“Lose 20 lbs in 2 weeks”
“Gain 20 lbs of muscle in 20 days”
“Add 12547 lbs to your bench by next week”
The fitness industry is polluted by claims and quotes like the ones above.
They create the idea that dramatic change is simple, quick, and easy. It might be simple, but it is definitely not quick or easy.
We have ADD with our programming and lifestyle choices. When a training program doesn’t work after a week and a half it is time to pull a complete 180 and switch things up entirely.
If most people were to just trust the process and stick things out for the long haul, they would be much happier with the results.
There are a few reasons why we must be patient when taking on new changes.
- Your nervous system typically takes 6 weeks to adapt.
Your body is controlled by the nervous system. Your brain tells your muscles what to do and how fast to do it.
Muscles are stupid and do not have a mind of their own.
Nervous system training takes patience, however. In fact, it takes about 6 consistent weeks just to train the nervous system to become efficient enough to allow muscular change.
What that means is that there will be no muscular growth or strength gains until the nervous system becomes better at recruiting and firing muscle fibers.
On the surface it may appear that you are getting stronger in this time period because you will be able to handle more weight. That will happen but it is not actual strength improvements.
So if you are one of those people that changes things up every month, I am not surprised that you are not making long term progress.
Believe me I used to be there. I lost almost a whole year of training because I could not stick to one thing. I had to stop substituting short term flash for long term change.
- Humans are not built for a complete overhaul.
When it becomes time to make changes a lot of people want to eat less and exercise more and develop better relationships with friends/family and sleep better and handle stress better.
These are all awesome things to do and I think they are necessary for one’s overall health.
Changing them all at the same time is going to overload a person and create an unsustainable strategy.
Instead of going for the gusto right away, pick one change and stick to it for 2 weeks before adding a new one.
This way, the change actually has a chance of succeeding and all effort can be put into that one change.
- Make sure a short term goal fits into long term plans.
This scenario makes a lot of sense with athletes specifically. A lot of athletes and parents want to get faster and stronger yesterday.
When left on their own in the weight room, young athletes will typically load the bar super heavy and barely squeak out their reps.
After continuing this for a while, they wonder why they are not getting any stronger. They sacrificed a foundation for the ability to lift more weight, albeit once or twice.
Instead of developing a great base by moving less weight to start, these athletes tried to peak as a freshman. When senior year comes, they missed an important window of opportunity.
Athletes, ages ~13-16, are capable of some remarkable things. It is not uncommon to see kids squatting around the 95 lb mark shoot up to double that in a short period of time.
At this age group there is a window for strength development that sticks with the athlete forever. So yes, some athletes get stuck right around that 95 lb squat until they develop a little bit more.
Once that time comes, their capabilities for getting stronger have improved as has their performance.
Adults can do the same thing. They can lose 25 pounds in a month on a liquid diet and then put on 30 pounds the next month because there was no long term plan in place.
The whole point of this article is to take things slowly and trust what you are doing.
We cannot just jump right into something, expect immediate results, and then keep those immediate results forever.
The process is more often going to start slow, continue at a good pace, and then accelerate after a solid commitment to the plan.
The next time you are contemplating a dramatic change, ask yourself “what’s the rush?”