The Series Circuit of Fitness

May 02, 2007

You remember 8th grade science class right? Learning about electricity, making models of circuits, motors, etc? Fun stuff.

If memory serves, in a series circuit the current that enters the circuit has to flow through every element in the circuit or the circuit will not work. If one element is disturbed or missing, the circuit is dead. 

It looks like this: Series

In this model, if one of the light bulbs is disconnected, none of them will light up.

Your fitness/exercise program works much in the same way.

Here's how it works (I'd love to make a cool picture flow chart but I own a PC not a Mac so phooey):


EXERCISE: Your exercise program must be intense enough and of enough duration to stimulate a positive muscle/bone adaptation. If it's not, it won't. It does not matter, for example, that you like to walk. Walking (like many other low effort, low intensity activities) will NOT stimulate much if any positive tissue adaptation. It's fun, but it isn't very adaptive.

EAT: You must eat adequate amounts of high quality fats and proteins to allow your body to enhance your metabolic milieu. Think about it - if you exercise properly and don't eat at all do you think you'll grow muscle and bone? No way. So, do you think you'll reap the benefits of your exercise program if you eat poorly? Nope. You really must eat nutritiously and adequately or you can expect far less than what is possible from your exercise program.

(Side note: I have a 58 year old female client who came in disappointed that her bone mineral density was down 1.7% from 5 years ago. She had been training with me for nearly 4 years and felt that her bone mass should be up. Truth be told, a 1.7% loss over 5 years ain't that bad. Without the training, she'd more than likely have lost a lot more. But when I asked her what she has been eating, it turns out that she was hardly eating at all in order to lose fat. An egg in the morning. A piece of fruit at noon, etc. All my efforts at educating her on how to eat properly failed and failed because she is bombarded by misinformation everywhere she goes.)

REST: Sleep is more important than most people realize. REM sleep is vital for hormonal replenishment and healthy hormonal tone. Without adequate sleep, the body cannot build itself properly.

RECOVERY: The human body requires a certain amount of rest from exercise in order for the benefits to be obtained. Research indicates that this differs from person to person to a marked degree. Most of the evidence indicates that ~48-72 hours is adequate to obtain the benefits from adaptive exercise. This does not mean you cannot take a walk everyday. You absolutely can as walking is not a form of adaptive exercise.

Exercise adaptation/recovery is akin to getting a suntan. The summer sun acts as an intense stimulus (a winter sun will not tan most people). But you don't want to stay in the sun for too long or you will burn. You need an adequate amount of sun and then you remove yourself from the stimulus for a time. But if you look in the mirror on the first day, you will not be tan yet. It takes time for the body to produce the adaptation and, little by little, you become tan. At a certain point you will become as tan as possible and then the job is to stay tan with the least amount of sun necessary. If you stay in the sun for too long or too often, you will burn and never tan. You need recovery.

ADAPTATION: If all the elements in the exercise circuit are connected, adaptation occurs. If even one is removed, adaptation will not occur.

You don't get to vote.

If you need help on any of these issues, I'm here for you! Email away!