Back To Basics II

1 Jul

Last week we talked about adaptation. Specifically that adaption is the major process we are facilitating by physical exercise. In addition, we identified the four features of the adaptation process. The focus was on overload. As you’ll remember we identified the importance of placing an overload / stimuli on the body in order to cause positive adaptation. Today we will touch upon the second feature offered up in the “Science and Practice of Strength Training;” accommodation.

Vladimir M. Zatsiorski and William J. Kramer offer this definition of accomodation:

  • The decrease in response of a biological object to a continued stimulus

When applied to physical exercise accommodation is the result of employing the same training load over a long period of time. As we continue to employ the same stimulus (training load / exercise) we are increasing the volume and duration of said stimuli, in response, our performance gradually decreases. This result is known as the principle of diminishing returns.

Basically the stronger or fitter you become the harder it is to continue your gains. A perfect example is the gym goer who plugs away on cardio equipment. They attack each workout the same way, 45 minutes of exercise, at generally the same pace. Initially this person has some noticeable weight loss and general conditioning improvement. However, enter said person a year later, they are still doing the same thing. While it may seem that they get a good workout, their bodies have grown accustom to the stimulus, this is accommodation. You see it all the time, it could even be you.

So what have we learned as a result of accommodation?

We can’t use the same exercises or training load over a long period of time.The program has to vary.

The program still needs to stay specific to your goal however. Athletes still need to make sport specific movements. Aesthetic Lifters still need to take into account lagging body parts and train them. People with Fat Loss goals still need to incorporate big demanding movements.

Therefore, the authors would offer that your program must be variable to avoid accommodation, and stable to address the specificity of your workout. In addition, to decrease the effect of accommodation they presesnt two ways to periodically modify your program:

  • Quantitative: Changing training loads (Weight)
  • Qualitative: Changing Exercises

Here’s a good example of how to employ both techniques, and one I highly recommend for most lifters. If you are trying to increase the strength of your major lifts then you will keep those exercises at the forefront of your program (i.e. Squat, Bench, Deadlift). In order to avoid accomodation you would use the quanitative technique. Your assistance work is where you can employ strategy two, change the exercises. When to, and how to do this is something we will discuss later in the series. That being said, just so you can sort of visualize it, here’s some food for thought.

Workout A:

Front Squat:

Week 1 – 3 x 6, Week 2 – 4 x 6, Week 3 – 3 x 8, Week 4 (Deload) 2 x 6

Assistance Work:


Reverse Lunges

Ab Rolls

Front Squat:

Week 5 – 3 x 8, Week 6 – 4 x 8, Week 7 – 3 x 10, Week 8 (Deload) 2 x 8

Assistance Work

Good Mornings

Glute Bridges

Paloff Press

It’s not the best approach, but for matters of instruction you can see how we have effectively changed the load of the Front Squat and replaced exercises in the Assistance Portion.

Adhering to the principle of accommodation is incredibly important, especially in lifters with multi-year experience. If you do not address it you will plateau, and decrease your performance in the gym.

As with last week’s installment put this to work for you, start thinking about what your doing to avoid or decrease the effects of accommodation. Stay tuned next week as the saga continues…


Definitely Preventing Accomodation


3 Responses to “Back To Basics II”

  1. pharmacy tech July 16, 2010 at 3:16 am #

    What a great resource!


  1. Body Workout 101 - July 1, 2010

    Back To Basics II…

    I found your entry interesting do I’ve added a Trackback to it on my weblog :)…

  2. Guest Post: 3 Principles of Program Design « Greg Robins - April 4, 2012

    […] The Science and Practice of Strength Training (Zatsiorsky and Kraemer) states that Overload, Accommodation, Specificity, and Individualization are the basic concepts of physical training. To obtain your […]

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