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Total Intensity and Your Adaptation Zones

 The guiding principle of an individualized and effective physiological fitness training structured with both endurance and resistance workouts is to get your real-time Total Intensity of exertion to match your physiological zones also called internal adaptation zones.

Intensity 101

The objective of physiological fitness training is to stimulate structural and functional adaptations of different systems of the body to help humans adapt and progress towards their specific goals.

Total Intensity of exertion is a key real-time metric in MySportsLab . Total Intensity takes into account not only the external mechanical power (measured in Watt) but also internal energy costs of both your movements and physiology necessary to produce an external performance.

Total Intensity is the driver of all your internal adaptations and in turn your physiological fitness optimization. It can be converted in MET (Metabolic Equivalent) and is independent of your weight, creating a level playing field for fitness measurement and comparisons across different body types, physiological fitness levels and gender!

Establishing a full physiological fitness training over a period of time is a complex and dynamic process. Better by Sport calls it IPTP Individualized Physiological Transformation Planner and is committed to make it commercially available in the future.

Understanding My Internal Adaptation Zones

Understanding my physiological fitness starts with understanding my internal adaptation zones Adapt 1 (A1) to Adapt 7 (A7).

On both real-time and post workout screens, my internal adaptation zones and my Total Intensities of exertion can be compared in MET and ideally matched as often as possible during my workout to boost my physiological fitness.

Zones are also noted 1 to 7 for a cleaner viewing experience on the real-time workout record screen. Physiological effectiveness is displayed by zone on the workout’s record, a great insight! 

Adapt 1 – Aerobic Structural Adaptation 

About 10% of your maximal muscular power for 40% of your maximal Heart Rate Reserve (HRR)  

This intensity is meant to improve muscular fitness to increase fat “burn” oxidation and recovery factors

Activated Physiology in this Zone: 

MUSCULAR: Increase of number and size of mitochondria (“powerhouses” of the cell) as well as transformation of muscle cells typology and their enzymatic (“biochemical acceleration”) equipment

VASCULAR: Improved local blood flow

EFFECT OF DURATION: Increased neuromuscular recruitment specific to Adapt 1 and Adapt 2 intensities

SIDE EFFECTS: Beyond a certain hourly volume, this adaptation can be detrimental to Adapt 3, Adapt 5, Adapt 6, Adapt 7

Adapt 2 – Aerobic Functional Adaptation

About 15% of your maximal muscular power for 70% of your maximal Heart Rate Reserve (HRR) 

This intensity is meant to improve muscular fitness to consume Oxygen and reduce acidosis (build up of CO2) level

Activated Physiology in this Zone: 

MUSCULAR: Increase of number and size of mitochondria and improvement of muscle cells’ specific enzymatic equipment to oxidize sugar, instead of anaerobic glycolysis (“breakdown of sugar”, also called lactic acid system)

VASCULAR: Improved local blood flow

EFFECT OF DURATION: Increased neuromuscular recruitment specific to intensity A2 intensities

SIDE EFFECTS: Beyond a certain hourly volume, this adaptation can be detrimental to Adapt 3, Adapt 5, Adapt 6, Adapt 7

Adapt 3 – Cardiac and Ventilatory Flow Adaptation

About 22% of your maximal muscular power for 100% of your maximal Heart Rate Reserve (HRR) 

Contraindicated to patients with a cardiovascular risk.

This intensity is meant to improve cardiovascular and pulmonar system in order to increase the oxygen blood flow.

Activated Physiology in this Zone: 

PULMONARY: Improvement of maximal ventilation

CARDIOVASCULAR: Improvement of maximal cardiac output

VASCULAR: Improved general blood flow

EFFECT OF DURATION: Disconnect the perception of muscle suffering

SIDE EFFECTS: Beyond a certain hourly volume, this adaptation can be detrimental to Adapt 1, Adapt 2, Adapt 5, Adapt 6, Adapt 7

Adapt 4 – Lactic Anaerobic Capacity Adaptation

About 42% of your maximal muscular power, no relation to your heart rate 

Contraindicated to patients with a cardiovascular risk.

This intensity is meant to improve muscular fitness to maintain intense exertion in spite of high level of lactic acidosis (buildup of lactate) accumulated from anaerobic glycolysis (“breakdown of sugar”, also called lactic acid system).

Activated Physiology in this Zone: 

MUSCULAR: Creation of a maximal stimulation of the body’s buffering systems (“neutralization of acids”)

PULMONARY: Improvement of maximal ventilation

VASCULAR: Improved general blood flow

EFFECT OF DURATION: Disconnect the perception of muscle suffering

SIDE EFFECTS: Beyond a certain hourly volume, this adaptation can be detrimental to Adapt 1, Adapt 2, Adapt 5, Adapt 6, Adapt 7

Adapt 5 – Lactic Anaerobic Power Adaptation

About 70% of your maximal muscular power, no relation to your heart rate 

Contraindicated to patients with a cardiovascular risk.

This intensity is meant to improve the aptitude to exert at the highest intensity possible beyond 20 seconds. This is a muscular adaptation reflected by the number of muscular fibers contributing to contraction and the change in their enzymatic concentration.

Activated Physiology in this Zone: 

MUSCULAR: Improvement of muscles cells’ specific enzymatic (“acceleration”) equipment in anaerobic glycolysis (“breakdown of sugar”, also called lactic acid system)

EFFECT OF DURATION: Disconnect the perception of muscle suffering. Increase of muscular fibers contributing to contraction

SIDE EFFECTS: Beyond a certain hourly volume, this adaptation can be detrimental to Adapt 1, Adapt 2, Adapt 6, Adapt 7

Adapt 6 – Alactic Anaerobic Capacity Adaptation

About 95% of your maximal muscular power, no relation to your heart rate 

Contraindicated to patients with a cardiovascular risk.

This intensity is meant to increase the amount of ATP (Adenosine TriPosphate “energy”) stored and its cellular regeneration to maintain exertions at maximal intensity longer.

Activated Physiology in this Zone: 

MUSCULAR: Exhausts ATP and PC (Phosphate Creatine) reserves to increase the cell ability to store more energy again

EFFECT OF DURATION: Disconnect the perception of muscle suffering

SIDE EFFECTS: Beyond a certain hourly volume, this adaptation can be detrimental to Adapt 1, Adapt 2, Adapt 4, Adapt 5, Adapt 7

Adapt 7 – Alactic Anaerobic Power Adaptation

About 100% of your maximal muscular power, no relation to your heart rate

Contraindicated to patients with a cardiovascular risk.

This intensity is meant to improve strength, velocity, explosivity and neuromuscular coordination specific to very short exertions.

Activated Physiology in this Zone: 

MUSCULAR: Transformation of muscle cells typology

NEUROMUSCULAR: Increase the number of muscular fibers contributing to contraction and their cooperation to a maximal contraction

SIDE EFFECTS: Beyond a certain hourly volume, this adaptation can be detrimental to Adapt 1, Adapt 2, Adapt 4, Adapt 5, Adapt 6

WHAT ABOUT YOUR HEART RATE?

In most cases, Heart Rate is NOT a meaningful indicator of your intensity because its variation is limited and much less reactive than variations of your muscular system.

Therefore, Heart Rate is insufficient in monitoring the physiological effectiveness of your workout. Of course, if you are a patient with an identified cardiovascular risk factor, then your Heart Rate is an absolutely critical monitoring metric.

Your Heart Rate can be considered a meaningful indicator of your intensity ONLY in the following training conditions:

  • A stable aerobic exertion which intensity is lower than 20% of your muscular potential

therefore falling outside of that scope are: many commercial HIIT High Intensity Interval Training but also in many sports like tennis, team sports, ski etc..

  • Less than an hour workout
  • Stable training conditions which pretty much excludes outdoors

If you train indoor with an ergometer, and you would like to perform a Heart Rate-based training, your Heart Rate should be defined by your physiological adaptations observed in a world standard Exercise Stress Test. Your Heart Rate should NEVER be defined as a % of your maximum Heart Rate HRmax (theoretical or actual). 

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