The Number One Reason Exercises STOP Working
Tell me if this sounds familiar…
You start an exercise program and it goes great- for a while.
Shortly after you begin, you also see excellent results. You get stronger, or faster, or both! Your clothes start fitting better. You’re seeing some progress in the direction you want with your weight. It finally seems like you’ve found ALL that you’ve been looking for with performance and activity.
….then it stops.
What happened? How is it possible that everything you were doing all the sudden just…quit?
One word: Adaptation.
We’re designed to stay alive. Period. Everything in us is hard-wired to sustain life.
So, as we start a new exercise routine, it works REALLY, really well. It’s new. The body isn’t used to it and it’s stressed- in a good way.
As we continue the same routine, it adapts (gets used to) that stress and begins to operate more efficiently under that stress in spite of it being the same stress that has always been applied.
The answer on how to fix that problem (and get things moving again) lies in that very statement- if the body has adapted to the same stress, we need to change the stress.
How do you do that?
A Case Study
After seeing great progress for 12-months, a Valley to Peak Team Member- let’s call them “Tony” stopped seeing progress.
His natural question- “why? And what do I do about it?”
Short Answer: your body adapts to the exercise you do a lot to reduce calorie expenditure. (In other words, you became too good at running, so burn fewer calories than you did when you first started).
Long Answer: We’re built to survive. Period. And, though it seems crazy to think that our bodies may be “dooped” into thinking we’re in a survival situation when we’re in a deficit and adding in exercise- that’s exactly what it perceives.
It then shifts into efficiency mode- things that USED to take A LOT of energy to do (running for example) now doesn't take near as much energy to do the SAME thing.
So, it burns fewer calories as it’s easier.
What We Were Seeing
Your body is used to running. I don’t mean this entirely, but it stopped working….or at least working as good as it did when we first started.
The consistent weight lifting and cycling is NEW though. It’s NOT used to that yet, so we’re getting the “newbie” effect we once saw with running.
This, and this alone (plus increased performance) is why it’s important to always change the variables in exercise. The less the body has a chance to adapt, the more we progress in performance, and make strides towards better fitness.
What’s more is the weight lifting.
Running and biking have benefits for health and the heart. Aside from that, they simply burn calories. That’s it.
Lifting is an entirely different beast with a multitude of benefits- healthier and stronger joints, more muscle mass, better heart, improved brain health, better longevity, more bone density (you’ll care about this when you’re an old woman), lower risk of fracture, faster metabolism, and more flexibility…..to name a couple.
This is why it’s so important to at least consider including it as a part of a regimen.
True progress is built on progressively throwing new challenges at the body to prevent adaptation and facilitate continued growth.
Many people complicate this by saying “you have to constantly confuse your muscles.” The trouble is that our muscles do not have “cognitive abilities”. They’re not always trying to guess what's coming next. So, you can’t “confuse” them.
They contract and relax. That’s it. They have no “brain”.
As a mechanical part of our body the key then becomes the type of challenge you throw at them.
You can throw a new workout routine at your muscles every day if you’d like and still fail to see change and muscle growth. The key is ensuring your training involves a progressive overload scheme. That is a complicated way of simply saying that your regimen should challenge you by little bits every single week rather than doing the same thing week after week hoping for different results.
What problems or plateaus have you seen in your training? Do you have a progressive overload system in place for your activity? Other questions about nutrition or training?
Shoot me a message. I’d love to help OR simply hear what your day-to-day routine looks like!
Here's a great (basic) way to change up your normal routine:
Running...with a challenge.
Instead of running a straight 20-minutes on, I’d love for you to consider intervals.
And not just any interval- progressive intervals.
This will prevent adaptation.
It will improve your longer run paces.
And, it’ll prevent the aforementioned adaptation.
The layout can be simple:
-Repeat for 20-minutes.
The progressive piece of this looks like this:
Follow the same structure above:
-Week 1: 12-minutes pace.
-Week 2: 11:49 pace.
-Week 3: 11:30 pace.
-Week 4: 11:15 pace.
-Week 5: 11:00 pace.
And so on….
You can see the simplicity lies in the challenge being just a little harder each week- not some monstrosity of a workout.