The path to getting fitter is not one that is straight forward. If you were to plot a graph of how your fitness progresses, it wouldn’t be a straight diagonal line going from unfit in the bottom left corner to fit in the top right. Instead the path to being fit is much more up and down.
When increasing your physical activity and your training, your body will go through what’s called adaptation cycles. These are times when you feel totally fatigued, weak and less fit/strong compared to last week. It’s important to understand how the body responds to physical activity because when you hit an adaptation low it can be discouraging and it’s easy to quit.
When you train consistently, you will put your body under load (in other words, you’ll do a bunch of exercise) and this will be great for a while and you’ll be getting fitter by the day for one, two, three weeks even. You’re on a roll and you’re going from strength to strength and then all of a sudden you may find that you’ll get quite fatigued or exhausted. This is your body ‘adapting’ to the workload that you’re putting it under and it may feel like you’ve been hit by a truck.
Your energy levels usually go down, your strength might even feel like it dips a little bit and you will feel like you just need to have a rest. This doesn’t mean that you’re ‘overtraining’ or anything, this feeling of exhaustion is a good sign and it’s vital that you listen to your body when you’re in this state and it’s important that you don’t give up as it’s very tempting to.
The best thing to do is work on your active recovery by doing a light swim, walk or jog for example and keep on moving physically at a lower level in order to get through this stage as quickly as possible. You’ll need to keep in mind as well that you should lower your expectations of yourself for a few days when it comes to your workouts. Then, once you’re feeling like your energy levels are back up, you’ll have broken through and you’ll be ready and raring to go again.
This adaptation cycling is how the body gets fitter and stronger and helps you to get into your best shape physically.
In summary, you should expect some days of exhaustion in your training and recognise that they are an essential part of your training.
Author: Jade Winter
Jade Winter is an Olympian and Co-Founder of Studio Pilates International, a network of luxury Pilates studios originating in Australia. After representing his country multiple times in swimming, Jade turned his focus to personal training before finding his true calling as a Pilates instructor. Jade is the CEO of Studio Pilates’ global franchise division and he continues to spread the message of Pilates to the world and fulfills his mission to change the way the world works out.