ON: EXERCISE Pt 3/3 - A timeline for results
When sitting down with a human client, getting an idea of where they want to “be” in the next 6,12 and 24 months helps me to either raise their expectations or provide a dose of human reality.
If you’ve been sedentary for many years, don’t expect your body to perform at an elite level in a few weeks. That being said, there is a neat thing our bodies do when we go from zero to something.
The beginners curve
You’ve likely experienced this in learning a new skill. You start at day one having no clue what you’re doing, within a few hours of learning it you feel as though you could probably teach your previous self how to do it. Not long after getting a real hang of the basics, you plateau.
Our bodies tend to adapt that way to exercise. That is why a) You should embrace gains when they come and b) Not be disheartened when they don’t come as fast. If you’ve ever heard words like “periodisation”, “tapering”, “peaking” or “off season” training, these are all phrases to describe different changes the body is going through or ways in which coaches manipulate results for the benefit of the athlete.
Professional athlete or not, this is something everyone should aware of because physical health, whilst it can be a linear progression, the pathway is anything but. Below is a crude but colourful graph outlining some examples of your journey.
Green - Your general health and well- being. Consistently improving with blips in the radar but they needn’t matter in the long run.
Red - Different phases of training (1-3 months for example). Peaking and then starting a new block (but the new dip is higher than the previous peak).
Orange - Your weekly training. Ups, downs but always finishing better than you began whether its through mental discipline, physical strength, muscle growth or a feeling of accomplishment.
Some things you may be able to achieve over the course of 2 years when beginning an exercise routine suited for you.
The first 3 months if you’re at the tier 1-2 mark (see ON: Exercise Part 1/3)
- Increase in muscle mass meaning daily life is less exerting
- Increase in mental health. A big part of exercise is making life feel “psychologically” easier. If you can lift yourself up off the ground at the gym, you might find it easier to pick yourself up mentally when times are tough.
- Increase in aerobic fitness i.e. ability to walk up stairs and hold a conversation at the top.
- Better balance.
- More energy. Yes input of (right dosage) energy with exercise = more energy.
After 6 months of consistent training
- Fewer aches in your body
- Chronic pain issues begin to subside
- Change in clothing sizes; up or down (depending on your goals)
- Noticeable bodily shape change from “sedentary frame” to athletic.
- Old skills from previous sports begin to slowly come back (agility, jumping, throwing)
- New found sense of youthful energy and lower stress levels throughout day
- Potential ability to return to some high impact activities such as running, racket or ball sports.
- Chronic pain is fading
- Excuses for not participating in physical activities lessen.
- Getting up in the morning has become much easier, in more than one way (males you get the idea).
- High proficiency of movement through squatting, lunging, pressing and pulling.
- Feeling like you can be that person that lifts the heavy end of the fridge.
- Return to socially competitive sport/hobbies
- Wardrobe attire is now full of active wear
- Chronic pain is a now more of a memory than a daily occurrence.
- You feel as though you can keep up with people younger than you, heck you might even be beating them.
- Exercise is now a hobby and something you do because you love the process, not just the results.
Our bodies are capable of great things, if we give it the time and patience. What also may surprise you is that when you start exercising in a way that works, it no longer feels as though it takes up valuable time. That is because when you are training in a way that gets results for you, that is exactly where you need to be. Additionally, the smartest of people that train well never do more than is necessary to get the best outcome. Just as a master chef needn’t add more salt than required or a great writer won’t drag a story on to make up pages; more does not necessarily equal better, but better can equal more.