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Adaptation to Exercise

21
Jun

Adaptation to Exercise

The front half of the parking lot is being sealed so please be prepared to park in the alley or on Mapleton and use the bike path underpass to walk over.  Thanks!

Cindy
AMRAP 20 minutes of:
5 pull-ups
10 push-ups
15 squats

This is part of the Yearly Benchmark Series. Log your score!

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Kim and Stephen getting it done on the ergs.

Adaptation to Exercise

The benefits of exercise are the result of the body adapting to the exercise stimulus.  Our bodies are efficiency machines.  The body wants to use the least amount of energy necessary to perform any function in life.  So when we hand it a barbell and tell it to do 50 thrusters, and it’s not used to 50 thrusters, it’s going to hurt a lot.  But, if we give it the time to recover and adapt it will be better able to perform the 50 thrusters the next time.

Your body adapts to stressors in a variety of ways that depend on the characteristics of the stressor.  Performing 100 thrusters with a 45# bar will not elicit the same adaptations as doing the same movement for a 3RM.  Once the body adapts the same stressor will produce an even smaller adaptation.  This continues until at some point the same stressor will not elicit any further adaptation or in this case fitness.  In order to continue getting fitter we must continue doing different movements and different loads.

In CrossFit we use constantly varied functional movements at high intensities.  With the use of constantly varied movements we eliminate a lot of the adaptation plateau because our exercise selection is so vast.  When we combine that with functional movements we now have a pool of movements to choose from that seems nearly impossible to ever reach a complete adaptation to any one of them.  We can change loads, reps, ranges of motion and all of that is just for one movement.  Throw in a few more exercises and every WOD is almost guaranteed to create a new adaptation in even the elitist of athletes.

But even the best of plans can go wrong if they aren’t executed properly.  Remember that we said earlier, “if we give it the time to recover and adapt it will be better able to perform.”  If you don’t give your body adequate nutrition and sleep it won’t matter what you’re doing in the gym.  One of two things usually happens to an athlete that doesn’t give rest a priority.  The athlete will either overwork themselves and actually see a decline in performance because their body is still trying to recover from the previous stressor while they are already giving it another dose of a new one or even the same one.  As this happens over and over again their body simply can’t keep up and in a way it shuts down.   The other common reaction is when the athlete goes through continuous ups and downs in performances as their body goes in and out of good and bad food and sleep patterns.

The key to proper rest is listening to your body and learning from it over time.  Listening and understanding what your body is telling you is a must and it’s harder than it sounds to actually do.  Feeling tired because it’s 5:15am in the morning is not overtraining.  Feeling lethargic, even borderline sick could be signs of overtraining.  You have to listen to what your body is telling you and make the best decision based on the information.  Sometimes you’ll get it right and sometimes you won’t, but each time is a time to learn.

Do you know how to tell if you’re overtraining?  What do you do to combat it?  Do you notice swings in your performances correlate with other factors in your life (sleep, nutrition, etc.)?  Tell us your experiences.

2 Responses

  1. Googs

    When I first started coming to the gym more often — say, 4-5x per week — I would invariably get sick, or get hurt. I believe this was because I wasn’t getting enough rest above all else. Now that I go to the 5:30 a.m. classes too, the Getting Enough Rest part is even harder, but I’ve put more emphasis on it because hitting the alarm clock at 4:50 a.m. is a very bad experience when you only got six hours of sleep. Again.
    I shoot for 8 hours of sleep a night; I rarely get it, but have averaged 7.5 hours for the last several months (I actually log it, can you believe this shit?), and I regularly do five to six workouts a week with *zero* illness, very few overuse injuries, and I’m finally hovering closer to 180# instead of 185#, despite the nasty Good & Plenty jag I’ve been on for the last good long while. I’m probably on the cusp of having a CrossFit Problem, but so far (with adequate rest) I’ve been able to keep this pace up, still seeing improvements 2 years after starting this stuff, not bored, fitter than I’ve ever been in my life, adapted like a sonofabitch.
    (looks at clock)
    And now I must go to bed immediately.