We are forever being told to get fit. Once we get fit, stay fit. Once we stay fit, stay fit a little longer. The journey to fitness is never-ending, so thank goodness neither is Sundried’s motivation to keep you inspired!
What's Covered in this post
- How long until I get fit?
- How long does it take to get unfit?
- Could you be fit and fat?
- What is fit?
- Testing VO2 Max
- Cardio respiratory fitness
- Muscular strength
- Muscular endurance
- Body Composition
How long until I Get Fit?
This question has surely passed most people's lips at some point, if not your lips then it’s probably at least crossed your mind. We all want to know when we’re going to see results, it’s in our nature, but unfortunately there is no clean cut figure which we can place on our fitness. We can however predict general patterns, though it is important to consider everyone’s starting level of fitness differs and therefore so will the duration of time it takes to get fit.
Typically rather than “fit” I look for results, as fit is (in the most part) subjective. Results can be seen as little as a few days, but typically it take a few weeks for your body to adapt to new stimuli, whether that’s your diet or training. This is why if you don’t see results in the first week, you shouldn’t feel disheartened.
Typically the most measurable results follow after a minimum of 6-8 weeks. #Fitspo posts everywhere will have you believe that it takes 4 weeks for you to see your body changing, 8 weeks for friends and family and 12 weeks for the rest of the world.
Try to find a way of measuring your fitness to keep you going along the way. There are two main ways you can measure your fitness, V02 max or time trials for particular exercises. The type of test you opt for will depend greatly on what facilities you have available to you and what your goal is.
Testing VO2 Max
Your V02 max is how much Oxygen your body can uptake during exercise.
Shape sense offer two online calculators for V02 max.
Alternatively smart watches such as the Forerunner 235 calculate your V02 max based upon your performance whilst wearing the watch. See our review of its
Wattbike also calculate your v02 max based on your performance during cycling.
Time trial Ideas
Time trial inspired fitness rulers are great for those who lack the technology to test v02 max, as they are accessible to all. Example could be completing as many reps as possible of an exercise such as burpees in 2 minutes, or running a particular distance and measuring the improvement in time. Remember those awful beep tests at school? That’s just another fitness test and let’s face it you probably pushed that bit harder not because your PE teacher was shouting at you, but because there was an opportunity to beat your mates at something.
How long does it take to get unfit?
According to Dr. Edward Coyle, The director of the Human Performance Lab at the University of Texas at Austin, in highly-trained athletes, V02 max decreases by 7 percent in the 12 to 21 days after stopping training and another 9 percent during days 21 to 84.
So after just 3 weeks of inactivity, your fitness could decrease by up to 20%.
V02 max is a measure of the maximum volume of oxygen that an athlete can use. It is measured in millilitres per kilogramme of body weight per minute (ml/kg/min).
Can you be fit and fat?
Being thin on the outside, doesn’t necessarily mean you are fit or healthy on the inside. Whilst getting fit should be about maintaining the ideal weight for your height, it’s possible to have a healthy BMI and be unfit. You have to work at your fitness, it really is a use it or lose it scenario.
Blair and his team of scientist posed the question “Can you be fit and fat?”. For eight years Blair and his team studied the health of nearly 20,000 men between the ages of 30 and 83. He put them through complete physical assessments including treadmill tests for cardiovascular fitness and body-composition assessments. The results concluded that fitness turned out to be a far more reliable predictor of health and longevity than either weight or BMI.
Unfit men with BMIs of less than 27 (see BMI scale here) had a death rate that was 2.8 times greater than men with BMIs of 30 or higher (considered obese) who were moderately fit.
See the white papers for the study here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2811477/
Blair also published a study on the role that fitness vs. fatness, or higher BMI, plays in women’s long-term health. Among 9,925 women who had been patients at the Cooper Clinic at the Cooper Institute, moderately fit women of all weights averaged a 48 percent lower risk of dying prematurely (from all causes) than did unfit women. Highly fit women (those who could walk longest on the treadmill) had the lowest risk of premature death of all, nearly 60 percent lower than thin but unfit women.
This leads us nicely onto my next question… what is fit?
What is Fit?
According to google:
Fit - Adjective - In good health, especially because of regular physical exercise.
Whilst over on The Urban Dictionary, it’s “The British version of Hot. "Dude that girl is fit!".
For all our sakes, let's explore the first definition shall we?
According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, physical fitness is defined as "a set of attributes that people have or achieve that relates to the ability to perform physical activity."
There are 5 recognised main components for fitness:
Cardiorespiratory fitness refers to how well our bodies can supply fuel during physical activity via our circulatory and respiratory systems.
Any activity which increases your heart rate for a lengthy duration of time will help to improve your cardiorespiratory fitness. Exercising increases cardiorespiratory endurance in a number of ways, the heart muscle is strengthened so that it is able to pump more blood per heartbeat whilst at the same time, additional small arteries are grown within muscle tissue so that blood can be delivered to working muscles more effectively when it’s needed. Cardiorespiratory fitness has been found to help ward off the risk of heart disease, lung cancer, type 2 diabetes and stroke, among other diseases.
The US Department of Health and Human Services defines muscular strength as "the ability of muscle to exert force during an activity."
Generally muscular strength is measured via comparing a person's ability to lift or push a given weight, against the ability of the general population to do the same. If a muscle is worked consistently, it should increase in strength.
Muscular endurance is similar to muscular strength, but requires the ability to repeatedly execute strength. What do we mean by this? Whereas with muscular strength, luck or adrenaline may push you through a single lift, here it’s how long can you keep going before your muscle tire.
Muscular strength training induces hypertrophy (muscle building), whereas muscular endurance requires a different energy system, which can last for longer.
Find out about how heart rate links to different energy systems here.
Body composition is another measure used to judge fitness levels, although as you’ve read above (link to can you be fit and fat). Body composition refers to the levels of muscle, bone, water and fat that make you, you. Two individuals who weigh the same could have completely different body compositions, which is why there is so much debate around BMI as it only considers weight against height.
People with a high muscle mass will weigh more than those who are the same height with the same waist circumference because muscle weighs more than fat.
The most accurate way of measuring body composition is through water submersion, and measuring volume and disposition. This is a long tedious process and for 9/10 of us unaccessible. However, we can use body composition scales such as those listed here.
Whilst the accuracy of scales such as these often comes under scrutiny, it gives the user a good idea of their body make up.
Flexibility is defined as the range of motion of your joints or the ability of your joints to move freely. It also refers to the mobility of your muscles, which allows for more movement around the joints. Flexibility can be increased by a variety of activities designed to stretch joints, ligaments and tendons.
Flexibility is increased by various activities, all designed to stretch joints, ligaments and tendons.
There are three types of exercise that are generally utilized to increase flexibility:
- Dynamic stretching: the ability to complete a full range of motion of a particular joint. This type of flexibility is used in standard "warming up" exercises as it helps ready the body for physical activity
- Static-active stretching: holding the body or part of the body in a stretched position and maintaining that position for a period of time. One example of static-active stretching is the splits
- Ballistic stretching: only to be used when the body is already warmed up and limber from exercise, it involves stretching in various positions and bouncing. Some bodies, including the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, believe that ballistic stretching can cause injuries.
A combination of these 5 elements will make a good overall level of fitness, although some may excel at some principles and not others. Fitness is largely subjective and it is important to balance good fitness and health.
To “get fit” focus on any of the areas above which are weaker, we have a tendency to focus on what we’re good at, simply because things are more enjoyable when you are good at them, however to get the highest levels of fitness you need to practise on the areas where you weakest.
Unless you are already strong in all these areas… then you must be Superman.