- WCF: ADAPTATION, THE KEY TO PROGRESSION?

April 11, 2007
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by Matt Wiggins – MMAWeekly.com


content="A good friend of mine recently sent me a discussion topic that we traded some emails on">




A good friend of mine recently sent me a discussion topic that we traded<br /> some emails on

A
good friend of mine recently sent me a discussion topic that we traded some
emails on. The topic was adaptation, how our bodies adapt to certain stimuli,
and how adaptation makes us better at whatever we’re trying to achieve.

 

Adaptation
is one of the most basic instincts in all living creatures. It is the ability
to adapt to surroundings and environment that allows a creature to survive.
Adaptation can be looked at in many ways – long term, short term,
individual, an entire species, etc. What we’re going to look at is how
adaptation to strength and conditioning can help make us better fighters, and
how to manipulate adaptation to benefit us most.

 

Adaptation,
to give it a simple definition for us humans, is the ability of the body to
deal with discomfort.

 

The
human body is naturally a very lazy creature. Whether consciously or
unconsciously, our bodies are always trying to find the easiest way to do
things – the “path of least resistance” if you will. Why? Because this
is (usually) what will ultimately lead to an easier, safer time and in turn a
longer life.

 

When
we want to excel in something, we have to train. Training puts our bodies in a
state of discomfort, and thus our bodies get into better shape so that training
isn’t as uncomfortable.

 

Easy
example: You curl a 100-pound barbell for 10 reps. You continue to practice
this barbell curling. This is hard to you, so you body goes through whatever
steps necessary to make it easier. It might try to incorporate other muscles
than the biceps (you allowing your form to break down), increase neurological
efficiency, simply build more biceps muscle, or maybe even a combination.
Whatever it does, at some point in the future, curling the 100-pound barbell
for 10 reps is now easy. Your body adapted. This is why you would now need to
add weight.

 

When
asked why a mixed martial artist would do strength and conditioning work,
he/she might say, “To become a better fighter.” How does S&C work help
him/her do this? By being stronger, quicker, having better endurance, etc., a
mixed martial artist can have an easier time in the ring or cage. When he/she
has an easier time in the ring or cage, he/she can more easily find a way to
dominate the opponent, and win the fight.

 

Once
again, it’s about making the body uncomfortable. However, in this instance,
making the body uncomfortable in one training modality helps the body be more
comfortable in another.

 

This
brings us to the idea of adaptation as it relates to S&C training.

 

Going
back to the example of curling the 100-pound barbell. If a 100-pound barbell
is all you ever curl, you’re never going to get much better than being able to
curl a 100-pound barbell. Your body will adapt to that 100-pound barbell for
10 reps, but after that, the adaptation becomes “hit or miss.” Sure, you might
be able to curl a 115-pound barbell, but probably not for 10 reps. And you
might even be able to curl the 100-pound barbell for 12 or even 15 reps, but
surely not 20.

 

Your
body adapted to curling the 100-pound barbell for the 10 reps, and that is
where it stopped. Why? Because no additional adaptation was necessary.

 

Now,
let’s look at the other end of the spectrum. Let’s say that you were curling
the 100-pound barbell for 10 reps, but you only did it every few months or so.
Along the line, you might do some other similar exercises– say chins or
rows or reverse curls – but never the barbell curls. You might get into
better shape some, and you might even get better at curling the 100-pound
barbell some, but not as much as if you were to simply curl the barbell.

 

You
see, there is a line between too much adaptation and not enough. If you have
too much adaptation, you quit progressing. If you don’t have enough, you never
actually get better at anything.

 

There
are a lot of different workout protocols out there that are based on, more or
less, confusion. By keeping the body constantly guessing, the idea goes, it
never completely adapts, and is constantly progressing. This can be as little
or as much random activity as you like – everywhere from just picking
different exercises every time you work a body part, to doing completely random
workouts, with no set protocol to it.

 

There
is a certain amount of validity to this. However, I feel it can be taken too
far. At some point, you go from “keeping the body guessing” to “keeping the
body confused.”

 

Think
of it like this – say you were studying for a test. You could re-write
your notes, re-listen to lectures, make flash cards, etc. Now, if you were to
mix and match all these different learning styles that might work if you were
studying for one test in one subject. However, apply it to a different test in
a different subject everyday, and you never really study enough to retain like
you should. Sure, you’ll retain and remember some of the info, but not nearly
enough as another method of studying might let you do.

 

Well,
random training treats the body the same way. You need a certain amount of
adaptation, so that you can progress on your training. Sure, the S&C is
always hard, but are you getting better at it?

 

I
once read a professional strength coach (I’m not sure who it was) write that
(and I’m paraphrasing here), “Anybody could beat the hell out of their
trainees. It takes an intelligent coach to make them better.”

 

I
agree.

 

Train
Hard, Rest Hard, Play Hard.

 

Matt
"Wiggy" Wiggins is a strength coach and author living in Cameron, NC.
Having trained 15+ years, Wiggy is a strength moderator at mma.tv, columnist
for MMA Weekly, and an avid fan of href="http://WorkingClassFitness.com/">Mixed Martial Arts Training. His
site, Working Class Fitness.com, is
dedicated to designing low-tech, high-result href="http://WorkingClassFitness.com/">workout programs for "regular
joes."

 

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