Getting into a new exercise routine for the first time or even after a long break can be the start of a new, exciting journey in life. When you challenge your body, you’ll begin to notice how remarkably good it is at adapting to the new demands you put it under. It’s often a pleasant surprise to notice after a few months that the shape of your body has changed, and you realise that looking fitter isn’t just something that happens to other people!

It’s useful to have an understanding of what to expect when starting your fitness journey, so we’ll explore what one hour, one day and one week after you take your first steps into becoming a fitter, healthier you looks like.

One Hour After Your First Session

One hour after you complete your first activity, your heart rate should be back to normal, but over the next few hours, you’re likely to switch between thinking you’ll never find the motivation to push yourself like that ever again and being quietly proud of yourself. Whether you chose to move some weight around in your spare room or popped some running shoes on and took a scenic tour of the streets where you live, it doesn’t matter. You did the hardest thing, you made a start.

You’ll more than likely feel hungry now as your body tries to replace the energy stores that you just used and if you’re like most people, rather than lean chicken breast and veg with a protein shake, you’ll be thinking about a naughty takeaway meal. This type of food is fine occasionally, just don’t let it become a habit. You’ll never be able to out-train poor nutrition, but one naughty meal isn’t enough to derail progress.

Things to do now:

  • Make sure you’re drinking plenty of water
  • Get some rest and plan for a good night sleep
  • Think about your nutrition for tomorrow, which should be led by your activity and goals

One Day After You Start Training

Depending on the type of activity you chose to do, your body will more than likely be responding with some completely normal muscle soreness known as Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) which you can read more about in this post. Right now, your body realises that you have been pushed beyond what‘s comfortable and so that it can cope with this new stress, it will adapt. This is typically through new muscle growth.

You’re probably recovered from the workout you did and you may even feel motivated to keep on going. Don’t worry if you’re not, but remind yourself that the rewards you’ll see from commitment to pushing through the difficulty at the start are absolutely worth it.  The DOMS that you’re feeling is a byproduct of the process that will make your choice of activity easier next time and the time after that. In fact, when you’re a few years into your training, you’ll be searching for advice on how to make certain activities more difficult in order to push yourself even more. For now though, just focus on building a routine.

Today could be a good day to give yourself a rest and if part of your plan involves resistance training, the rest period is so much more important than you can imagine and training again is not a priority over and above hydration, eating properly and getting a good night’s sleep. 

Another 24 hours from now, your soreness will probably have subsided and it’s time to get into your next session. You’re going in the right direction to creating new, good habits in life.

Things to do now:

  • Rest, good sleep and good hydration (this never changes!)
  • Light activity can help the soreness, but don’t push yourself
  • Start planning session two

One Week After You Start Training

It’s one week since your first (or most recent) dive into training and you’re certainly in the minority if you get this far. You’ve probably enjoyed three or four sessions of your chosen activity and if you aren’t feeling proud of yourself by now, the people who have done this before you will tell you that you absolutely should be.

Some people at this point start to look in the mirror (yes, it’s normal). It’s unlikely to be the case just one week in that your body shape will have changed noticeably. Not to worry though, you’ll need a few more weeks behind you before that happens but a lot of good is starting to happen on the inside. The first fat to shift is often that around your major organs rather than that you see in the mirror but you’ll have to trust science for a while as there’s nothing to show anybody at this stage, even yourself.

At this point, you may have noticed that your training (particularly nutrition) is at odds with your past lifestyle and routine but this is to be expected. We look at this in some detail in this lifestyle blog post as we offer advice for bringing the reality of our fast-paced lives into our training plans.

You’ll be surprised how quickly weeks three and four will come around and before you know it, you’ll feel and see the impact of your new routine. Even better, give it a few more weeks and the people around you will start to tell you that your work is paying off. When you get to that point, it’s far easier to see how good training is turning into evident results and pushing yourself in your workouts becomes far easier to find the motivation for.

Things to do now:

  • Keep going. The gap between you and your goals is just time and continuing what you’ve started.
  • Remember that the hardest bit is behind you
  • Never forget your sleep, hydration and nutrition. It’s just as important as the training.
  • Start adjusting your lifestyle to ensure your training doesn’t fight against it.