FATIGUE YOUR WAY TO GOALS

FATIGUE YOUR WAY TO GOALS

The term “fatigue” often gets a bad rap.  Athletes work hard to avoid being the one who fatigues easily or fatigues first.

But there are benefits to fatigue and ways to use it to your advantage in training. In this post, we’ll explore the other side of fatigue and how it can help you become a bigger, faster, stronger athlete.

General Adaptation Syndrome

Four centuries ago endocrinologist Hans Seyle identified three stages of stress and how the body responds to each of these stages. He called the process “General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS).” GAS consists of alarm, resistance and exhaustion.

Stage 1: Alarm Phase– In order for the body to change (become stronger, leaner, or more muscular) you need to give it a new “stress” or stimulus (new exercise routine). During the alarm phase your body will release cortisol and other stress hormones to combat this new challenge. This moves you away from your body’s usual state, also known as homeostasis, and forces you to start to adapt and make changes. 

Stage 2: Resistance Phase– While repeatedly exposed to the new stress or stimulus (working out), your body is working hard to recover and repair itself to get back toward homeostasis. After you’ve recovered from the initial stress there is a period of what is called “supercompensation.” This means that your body adapts to the initial challenge by setting a new homeostasis baseline. When put in gym terms, you’ll now be more prepared to hit your next heavy deadlift or make it through that challenging finish at the end of your workout. (This explains why you aren’t as sore in the 4th week of a new exercise program as you were in the first week, for example).

Stage 3: Exhaustion Phase– When the stressor has been applied for too long, your recovery efforts are no longer adequate enough to allow your body to return to homeostasis. You may feel tired, lethargic, on edge, and may lose motivation to train.

Using Fatigue to Make Bigger Adaptations

If you’ve trained hard before, whether you’re a powerlifter or an endurance athlete, you’re likely familiar with the fatigue that sets in during the latter part of your training cycle.

That fatigue is your body adapting to the increased stress you’ve placed on it through your workouts. You’re moving through Seyle’s Resistance Phase. It is here, where you’re furthest removed from homeostasis, where your body has the potential to make the biggest adaptations.

When you allow your body to rest and recover after these intense periods of training you’ll be more prepared to handle more challenging workouts in the future.

How to Determine If You’ve Fatigued Too Much

But wait! There’s a catch.

Bringing your body deep into the resistance phase and training near your maximal recoverable volume is where you’ll make the biggest adaptations, but your body won’t make those adaptions until you’ve allowed it to recover from the fatigue that was accumulated.

So how do you balance the effort with the proper recovery?

Consider incorporating a “planned deload” into your training, including a week or more of rest pre-built into your training program.

Use data tracking to determine whether you need additional rest. Your resting heart rate and heart rate variability are good indicators of how well-adapted your body has become. If, for example, your resting heart rate begins creeping upward, you may want to consider an extra day or two of rest.

Check in with yourself. Determine how stressed you are, how much sleep you’re getting and how motivated you are to train.

Fatigue isn’t always a bad thing. Your body needs to have experienced fatigue in order to perform at its highest level. Understanding this and knowing when it is time to rest and recover is key for continually making progress and staying healthy along the way.

FATIGUE YOUR WAY TO GOALS

The term “fatigue” often gets a bad rap.  Athletes work hard to avoid being the one who fatigues easily or fatigues first.

But there are benefits to fatigue and ways to use it to your advantage in training. In this post, we’ll explore the other side of fatigue and how it can help you become a bigger, faster, stronger athlete.

General Adaptation Syndrome

Four centuries ago endocrinologist Hans Seyle identified three stages of stress and how the body responds to each of these stages. He called the process “General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS).” GAS consists of alarm, resistance and exhaustion.

Stage 1: Alarm Phase– In order for the body to change (become stronger, leaner, or more muscular) you need to give it a new “stress” or stimulus (new exercise routine). During the alarm phase your body will release cortisol and other stress hormones to combat this new challenge. This moves you away from your body’s usual state, also known as homeostasis, and forces you to start to adapt and make changes. 

Stage 2: Resistance Phase– While repeatedly exposed to the new stress or stimulus (working out), your body is working hard to recover and repair itself to get back toward homeostasis. After you’ve recovered from the initial stress there is a period of what is called “supercompensation.” This means that your body adapts to the initial challenge by setting a new homeostasis baseline. When put in gym terms, you’ll now be more prepared to hit your next heavy deadlift or make it through that challenging finish at the end of your workout. (This explains why you aren’t as sore in the 4th week of a new exercise program as you were in the first week, for example).

Stage 3: Exhaustion Phase– When the stressor has been applied for too long, your recovery efforts are no longer adequate enough to allow your body to return to homeostasis. You may feel tired, lethargic, on edge, and may lose motivation to train.

Using Fatigue to Make Bigger Adaptations

If you’ve trained hard before, whether you’re a powerlifter or an endurance athlete, you’re likely familiar with the fatigue that sets in during the latter part of your training cycle.

That fatigue is your body adapting to the increased stress you’ve placed on it through your workouts. You’re moving through Seyle’s Resistance Phase. It is here, where you’re furthest removed from homeostasis, where your body has the potential to make the biggest adaptations.

When you allow your body to rest and recover after these intense periods of training you’ll be more prepared to handle more challenging workouts in the future.

How to Determine If You’ve Fatigued Too Much

But wait! There’s a catch.

Bringing your body deep into the resistance phase and training near your maximal recoverable volume is where you’ll make the biggest adaptations, but your body won’t make those adaptions until you’ve allowed it to recover from the fatigue that was accumulated.

So how do you balance the effort with the proper recovery?

Consider incorporating a “planned deload” into your training, including a week or more of rest pre-built into your training program.

Use data tracking to determine whether you need additional rest. Your resting heart rate and heart rate variability are good indicators of how well-adapted your body has become. If, for example, your resting heart rate begins creeping upward, you may want to consider an extra day or two of rest.

Check in with yourself. Determine how stressed you are, how much sleep you’re getting and how motivated you are to train.

Fatigue isn’t always a bad thing. Your body needs to have experienced fatigue in order to perform at its highest level. Understanding this and knowing when it is time to rest and recover is key for continually making progress and staying healthy along the way.

2017-10-14T13:18:03+00:00

About the Author:

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Adam Vogel is the founder of Pure Performance Training. He is a Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) through the International Sports Science Association, a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) through the National Strength and Conditioning Association, a certified Functional Movement Screening Specialist (FMS), and Level 1 (KBC) Kettlebell Instructor.