Basic Concepts of Training Theory

Marc Dalke

11/8/20221 min read

Adaptation essentially is the adjustment of an organism to its environment. It is the fundamental law of training theory and exercise is a very powerful stimulus for adaptation. There are four features of the adaptation process: overload, adaptation, specificity, and individualization.

Training adaptation only occurs if the training load is above the normal level. To induce adaptation, you can increase the training load (intensity, volume) and/or change the exercise (provided the exercise is new and the athlete hasn’t become accustomed to it)

The law of accommodation says that we need to use a different stimulus on a regular basis to achieve results. This means that using the same workout routine day in and day out will eventually not produce new results, or results will dramatically decrease or in the worst case you may backslide. Training programs should be both close to the main sport but also vary to avoid accommodation. You can vary the program qualitatively (changing loads) or quantitatively (changing the exercise). An example would be an athlete bench pressing 225lbs for 5 sets of 5 reps. If the athlete continues to do this without changing the load or exercise, the adaptations will start to diminish. To induce a positive adaptation without accommodation, the athlete could either increase the weight, sets, or reps (quantitative) or change the exercise to something similar such as a floor press or pin press (qualitative)

Training results are highly specific. A strength athlete and an endurance athlete would not have the same training protocols. Because of exercise specificity, the exercises in training various sports will be different. Specificity of adaptation increases with the level of sport mastership. For beginners, almost all exercises are useful. For elite athletes, more specific exercises and training methods are required to increase the athlete’s preparedness.

Everyone is different and their bodies react differently to similar training programs. The general ideas underlying noteworthy training programs, not the entire protocol, should be understood and creatively employed. Individualization of training will optimize results and enhance the desired adaptation of a training protocol.

Zatsiorsky, V., and Kraemer, J. (2006). Science and Practice of Strength Training. Champaign, Illinois: Human Kinetics