All people have the ability to improve upon the physical development of their bodies, primarily in the form of muscular strength and endurance. Depending upon one's genetic potential, the level of improvement varies from person to person. Not all people can become extremely muscular or excel at running marathons. In fact, most men and women will never attain-or even come close to attaining-the muscular strength or cardiovascular endurance of a world champion. However, most people can significantly increase their muscular strength and endurance to a great degree in a few years.
To make these changes occur, the intensity of effort while exercising must be extremely high. Many people who fail to attain the kind of health and fitness levels they desire are misled that exercise should be fun and easy. There's a difference between physical health and physical fitness. Though both are important in the overall scheme, they're very different. It's possible to be a champion marathoner and suffer from severe coronary artery disease or a sedentary office worker and live a long, heart-disease-free life. There are limits to how healthy or fit one can ultimately become. Keeping these limits in their proper perspective is an important part of a successful exercise program.
After a certain point, maintaining a given level of fitness is the progress-the only progress-one can or should expect. Even though a proper exercise program can greatly enhance numerous health and fitness parameters, the natural aging process is working against us. It's like walking up a down escalator to reach the next floor. At first, you're able to walk fast enough to make progress. After a while, the best you can do is remain at a standstill. As time passes, the most you can hope to accomplish is to keep the downward movement as slow as possible.
In summary, we can't continue to physically improve forever. Most adults over age 30 who train intensely and consistently will achieve all they physically can in approximately three years. Afterwards, maintenance becomes the primary goal. Furthermore, since obstacles such as illnesses, vacations, and life's stresses always arise, progress may be even slower. It's unrealistic to think you can improve every time you exercise.
Our advice to everyone is to do the very best you can during every workout. At the end of each session, mentally pat yourself on the back for a job well done simply for giving it your best effort. Change comes through hard work and proceeds slowly but surely. As the adage says, "Slow and steady wins the race." IBI