Either way we choose to look at it, we will all spend money on health.  The question is how we spend it.  It is much wiser to invest in “preventative” measures such as proper diet and exercise as opposed to “reactionary” measures such as disease and injury.  Our nation is fat (2007, 74.1% of Americans were considered obese) and does not move well.  Coupled with this problem is the fact that when many consumers’ are finally ready to exercise they are un-educated as to what constitutes effective/safe protocol.  We are consumed with the “magic pill” mentality of quick fixes.  It is not an easy problem to solve and the Hollywood angle only makes it worse.  Shows like The Biggest Loser and “celebrity” trainers offering professional advice only muddies the waters and makes our jobs that much more difficult. 


I firmly believe that “one size” does not fit all when it comes to exercise, but we as coaches should all be rigid about backing our programs with a sound scientific foundation in a RESULTS driven environment with injury reduction and the clients goals in mind.  There is a safe way to exercise and there is a dangerous way.  In the long run programs with consistently high volume, high impact, CNS intensive protocol will produce exhaustion.  Exhaustion disturbs the system and leads to musculoskeletal injuries and arthrokinematic issues.  

Selye’s General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS) states the body will respond to any external stress with a predictable pattern in an attempt to restore homeostasis. He also determined that we have a limited capacity to deal with the demands of continuous stress(the more exposure, the more potential for overtraining/overreaching).  If we exhaust the organism with high volume, high impact, CNS intensive protocol with minimal recovery, exhaustion and injury are the result. 

Middle Ground

As coaches and trainers our job is to keep our clients/athletes in the Alarm, Resistance phase while avoiding exhaustion like the plaque.  The “kick my ass” mentality where it’s not a good workout unless you puke only leads to exhaustion over time.  Anyone can accomplish this.  It’s also dangerous and can lead to excessive muscle soreness, decrease performance and rhabdomyolysis.  In contrast, “functional” programs with two-pound hand weights, five BOSU balls and a collection of Jane Fonda workout bands certainly won’t serve to alter homeostasis.  Find the middle ground coaches.  What do you think continued exposure of the program below will do to the body over time: alarm, resistance or exhaustion? 

Crossfit Program: December 18, 2010

Complete as many rounds as possible in 20 minutes of:
5 Chest to bar Pull-ups
10 Ring Dips
95 pound Overhead squat, 15 reps


Crossfit Program: December 19, 2010

For time:
10 Handstand push-ups
250 pound Deadlift, 15 reps
25 Box jumps, 30 inch box
50 Pull-ups
100 Wallball shots, 20 pounds, 10'
200 Double-unders
Run 400 meters with a 45lb plate

Workout Courtesy of: http://www.crossfit.com/

General Adaptation Syndrome

Photo Courtesy of: Wikipedia


I consider myself in good physical shape.  I lift 4/week and perform intermittent energy system work after lifts.  Looking at the diagram above, I honestly think my arms would fall off even attempting a workout remotely close to this.  My body would skip the alarm and resistance stage altogether.  I would exhaust myself before the third day of training.  I am all for camaraderie and results, but continued exposure to the high volumes can only lead to exhaustion over time.  Exhaustion leads to organism breakdown. 


We are currently suffering from major health related issues as a nation.  We need to get up and start moving!  I am a firm advocate on finding your passion in exercise (although we are all biased on our way of doing things).  Just remember that whatever modality you choose, continuous high volume, high intensity, high CNS will lead exhaustion and a doctor’s visit.  Additionally coaching is key!  Instructional DVD’s fail to monitor movement, form and potential limitations a client may experience.  Regardless if the goal is weight loss, performance enhancement or general aesthetics.  Our job as coaches is to spread the word, to inform our clients and potential clients on safe and effective exercise protocol.  Remember we will all spend money on health.  Lets make sure we spend it wisely.  In the long run, a doctor’s visit, or potential disease will cost much more than a highly qualified trainer/coach.  


Anthony Donskov, MS, CSCS, PES, is a former collegiate and professional hockey player, founder of Donskov Strength and Conditioning Inc., (www.donskovsc.com) and Head Instructor/Director of Off-Ice Strength and Conditioning for Donskov Hockey Development (www.donskovhockey.com).  He can be reached at info@donskovsc.com.


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