General Adaptation Syndrome in Fitness Explained [December 2021]

The human body is amaze. It constantly responds to its external environment to overcome and thrive. If you picked up a slenderly heavy dumbbell to perform biceps curls, using a weight that you could lone perform 6-12 repetitions of and continued to do so each day, your soundbox would respond by increasing the muscle size and potency of the biceps to overcome that challenge until it is nobelium long challenging .
This is a bare exercise of muscular adaptation. An adaptation that fitness professionals trust on to help their clients get results .
Although the biceps example merely explains the general concept of adaptation, it ‘s important to understand the process of how the body responds to external stressors to see the craved adaptation.

This is where general Adaptation Syndrome, or GAS, comes in. Understanding GAS can help a fitness professional craft a exercise plan that will challenge their client ( in a good way ) and help them to see results while besides minimizing the gamble of negative outcomes, like injury due to over-training or progressing besides quickly.

This article will give you a better sympathy of what GAS is and how to leverage it for better fitness outcomes .

What is General Adaptation Syndrome?

General Adaptation Syndrome, GAS for short-change, describes how the body responds to stress physiologically. canadian doctor Hans Seyle is credited with proposing this theory in 1936 to describe the process for how an organism adapts to assorted stressors.

Stress can come in one of two forms : physical ( such as a immunity coach exercise ) or emotional ( such as work or personal-life stress ). For this article, we ‘ll focus on physical stressors, specifically, exercise. Prolonged exposure to negative stress ( like over-training or lifting besides heavy before you ‘re cook for it ) can lead to negative physiologic consequences, like stress fractures or wound to the muscles.

On the early english of the spectrum, elongated exposure to positive stress, known as eustress, can lead to cocksure physiological outcomes, like improved fitness and brawny strength or survival. The body will respond to the stress that is placed on it and a physical adaptation will occur over time in reaction to that stress stimulation.

What Are the Three Stages of GAS?

The manner that the body responds to stress, according to the GAS model, can be broken up into three stages :
1. Alarm Reaction Stage

This is the initial reaction to the stressor. In the initial 6 to 48 hours after exercise ( the stress stimulation ), clients may experience fatigue or joint stiffness, and after 24 to 48 hours delayed-onset muscle tenderness ( DOMS ) may kick in. The dismay reaction stage stimulates an addition in oxygen and rake supply, neural recruitment to working muscles, cram formation, increased joint load and allowance, and connective tissue tone .
The benefit to this response is that over prison term when exposed to little doses of the same stressor, the body will adapt to overcome these challenges. The key to inducing a convinced response is to use the principle of progressive clog, increasing the intensity or volume of practice programs using a taxonomic and gradual set about .
2. resistance Development Stage

Consistent aim will move the node into the resistance development stage. This is the degree where clients will begin to adapt to their aim in a way that enhances their performance. The human body adapts to repeated train sessions by increasing its ability to efficiently recruit muscle fibers and distribute oxygen and blood to the proper areas of the body. By applying progressive overload, the customer will continue to improve their performance and ability to overcome the challenges that they are faced with.

For model, if they are training in Phase 1 : stabilization Endurance Training, their body will respond by improving in balance, articulation stability, and mesomorphic survival. If they are training in Phase 3, Muscular Development Training, the client will be able to tolerate an increasing volume of exploit and heavier loads, resulting in muscle development and increase lastingness .
3. exhaustion Stage

The exhaustion phase describes drawn-out stress or stress that is intolerable, leading to exhaustion or straiten. Some negative consequences of this phase include :

• Stress fractures
• Muscle strains and ligament sprains
• Joint annoyance
• Emotional fatigue
Applying progressive overload and allowing for sufficient rest between sets and/or sessions as needed can help reduce the risk of entering this dangerous stage .

The SAID Principle

Another normally known adaptation principle is the SAID ( particular adaptation to imposed need ) principle, besides known as the principle of specificity. While the GAS model describes a general physiologic response to stress stimulation, SAID is a principle stating that the soundbox will adapt to the particular demands that are placed on it.

When it comes to workouts, the body will adapt according to the movement patterns and acuate variables ( sets/reps/tempo/rest/frequency ) that are used systematically. This is one of the reasons that we stay in each phase of the OPT exemplary for 2-6 weeks, to allow for adaptation. When considering the SAID rationale, it ‘s authoritative to keep mechanical, neuromuscular, and metabolic specificity in thinker when scheduling .
mechanical Specificity

Mechanical specificity refers to the weight placed on the body and the specific movements performed to produce specific muscular adaptations. For case, eminent repeat, moo weight movements produce brawny endurance, while depleted repetition, heavyweight movements produce muscular military capability .
neuromuscular Specificity

Neuromuscular specificity refers to the speed of muscleman contraction and practice choice to produce stability, strength, or ability adaptations. Choosing an mentally ill, however controlled drill performed at a slower tempo will help a node break stability. To develop military capability, the use will be performed in a stable environment with a heavier load and tone down tempo. Muscle contraction amphetamine varies with each of these demands placed on them .
Metabolic Specificity

Metabolic specificity refers to the department of energy necessitate placed on the torso. You can vary the metabolic demands to produce aerobic ( reduced remainder periods and elongated work periods ) or anaerobic ( increase rest periods and more demand or high-intensity work periods ) adaptations.

GAS helps us to understand how the consistency adapts to stressors and SAID helps us understand what specific bowel movement or reception we ‘re asking the soundbox to adapt to .

What GAS Has to do With Designing Workout Programs

As seaworthiness professionals, we can use the GAS exemplar to our advantage to help our clients see results without suffering the negative consequences of exhaustion. When it comes to programming, GAS helps us understand why it ‘s important to periodize, or systematically bicycle through, different phases of train.

We plan our clients ‘ workouts based on the physical adaptations, or outcomes, that they want to achieve. To help them achieve their finish, it ‘s crucial to make a plan that will systematically help the client achieve the physical adaptations that they ‘re seeking without stalling out ( staying in one phase for excessively long ) or burning out ( reaching debilitation because of intolerable amounts of try placed on the body ). To avoid either of these scenarios, the customer can stay in each phase of the OPT model for 2-6 weeks, depending on their goals and/or rate of progress.

Using the GAS model, we can expect a node to experience some tire, articulation stiffness, or DOMS after the first match of sessions while they ‘re in the alarm stage. After a few weeks of consistent education, the symptoms of the alarm stagecoach should lessen, and the customer should enter the resistance development stage and begin to see improvements in their performance. Their performance will continue to improve until their body adapts to what they ‘re doing, and they ( possibly ) hit a tableland.

Currently, or the end of 6 weeks in any given phase, it ‘s time to move the client into the adjacent phase of train, whether that means advancing to the future degree or cycling second to an earlier phase to change the stimulation. Cycling through the phases every 2-6 weeks will allow your client adequate clock to recover from more unmanageable phases and to continue to see results as the stimulation continues to change .
Keeping the GAS model and the SAID principle in mind while programming will help you better develop a seaworthiness plan for your node that helps them reach their goal efficaciously and efficiently .


Sutton, B. G. ( 2022 ). Nasm Essentials of Personal Fitness Training. Jones & Bartlett Learning .

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