“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting the results to change” – Albert Einstein 1879-1955
Before I get into today’s post I would like to ask you two questions. The first question is why do you train? Seriously, what is the one underlying reason that you spend countless hours running on a hamster wheel and moving heavy ass objects from point A to point B, back to point A and so on and so forth? I’m pretty sure that everyone that is reading this has come up with a different answer ranging from but not limited to getting stronger, losing weight, gaining flexibility, gaining or maintaining health because your doctor told you to, and being more attractive to the opposite sex (people say this changes as you get older but that is bullshit).
Although they are all very different goals they all have one thing in common: CHANGE. People train, workout, exercise, whatever you want to call it to elicit some kind of change in themselves. I mean c’mon, what guy doesn’t want a body like Brad Pitt in Fight Club and what woman doesn’t want a body like Angelina Jolie in Wanted (They make a great couple don’t they?). And don’t you want your “slightly more fluffy” than when you met significant other to look the same? Yeah you do (no matter what you tell them).
My second question is does your training reflect this? What I mean by this is do you have a plan to improve whatever you want to change and a clear mental picture of what you actually want? If you are like most people you answered no to both of these questions. Too few people really know what they are supposed to be doing so they get comfortable doing what they already know and stick with that. The problem is that they stick with that program of bodypart training, stretching, and cardio for months or even years and expect a change.
In biology, the law of accommodation states that the response of a biological object to a given constant stimulus decreases over time. By definition, accommodation is the decrease in response of a biological object to a continued stimulus. In training, the stimulus is exercise. In his book Science and Practice of Strength Training, Vladimir Zatsiorsky relates this law to exercise by stating:
Because of accommodation, it is inefficient to use standard exercises or a standard training load over a long period of time. Training programs must vary…
…To avoid or decrease the negative influence of accommodation, training programs are periodically modified. In principle, there are two ways to modify training programs: quantitative or qualitative.
Very basically, this means that every once in a while you should do something different than what you are doing now. Shocking, I know. Quantitative change would be either changing the number of reps or the load lifted. Yes women, that means lifting heavier weights (those pink 5lb dumbbells are only good for so long). Qualitative change would be replacing the exercises or program all together.
Quantitative changes in your program may be easy but should be carefully planned. Initially you will gain strength rapidly as your body is neurologically adapting to the new stress but eventually you will plateau. Even if you are increasing the weight to match your strength, the law of accommodation will eventually kick in. The next step would be to alter the number of repetitions or sets you are doing. An easy way to do this is to change your rep range monthly. If you are doing 3 sets of 10 reps per exercise this month, next month do 3 sets of 6 or 3 sets of 12. The change doesn’t have to be drastic but it does have to be a change. Your body WILL adapt.
With qualitative changes you will have to be a little more creative. The best athletes and strength coaches in the world realize this and work diligently to create the best training program to fulfill this need. On the simpler side, if you have been training hard with barbells your whole life then switch to dumbbells for a month or two. If you have a large male ego like myself and try to lift heavy ass weights all the time take a step back and start doing some body weight training. Believe me, doing inverted TRX pushups are just as hard as benching 325 (my max in college).
So instead of waking up every morning like Bill Murry in Groundhog Day, start thinking of ways to change up your current routine. Or be one step ahead by actually sitting down and creating a monthly plan for your training. This may be where having a good personal trainer or coach may come in handy. I’m sure that there will be questions so post them below and I will answer.
CHANGE IS NECESSARY.