Setting initial training expectations by understanding a natural process called GAS

Posted: January 23, 2015 in Strength and Conditioning for Health and Fitness
Tags: , , , , ,

“We do not rise to the level of our expectations. We fall to the level of our training.”

– Archilochus


To be able to have quality training there should be a clear goal coupled with honest & realistic expectations. Quality training is training that produces intended results that can be measured. The strength coach would discuss with the client how to best achieve the client’s goals with their situation. The how, what, when, where, why, and who are discussed. It is better that the client asks questions like “Why will the training be done this way? This gives the strength coach further opportunity to help the client by educating him or her. This would help to level expectations. Expectations on what is achievable, on how much effort is expected from the client when training, and also what would the client expect from the Strength Coach.

Mis-informed clients may avail of Strength Coach services expecting something different from the specialization of the Strength & Conditioning Coach. The PAR-Q & casual interview in the initial meeting would indicate if the client would have to go to a Physician to check for some injuries or medical conditions. The Strength & Conditioning Coach would refer the client to Specialists in other areas if needed. Areas like Nutrition, Rehabilitation, and Psychology are different areas of expertise and licenses. The Strength & Conditioning Coach guides the client and it is the client’s decision to avail of other services if he really needs them.


There are some coaches who “design” a particular training program and actually train with the client not because it is what the client needs but because the coach wants to train himself primarily and the client second. The client paid the Strength Coach to coach him in his or her quest to make himself better so the Strength Coach should give what is due for the client. The training program should be tailor made for the needs of the client, not the coach. That is why clients should ask the why’s and how’s early on so as to understand the process. This would facilitate good discussion and both client and Strength Coach would learn.

It should be obvious who is doing the training but sometimes there are people who would throw all responsibilities to the Strength Coach- even the lifting itself! (relying too much on the coach to act as spotter). This situation may be minimized when the Strength Coach explains to the client what is needed from the client in order to elicit positive adaptations.


gas2One process which everybody goes through when subject to a new type or level of stress is the General Adaptation Syndrome or GAS. It describes the biologic reaction of an organism (the client) to stress (the training process) and the subsequent adaptation. It comes in phases that corresponds to the changes that take place in the body undergoing the adaptation. The first phase is called the “Alarm Phase”- this is the initial soreness and stiffness experienced when a person starts a training program. It may last from 1-3 days or longer. Within this phase also happens the countershock- that is the body starts to recover from the soreness. After the Alarm Phase is the “Resistance Phase”. It is the period when the body adapts to the stress by becoming stronger. A new level of fitness is achieved. If too much stress is applied, the next phase called “Exhaustion Phase” is reached. Experienced Strength coaches would not let their athletes/ clients go to this phase since this means it is overtraining. Applying the concept of the General Adaptation Syndrome simply means that a client has to get out of his or her comfort zone if he/she is to expect any positive change in his/her fitness level. The more change desired by the client, the more effort and time is needed to effect that change. Effort is also needed to maintain that desired state once it is achieved. So in short, if a client has a well-defined goal, the Strength & Conditioning Coach would be able to guide the client well and tell him or her how much effort is usually required to attain that goal. Then the client knows what to expect. The Strength Coach will then adjust, if needed, the planned training components depending on the situation while keeping the training goal in focus. Once the goal is achieved, it would be time to re-assess and set another objective. An example would be to maintain the fitness level that has been reached. Both the client and the Strength Coach learn from each other in the process. Each individual is unique and each situation is different. It is a matter of having a right match between what the client wants and needs, and who is best able to provide him/ her the services. Coaching involves educating the client so as to be more effective in empowering the client to improve his/ her fitness and be better in what they do.



Val R Jr.

PTRP, CSCS, CKT-1, IKSFA SP1, USAW-Advanced Sports Performance Coach

  1. […] facts that to cause positive change, the stimulus (training) should be at a sufficient intensity (see GAS). It is a challenge to make people change what they are comfortable doing. But it is a fact that for […]


  2. […] The reader is also encouraged to read an earlier post entitled “Setting initial training expectations by understanding a natural process called GAS”. […]


  3. […] activities exceed our capabilities, a breaking point will be reached. In an earlier blog entitled “Setting Initial Expectations…” , the theory of the General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS) was discussed. In the exhaustion phase, the […]


  4. […] people first start training, they will always undergo the General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS). This is true even for athletes who have stopped training for a few weeks. And also for some of […]


  5. […] ourselves helps us to set realistic expectations. Exercise may seem complicated by all the conflicting ideas but to make it easier to understand let […]


  6. […] the concept of the General Adaptation Syndrome so as to be able to plan your training better (Read related article). That is why training comes in stages and the intensity gradually increases as the body adapts to […]


  7. […] long as done in a regular and consistent basis with enough intensity to cause positive adaptation (See related post). Will its effect be noticed immediately… Well… Probably NO for most people. Since it […]


  8. […] (Read about the General Adaptation Syndrome in order to have a better comprehension of what is the ex…). […]


  9. […] The progressive overload principle is a concept which stresses that in order for improvement to occur, the workload and intensity during training, is increased as the body also adapts to the new stress. Once the body is able to tolerate a certain amount of training stress, it will not adapt anymore not unless it is challenged again by increasing the previous load or volume or difficulty. In short do more than the previous or simply “overload”. But it has to be progressive otherwise the body won’t be able to cope and injuries may happen. Progressive means it is spread out over a period of many training sessions. It is closely associated with the General Adaptation Syndrome. Here is a story about GAS, a very important concept in Training. […]


  10. […] Related:Setting initial training expectations by understanding a natural process called GAS […]


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