Adaptation is man's greatest ability. No other species on earth can survive and prosper in such opposite and extreme conditions as the Artic territories and the Deserts of the Middle East. Our bodies will accommodate any kind of living condition by making minor modifications such as the viscosity of our blood. Unfortunately, like many other things in life, there's a good and bad side to adaptation.

Adaptation, when it applies to bodybuilding, is not something we want our bodies to do. Our bodies will adapt to our training styles as well as our calorie intake, slowing our gains. The key to making consistent improvements is to avoid adaptation.

Have you ever noticed that when you try a new training program you make very good gains for the first couple weeks, then the gains slow down and eventually stop? That's adaptation! Our bodies become accustomed to the work we are doing. How do we avoid adaptation in our training? Manipulating the order we do our exercises, incorporating different exercises into every workout, changing the speed of our reps, and modifying the number of reps per set, just to name a few. There are also more advanced techniques such as rest pausing, drop sets, partial reps, and negatives. With the many ways to manipulate your training regimen, you should be able to make consistent gains if you have proper nutrition and avoid adaptation.

Adaptation to your nutritional plan is another aspect to seriously consider. Whether you're trying to get shredded or gain lean muscle, your efforts will stalemate if you are consistently eating the same number of calories each day. One way to avoid caloric adaptation is to use a carb cycling diet. By cycling your carbs throughout the week, your metabolism will not allow your body to get accustomed to your diet. One example of a poor nutritional plan is to drop your calories very low without adding a high day, or a day of excess calories. By dropping calories you may lose some fat, but if you continue on that diet for a long period of time, your body will become more efficient and be able to function on a low number of calories halting any advances in fat loss.

The third area of bodybuilding in which our bodies become more efficient is during our cardio. Over time, if we work out on a single piece of cardio equipment at the same speed and incline, our bodies will adapt and require fewer calories to do the same task. For instance, when you first put the incline on the treadmill at 8% it's very difficult to complete. Over the course of a few weeks, it becomes easier and we require less energy to do the same amount of work. So, the next time you are on the treadmill and the computer says you have burned 350 calories, just remember that you may have burned that many in the beginning, but if it's been a couple weeks, it's likely you are burning far less than that nice little number.

Consistency is the best way to reach our goals, especially in bodybuilding, but if we allow our bodies to adapt, our gains will be slowed dramatically. Try to keep your training fresh, fun, and exciting and you should avoid adaptation and you'll progress all throughout the year.

Train Insane,
Joe Lyons
2007 NPC Palmetto Cup Overall Champion
ON Reps and Sets Athlete

The author is a compensated ON Reps and Sets Athlete, however, the views, opinions, and comments expressed here are those exclusively of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Optimum Nutrition.
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Jul 03, 2007
great article Joe