Why do you train? Is it to lose those few extra pounds? Is it too lift a small car? Is it simply to look the way you want so you can be confident? No matter how you answer this question it all comes down to the same basic answer, you’re goal is to adapt. No matter in what form if a change occurs during stimulus, in this case exercise, their is some form of physiological response to make you better at what you just did. By this train of thought fitness seems simple, right? Do something and your body changes, right? Well believe it or not this progress is never linear and stimulus begins to lose its effect the longer we are exposed to it, this is more commonly referred to as accommodation. Not to mention if you do something counterintuitive to your goals such as eating a small village and powerlifting when you need to lose weight to fit in a dress, this is where specificity comes into play.
Specificity means tailoring your training to your specific goals. You wouldn’t throw a football to get a better jump shot would you? They are both athletic, both include a ball and both even roll off your fingers to put the desired spin on the ball. But how would this help your shot? Quick answer is it wouldn’t carry over at all, or even if it did, only in a very minor capacity. You would be much more productive if you used that time shooting a basketball rather than throwing around the pigskin. Same rules apply to any endeavor such as a doctor generally won’t be able to discuss the laws of physics and how they apply to aerospace technology, and you don’t expect a marathon runner to bench 300 pounds. Both the doctor and the runner can be top in their respective fields without knowing about physics or without the capability to lift massive weight because they specified what their goals were. I want to be a doctor, not a rocket scientist. I want to be a marathon runner, not the world’s strongest man. Be specific in both your goals and how you execute them.
The law of adaptation informally states, “every adaptive system converges to a state in which all kinds of stimulus ceases.” This definition refers to both the end product and the act of adapting. Now the last part says, “all kinds of of stimulus ceases,” this refers to accommodation. The law of accommodation states, “the response of a biological object to a given constant stimulus decreases overtime.” So one law says we change based on the stimulus we are given and the other law says stimulus has a diminishing returns effect. So why is this important? Well every goal in fitness is a physiological adaptation. You run you lose weight because being lighter makes running easier. You do 100 pull-ups and your back and arms get bigger and stronger so you can do pull ups better. Our goal is to attain these physical changes but at what point are you no longer changing and simply doing something to do it? If I do the same workout with no changes my body will no longer change (Adapt) it will simply become good at that thing for the sake of being good at it (Accommodation). Now this can be a useful tool for peaking for competitions and things of that nature but that’s a different concept all together.
Now what does all this mean? All three of the subjects seem to contradict each other and they do but for each other’s benefit. We need to pick exercises, regiment and diet to tailor to our goals. We choose those goals to get our desired end result and we have to continuously change how we bring on this change or we will stagnate or even fall back overtime. One is a check for the other and none of them exist without the other. Embrace the process, change and make sure to try new things and remember, “You never train minimally, you never train maximally, you need to train optimally.”
Sources: Westside Barbell, Elite FTS, personal seminars