You Don’t Know GAS: Understanding General Adaptation Syndrome

August 26, 2015

About the Author: Eric Bach

You’re probably sitting there, protein shake in hand thinking “What the hell is Eric talking about!

A post about Gas… like, protein farts?”

I understand the confusion, but I’m referring to a different type of GAS—the General Adaptation Syndrome by Hans Selye. Hans Selye introduced the GAS model in 1936 to show how stages of stress affect the body. Be noted the body responds to external stressors and responds to that stress by working to restore homeostasis. For those non-science nerds this means the body tries to stay the same amidst stress.

By going through a few steps the body works to regain stability and respond to stressful situations by preparing to handle a greater stress.

So here’s the catch.

Training creates a stressful response to the body that over-time, can to become too great to recover from. The manner in which we respond to stress is best described by Hans Selye with the General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS).

Bach Performance GAS

photo credit: Marco Crupi Visual Artist via photopin cc

To grow, increase performance, and adaptation must take place. When the body experiences a new or more intense stress the body responds in Shock or Alarm.

This lasts several days or weeks, consisting of soreness, stiffness, and potentially a drop in performance.
After the alarm phase the body moves into the resistance phase, which the body adapts to the stimulus and returns to normal function

. At this point neurological, muscular, and mechanical changes lead to increased performance due to the process of super compensation.

This is the ultimate goal, but if too must stress persists for too long athletes reach a level called the exhaustion phase. (Baechle & Earle, 2008) Staleness, overtraining, and excessive soreness cause the athlete to lose the ability to adapt and a decrease in perform.

This is the place we strive to avoid with proper programming and deload weeks, which I explain thoroughly here.  Every four to six weeks it’s imperative to back off in intensity, volume, or both to allow full recovery.

The General Adaptation Syndrome:

Exposure to Stimulus –> Shock Phase –> Recovery and Increased Performance OR overtraining potentially sets in.

Exposure to stimulus (training etc.) is rarely the issue, recovery is. I’d wager, proper recovery is the missing piece that’s preventing you from getting the athletic, ripped, healthy body you seek.

What to Do Next

Understanding your programming to maximize your time and effort in the gym is imperative. Quality is more important than quantity, especially when you’re working 40+ hours per week, have kids at home, or are studying in your free time. Sometimes, It gets tough to focus on building the body you want while taking care of every-day life.

Periodically, it’s important to ask:

“Have I really been getting the most out of my training?”

It’s a question I ask myself regularly. When the answer is no, I know I need to make a change. This means simplify my training or hire a coach.

Even Coaches Need Coaches

If you’re looking for help, I’m here to eliminate the confusion and get you started on a killer program to build your ultimate high-performance body.

Less hassle and a stronger, leaner, and more athletic body are right around the corner if you’re willing to take control.

Let me check out your training plan or provide you with a new and improved one.  Take the first step by signing up to be an Online Training Candidate here.

I’ll see you there.

-Coach Eric