In part 2 of “how long until you see results from strength training?”, you will learn more about how your body learns new skills. In part 1, I concluded that a master makes faster progress than a novice. In this article, you will learn exactly how to become a master yourself.
To be completely honest, results do not happen overnight, it takes time. According to some of the research, it can take your body anywhere from 6-8 weeks to fully adapt to the demands of strength training. This is especially true if you are a beginner. But advanced lifters and those with moderate experience can also make quicker gains because the neural pathways necessary to carry out these advanced exercises are already in place.
Therefore the limiting factor to see results is simply learning. Your body literally needs to take the time to practice and learn how to carry out these exercises. Once the learning is done on the neurological side, then the physiological adaptations follow.
For the most part, these adaptations are relatively quick once the learning is done. But the rate of learning all depends on your level of experience performing these skills.
If you don’t take your training very seriously and seldom practice the exercises, then you will not see results very quickly. On the other hand, if you put in a lot of practice and dedicate yourself fully to your pursuits, then the results will come much quicker.
**Note** This article is the second part of my first article on strength training results. If you haven’t read the first article, be sure to go read it first!
How Our Body Learns New Skills
So how exactly do we learn new skills? What is the mechanism?
Luckily for us, this mechanism is the same for strength training as it is for all other areas of life, including dieting, business, and relationships.
You simply identify a new skill that you are trying to learn, and then you practice it until you get good at it.
The new skill first appears to us as a new stimulus. Recall from my other article on How Long Until You See Results From Strength Training, all new stimuli are essentially stressors.
This is the simple way to look at it, but eventually, roadblocks and plateaus will come rushing up into your way. So how do you deal with them?
To master a new stressor, you need to approach it from a different angle. This means you have to apply the concept of “the same thing, but different”.
Here’s an example:
Let’s say you are trying to lift more weight on your barbell curls. As the weeks’ progress, you work your way up to curling 95 lbs for a set of 6 reps. Not bad! But then you cease to make progress, it all stalls out. So what do you do?
Simple. The next time you go into the gym, try doing a different type of curl for a few sessions. Instead of using a barbell, use dumbbells. Then after a few sessions watch what will happen to your barbell curl. More likely than not it will increase and the plateau will be broken.
Keep Mixing It Up And Watch The Results Come
This example can be applied to every one of your exercises in the gym. Whenever you have trouble just change things up a bit.
This can even be applied to your dieting as well. If you stop seeing results from your diet, change the type of food you eat and watch the results come back.
This is why bodybuilders who constantly try new routines and travel to different gyms make such good progress. They are giving themselves constant variety.
Beginners can use this type of philosophy as well, although a beginner doesn’t need to quite do so much of it. Since training is quite new to them, they can essentially make progress doing anything.
But what about taking breaks? How does this fit into making progress?
Resting To Get Stronger
In my de-loading article, I mention how you need to take breaks every once in a while in order to get good at something.
As ironic as this is, this fits into our bodies natural learning abilities. We need to give ourselves rest in order to get stronger.
Let’s go to academia for a little bit to illustrate this point. When you are studying for a particular topic, let’s say math, for a little while. You grind away at it for several weeks and then you burn out. You want to keep making progress, but your mind is telling you no more.
So what do you do?
Take some time off from solving math problems and instead focus on doing something more creative and less analytical. Creative pursuits fill in this gap quite well.
Instead of practicing analytical skills, try creative writing, or drawing. Try something that is the complete polar opposite of math. Then after spending some time doing this, jump back into math and watch your progress take off again. What was happening here?
Focused And Diffused Mode
The previous example illustrated the difference between focused and diffused “thinking”.
You focused on one topic (math) for an extended period of time until you reached burnout. Then you put math on the back burner and practiced something that worked a different part of your brain (art). When you went back to math your progressed soared.
After you focus on something for a prolonged period of time, you will eventually get bored and need a break. But you need to “switch off” the analytical part of your brain in order to give your mind a break. How do you do this? By practicing something that is the opposite of analytical, something artistic and creative.
This operates a different part of the brain and puts you into the diffused mode of thinking. With the diffused mode, you give one part of your brain a break (analytical) while spending time focusing on another part of the brain (creativity).
With the “rest time”, your brain will process and sort out the information it absorbed during the intense grinding phase. Thus, you have effectively learned new skills.
This is the proper way, not just to approach training, but to approach life. After you intensely work on something, take a break and work on something else. Then return to it and watch your progress soar.
Now you know all about how our bodies learn new things. What’s truly amazing is how it is relatively constant across all fields.
No matter what field, or specialty, you are in, you learn the same way. So you can take any area of your life to a new level.
Don’t forget to practice and put in the time and effort. Once you do, it will only be a matter of time before you reach mastery.
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