Working out isn’t easy. Even if you understand what you’re getting yourself into, it doesn’t make it any easier. Each time your body adapts and you get stronger, the workouts simply get harder.
After weeks of hitting the gym consistently, you’re probably expecting your hard work to pay off. If you step on the scale, there’s a good chance you won’t see any difference. Seeing a lack of progress can make you wonder if all of the hard work is worth it.
The body adapts to exercise in weird ways. Sure, you know that strength training builds muscle and burns fat, but your progress won’t be linear. In fact, if you gained x amount of muscle for each workout, you’d be a professional weightlifter in no time!
The tricky thing about progress is that your performance tends to increase before you see changes reflected in your body. In other words, you’ll notice that you can lift more weight and do more reps, but your body seemingly won’t change.
When you walk into the gym and lift more weight than the previous time, it’s not necessarily because you’ve built more muscle. Often, your nervous system is just getting more efficient. Thousands of nerves connect your brain to your muscles, and they send electrical signals that make your muscles contract.
As you lift weights, your nervous system starts to learn the movements and gets better at sending those electrical signals. It sends them faster and more frequently, which means your muscles start to work harder.
At a certain point, your nervous system can’t get much better. That’s when your progress starts to slow down a little, and your muscles need to catch up. Your metabolism also gets more efficient when you workout, so you can burn more fat and use the sugars in your bloodstream to fuel your muscles.
As your performance in the gym improves, your body becomes a well-oiled machine. It starts to build muscle and burn more fat so that you can lift heavier weights and run faster. Over time, that’s what drives changes in your body.
Another surprising fact is that beginners build muscle faster than anyone. That means that in the first two months that you lift weights you’ll build more muscle than an experienced trainee will build in a year. So, if you see that the scale isn’t budging but you’ve been working hard, it could be due to your new muscle.
Give your body time to adapt and let the dust settle before you judge your results. Exercise creates a lot of good chaos in your body as it scrambles to adapt. Focus on improving your performance in the gym, and the results will follow.