View Full Version : General "getting out of shape" question

01-22-2007, 08:23 PM
I'm curious..

What is actually happening to your body when you get out of shape? For both muscles and lung capacity?

For instance, I haven't ridden much since November. What's happened to my body since then?

Maybe even a basic question.. of what is muscle and what are you doing when you're increasing your Vo2 max/lung capacity?

Only asking for my edification...

01-23-2007, 10:48 AM
I think your muscles gradually turn to tapioca pudding....

I really don't know the answer, medicaly, and it is an interesting question. I can add that I didn't ride my bike for 6 months (with the last 2 months doing NO exercise at all). Since starting again, my legs are definitely weaker - they hurt more quickly, are more achy the day after a hard ride than they used to. Somehow the muscles get "soft", but I don't know what that means from an actual muscle make up standpoint.

My lungs and lung capacity, on the other hand, are MUCH better than they were when I was riding last year - but that's a different story!! :cool:

01-23-2007, 11:51 AM
I agree that I don't know either, and that getting back to exercise is hard on the body and the mind. The good news is that your muscles do seem to remember, and that the fitter you were when you stopped, and the longer you had been fit, the easier your body will get back to where it was. Yes, of course, the longer you are off makes a difference too, but it's not as bad as starting from scratch when I had been sedentary from years. It's faster than that, and it's easier to track progress because you know what to look for!

I'm hoping some of our medical professionals will answer your questions, though, because I'm curious too. I don't know if it's all muscle loss (even the heart may lose muscle strength from inactivity), or if there are other mechanisms acting to break our will to get back to it!

Hugs and butterflies,

01-23-2007, 12:18 PM
I think your muscles gradually turn to tapioca pudding....

I thought they turned to mush! Well, so much for the technical terms! Sorry, I don't know all of the physiological changes that occur that contribute to be unfit.

Maybe someone can explain it to us.

01-23-2007, 12:51 PM
Exactly guys.. I ask because I'm curious about the original questions but I'm also asking about how your muscles "remember" or or "forget" about being in shape.

Like what makes it easier to get back into shape? Is it really muscle memory? Is there such a thing?

01-23-2007, 02:28 PM
We need a doctor here! It's a really interesting subject.

I am sure that I am stronger on the bike after 6 months off than I was when I first started riding. It's all so subjective though, and I am a huge believer in mind over matter - so I know that I have done such and such ride or hill or whatever so I know I can do it again now - even if I'm out of shape. Mental memory (or maybe it's stubbornness) is almost as important, I think.

01-23-2007, 04:49 PM
Part of "getting in shape" is building muscle and the energy systems needed to feed that muscle oxygen. Most training programs are designed to get your physiology (musculature, vasculature, neurological connections) to adapt to greater physical demands. (Constant physical stress is not good though... training programs need to include rest periods to allow your body to adjust).

In general you'll start losing muscle after 10-14 days of inactivity. Basically if you aren't putting demands on your body to build or maintain muscle tissue it is too costly (in terms of energy and nutrients) to keep the muscle fibers around so they begin to atrophy.

I suspect there is a bit of variation in how long it takes individuals to lose their fitness and also a fair bit of variation in how long it takes to get back to a certain level of fitness after a long period of inactivity.