No matter what fitness level you are we all have stopped working out for periods of times regardless if it was due to vacations, injuries, lack of motivation, etc.. Did you know that becoming inconsistent with exercise can have detrimental effects on the body? The effects that can happen to the body are based on the amount of time spent away from regular physical activity. We all have days rest days in our regimes, but these days do not count against you. It is the week/weeks that will take a toll on the body. Not only will your notice physical deconditioning, but you will also see effects on sleep, motivation, and other habits.
Physiological factors that are influenced when not participating in exercise for a week or more can include anything from muscle strength to aerobic base. Without challenging the body weeks at a time can cause the body to revert back into homeostasis, or baseline. Through the weeks of reaching baseline, you will notice a decrease in strength and a lesser aerobic base. Within two-to-three weeks not only will you notice a dramatic decrease in strength, but also in endurance and speed by 25%-30%. Over a longer period of time, normally between two-to-eight months or more, your body will have adapted as if you’ve never worked out before.
Muscles also feel the impact of inconsistent training, and will not be the same from when you began training. Muscle fibers lose glycogen stores which in time will cause muscle atrophy, or loss of muscle. Due to the muscle atrophy, it is going to be a challenge when trying to return to an exercise regime at the same intensity level as you had previously. Even though it seems as if muscle is reduced significantly, endurance is affected at a much faster rate.
So how can we start this path of consistency with our exercise? Well, most of us have heard that it takes anywhere from 21 to 30 days to build a habit that sticks. The key is to commit to the habit you want to create—such as doing HIIT 3x a week—and giving yourself a 30 day “trial” of doing that habit consistently. Tell yourself that if you want, you can go back to your old habits (such as not doing HIIT or exercising at all) at the end of your 30 days. When the end of the 30 days is up, see how you feel. Do you feel stronger, more confident, more energized, fitter? My guess is that you’ll decide you prefer the way you feel after working out consistently, and not want to return to how you were beforehand. Also, start small. If you go full-force into uncharted waters then you will experience the normal exercise soreness, fatigue, and may even burn out. So using the example above, starting small would be starting HIIT training one-to-two times a week instead of three times per week. Allowing the body to slowly build its way up to three times, and you will be able to incorporate more exercise in the future.
Allowing to stay consistent with your exercise will keep you pushing forward towards your goals, and keep seeing the results that you want. We have to learn how to handle the wrenches life throws at us, and learn to get back on track with our routines will keep us from falling off too far. IF you “fall off” try to do something that will motivate you to keep exercising, for example; working out with a friend, hiking in nature, etc.. Do not let limit yourself to what you can do!
Cameron is a leading success coach and personal trainer at Horizon Personal Training in CT. Cameron is a NASM Certified Personal Trainer and keeps up to date on the latest fitness trends to ensure success within one’s self! To learn more about Cameron please go to www.horizonpersonaltraining.com.