How Long Does It Take To Get Fit
Firstly, it depends on what “being fit” means to you. For example for some being fit can be gaining muscle, for others running a marathon, for others be great at the sport they practice. The dictionary says that fitness means the condition of being physically fit and healthy.
Then it also depends on your training routine, which depends on your goal of course. And then if your training is not properly planned and you overtrain your body will not make progress, adaptation will not occur. Same goes if you don’t train hard enough.
It depends on the supply of nutrients. Adaptations occur not when you exercise but after, in the recovery period. So the recovery time also plays an important role.
How your body adapts to exercise
Whether you are a coach or not it is important to have at least a basic understanding of what’s going on with your body when you begin a new training routine or you just got back into training.
What you are looking for is to maximize the adaptation phase and avoid exposure to exhaustion phase.
Physical activity and the nervous system
Before you see any major changes with regards to your physique, the first adaptations occur in the nervous system.
Regular training and practice cause adaptations in the central nervous system allowing greater control of movements.
Thus movements become smoother and more accurate and performance improves.
Once the adaptation occurs after a certain stimulus (training routine) the initial rate of gain usually begins to slow down. And this leads to the well known plateau.
This happens within a few weeks, 6-8 in general, from starting the training program. What you do next to create the new stimulus is critical, and it makes the different between reaching your goal, stagnate or drop training.
When we perform an activity our senses provide constant feedback regarding limb position, force generation and the performance outcome through the nervous system
Structuring an appropriate adjustment or modifying the fitness programme will keep progress moving in the desired direction.
To change your routine get creative by addressing:
number of exercises
number of sets
target repetition range
recovery periods between sets (decrease, increase)
movement speed – slow to fast
stable to unstable surface
simple to complex
But still…how long does it take?
In general give your routine 6-8 weeks, training 3-4 times a week. And have a way to measure your progress.
For example with my clients the progress is easily visible as they can hang for longer, crawl with a better technique and longer distance, or manage to do all the unusual movements, sequences or exercise combinations I come up with.
If you train outdoors like we do, and change locations, every few weeks you must go back to the previous locations and perform the same techniques to see the progress.
Or counting, works as well. However outdoors the terrain is never the same so what you can do in one location will be different from what you can do in another location, so you must think whether counting is the best option.
How long does it take to get OUT of shape?
So to get into shape, or rather to increase your fitness levels, it takes 6-8 weeks before you need to makes changes and take it further.
To get out of shape it doesn’t take that long. If you stop training for about 2 weeks your cardiovascular fitness will begin to drop.
According to Dr. Edward Coyle, The director of the Human Performance Lab at the University of Texas at Austin, in highly-trained athletes, VO2 max decreases by 7 percent in the 12 to 21 days after stopping training and another 9 percent during days 21 to 84.
VO2 max is a measure of the maximum volume of oxygen that an athlete can use. It is measured in millilitres per kilogramme of body weight per minute (ml/kg/min).
The initial decrease in cardiovascular abilities is followed by muscle mass and strength atrophy.
The good part is that your body can get fit faster if you were fit in the past. And also the fitter you are the less your fitness will decrease if you stop training for a couple of weeks. But why would you do that anyway?
Make it easy for yourself and, when you don’t feel like training, just do something to maintain the level you are at. To maintain your fitness you don’t need an extreme amount of training. Aim for 2-3 days a week, not necessarily high intensity workout, just maintaining the level.
Also, a decrease in fitness levels is not a good excuse not to take a break. Athletes have 1-2 weeks break from training to recover and, in some cases, to get past plateaus. You won’t get out of shape in a few days.
There is a lot of information and science behind this adaptation process, but I tried to make it short, to the point and just answer the question: how long does it take to get fit. Hope I managed to clarify.
If you need advice on your training routine you can book a free call and together we can create progressions or regressions in your routine to get you back on the right path or to set you on the right path. Book the free call here