The principle success of the pharmacosanation methodology compared to the nonsystemic use of ergogenic performance enhancers is that pharmacosanation affects the metabolic status of the athlete at the desired time. This strategy is consistent with the principles of periodization of training.
The general ideas and the scientific basis for periodization of training were adopted from the Selye's General Adaptation Syndrome concept. This model is usually used to explain adaptation to exercise training. Hans Selye described three stages involved in response to a stressor: alarm reaction, resistance development, and exhaustion (Selye, 1976 ).
The alarm stage is the prompt activation of non-specific defense mechanisms in response to challenges to which the organism is not adapted. The resistance stage is the adaptation of the organism to the continued challenge so that it does not seem as demanding. The exhaustion stage is the loss of adaptation during very prolonged exposure to challenge.
According to the findings of the Soviet biomedical researchers (Garkavi et al., 1979), the resistance development period includes two more important transitory stages: reactions of training and activation. Moreover, it was found that the main triad of the adaptation reactions (training, activation, stress) are repeated occasionally at different levels of the developed reactivity and depend completely on the strength of the stressor. Also, a quantitative method for measuring the reactivity and nonspecific resistance of the body was developed. Selye's original concepts, together with further research and empirical observations, have been employed to formulate the principle rules of periodization of training and adaptogen supplementation during pharmacosanation.
Periodization of training attempts to get the athlete to adapt systematically with a minimum risk of overtraining and injury. Small gains are planned over a long period of time. The system is designed to improve the athlete's fitness so that peak performance occurs at the desired time.
Selye observed that the alarm reaction is triggered through two systems, the nervous system and the endocrine system. Messages flowing through these systems eventually mobilize the body's defenses.
Further research showed that the other stages of the General Adaptation Syndrome are also triggered through the endocrine system with the leading role shifting from the catecholamines and glucocorticoids to androgens thyroid hormones and insulin.
The neuro-endocrine basis for training adaptation has been exhaustively studied by Soviet Union sports endocrinologists. They have investigated many hormone-dependent events occurring during the course of training. It was found that glucocorticoids, due to their catabolic and antagonistic effects on anabolic reactions (i.e., protein and glycogen synthesis), are responsible mainly for the reactions of mobilization of the body's potentials. Anabolic adaptation is dependent entirely on other hormones, such as insulin and testosterone. We know now that insulin plays the key role in the process of utilization and membrane transport of the mobilized energy and structure substrates in the cell. Insulin and thyroid hormone activity are critical during late stages of adaptation (i.e., peak competitive period). However, the activities of these hormones are suppressed if the athlete falls into the alarm stage of the General Adaptation Syndrome because of increased activity of the glucocorticoid hormones.
Soviet and East Germany national team members who were involved in heavy preparatory training (i.e., resistance developing stage of the adaptation) would compensate for the tendency to suppress insulin and thyroid activity by supplementing adaptogen formulations.
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