Fitness Adaptation Takes Four to Eight Weeks
I wish I had a dollar for every person at my gym who starts a fitness program, then, after a couple of weeks, never shows up again.
Fitness adaptation is the reason so many people stop their exercise and training plans after four or six weeks.
People with great intentions don’t much in the way of quick results and give up.
They are not losing weight quickly, they don’t feel stronger, and, in fact, they feel sore and tired most of the time! (A sure sign of doing too much too soon!)
And it’s a lot of work, both in strength training and even getting to the gym.
Fitness adaptation is the process your body REQUIRES before it shifts gears and becomes a fat-burning, muscle-building machine. Your body needs to adapt to a new routine before it starts to make changes.
After the first few training sessions, you feel like death warmed over because your body aches. You can feel anxious and depressed because you realize how challenging this is all going to be.
So people often quit because the process is just too much.
The good news is that if you stick it out on a regular basis – three to four times a week – you will see improvements. Hire a trainer, attend classes, find a workout buddy will all help keep you going.
Fitness Adaptation Takes Four to Eight Weeks
After my last post about weight loss, I had several questions about the rate of weight loss.
One client at the WAC was putting a lot of pressure on herself to lose weight. I wrote on her chart that her six-week goal is to NOT look at a scale and come into the gym to strength train three or four times a week for six weeks without thinking about the amount of weight she was moving.
She is a complete fitness beginner. So getting started on a fitness plan takes time, at least six to eight weeks, depending on your body and experience. You are building new habits, and it takes your body time to adjust.
And your body is not going to like the change! It’s going to protest with soreness and stiffness, especially if you push too much in the beginning.
The really good news, though, is if you stick with the regular exercise and change in fuel intake, the changes will come!
Rate of Fitness Gain, Weight Loss
So many factors affect the rate at which people gain fitness lose weight, including current BMI, your past weight loss history, hormonal issues, and, especially, genetics.
Weight loss is not only about reducing calorie intake. In fact, sometimes, you need to maintain your caloric intake as you exercise. I’ve been working with a swimmer who wasn’t losing any weight despite burning thousands of calories a day. His caloric deficit was several thousand, and that’s not sustainable.
When your body doesn’t have enough fuel, it reverts to caveman days and holds onto fat because the lack of food means famine.
The solution? Eat more carbs. The swimmer needed more fuel as carbohydrates. He’s since lost weight and lowered body fat since adding more carbs to his diet so that his caloric deficit was more manageable.
The key to weight loss, though, is building muscle as fat melts away. That is the importance of exercise in the process.
Fitness Adaptation Changes Your Body
And that leads us to fitness adaptation, and by this I mean the physiological, anatomical, and neurological changes in your body as you exercise and improve nutrition.
Essentially, that means getting your body ready to train and exercise. It’s building muscle memory for your muscles to function correctly.
And that’s why it’s so important for anyone who wants to gain strength to hit the gym three times a week, especially in the beginning.
What happens in your body, to put it simply, is that when you strength train once a week, sometimes two, your muscles think it’s a temporary thing. They “let” you do the work, but go back to their normal states when you’re done. There’s little permanent adaptation.
If you go to the gym three or four times a week for several weeks – four to eight, depending on the person and their current fitness level – your muscles finally “give up” and surrender.
Your muscular system says, “We realize now we have to adapt to the new routine in order to produce the energy and fuel to support the work.” And so your body – the muscles, neurological pathways, tendons, ligaments, etc. – starts to change.
That’s fitness adaptation. And that’s when you’ll really see the changes in your body. You should see some change in your weight, but you’ll also really see the changes in how your body is shaped. You should feel extra room in jeans and shirts. You’ll feel more mobility and more energy in your step.
But that’s ONLY if you’ve been doing the work with both strength training, some cardio intervals, and better eating habits.
It’s Going to Take Effort, Work
This four to eight week period is not going to be easy. Your body is going to resist. When you start to lose weight, for example, hormones in your body are going to demand food to bring you back to the baseline. You’re going to get hungry. That’s why it’s so important to think through your diet and your exercise plan to provide enough nutrients and fuel, yet still creating some caloric deficit.
You also need to continually and progressively overload your muscles as you build that adaptation. If you always lift with five-pound dumbbells, you won’t get any stronger. And if you do the same strength exercise every time, you also won’t get any stronger. Your body needs variety to adapt and grow stronger.
Working with a personal trainer, coach, and/or nutrition expert can really help fitness adaptation, or at least make some of it easier.
It’s really not complicated, but it is a challenge.
Fitness Through Strength, Intervals, Nutrition
The only way to improve your strength and fitness is through strength training, intervals, and a healthy diet.
I never said it would be easy. The process, though, will be life-transforming as you build health and strength.
If you have questions, want some help, or just want to talk out some ideas, I’d be glad to talk. Or if you are a WAC member or are considering joining us, I’ll get you a free pass to try it out.