The demanding rhythm of improving sports performance, leads many athletes and coaches to excessive training loads, resulting to overtraining. Failure to adaptation and overwork as a coaching phenomenon leads to reduced performance, while also often injuries might occur that eventualy will prevent the athlete from achieving his goals.
Adaptation of athletes to training stimuli has been thoroughly studied since the last century. Based on theories of Hans Selye already in 1938 having defined the term of “stress” to and the initial theory of “general adaptation syndrome” (Figure 1) .
“It has been shown that when an organism is exposed to a stimulus to the quality or intensity of which it is not adapted, it responds with a reaction which has been termed the “general adaptation syndrome”, (Selye. Department of Biochemistry, McGill University, Montreal, Canada, EXPERIMENTAL EVIDENCE SUPPORTING THE CONCEPTION OF “ADAPTATION ENERGY” American Journal of Physiology, vol. 123, 1938.
The symptoms of this syndrome are largely independent of the specific nature of the agent to which adaptation occurs, so that the reaction has been regarded as them somatic expression of damage as such. The general adaptation syndrome develops in three distinct stages which have been termed:
- the stage of alarm reaction
- the stage of resistance
- the stage of exhaustion
During the first two stages the controlled training stimulus brings positive effects and the athlete improves his performance. If the stimulus continues and increases, then exhaustion occurs in the form of overtraining and exhaustion will occur in the final stage. Based on Selye’s theory, Prokop (1959) and Matveev (1964) developed training theory and adaptation in relation to the annual training cycle in order to maximize training stimuli and results avoiding the exhaustion stage. D. Dasheva and L. Garkavi at the end of the 1970s and 1980s raised and answered questions about how much the training load should be and what the biochemical impact if adaptation is, with the ultimate goal of improving performance and of course avoiding overtraining.
L.Garkavi had formulated the new, more complete version of the “General Adaptation Syndrome” concept and had elaborated the new method of medical treatment, called Activation Therapy. This method was based on applying the low doses of different non-specific stimuli (drugs, electric discharges, physical exercises, etc.) to provoke the anti-stress reactions and to activate, in this way, the body defense mechanisms. The magnitudes of stimuli were verified in relation to the typology of anti-stress reactions, which they provoke in a given patient: each of these reactions can be defined using the Garkavi’s markers, based on the corresponding to each of them hemogramms of white blood cells counts.
“Important condition of ensuring the training effect is the stress influence of training loads, which brings to increasing the level of homeostatic regulation and to mobilization of the body’s energetic and plastic resources”. Atko Viru. Hormonal mechanisms of adaptation and training, 1981.
Although from the beginning of the last century (E. Grawitz 1910) we know that intense muscular strain increases the number of leucocytes. Today, with further development of exercise biochemistry and with special examinations, we can determine with even greater detail the metabolic overload and adaptation occurring not only in the hormone system but also in other, as a result of the training load (Viru).
Any kind of exercise load exhausts certain proteins into the tissues of the organs involved in training, causing the accumulation of specific metabolites and the change in the physical environment (homeostasis disorder), the level of which depends on the amount of specific load. We can measure and control in this way parameters that will give us useful information about the training capacity and intensity, nutritional deficiencies, future possible injuries, and finally whether the athlete is in a catabolic or not condition.
Correct evaluation of these measurements is the necessary information for the coach to accurately and safely design his training programs and to maximize his athlete’s athletic performance.