Exercise isn’t a passing trend in your life: it should be part of your lifestyle for as long as you live. If you start a fitness routine in order to meet a goal (say, lose 20 pounds), then you achieve that goal and quit exercising—you’re probably going to end up right back where you started, and you’ll miss out on the many other positive effects of a healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise.
Bodies are made to move. We should move our bodies every day, even if it’s not inside a gym. However, the way our bodies respond to that movement is going to vary—and it’s going to change over time as our bodies change as a result of that movement! It’s a cycle, and we need to keep up with it to keep seeing results.
Two different people—even two people of the same sex, height, and starting weight—could eat the same diet and do the same workout routine and still achieve very different results over the course of a couple of months. These are just a few of the ways we might see differences:
- Overall weight
- Body fat percentage loss
- Muscle mass gained
- Location of body fat loss
- Location of muscle mass gain
- Muscle shape, definition, and overall appearance
- Differences in how those two people feel (energy, fatigue, etc.) as a result of that training
This is because there are a lot of unique factors at work in each of us. Genetics, age, gender, sleep quality, metabolism, nutrition, hydration, and more will play a role in what our bodies need and how they respond to exercise.
What Impacts How Your Body Responds to Exercise?
That short list above is just the beginning. Let’s go into a little more depth on genetics, gender, and the resting metabolic rate.
Your body comes with certain predispositions. Some of these can be changed or influenced by specific behaviors, and some can’t: “…different people have different genetics, which range from hormonal output, muscle fiber type and number, along with satellite cell activation, that can all limit muscle growth.” Some people have muscles that naturally respond more quickly to training. That, of course, can be enhanced with proper nutrition and training technique.
That doesn’t mean you won’t see results if you don’t have those super-responsive muscles. It just means your fitness journey may take a little longer or look a little different than someone else’s.
Though men and women both respond to training, there are differences in their skeletal muscle and differences in growth rate and recovery, due in part to hormones. This study goes into depth on those differences. This article sums it up:
“…women are more fatigue-resistant because they have more slow twitch fibers and use up hormones like estrogen. Men, on the other hand, can provide higher power output but are less resistant because of the higher volume of fast twitch fibers in their body.”
Resting Metabolic Rate
“Resting metabolic rate (RMR) is the measurement of how much food, or energy, is required to maintain basic body functions such as heartbeat, breathing, and maintenance of body heat while you are in a state of rest. That energy is expressed in calories per day.”
Particularly if you live an active lifestyle, you burn even more than that in one day. If you want to maintain your weight, you need to eat the same number of calories that you burn. To lose body fat, you need to create a deficit—but that deficit cannot be too extreme. By drastically cutting calories, you put your body into starvation mode and your metabolism slows down to conserve energy. This will not help you lose weight or gain muscle.
RMR is different for everyone, and there’s no reason to guess about yours when a simple test will tell you how many calories you need to support your body at rest. Then simply add in the calories you burn via exercise and daily activity, and you know what you can consume in a day to lose, maintain, or gain weight. If you guess instead of test, you run the risk of being off by a hundred or even a thousand calories per day—and those numbers add up to weight gain over time. Learn more about RMR testing here.
Is Your Weight Training Routine Working for You?
There are a lot of reasons people give up on their fitness routine, and one of those reasons is because they’re not seeing the results they wanted or expected.
That’s unfortunate. First of all, there are a lot of benefits to exercise you can’t see in the mirror:
- Reduces risk of heart disease, diabetes, certain cancers, and other illnesses
- Boosts mood
- Can help you quit smoking
- Improves sleep quality
- Improves balance
- Helps you maintain thinking, learning, and judgment skills as you age
- Strengthens bones
- Improves your sex life
That should be enough to keep you going! However, many people start a fitness program because they want to see specific physical changes, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Before you give up, it’s important to understand if and how your body is responding to your routine. What if it’s working and you just haven’t noticed? What if a simple tweak to your program could result in bigger, more apparent physical changes?
It may be that you’re not eating enough (or you’re eating too much) to support what your body needs. (Your RMR test will give you more information about that to help you dial in your nutritional needs). It may also be that your body is simply responding slowly—and slow progress is still progress!
We can’t always see changes right away, and the scale doesn’t tell us the whole story. This is where 3D body scans come in.
How 3D Body Scans Fit Into Your Workout Program
The 3D scan is simple and requires no special preparation. When it’s over, you’ll be able to see where you’re gaining and losing inches. In conjunction with an ultrasound body fat test, you’ll know:
- Your body fat percentage (including what is necessary and what is excess)
- Your lean muscle mass percentage
- Where your excess body fat is located
- Where your lean muscle mass is located
There are so many different ways to train, and this article says it clearly while breaking down some of those different methods: “Because we are all made up differently, the only way to find out what works best for you is to try different things.”
Experimenting with single sets, supersets, pyramids, and negative reps in the weight room is fun, but it takes some time to see what type of training (or combination of training methods) will work for you. With 3D scans, you’ll be able to see results from those experiments much more quickly.
By doing 3D body scans on a regular basis, we’ll be able to see even the smallest changes in body fat and muscle mass and where those changes are located. Regular scans will also chart your progress, so we’ll be able to notice trends and how your body responds to any changes you make in your fitness routine. This feedback allows you to adjust your training program until you find what truly works for you—and it gives you the confidence to keep going even when the changes in your body aren’t drastic or immediate.
Furthermore, your needs will change over time as your body adapts. It’s common for people to fall into an exercise rut because they do the same workout every day. If you’re not changing up your training routine, you’ll stop seeing results. Regular 3D scans will show us those plateaus as well, and give you the reminder you need to try some different training methods or, at the very least, challenge yourself with some heavier weights! If you don’t know how to develop a progressive workout routine, it might be worth meeting with a personal trainer at least once a week to keep yourself on track and get help designing an effective workout program.
Don’t give up on your routine and your goals after using nothing but the mirror to determine how effective your program is. We have the science for more precise tracking, so let’s use it! Quantitative data takes the guesswork out of your fitness routine and lets you hone in on what you need much more quickly. Plus, it’s exciting and motivating to see those changes take place in your body.
3D body scans can be done in the comfort of your home or at your favorite gym as well as in our lab. We recommend 3D scans and body fat testing on a monthly basis as you work toward your goals and learn what type of training works best for you. After you get to a point where you’re exercising to maintain your weight and body fat percentage, you might choose to wait a couple of months between scans. Contact us to learn more about 3D body scanning and to schedule your first test! You’ll be glad you did.