The Science of Training
Have you ever wondered just how you get strong with exercise? Let’s take a quick look at how the body adjusts to help make you stronger with exercise.
The Science-y Bit
Neuromuscular adaptation is the name of the game here. This term refers to the nerves from your spinal cord that connect to the muscles. When the signal is sent from the brain down the spinal cord and through the nerve, the muscle contracts.
Your body will maintain as many of these nerve/muscle connections as it needs for your daily activity level and no more. The body is extremely efficient in terms of energy usage.
Muscle takes a lot of energy to build and maintain. If you weren’t using as much muscle as your body has primed and ready for action, your body will start to save energy by decreasing the nerve activity to the unneeded portion of the muscle. Simple and effective right?
The body is a master of efficiency
What happens when you skip the gym for too many weeks? The body recognizes that you aren’t using/engaging the muscle you have. To conserve resources, it reduces the number of active nerves that feed the muscle.
This saves the body energy since it doesn’t need to keep those muscle fibers active. This starts to happen between 7-10 days! This is a much shorter timeframe compared to the turn-on phase. You essentially lose it much quicker than you gain it.
You remain blissfully unaware that any of this is happening until you step back into the gym and realize that you lost strength over your lapse in training.
With the increase in physical activity from exercise, the body will maximize the muscle you already have by “un-muting” the nerves to turn it on. You don’t get stronger in the traditional sense during the first month of exercise, you become more efficient. What you have done is activate more muscle fibers that were not previously needed, improving muscular efficiency.
If conditions are optimal, (energy intake and physical stressors like exercise are consistent) your body will begin to build muscle to meet the needs. This happens around week 4-8 for most of us. Studies vary on this timeframe, some say closer to 8-12 weeks and possibly longer. There are a lot of factors to consider: age, nutrition, sleep, training history, or any other health conditions.
Finally, if you have any training questions or would like a free consultation, feel free to reach out here.