.

Stage 3 - Exhaustion

If you happened to reach this stage then I'm sorry.

By this point the overwhelming stress of one to three months in duration could cause death.

Given the fact that this is most likely never be you (With exception to those fringe athletes) you do not need to worry about this stage.

The Novice and Recovery

Now that we have a brief understanding of what GAS is all about how does this apply to you the novice trainee.

Lets say you just start working out, and you want to get really really strong.

Well you come in Monday, then Wednesday, and Friday.

While at the gym you make sure to increase your weight on each movement you perform by 5lbs.

By the end of the week you have added 15lbs to that certain movement and are well on your way to becoming much stronger!

But lets say you have a very demanding job, and you work late each night only allowing you to average 4-5 hours of sleep a night.

Even though you weight is increasing every session pretty soon you will hit a stop and the numbers will start to go down...

How would you fix this? Maybe you try and work in some accessory movements, or lower the numbers intentionally only to blast past your old ones!

But even then you only surpass your old numbers by 5lbs...what do you do?

Well if you apply the GAS theory you will see that you need to give you body some time to adapt to the weight.

Yes you might be only strength training on M/W/F but you are also running 3 miles on the off days, and playing tennis on the weekends!

So to make things better lets try to limit your exposure to outside stressors by taking out the running but leaving your love of tennis intact.

*Note the bigger problem here is sleep but that should be obvious and will be saved for another time.

You might find the once you allow yourself to "chill out" and let the body recover, you might actually be able to become really really strong!


See you in class,