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Remember, it’s about the gains as much as the losses. Start as you mean to go on
So you’ve started a new fitness plan, but what can you expect to happen in the next days and months. Here are 5 unexpected gains you’re about to benefit from.
Change does happen overnight. You just can’t see it. Sure, the visible stuff 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 Nasa study found blood volume – a measure of cardio fitness – increases after eight days of a new fitness regimen.
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.
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, scientists at Loyola University Chicago advise. Underestimating your hydration needs is another culprit: aim for 300ml to 500ml before, during and after your training to drown out cravings.
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. Still restless? Try adding extra carbs to your dinner, which boost sleep hormone levels. Or double-check the caffeine content of your pre-workout supp…
Initial days conquered, a goal of 2kg to 3kg fat loss a month is realistic for a new starter. But even seasoned gym-goers can benefit from switching up their routine. A study from The College of New Jersey found that adding plyometric moves – explosive moves such as box jumps and burpees – to your workouts for two months accelerates fat loss and strength gains faster than resistance exercise alone. Jump to it.