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  • Writer's pictureTravis J. Vanden Heuvel

Got GAS?

Contributed By: David Vanderheiden

I have talked in previous articles about what you need to do leading up to starting an exercise program.  Now I am going to talk about what happens initially when you do start working out.  I am going to talk about the first stage of "General Adaptation Syndrome."


General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS) is a term used to describe how the body responds to stress (ie. workouts) and adapts to it.  There are three stages of GAS, but today I am going to talk about the first stage. 

The first stage is the "Alarm Reaction Stage," which is what we all will go through when we first start a exercise routine. It means this is your body's initial reaction to a stressor.  Your are now putting stress on your body as you start working out.  To be honest, if you are just starting, your body may be inefficient in the ways that it reacts to these stressors and will need time to adapt.  As time goes on and as you continue this awesome journey, your body will become much more efficient and this stage will become less and less as time goes on.  

During this stage you will experience "Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness" (DOMS).  Due to your new workout lifestyle, you will feel this.  You WILL be sore.  It is completely normal so there is nothing to worry about, just some discomfort to deal with.  The best way to minimize this is by doing a progressive training program and slowly bringing up the intensity.

I know that we all want to work hard and get those results as quick as possible.  But let's be honest. If you haven't worked out in a while, you won't be able to handle this as well as you think.  Sometimes we have to set our egos aside and do what is smart.  That might be starting small and moving along slowly.  You can't just say start on the bench press and expect to crush it day one.  You likely will need to start with push-ups and work your way up. 

The thing with DOMS is that if you are not careful, you may just make yourself so sore that you cannot do your day-to-day activities.  That is obviously not what I want to see happen.  Being sore is part of the game, but being so sore that you can barely move is not.  Be smart.  Move slow during the Alarm Stage and you will get better and will get to the point where you can ramp it up. Fitness is a marathon, not a sprint.  You can always ask a fitness professional like myself for help when you get started.  That is what I am here for.

Let's crush your goals and continue this journey that you are starting. 


Be better today than you were yesterday.  Be better tomorrow than you were today.

David Vanderheiden is a NASM Certified Personal Trainer at Xperience Fitness in Green Bay, Wisconsin. He specializes in working with clients of different health levels, body types, and fitness levels to achieve their goals of improving their quality of life.


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