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  • Writer's pictureChristie Hajduk

Understanding Adaptation Processes Within the Body

And, How it Affects our Fitness Goals

adaptation processes within the body

Are you someone who sets a resolution every New Year? Are they usually set around wellness or fitness goals? If they are, or you are looking to make a fitness-related change, then I want to give you a few things to consider while setting your wellness goals for this year, or really any time of the year, to help create success!

The New Year usually rings in a lot of resolutions around “New Year, New Me,” where the main objective is focused on fitness goals and commitments. And, if you are already a regular at a gym, then you know this to be true, as January and February are typically full of those who are striving to meet their newly appointed goals. What a lot of these goals are missing, however, and why we often fall short, is because we do not understand the process of adaptation within the body.

Understanding the systems within the body as well as their adaptation timelines will help set us up for success rather than frustration. So, let's take a look at the Nervous System, Muscular System, and the Connective Tissue System to truly understand what we are asking of the body when we are prompting change.

Nervous System: The nervous system sends messages between the brain and the body and gives us balance and steadiness in our movements as well as confidence to perform them. Think about the first time you were learning a new exercise or yoga posture. It took practice and repetition to create a smooth and effortless movement. This system takes days or weeks to create changes via stimulus (the type of activities we have set out to do to achieve our goal).

Muscular System: The muscular system consists of muscles that contract to create movement. This system helps us develop strength, sustain movements, as well as builds tissue tolerance. We are not going to walk into the gym and immediately pick up the heaviest weight. It takes time to build up the strength to pick up the next heaviest weight. In fact, it takes weeks to months to create change here.

Connective Tissue System: The connective tissue system forms a framework and support for the body as a whole. This system helps us develop range of control, injury-proofing, as well as tissue resiliency. We have connective tissue that runs from head to toe and helps create stability in our movements. A resilient connective tissue system will let our nervous system know that we feel safe during a particular movement and create stability through tension when challenging the muscular system. It can take months to years to create adaptations in this system.

As you can see, each system adapts at a different rate, addresses a different piece of the puzzle, and the amount of time each one takes to see adaptations varies widely. Where we are currently (our current capacity) is going to affect this timeline as well as age, past experience, body type, and more.

Here are some things we should take into consideration in terms of the body's adaptation process when we are setting our fitness-related goals.

  1. Time: Am I setting a realistic time frame for change to properly happen in the body?

  2. Capacity: What is my current ability to perform the movements I am asking of my body without sustaining injury?

  3. Type: Am I choosing the right vehicle (movement practice) to see the change I am looking for?

When we are setting our fitness goals, we need to take these systems into consideration if we hope to see success and long-term adaptations. As much as we might want to hit our goal in one month or two, that may not be the reality for ourselves or our bodies. Be consistent, be realistic, and most of all, be kind to yourself. It is a process, and sometimes it's the journey that is the best part.


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