The "Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands" Principle to Build Muscle Mass

"You get what you train for". Or SIAD is the most fundamental training concept of specificity to laser target your muscle building efforts and build muscle mass faster than before.

In this article:

Have you noticed the difference between physiques of a marathon runner and a sprinter?

Marathoner is a thin, guy with little muscles to show for. Whereas a sprinter is a ripped guy with muscles all over the body. Marathoners can run for hours on end, whereas sprinter blows winds in 100 or 400 meter races.

What’s the difference? Body type? Genetics? May be.

But the biggest difference is the way they train because what you train for is what you get.

Sprinters train with explosive moves, sprinting for short distances giving all they have for those 8-10 seconds. They use type II B Muscle fibers called fast twitch muscle fibers that are built for speed, power and explosiveness.

Marathoners train running hours on end and can travel for long distances. They use type I Muscle fibers called slow twitch muscle fibers that are built for endurance and distance running stamina.

Since they train differently, they look different in the end. 

And this is one of the fundamental muscle building principle you need to learn. 

I ignored this principle due to lack of right knowledge and became the strongest guy in the gym lifting heavy weights for 1-2 reps but had little muscles to show for.

Big mistake. I want to help you avoid such muscle building blunders.

So how does this apply to us muscle builders?

Muscle Building Demands that You Train Specifically for Gaining Mass

Target Muscles with Hypertrophy Style Training

"Be sure you can positively identify your target before you pull the trigger".
-Tom Flynn

If you want to gain muscle quickly, you cannot diffuse your efforts doing activities which are low-return or completely waste of time.

The above you read are classic examples of specificity principle.

Specificity principle simply states that, “In order to gain muscle mass, the overload must be specific to the desired outcome of muscular hypertrophy".

It is due to the principle of specificity or SAID that marathoners and sprinters develop such different bodies.

The body is an adaptive organism and adapts specifically to the demand imposed on it.

Run/jog for long distances, you build type I Slow twitch fibers specifically. Sprint explosively for few seconds and your type II Fast twitch fibers develop.

How to Apply the SAID or Specificity Principle for Building Muscle Fast

Firstly, You don’t have to train like sprinters. Sprinters already have great amount of fast twitch fibers to begin with and almost all of them are doing heavy training with power muscle and strength moves today. They are just different.

Secondly, ectomorphs like you and me should use hypertrophy style training using High threshold Muscle Building Exercises keeping muscle performance our goal.

Many muscle builders can do heavy weights for 1-2 reps {like my story} or perform low weights for 15-20 reps and wonder why they won’t gain any muscle. Lets change that by learning optimal muscle building techniques. Lets get more specific.

Bodybuilding Vs Weight Lifting  - The Big Difference

Training for muscle mass is different from training for strength, sports or general fitness.

Small guy, Big Strength!

For strength trainers and weightlifters, lifting single reps for maximum loads is the goal. Olympic weightlifters can lift heaviest weights for single reps only, most have have little muscle to show for.

That is why Naim Süleymanoğlu, called Pocket Hercules could lift 342 lbs weight overhead weighing only 137 pounds. 

He trained for strength specifically and not muscle hypertrophy and he got the results he wanted. He went on to become the strongest man in the world, pound for pound.

To build muscle you need to specific muscle gain strategies designed to build muscle mass.

I cover them elsewhere but from now on every single step you take should be towards building muscle.  

This means GET SPECIFIC.



My 5 Step Formula for Specific Muscle Building

Here are my top 5 tips to make best use of the SAID principle to gain muscle mass.

1. Think, Act and train like a muscle builder

Gaining Mass should be your priority. Think big muscles, and ways to get big lean muscles all the time.

2. Train with High threshold Muscle exercises for reps

Forget our strength building one rep moves. To gain muscles you need to target high threshold type IIB fibres for 6-12 reps every set. This creates maximum micro trauma. This stimulates muscle growth.

3. Stop doing activities that hinder muscle growth

This means: No one hour aerobics, or engaging in sports like marathons, badminton, or long distance running!

Such activities take time and energy away from your main goal which is to build big muscles.

4. See every eating opportunity as muscle feeding session

Eat, eat and eat some more. Skinny guys have appetite issues, especially for proteins, making nutrition the biggest stumbling block for muscle gain. But use high density, high caloric foods to increase your daily calories with sound meal planning, muscle growth becomes inevitable.

5. Find supplement/recovery strategies that can help muscles repair and grow faster

The combination of sleep and supplements can accelerate your muscle gains. You have to use proven supplements though. Such supplements repair muscles faster and the natural anabolic hormones released during sleep work their magic, accelerating muscle growth.


Summary: Train like a marathoner and look like one. Train like a muscle builder and look like one.

If you apply the above muscle building principle, your muscles will take off. You will build bigger muscles, get strong and build the muscular body you always dreamt of.

But train for gaining mass and not for ego boosting moves. Also avoid the "eat anything in sight" diet. Rather eat high density, caloric and nutrient rich foods.

Bottom Line: Train like a muscle builder, look like a muscle builder. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

Build Muscle. Get big and Enjoy Life.

To Your Muscle Success

Mateen Sidd

P.S. 1. There is no single right way to train. people have different goals. I have immense respect for marathoners and weight lifters and I do not want to show them in bad light. But I do want to create awareness among beginner bodybuilders that you need to choose training methods wisely. Or else frustration results, not muscle gains.

2. Many heavyweight Olympic weightlifters are big and heavy with big bellies. They develop big bellies because it helps them lift more, providing a sturdy core. But most weightlifters are athletic and look very different from bodybuilders.

› Specific Adaptation

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