A lot of times when people start working out, they are really hoping to see results fast. To some extent, exercise makes you feel better immediately in the form of feel-good endorphins, but the majority of exercisers are after something a little more long term and visible, usually a leaner silhouette, the loss of fat, and gain of muscle.
Obviously, the kinds of results you are looking to see are going to influence the types of exercises that you start doing on a regular basis. Here’s a breakdown by goal of how long after you start training you should expect to notice your workouts creating a change in your body’s abilities and composition.
How long after you start working out do you gain muscle?
There are a lot of variables that play into how quickly you gain muscle or strength after you start working out diligently. Baseline fitness, genetics, diet, specific training methods, gender, and age all play into how quickly you can gain muscle and strength.
Generally speaking, men can add between 1.5 – 2.5 pounds of muscle every month; the average gain is about half of a pound a week for someone diligently following a well structured program. Women will put on muscle mass at a slower rate than men (largely due to testosterone levels), roughly half as fast as men, or about ½ pound every 2 weeks or 1 lb a month.
How long after I start working out will I start losing weight?
When you implement a regular exercise regime, you can see a difference in the numbers on the scale in as little as a week. If you combine your physical activity with healthy eating changes and reasonable calorie consumption, you can easily drop 2 pounds per week, starting at week one. In fact, people often see a loss more dramatic than two pounds in that first week as their body sheds extra water retention; just remember that 2 lbs/week is actually what you should aim for in terms of a rate that you can keep up and keep off.
How long will it take me to boost my cardiovascular endurance?
With regular and intense cardio workouts, you can expect to notice a slight difference in your endurance within one week.
Continue pushing yourself with cardio workouts 4-5 days a week for two to three weeks and you will start to observe major changes in your lung capacity. Varying the types of cardio you do can prevent injury and boredom, and make for a more comprehensive level of fitness. For example, mix up your cardio workouts with time on the treadmill, elliptical and arc trainers, the row machine, swimming, bike riding, hiking, and more; whatever gets your heart rate up.
How long does it take to become more flexible?
Increased flexibility is a worthwhile goal for anyone, of any age, fitness level or even fitness goal; everyone can benefit from it.
If you are doing workouts to become more flexible every day of the week, you will start feeling more limber and agile after just seven days.
How long after working out until I start to look more toned?
If you are doing regular workouts aimed at toning (high repetition, light weight: like this), you can see a difference in the form of more muscle definition in as little as two weeks. These are the kinds of exercises that might be challenging while you are doing the motion, but they typically do not really leave you with any muscle soreness the following day (heavy lifting or more focused strength training routines will).
You can technically do toning workouts everyday because they aren’t actually tearing muscles – just make sure to never repeat a workout on a muscle group that is still sore from a previous workout. When you train like this on a regular basis, muscles expect to be utilized, and so stay contracted in anticipation of making work easier when it does occur. This contraction is what makes the body feel “hard” and gives it the appearance of being more defined. This constant contraction burns extra calories because muscles are constantly contracted; if you stop training regularly, the body will stop contracting in order to save energy (calories).
It’s fast and relatively easy to gain muscle tone, but it’s also quick to fade if you stop doing it on a regular basis.
Consistency is important when it comes to any kind of fitness. Stick with your training, even if you aren’t seeing bulging muscles after day 2 of lifting or you can’t run 5 miles in 35 minutes after a week on the treadmill, time and commitment will get you the results you want to see.