Modern Training Theory (MTT) is based on the work performed by Hans Selye and has been coined “General Adaptation Syndrome” (GAS).
General Adaptation Syndrome is the central theory behind the concept of loading (i.e. training or stressing) muscle and then resting muscle with the goal of achieving ‘supercompensation’, and it is also the concept behind periodization of resistance training (i.e. macro and micro cycles).
The diagram below depicts the concept of loading, resting followed by strengthening of muscle coined ‘supercompensation‘:
If you have ever downloaded a ‘training plan’ for anything… a 5k to a marathon road race, a triathlon, a grandfondo, its all based on the concept of supercompensation. If you have ever had a coach develop a ‘training plan’ for you, their concept of how to train and how to develop a training plan is also entirely cased on the concept of supercompensation.
Long story short… all training that involves load & rest, stressing muscle so that it ‘rips’ (on a microscopic level) then is allowed to rest to heal and regrow stronger, or training based on mindsets of “no pain, no gain”, or “PR or ER”… all concepts used by personal trainers and sport coaches are all based on ‘General Adaptation Syndrome’ and the concept of supercompensation.
But there is a little problem with it all…
Despite sport science adopting ‘General Adaptation Syndrome’ and supercompensation, neither of these concepts have anything to do with the physiological and psychological processes involved in training for sport. That’s right… sport science simply appropriated the concept of GAS and supercompensation and applied it to exercise making it the foundation for any form of training for sport and no one questioned this misapplication of science to an unrelated field of study and we have simply gone along with it for decades.
But now someone has decided to question if GAS and supercompensation are actually appropriate theories to be basing training for sport: in a published research paper titled “The General Adaptation Syndrom: Potential misapplication to resistance exercise“, researchers Buckner, Mouser, Dankel, Jessee, Mattocks and Loenneke conclude the following:
“the work of Hans Selye focused on the universal physiological stress responses noted upon exposure to toxic levels of a variety of pharmacological agents and stimuli. The extrapolations that have been made to resistance exercise appear loosely based on this concept and may not be an appropriate basis for application of the GAS to resistance exercise”
I will go further and say that GAS cannot in any shape or form be applied to concepts of resistance training for one simple reason: GAS is based on the injection of toxic agents into test subjects… what does the physiological reaction to the injection of toxic pharmacalogical agents got to do with training for sport? Furthermore, to use GAS one has to be versed in understanding not only toxicity levels but also understanding how to measure quantities of toxic substances so that in testing you don’t end up ‘killing the patient’ by overdose! Again… what has any of this got to do with training for sport?
When did training or sport itself become a toxic substance? When did trainers & coaches become experts in the application of toxic substances? When did trainers & coaches become pharmacists? And if training is indeed a ‘toxic substance’, then why the hell are we encouraging children to be training for sport?
As if any more reasons are needed to eliminate GAS as the basis for Modern Training Theory, GAS is not even remotely a scaleable concept because excessive toxicity yields only one side effect: death… again… what has ‘avoiding death’ got to do with training for sport? The entire point of exercise is to achieve higher and higher levels of health, not gambling with death or near death experiences!
Yet this is exactly the concept upon which all training and training plans are based on today!
The scope of the failure of sport scientists to do actual proper research in order to develop a proper concept for training athletes for sport is unprecedented. For sport scientists to simply ‘borrow’ a concept that is stated to be a ‘universal physiological stress response’ and apply it as if its a tested and proven law of physiology or of sport science is unprecedented.
Actually, its sociopathic behaviour to steal a theory, apply it for general public use and disseminate it as if its a thoroughly researched and safe concept.
Now consider all the training manuals and courses that are based on the flawed Modern Training Theory where GAS & supercompensation have been force applied to sport: all personal trainers, all NCCP coaches, and all training concepts taught online are based on the theory that training for sport is identical to the human body’s reaction to toxic substances.
Considering that society has been instructed to exercise to obtain health and fitness benefits on this flawed theory definitely supports the statistics which shows that we are not a society that is getting any healthier or any fitter; quite the opposite as our society is the most overweight, the most obese, the most medically compromised, the most medicated, the most drugged (self administered OTC and recreational pharmaceuticals), the most anxious, the most depressed.
I believe that the Modern Training Theory being based on GAS & supercompensation is one of the roots of our societal dis-ease.
In the follow up post I will share the one and only one way to properly train for health, for sport, for fitness. In the meantime, if you are an athlete and you are serious about your training and racing goals, then I would highly recommend you reconsider whether your coach truly has the education, the experience and the fundamental understanding of human physiology and psychology to actually mentor you to your potential. If your coach is developing their training plans for you based on GAS/supercompensation then I guarantee that you will not achieve your peak potential, you will be forced to quit sport at some early point in your athletic career due to recurrent or consistent injury and/or physical or mental impairment or dysfunction because GAS/supercompensation have nothing to do with training for peak performance.
If on the other hand your coach is training you to ‘take’ training as if it is a toxic substance and only hopes that they don’t deliver it in a quantity or intensity level that risks ‘killing the patient’ (i.e. you) and if this is what you’ve signed up for… well… enjoy having someone ‘toy and tinker’ with you & your health.