Here’s Exactly What Happens When You Start A New Fitness Plan

There's good and bad news when it comes to starting a new fitness plan. The bad news? You'll need to overcome a few hurdles first, but we've got some tips for those. The good news? You'll start reaping the rewards straight away.

By Devon Hedley and Isabelle Kern |

1. Change Does Happen Overnight

You just can’t see it. Sure, the six-pack will come in time, but your heart and brain will feel the first flush of benefits. A single workout boosts blood flow and oxygen to your grey matter, so hit the gym before taxing afternoon meetings. Meanwhile, a study by Nasa found blood volume – an accurate measure of cardio fitness – increases after just eight days of a new fitness regimen.

Related: How To Build A Home Gym For Less Than The Cost Of A Gym Membership

2. It Will Hurt

Pushing your body beyond its limits in these early days causes inflammation and microtears in your muscles. It’s the process of fixing said tears that makes you stronger, but it also hurts like hell. To stop you from wincing out of bed every morning, spend five minutes foam-rolling at the end of your training session. And skip the pre-workout static stretches: a University of Sydney study concluded they’re a waste of your time.

Related: The One Foam Roller That Will Make You a Better, Faster, Stronger Runner

3. You’ll Get Hungry

This sudden increase in your daily energy burn will boost production of the hunger hormone ghrelin. But trading tough graft for gentler effort won’t temper your appetite – push harder to channel blood away from your stomach and into your muscles, Loyola University Chicago advises. Underestimating your hydration needs is another key culprit: aim for 300-500ml before, during and after training to drown out cravings.

4. You’ll Fall Asleep Quicker

Sleep is crucial for recovery. But if you find yourself wired come lights-out, it’s unlikely to be post-gym adrenaline that’s to blame. According to the National Sleep Foundation, only 3% of people find that their night’s rest is hampered by exercise, while 83% find it helps. If however, you are restless at bed time, try adding extra carbs to your dinner, which boost sleep hormone levels. Or double-check the caffeine content of your pre-workout supplement.

Related: Five Steps To Help You Wind Down And Get To Sleep Faster

5. Power-up Your Progress

Initial days conquered, a goal of 2-3kg fat loss a month is realistic for a new starter. But seasoned gym-goers can benefit too. A College of New Jersey study found that adding plyometric moves to your workouts for two months – such as those in our Speed Shred workout plan – leads to quicker strength gains than resistance exercise alone. It’ll lift you out of your rut. Prove us right and share your progress.

Related: The 6 Common Fitness Tips That Are Actually Bad Advice

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