Why a Lifter or a Gym Rat should care about General Adaptation Syndrome

han selye stress GAS rats

If the SAID principle focuses on the Specific adaptation, GAS principle focuses on the “General” adaptation your body executes for ANY stressor – at least in the beginning.

Han Selye established the concept of GAS and is now a mainstay in all Stress theories. Selye experimented on rats and gave each one of them different “nocuous agent” or stressor (one received poison, the other received pain, the other was made to do too much physical exertion etc!) the amazing result was that these rats reacted the same way even if they received different stimulus and only later on would they demonstrate stressor-specific adaptation.

Selye divided GAS reaction therefore into three parts: FIRST “alarm” stage; this is when they show similar adaptive response to whatever stressor is presented – this basically consist of “fight and flight” responses and secretion of hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. Your body also undergoes the same reaction when you train.

SECOND stage of GAS is “Resistance”. This is when the body focuses on building specific adaptations to the imposed stressor. At this point it somehow enters the realm of SAID.

If the stressor, however persist and the body is not given enough resources to adapt or time to rest – then we enter the last stage which is “EXHAUSTION” and at this point the organism (in this case, the LIFTER) is now susceptible to dying or being ill..


Your goal as a lifter, whether you’re a bodybuilder, an Olympic weightlifter or a powerlifter is to avoid the “Exhaustion” stage and take advantage of your body’s “Resistance” adaptation. Allow it to get stronger (against the resistance) without wearing it out.

han selye stress GAS rats


In summary – General adaptation syndrome states that you must take it easy once in a while to let your body adapt. This one has something to do with letting the body recuperate or else how will it have a chance to replenish itself and make your muscles bigger?

Picture a building; an earthquake can stimulate the men to make it stronger but if the earthquakes occur non-stop it will destroy the building even before the people living in it can make the necessary adjustments to make the skyscraper stronger.

A-Lifter- Don't forget to leave your comment/feedback below.  If this article was helpful, I am sure our book Real Talk Muscle will help you even more in your quest for muscle gain. Check it out you can read the first few chapters as well.
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