The SAID Principle

If you take your training seriously you need to understand the SAID principle: Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands. This means that how you train has a direct impact on your results. You get out what you put in. The stimulus you provide creates the adaptation. It isn't just limited to the gym though. The SAID principle applies to all aspects of your physical life, including what you do in the remaining 23hrs of the day spent outside the gym.

Let's talk about what it is, how it affects your training and how you can take advantage of it to maximize your performance.

Muscle, unlike fat, is highly metabolic. That means it takes a lot of energy to operate. In other words, it is expensive. This is why muscles atrophy (i.e. shrink) so fast. If your body doesn't need to use the muscle it might as well get rid of it. Why continue to spend money on something we never use? This is still a Specific Adaptation, but the Imposed Demand is a sedentary lifestyle and hours of inactivity. Use It or Lose It.


The problem with these adaptations is that they are short-term thinking. Your body isn't thinking "I shouldn't put on any more fat because that can lead to heart disease and I might have a heart attack", instead it is thinking "YES. CALORIES. I CAN SURVIVE ANOTHER WEEK." This is what would keep us alive if we weren't able to find food for a couple days or weeks.


What SAID means to your PERFORMANCE: You can't undo 23 hrs by training 1 hr a day. If you want to improve your performance you need to change your lifestyle. Your posture and daily habits are going to have a more significant and long-lasting impact than how many reps and sets you are doing. Habits are key.


What that means to your TRAINING: proper form matters. If you continue to squat with your knees collapsing or doing push-ups with your shoulders all jacked up you are going to build bad habits and stress your body in ways it is going to struggle to adapt to. Can you do 100 push-ups with your shoulders rounded forward and an excessively arched back? Sure. Can you keep doing it forever and expect to be injury free? No. It simply puts too much stress on the wrong parts of the body.


The importance of VARIATION: if you perform a conventional deadlift, you will get better at a conventional deadlift. Doing that is going to increase your leg power and definitely make you stronger, faster, and more injury proof. BUT... (a big but), if you only ever do the same style of deadlift you are leaving performance on the table. You need to add variety to your training to experience other training adaptations. Deadlift sumo, conventional, Romanian, from blocks, from a deficit, at tempo, low reps, high reps.... variation is the king. That being said, there is no need to change your training session every day. Take time on each variety and gain strength. Using other variations will help you maintain your strength (your brain still thinks you need it!). On average, I will change 1 or 2 lifts per week for my Law Enforcement clients. It is enough variety to fool the brain and keep the training session more exciting, but still enough structure to make strength gains.


What is means for INJURIES: most injuries are the result of persistent bad habits, rather than a traumatic event. We would classify these as CHRONIC Injuries, where they persist for weeks to months and often don't have a known "Mechanism of Injury". In other words, there wasn't a specific event that caused the injury. (The opposite of that is known as an ACUTE Injury, which would be something like an ankle sprain). If you constantly reach overhead with your shoulder in a jacked up position, then the body is going to try and use muscles and joints in ways there weren't intended to be used. Short term, this is how we survive. Long term, this will lead to injuries (e.g. Shoulder, back, knee pain, etc.)


At the end of the day, getting in the gym and putting in the work is the most important part of training, but how you live the rest of your life is going to make the long-term difference. Your body adapts to the stimuli you provide it with. Make sure it is a positive one. Start by making a better decision 51%+ of the time. Take the stairs 6 times out of 10. Choose the salad 6 out of 10 meals. Take a walking lunch 3 of 5 work days. Majority rules.


- Mark Murdoch

B.Kin, Chiropractic Student

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Author: Mark Murdoch, Kinesiologist, Chiropractic Student. Have questions? Email me. I want to help!