STIMULUS, RECOVERY & ADAPTION
by Thomas Richards
This is Part 3 of Getting the Most out of Training, and today we’re going to talk about providing the correct stimulus and allowing your body to recover and adapt from that stimulus. This information is targeted at people who want results from their training. Exercise is inherently good for you regardless of if you want certain results!
First, we have to understand the Overload Principle: in order to improve fitness, we have to continually increase demand on the system. Here’s a simple example: week 1 – we do 100# on the back squat, week 2 – we do 105# on the back squat. In week 2, we introduced a more demanding load on the system. Your body will now attempt to recover and adapt to that new stimulus in order to meet the demands you’ve put upon it.
In order to recover and adapt to our training, we need to eat, sleep, fuel, and make sure we’re not so beat up that we’re sore for an extended period of time. If our bodies are spending too much time in a state of recovery (recovering from fatigue, repairing tissues, etc.), we won’t have enough energy left over to create new adaptations (get stronger/faster).
With those basics in mind, here are best practices for how to approach your training:
- Lifting enough weight to appropriately stress the body. If you lift the same weight or same reps every week, your body will not get stronger. You must slowly increase the weights and/or volume over time to see positive changes. *See note at the end for advanced athletes
- You must push your threshold in workouts. Once again, either in intensity or volume. If I want to run a faster 10k, running at the same pace each workout is not going to increase my speed. If I want to run a marathon, only running 5 miles each training session isn’t going to help me achieve my goal. If I want to get faster at CrossFit metcons, only giving 80% each day isn’t going to cut it.
- You absolutely MUST recover from your training sessions. Your body has a finite amount of energy and can only take so much stress. If you’re constantly putting stress on it in the form of exercise, it won’t have energy left over to adapt to your training. The higher the intensity of your exercise, the more your body needs to recover.
- The more you focus on recovery, the better your training. Sleeping enough every night, eating enough protein, doing mobility work, stretching, and drinking enough water: all of these things will allow your body to work harder for longer so you can continue to improve.
If you focus on these four things, you will continually improve your fitness and reach your goals faster. Next week we will talk about getting the right stimulus out of CrossFit metcons and how to choose the correct weights!