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.