How to use the principles of exercise to your advantage

Joel Jamieson posted a great piece on his blog about some of the basic principles of exercise and training. You can read it by clicking that link, but here are the basics:

  • Adaptation is the goal – it comes from progressive resistance/overload.
  • Adaptation is SPECIFIC to the stress – remember the infamous SAID principle. (But the body can only adapt to a certain amount of stress at any given time. Overstep that and suffer the consequences.)

Joel lists some of the “acute variables” of training – the things you can track over time to monitor how your body is adapting to the stress it’s experiencing.

Then he makes a great point – “build your training around residuals.”

What he means by this is that you should approach the planning of your training (if you’re doing that, which you should be, on some level) around how long different adaptations last, once they’ve been established.

This is a very very tricky subject, and I’ve actually never seen anyone approach training or programming from this perspective before.

Now the following are based on my memory, I’ll have to dig to find “precise” answers with references, but as I recall some basic residuals are:

  • Cardiovascular adaptations can decline in as little as two weeks post-training
  • Strength gains and muscle size decline after about 8 weeks of bed rest.
  • And…even though strength gains might remain after four weeks, ligament tensile strength can decrease by as much as 70% in that time.

Jamieson concludes with the great comment that adaptation is highly individual. The best thing you can do is to track your own individual process in whatever parameters you’re trying to improve over time, and observe your own body’s ability to adapt.

YOU – Always your best guide, if you’ll learn some basic principles, apply yourself diligently, and listen to your body.

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Maximum aerobic work – the measure of optimal development

In other news…this paper by Apanasenko is GREAT!

He’s talking about a way to categorize fitness testing for children, but some of the statements he makes are fantastic, and can help our understanding of the way our bodies work. Check it:

“PD [Physical Development] is regarded as the key criterion of ontogeny optimality, reflecting the “physical strength resources…”

“Manifestations of life, however diverse, are always inseparably linked to energy transformation. The entire evolution of life on Earth is a process of the improvement of intracellular respiration (energy production) and the transition from predominantly anaerobic to aerobic energy-production mechanisms [8]. This means that evolution resulted in the successive appearance of animals with increasingly higher levels of respiration intensity (Fig. 1).”

“The biological meaning of this process consists in an increase in active metabolism, providing the completeness of adaptive reactions. The physical meaning of progressive evolution is to move farther and farther away from the state of equilibrium, from the state of the primary environment where the first living systems appeared. The conclusion is obvious: progressive evolution of life is associated with an increase in the intensity of the energy production of organisms.”

“The higher the available reserves of bioenergetics, the more viable the organism. The ability to mobilize the resources of organs, systems, and the body as a whole is the first condition of its immediate adaptation to extreme factors. All basic complexes of stress reaction, i.e., the increase in active metabolism, providing the completeness of adaptive reactions. The physical meaning of progressive evolution is to move farther and farther away from the state of equilibrium, from the state of the primary environment where the first living systems appeared. The conclusion is obvious: progressive evolution of life is associated with an increase in the intensity of the energy production of organisms. Thus, the increase in active metabolism, or energy intensification of the secretion of the adrenocorticotropic hormone and corticosteroids, hyperplasia of the adrenal cortex, and even ulceration of thegastrointestinaltract(mobilization of proteins for gluconeogenesis), are links of the immediate adaptive response aimed at mobilizing the energy potential. The more energy per body mass unit is produced, the more effective the biological function. Scientific literature shows a lot of evidence that the resistance of the body to various factors, from hypoxia and hemorrhage to penetrating radiation, is determined by the maximum energy production capacity [9, 10].”

Why is aerobic oxidation “more important” to consider than anaerobic? Well, as Jamieson points out in his fantastic book – the aerobic system is the one that is working all the time. Apanasenko adds “aerobic oxidation is several times more effective (economic) than anaerobic oxidation. Besides, it is necessary to take into account that aerobic oxidation, in addition to glucose, utilizes fats with twice higher energy values.”

Below is a picture of the testing model Apanasenko is proposing. Interesting for the “lay-viewer” because it shows what are currently considered to be key mortality/morbidity measures in physical health.

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