The Law of Adaptation


In the book “Science and Practice of Strength Training” Dr. Vladimir Zatsiorksy stated that “If a training routine is planned and executed correctly, the result of systemic exercise is improvement of the athletes physical fitness, particularly strength, as the body adapts to physical load. In a broad sense, adaptation means the adjustment of an organism to its environment. If the environment changes, the organism changes to better survive the new condition.” 

From there Dr. Zatsiorsky said there are four phases of the adaptation process: 


  1. Overload – “A training adaptation takes place only if the magnitude of the training load is above the habitual level.” This law is the reason why people plateau after completing the same exercises over time. 


  1. Accommodation: states that the response of a biological object to a constant stimulus decreases over time. Meaning that if the same training exercises completed at the same intensity is done repeatedly. In the beginning there is a positive change but over time the change diminishes.


  1. Specificity: Training adaptations are highly specific. It is well known that strength training increases both muscle mass and strength, while endurance training induces other changes such as increases in aerobic capacity. This is why you increase your back squat you will see an increase in your standing jump, a slight increase in your running, and zero increase in an exercise such as swimming. 


  1. Individualization: All people are different. The same exercises or training methods elicit greater or smaller effect in various athletes. This is why during certain phases of our program as a whole, certain people see a massive increase in performance during one cycle focused on strength than another individual when the cycle is focused on endurance training. This law is also why we program for individual athletes as well that want to train for a specific race, event, or overall goal. 

The beauty of CrossFit and our programming is that we strive to constantly adapt by variance in our program through intensity, time domains, exercises chosen. With that we know that specific exercises give a higher rate of return. That’s why we use multi-joint exercises rather than isolated exercises; why some days we spend 45 minutes doing endurance exercises only; why we have certain percentages assigned to your lifts or efforts in metcons/conditioning. There’s a purpose for everyting we do. Which is why I always say “everything is everything” cause in some way it will transfer over to you in regards to strength, endurance, and changes in body composition.