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Physiological Lag

The concept of physiological lag is a core principle to how I schedule my training and recovery. Furthermore, it serves as a reminder that the payout for my workouts does not come within days, but rather weeks and months. Simply put, your body’s full adaptation to any given workout will be 10 days.

Now this number is by no means precise and will vary for age, training experience and other lifestyle factors, such as nutrition and rest, but in the idea of giving yourself a longer lag time for results enables the longevity of your program.

One can get over scientific about this and start monitoring all sorts of biological markers, taking muscle biopsies, doing VO2 max tests, and tracking heart rate variability, but I believe that you will find the physiological adaptations, or super compensations will come more than a week after your hard workouts.

Let’s remember that the changes that result in better fitness (increased mitochondria, increased cross-sectional muscle size, improved oxygen exchange and cardiac output, increased fatty acid metabolism, etc.) are such complex processes that by nature do not want to change. Increases in fitness do require more sophisticated machinery and this can be metabolically costly.

Therefore, before you quit trying, take a look at how long you’ve actually been working at it. Most people will give up on a new goal within 18 days. In fitness, that means you’d only really start to see your results. My recommendation is to change your time frame for what “quick” results are.

Commercials for weight loss programs or supplements give you results in two weeks. These are indeed very fast, but they are not sustainable or even possible. Transforming your body over two months is also a quick change, and much more realistic.

And that is why I call it the grind; the quiet, daily efforts that incite changes at the microscopic level are only noticeable on a weekly or monthly scale.

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