There are many reasons it can “fall out of shape.” From injuries to decreased mobility, it is your natural ebb and flow. The good news is, whether you’ve always been an athlete or never seem to stick to a workout routine, there are some tried and true ways to help you get fit again.
What does it really mean to be fit?
Physiologically speaking, being physically fit entails a number of holistic factors: it explains cardiorespiratory fitness, muscular strength, mobility (within flexibility and range of motion), and neuromuscular control (ie balance and agility). Heather Miltonboard-certified clinical exercise physiologist at the NYU Langone Sports Performance Center.
Anecdotally, being fit by nature can look and feel different for everyone, but it often means that you have good energy, feel strong, can perform daily tasks without pain, have mental clarity, and generally just feel healthy and happy.
This subjectivity can mean that getting in shape includes different goals for different people. “Does being fit mean you can walk all day for your job and have the energy to play with your kids, or does it mean you can crush a new mountain bike without injury?” he says. James CrockfordACE-certified personal trainer. Knowing your cause will help you to support your cause to support your long-term goals.
The good news is there are steps most anyone can follow to improve overall fitness. Here’s what I expect.
How quickly can you lose fitness?
To understand how to gain relevance effectively, it helps to know how quickly your first results can go away. You can also lose your cardio endurance and muscle strength with two weeks of complete rest, says Milton. That doesn’t mean you’ve lost all your gains two weeks out, but that’s when you expect the decline to start, he says. In general, cardio decreases endurance more slowly than muscular strength and endurance, which has a fairly rapid decline when you stop training, adds Crockford.
Loss of physical fitness can lead to a rise in blood pressure, a decrease in blood oxygen levels, decreased neural-muscular efficiency and heart strength, reduced lung capacity, and even a change in the rest of your heart, Milton explains.
Age is also important to consider, says Crockford. Maximal pain uptake (or VO2max), muscle strength and mass, and flexibility all naturally decrease with aging, while total body mass and fat mass increase, according to a 2009 study published in European Review of Seneca and Physical Activity.
How fast does it happen again?
On average, if you strictly follow an evidence-based, well-designed fitness program, do your homework and stick to a specific plan — you can expect to recover your fitness in 16 weeks, says Milton. Muscular strength begins to improve in four to six weeks with noticeable results by 12 weeks. Improvements in your cardio also follow a linear pattern, with small changes over time progressing, he says.
“But it is in a vacuum,” warns Milton. This does not take into account lifestyle factors such as changes in weight, diet, health status, or dehydration, for example – all of which will have a stronger impact on how long it takes you to get fit again.
“The rate at which someone regains fitness levels, both in terms of muscular and cardiorespiratory measures, depends on a number of factors, including programming, fitness level and experience, such as age,” says Crockford. How long also business, says Milton, have you exempted? If it’s been a few weeks or even a few months, it’s a big difference than a few years. “If it’s less than a year, you start going back maybe 50 percent where you left off and slowly build up from there,” he says.
How do I get it again after the break?
The first step is to have a clear and, ideally, measurable goal. Simply saying you want to “get back in shape” can lead to a reckless approach to exercise that will ultimately take you longer to reach your goals—unless you get frustrated and skip along the way, says Milton.
It’s most memorable when you get back into your workout routine at your own pace. This is especially true if they are largely inactive (just choosing lower intensity modalities), coming back from an injury, or are elderly.
Older adults have more years of experience with training under their belt, so they may be sweaty about easing into a new routine, says Milton, but conversely, you also want to avoid doing the same grueling workouts you did when you were younger. . Bodies change over time, and it’s okay if your fit version looks different in your 40s than it did in your 20s, she says.
Consisting on a difficult program will ensure you stay on track while avoiding injury or burnout, Milton says. Cardio exercise can be used to increase the total volume of training, meaning that if you successfully run for three hours each week, you can increase the length of your total weekly running time. A strength-based training program can be seen using more reps with the same weight or grabbing a higher weight while doing the same reps, Milton adds. Max-vio bodyweight tests—think: how many push-ups you can do in a minute—are also good universal strength-building techniques. The bottom line is you can fit in again, but it probably won’t happen overnight. Small, painful steps in time will lead to results you’re after, so practicing patience is a necessary part.