What Drives Adaptation?
Adaptation is the entire purpose of a training program, to create enough stress on the body to where it favorably adapts to the stimulus you are providing it. Adaptation can arrive in the form of strength gains, reduction of body fat, improved endurance, larger muscles, smaller waistlines, or any other favorable performance or aesthetic goal you wish to achieve in the gym.
Simply stated, adaptation is results.
Here are a few of the biggest factors that drive physiological adaptation.
Nutrition – I put this first intentionally because so many overlook it and expect exercise to make up for poor nutrition. It never will.
Load – The amount of weight that you lift. Progressively heavier weights over time continue to provide beneficial stress on our muscles and soft tissue.
Intensity – Your effort level. If you settle into the same output everyday, your body has no reason to adapt, thus no adaptation will occur.
Volume – The amount of work that you perform. Are you always training the low end strength option? Maybe it’s time to break plateaus with more volume.
Density – The amount of work you perform in a fixed amount of time where intensity is the goal. While volume more pertains to strength tiers, density is more closely related to conditioning tiers. Within a 15 minute conditioning block, how much total work are you accomplishing? Think of density as a product of volume and load.
If you want results from a program, you must force adaptation. Typically, this means first dialing in your nutrition and then gradually increasing your weight lifted and increasing intensity levels across all that you do in the gym.