June 24, 2018
5 Ways to Grow & Adapt
WRITTEN BY Amanda O'Brien

For most of the population, maxing out a deadlift is the least of their worries. But, for that same large population, complacency seems to be their worst nightmare. Continually growing, bettering themselves and striving for more IS important to those wanting to live an empowered and fulfilling life, whether it be in the office, at home or in the gym.

Having the ability to adapt and grow is a biological necessity that can be practiced easily within the confines of a training program, if done correctly. When intermediate or advanced “athletes” have the ability to improve in the gym, it’s an objective sign that they are resilient and can respond positively to stress in the outside world.

*I specify intermediate and advanced individuals above because a beginner, regardless of external and/or internal factors, should progress fairly quickly.

On the other hand, when we see individuals who are unable to adapt, regardless of training history, further investigation of behaviors and lifestyle needs to be conducted. Most often, we find that those same individuals who are unable to grow in the gym have behavioral patterns outside of the gym that need modifying. These behavior modifications not only improve the ability to adapt, grow, and continuously improve inside the gym, but they also lead towards better energy management outside of the gym, improved health, and more productivity in the workplace. This is why we firmly believe that adaptation inside the gym supports adaptation and growth outside of the gym as well!

In our recent video series, Jesse O’Brien of Central Athlete discusses the requirements for  growth in the gym, specifically related to muscle growth. There are five foundational concepts that must be met first in order to truly understand someone's ability to grow and adapt.

Although we have included the five core necessities of muscle growth below, there are many other factors that play into the ability to grow and adapt such as progressive overload, nutritional prescriptions and caloric intake, the ability to digest and assimilate nutrition, hydration, managing stress, optimizing  quantity and quality of sleep, etc.

Central Nervous System

Think of the CNS as a lightbulb. The brighter the lightbulb, the greater the central nervous system’s ability. Training consistency for longer periods of time increases the capacity to turn on that lightbulb, which indicates the ability to dig deeper into the CNS for a given task.


Muscle growth is not determined by the degree of motor unit recruitment, but by the mechanical loading experienced by each muscle fiber. This can be achieved in two ways: lifting heavy weights greater than 70% of a 1rm or lifting lighter weights to muscular failure.


The ability to grow and adapt is only possible when the body is able to recover. The harder the training session, the more efficient the body needs to be at recovering between training sessions. Click the video below to learn about the eight ways to optimize recovery.


Breaking down muscles becomes null and void if the body in unable to rebuild the muscles affected by the purposeful stressor of resistance training. There are four essential components that are discussed in the video below that will allow your muscles to rebuild after a training session.


The last aspect of generating an environment suitable for muscle growth can be easily overlooked in a traditional gym setting. Despite your innate potential, a lack of belief that growth and strength adaptation is possible could be your biggest limitation.

If you feel stuck in your ability to continually adapt inside and outside the gym, are interested in professional guidance to work objectively towards your personal health and fitness goals, and/or are craving a training program that supports your priorities outside of the gym, schedule a free strategy session with a Central Athlete coach to learn more about personalized fitness!

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