T Nation

Isn't Adapting to Training a Good Thing?


Can someone please explain me how come the fact that the body "adapts" to a stimulus is a bad thing, and so you are supposed to do something else? I understand that you must increase the stimulus, once the body adapts... but, for example, some years ago I just did chin-ups for a few months and kept on growing. W/o adding any weight... so adaptation takes time, and plenty of it...

Also asking since strength is not like, say, smell, which just dulls when exposure to a stimulus is continued/ repeated.

Thank you,


When people say that, what they mean (unless they are just idiots) is that the stimulus has not been changed, the body has adapted to that constant stimulus, so until the body is given a more rigorous stimulus to adapt to, it will remain more or less in the same condition. Simple enough?


Thanks, that's what I also think. (even though I know too little to be able to have an "educated" opinion)

But when I see the syntagm used, it's in the context of "training overhaul required, change all exercises", not "weights too easy, increase weights (or reps or speed)".


It is a bad thing, because if the body finally adapts to the stimulus it won't keep growing. It your example, you kept the exercise, but I bet my ass you reps were increasing. So, the stimulus was different, so you never adopted to it.


Yep. I actually lowered the rest periods, but kept doing 50 reps/session in as little sets as possible...

This, after doing one set / day for a few months and making nil progress (this was in ~2004)


If there really is an exercise that needs to be changed, it's not because the body somehow just magically got used to it, assuming the person has been making that exercise more challenging through added reps/weight/sets/less rest time. It's just that the exercise in question was never optimal in the first place, whether because of the person's weak links, execution, leverages, etc.

And sometimes when people say that, what they mean is that whatever exercises they're using are pushing one muscle group much harder than the intended muscle group, so they may just need to add in another exercise, or balance out how hard they work each muscle. Doesn't mean the exercise itself was necessarily "bad".


Ok... then... great! Thanks!
Makes sense.
So, good leverages (+ assistance ex. for weak links) + periodization (intensity, volume, frequency) + adequate recovery => you can do an exercise for a lifetime and progress indefinitely.
Makes sense...

btw, I'm curious what my results will be in a year from now, DLing 3x/week. (only semi-sumo and deficit semi-sumo)


That depends almost entirely on how close to max effort you are pulling each time. If 2x per week are substantially below max effort, and 1x per week is ME, you may make amazing progress. Something along those lines is how I got my DL to the mid/high 600's, pulling sumo.


Yep. 1 x 4-7 singles @>90%
1 x 10-20 reps @ 80...85%
1 x 25...30 reps @ 60...70%

I'm already able to pull close to max without being burnt out for a few weeks, which is great.

Thank you.


Are you training primarily for strength, or more "general fitness"?


Strength. But also got to add some 25 more lbs to my frame, of which 10 in the next few months.


In that case, I don't see why you'd be regularly pulling in high rep ranges.

Just because it's sub-max doesn't mean it needs to be light/high reps, that won't work your form/grease your groove as effectively. Yeah, you want to get very efficient at the movement, but with at least somewhat heavy weight, even on sub max-effort work. As in, pulling 405x2 for 2-3 sets, when you're capable of pulling it for 5-6 reps on a single set. So you're still getting heavy work in, without going to failure.


Prilepin's chart, doing no more than 5 reps / set when using light weights (<80%), and usually 2 or 3 reps when using >80%, or even a big bunch of singles.

Hmm... the more I split the volume (singles instead of doubles, triples instead of 5's), the lower the toll on my system and the quicker the recovery, right?


Doing less work than your body is fully capable of doing will not so much speed recovery, as it will reduce the amount of damage you do to your body in the first place. It's easier to recover FROM. For highly technical lifts (especially olympic lifts, but to varying levels applies to squat/DL/bench variations, and technically to every exercise to some degree), doing a lot of somewhat sub-maximal work allows your body to perfect the movement, become as efficient as possible at performing it, allowing you to life more weigh in that movement.


The body does adapt to the same stimulus, we have examples of that in real life outside of the gym. But, you can change the stimulus by just adding weight or reps or sets, or any intensity 'tactic'.

Me personally, I change my whole workout every 2 to 3 weeks. I put my back day in front of my chest, i move muscles to another day, etc. I noticed more accelerated changes this way.


Curious if you got that workout idea from Arnolds Bible on Bobdybuilding?


Thanks, and thank you H4M.

@TJ: I was very dissatisfied with my progress doing pull-downs, and happened to find a big bunch of articles on how cool chin-ups are.