General Adaptations to Exercise: Acute Versus Chronic and Strength Versus Endurance Training



Exercise can be regarded as a biological stress. The body’s reaction to the stress of exercise is similar to how it reacts to other forms of stress. Muscle contractions disturb the internal cellular milieu during rest, and this elicits a variety of homeostatic responses. Examples of these responses include altered blood flow to the active muscles; increased heart rate; increased breathing rate; increased oxygen consumption; increased rate of sweating; increased body temperature; secretion of stress hormones such as adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), cortisol, and catecholamines; increased glycolytic flux; and altered recruitment of muscles. These changes are transient and return to baseline levels after exercise. If exercise is repeated on several occasions, adaptations occur. Adaptations involve either remodeling of tissue or altered regulation of the central nervous system. The outcome of exercise-induced adaptations depends on the type of exercise, but either makes the muscle more resistant to fatigue, stronger, more powerful, or better coordinated. The exact type of adaptation is dependent on the overload stimulus. For example, the muscle contractions in a training session can range from relatively low effort (submaximal) to maximal effort. More specifically, endurance training consists of several thousand submaximal contractions per training session in contrast to resistance training, which consists of 10–30 high-intensity muscle (maximal) contractions per training session. When the training stimulus is removed, the adaptations slowly regress to the form they had before training. Exercise-induced adaptations have application for sporting performance, rehabilitation after injury, and treatment of disease.


Resistance training Resistance to fatigue Detraining Homeostasis Exercise-induced adaptations Nervous system 


  1. 1.
    Selye H. Stress without distress. London: Hodder and Stoughton Ltd; 1975.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Chambers C, Noakes TD, Lambert EV, Lambert MI. Time course of recovery of vertical jump height and heart rate versus running speed after a 90-km foot race. J Sport Sci. 1998;16(7):645–51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Warhol M, Siegel A, Evans W, Silverman L. Skeletal muscle injury and repair in marathon runners after competition. Am J Pathol. 1985;118(2):331.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Kentta G, Hassmen P. Overtraining and recovery: a conceptual model. Sports Med. 1998;26(1):1–16.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Meeusen R, Duclos M, Foster C, Fry A, Gleeson M, Nieman D, et al. Prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of the overtraining syndrome: joint consensus statement of the European College of Sport Science and the American College of Sports Medicine. Med Sci Sports. 2013;45(1):186–205.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Rhea MR, Alderman BL. A meta-analysis of periodized versus nonperiodized strength and power training programs. Res Q Exerc Sport. 2004;75(4):413–22.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Brooks JA, Fahey TD. Exercise physiology: human bioenergetics and its applications. 4th ed. Mountain View: Mayfield; 2000.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Mann TN, Lamberts RP, Lambert MI. High responders and low responders: factors associated with individual variation in response to standardized training. Sports Med. 2014;44(8):1113–24.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Leick L, Plomgaard P, Grønløkke L, Al-Abaiji F, Wojtaszewski JFP, Pilegaard H. Endurance exercise induces mRNA expression of oxidative enzymes in human skeletal muscle late in recovery. Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2009;20(4):593–9.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Hood DA. Invited review: contractile activity-induced mitochondrial biogenesis in skeletal muscle. J Appl Physiol. 2001;90(3):1137–57.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Schoenfeld BJ. The mechanisms of muscle hypertrophy and their application to resistance training. J Strength Cond Res. 2010;24(10):2857–72.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Baar K. The signaling underlying FITness. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2009;34(3):411–9.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Faulkner JA. Terminology for contractions of muscles during shortening, while isometric, and during lengthening. J Appl Physiol. 2003;95(2):455–9.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Enoka RM. Eccentric contractions require unique activation strategies by the nervous system. J Appl Physiol. 1996;81(6):2339–46.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Mann T, Lamberts RP, Lambert MI. Methods of prescribing relative exercise intensity: physiological and practical considerations. Sports Med. 2013;43(7):613–25.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Brooks SV. Current topics for teaching skeletal muscle physiology. Adv Physiol Educ. 2003;27(1–4):171–82.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Ojuka EO, Jones TE, Han D-H, Chen M, Holloszy JO. Raising Ca2+ in L6 myotubes mimics effects of exercise on mitochondrial biogenesis in muscle. FASEB J. 2003;17(6):675–81.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Yamane M, Teruya H, Nakano M, Ogai R, Ohnishi N, Kosaka M. Post-exercise leg and forearm flexor muscle cooling in humans attenuates endurance and resistance training effects on muscle performance and on circulatory adaptation. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2006;96(5):572–80.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Halson S, Jeukendrup A. Does overtraining exist?: an analysis of overreaching and overtraining research. Sports Med. 2004;34(14):967–81.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Grobler L, Collins M, Lambert M, Sinclair-Smith C, Derman W, St Clair Gibson A, et al. Skeletal muscle pathology in endurance athletes with acquired training intolerance. Br Med J. 2004;38(6):697.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Lambert M, Borresen J. A theoretical basis of monitoring fatigue: a practical approach for coaches. Int J Sport Sci Coach. 2006;1(4):371–88.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Borresen J, Lambert MI. The quantification of training load, the training response and the effect on performance. Sports Med. 2009;39(9):779–95.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Noakes T. Physiological models to understand exercise fatigue and the adaptations that predict or enhance athletic performance. Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2000;10(3):123–45.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Noakes TD. Implications of exercise testing for prediction of athletic performance: a contemporary perspective. Med Sci Sports. 1988;20(4):319–30.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Noakes TD. Testing for maximum oxygen consumption has produced a brainless model of human exercise performance. Br J Sports Med. 2008;42(7):551–5.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Green HJ, Jones LL, Painter DC. Effects of short-term training on cardiac function during prolonged exercise. Med Sci Sports. 1990;22(4):488–93.Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Esfandiari S, Sasson Z, Goodman JM. Short-term high-intensity interval and continuous moderate-intensity training improve maximal aerobic power and diastolic filling during exercise. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2014;114(2):331–43.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Jensen L, Bangsbo J, Hellsten Y. Effect of high intensity training on capillarization and presence of angiogenic factors in human skeletal muscle. J Physiol (Lond). 2004;557(2):571–82.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Lambert MI, Noakes TD. Dissociation of changes in VO2 max, muscle QO2, and performance with training in rats. J Appl Physiol. 1989;66(4):1620–5.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Burgess TL, Lambert MI. The effects of training, muscle damage and fatigue on running economy. Int SportMed J. 2010;11(4):363–79.Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Scott C. Misconceptions about aerobic and anaerobic energy expenditure. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2005;2:32–7.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Costill DL, Hargreaves M. Carbohydrate nutrition and fatigue. Sports Med. 1992;(2):86–92.Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Folland JP, Williams AG. The adaptations to strength training: morphological and neurological contributions to increased strength. Sports Med. 2007;37(2):145–68.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Cannon J, Marino F. Early-phase neuromuscular adaptations to high-and low-volume resistance training in untrained young and older women. J Sport Sci. 2010;28(14):1505–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Bosquet L, Berryman N, Dupuy O, Mekary S, Arvisais D, Bherer L, et al. Effect of training cessation on muscular performance: a meta-analysis. Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2013;23(3):e140–9.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Young W. Transfer of strength and power training to sports performance. Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2006;1(2):74.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    Kraemer WJ, Häkkinen K, Newton RU, Nindl BC, Volek JS, McCormick M, et al. Effects of heavy-resistance training on hormonal response patterns in younger vs. older men. J Appl Physiol. 1999;87(3):982–92.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    Phillips SM. Short-term training: when do repeated bouts of resistance exercise become training? Can J Appl Physiol. 2000;25(3):185–93. http://dxdoiorg/101139/h00-014. (NRC Research Press Ottawa, Canada)CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  39. 39.
    Phillips SM, Tipton KD, Aarsland A, Wolf SE, Wolfe RR. Mixed muscle protein synthesis and breakdown after resistance exercise in humans. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 1997;273:E99–E107.Google Scholar
  40. 40.
    Sale DG, MacDougall JD, Upton AR, McComas AJ. Effect of strength training upon motoneuron excitability in man. Med Sci Sports. 1983;15(1):57–62.Google Scholar
  41. 41.
    Gabriel DA, Kamen G, Frost G. Neural adaptations to resistive exercise: mechanisms and recommendations for training practices. Sports Med. 2006;36(2):133–49.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  42. 42.
    Bell GJ, Syrotuik D, Martin TP, Burnham R, Quinney HA. Effect of concurrent strength and endurance training on skeletal muscle properties and hormone concentrations in humans. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2000;81(5):418–27.(Springer)CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  43. 43.
    Fyfe JJ, Bishop DJ, Stepto NK. Interference between concurrent resistance and endurance exercise: molecular bases and the role of individual training variables. Sports Med. 2014;44(6):743–62.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  44. 44.
    Mujika II, Padilla S. Detraining: loss of training-induced physiological and performance adaptations. Part I. Sports Med. 2000;30(2):79–87. (Springer International Publishing)CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  45. 45.
    Mujika I, Padilla S, Pyne D, Busso T. Physiological changes associated with the pre-event taper in athletes. Sports Med. 2004;34(13):891–927.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  46. 46.
    Pyne DB, Mujika I, Reilly T. Peaking for optimal performance: research limitations and future directions. J Sport Sci. 2009;27(3):195–202.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Exercise Science and Sports Medicine Department of Human BiologyUniversity of Cape TownCape TownSouth Africa

Personalised recommendations