Much of the magic of our Crossfit regime is understanding how the human body, well, your body to be exact, adapts to exercise to make you fitter
Else where we will discuss in painful detail, what being fit means, for now, I hope its ok if we use one of those cute Crossfit definitions. We want you to be able to move large loads, quickly over distance. Obviously we then want you to have the body that looks like what you can do
To do this we set your body challenges to make it adapt. Adaption really isn’t a new concept. Nietzche’s famous quote “that what does not kill us, makes us stronger” . comes to mind. We have known for quite a long time that “sub lethal” doses of physical exercise prepares the body to handle and cope with more of the same. If you get your door kicked in most nights, eventually, you break down and get a better door (and maybe a pick axe handle).
This general adaption observation was eventually packaged up by endocrinologist Selye in the late 1930’s into the catchy title of “general adaption syndrome”. In 1936 Selye published ” A syndrome produced by Diverse nocuous agents” where he reviewed the structural and physical changes to organisms brought on by Stresses.
He produced this model
- You survive the first exposure, and your poor shocked astonished , horrified body mounts an acute response to try and survive the experience.
- It then designs a chronic adaptation. This allows you to survive a more intense exposure, on the simple principle that, if its happened once, its bound to happen again
Stage 1 or the alarm stage is where the body is treated to a new stress You have a massive selection to choose from: a change in movement, a change in weight, and change in length of time. This stress is enough to disrupt the internal equilibrium of the cell. A cascade of physiological events it unleashed . The effected cell puts the call out and gets the body to divert all resources to help it survive. Normal biological house work is put on hold while stress proteins are created to stabilise your cells and the inflammatory response gets to work. Its utter panic!
During stage 2, some call this the resistance or adaptation phase, the stressor has gone: maybe your workout is over or the person trying to kill you is on their lunch break. This heralds the cell trying to get back to normal, to restore homeostasis. But it returns to a new normal, which means it’s now trying to prepare for a repeat stressful event. In recovering and adapting , the cell has made a fitness adaptation.
To drive this adaptation, the stressor must continually increase. Otherwise there is no alarm stage and no adaptive phase.
Progressive overload has been built into mythology by Milo, the greek chap who missed out on getting a kitten, but was given a lazy pet bull instead. Every day, allegedly, he lovingly carried it around and as it got bigger, Milo got stronger.
It should be said though that the adaptations this system brings are quite specific. Most would agree that Milo was good at bull carrying and by implication he could carry other large animals or heavy house hold objects well especially if he put the bull down first) No one, I think, would argue that simply carrying a heavy bull would mean you could run distance.
There is a rule of specificity.
There would be, wouldn’t there!
Running 10 miles wont improve your or deadlift ability or your pull ups to any decent extent because running wont make the cell change that way, and vice versa.
The name of the game is finding those stressors that will disrupt the homeostasis of the cell . We need to effect our body on a molecular level. We need to influence our genes, those bits of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) . There is a cute molecular flow that goes “DNA makes RNA ( ribonucleic acid) that makes protein that makes function” This need a tune then we could sing it.
So you get to Crossfit london and we set you a novel exercise , (stressor). Your cells “down regulate” their housekeeping activity and “up regulate” their survival gene ( Selye stage 1). After your session, your cells probably stay in survival mode for a while, but over the next few days, the normally active genes will become unrepressed and probably make more copies driving an increased efficiency and function.This process also wakes up other lazy genes that have, presumably, been chilling out and watching telly.
The changes this provokes can be seen in new protein structure such as extra actin and myosin (they produce muscular contraction) and metabolic proteins such as enzymes that control energy production. The reality is that each exposure produces very small adaptations, so an ongoing regime of stress/adaptation opportunities is what will drive visible fitness gains.
There are of course, temporary draw backs to be faced. Each time you confront a stressor like exercise, you’ll feel tired.. It is often this sensation that tell us we have disrupted homeostasis. Put another way we will have become fatigued. It’s by managing this fatigue that programmes like those at Crossfit London, progressively build your fitness.
You can expect a drop in function while your cells recover , then they “bound back” and come back stronger in a condition called super compensation. Week, by week we build on your super compensation to raise your baseline capacity
If you’d like some more information on how to build the ideal you, we will be delighted to chat to you. Click here and lets get moving