What’s the Stimulus and Why Does it Matter?

As you all know, CrossFit is a program built on the definition of constantly varied, functional movements, executed at high intensity. Just to hammer this side point home, if someone is doing “HIIT” and using functional movements (squats, deadlifts, pull-ups, cleans, snatches), they’re still doing CrossFit. One of the main pillars of doing CrossFit is experiencing constant variance. Variance of what? You name it, we’ll change it. Workout duration, movements, style, time of day you’re working out, switch it all up; we don’t care. The point of this is simply the law of accommodation. 

I’ve written blogs about this extensively in the past, but in short the human body is the GREATEST organism on the planet at adapting to its stimulus. What does this mean? It means that whatever your body is constantly doing, it will get better at and get used to. This is great but can also be detrimental. For example, if you’re constantly providing your body with the stimulus of sitting in a chair at a desk, your body is going to get REALLY good at sitting in a chair at a desk. In regards to exercise, the law of accommodation states that the more you do of the same exercise, weights, reps, the more likely it is that your body will adapt to the stimulus provided and only get good at that. It will stop making progress past that, because you have not provided the body with a necessity of adaptation. 

The great line I heard once is “necessity is the mother of invention.” Well, it’s also the mother of adaptation. If you provide your body with a stimulus it isn’t used to, it’s going to have to provide you with a way to navigate it and handle it pretty quick. Even more so, and I don’t know why, our bodies provide us with the greatest adaptation to the things we REALLY suck at. Take me for example, if I spend time doing workouts that solely have heavy lifts in them, my fitness is going to make a huge leap. The reason being is that I’m giving my body no choice but to deal with this new, unfamiliar and unpleasant stressor I’m providing it. 

So, why do we create workouts to have heavy weights and some to have light weights? Why do we create workouts to be long with bodyweight movements only and short with light weights? The reason is to ensure we cover the gamut and provide your body with different stimuli as much as possible. If you look at CrossFit Games athletes, the first thing you notice about their physique is just how muscular and lean they are. This is not by accident. They consume so many calories and are constantly stressing the system in a way that their body has no choice but to create more muscle to handle it. Now, do we normal humans have time for that? No, because it means you have roughly six hours to work out every day and can still get at least 9-10 hours in bed at night. So, what’s the next best thing we can do to get the most bang for our buck while we’re in the gym just a fraction of the time? Change it up and challenge yourself with the things you suck at.


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