One of the ladies who attends my Insanity Live! classes came to me after we’d finished the other day… “Does exercise get any easier?” she asked me.
She’s not the first person to wonder if that’s the case … and I very much doubt she’ll be the last. The answer is actually a yes and a no at the same time! If that doesn’t help, let me try and explain – by turning the question around: “Why would you want exercise to get any easier?”
Putting glibness to one side, let’s look at what the body does when we exercise. Exercise is work: your heart beats faster, you get breathless, your muscles tire… sometimes you could end a session exhausted.
So why do we do it? Well the human body is incredibly adaptable. Exercise causes the body stress – and the body’s response is to adapt to that stress. Our heart, respiratory system and muscles all get stronger as a result of exercise… so in theory, the next time you exercise it will be easier.
But what happens next if we don’t increase that stress? If we don’t progress the level of exercise, the distance we run, or the weights we lift? Or if we don’t try something else to change things up?(Insanity Live! classes for instance introduce a new set of exercises every 8-10 weeks, just for when the body has adapted to the stress of the previous routine.)
Well the body is so clever, it ends up adapting to the routine. And when its adapted to that specific stress, it becomes lazy and stops making progress.
So ideally, you want exercise to keep getting harder. When it comes to the lady in question, she might feel as though routines aren’t getting easier – and they aren’t.
But that’s not because she’s not progressing – I make sure I challenge her more in sessions now than I did before – and I can see the results: she’s hotter and more tired at the end of a session than what she used to be… and that’s exactly what we want to happen.
You have to keep progressing to feel the benefit.
As an aside, for anyone wondering about how the fitter they become, the more they sweat – that’s the body adapting again. The body is excellent at thermoregulating – controlling it’s own temperature. And the main way is does this is through sweating.
The more we work out, the more efficient that thermoregulation becomes and the more we sweat. It costs me a small fortune in kitchen roll at classes – but it’s worth it to know people are progressing.