Saturday, November 24, 2012
At the prodding of BLITZEN40, I've decided to talk a bit about homeostasis. As it relates to biology, it is the process of keeping things stable. A simple way to look at it is what your body currently considers "normal". Some things are non-negotiable such as body temperature or blood pH. There can be slight adaptations for body temperature, for example, have you ever noticed that 65 degrees in autumn feels cooler than 65 degrees in the spring? The body has adapted slightly to colder temperatures.
The body is constantly working to be more efficient. As a result, the boundaries of homeostasis constantly shrink when not perturbed. The old saying "if you don't use it, ya lose it" is a good example of that. Stop training and watch those boundaries shrink as the body gets "used to" sitting.
Many runners can probably remember a day when a run/walk interval made them want to double over. Today, many here are completing several miles races at a fairly constant pace. The beginning of homeostatic disruption occurred when you pushed the envelope and went from walking to running. The boundaries continue to be stretched until physiological limits are hit. You cannot get infinitely faster or stronger, but most of us have not reached anywhere close to our genetic potentials.
Disruption is easy at first. It's typically called "beginner's gains" or "newb gains" for short. The closer you are to couch potato, the easier it is to disrupt homeostasis. The closer you get to your genetic potential, the harder it becomes to disrupt homeostasis.
Always train with a purpose. For general strength and conditioning, this purpose should be the disruption of homeostasis. If you're a runner or endurance athlete, the disruption might occur to the musculature over time. "Getting your miles in" as they say. Hill sprints are perturbing the cardiovascular system. Strength training should be progressively overloading your muscles with either more weight, more repetitions or both. As you progress beyond average and closer to genetic potential, perturbation becomes impossible during a single session and must be planned out over several sessions.
Doing the same thing over and over again does not disrupt homeostasis and does not promote progress. At best, you maintain your current level (i.e. you've wasted your time). Measuring fitness in minutes to me is largely foolish. I can walk around in circles for days and accomplish nothing (but I sure did rack up a lot of fitness minutes), or I can squat hundreds of pounds for 30 seconds and have my ass handed to me. Whatever accomplishes disruption for you should be the goal, not necessarily minutes.
Anyway, that's my crack at the subject. Feel free to weigh in with your take, corrections, enhancements. As always pointless emoticon comments will be shot on sight. Thanks again to BLITZEN40 for the kick in the butt. You disrupted my blog's homeostasis which had clearly gone into hibernation.