How long does it take to start seeing workout results?

How many times have I started working out and found myself discouraged because after 3 weeks, I didn’t see any results?!! A lot from it was ignorance about how my body functions. For instance, I was not aware that it all depends on what type of routine and goals I want to achieve. It’s only very recently, about 5 years ago, that I started to inform myself about the different trainings and types of exercises to reach such or such goal etc… There are 4 main goals one wants to obtain: muscle mass, get toned, lose weight and get more flexible. Well, keeping my weight stable and staying flexible were always part of my plan. However now I’ve also added strength training because of all the health benefits you get from it!

My routine used to be twice a week for an hour. I thought that was enough. Again, it all depends on what is your aim. At first, my aim was to stay healthy. Training twice a week is what is recommended. But, as I got older with my body changing, I started wanting more of everything.

How soon later after I started working out did I see results?

Strength training

“Strength training is a type of physical exercise specializing in the use of resistance to induce muscular contraction, which builds the strength, anaerobic endurance, size of skeletal muscles and bone density.” Wikipedia

One of the benefits of building muscle mass is getting more bone density. As we get older, our bones get thinner and weaker and end up breaking more easily. So that is why I started considering adding strength training in my routine.

If your goal is to get that ‘bodybuilding’ physique: an average man will gain 1/30 to 2/30 pounds of muscle tissue a month depending on his routine and how often he trains.

Women gain is slower or about 1 pound a month.

When you are just starting to lift weights, expect 6 to 8 weeks before noticing any results.

Muscles need proteins and healthy fats intake to grow. So keep in mind that if your goal is to try to lose weight then you will lose in muscle mass.

Toning exercises

“Toning exercises are physical exercises that are used with the aim of developing a physique with a large emphasis on musculature. In this context, the term toned implies leanness in the body (low levels of body fat), noticeable muscle definition and shape, but not significant muscle size (“bulk”)…” Wikipedia

So toning and strength training are basically the same: building muscles. However, if your goal is to get toned, you wish to strengthen your muscle mass but not get bulky. To get ‘big muscles’ it requires a lot of training and dedication. So don’t worry about lifting weights if you only desire to get toned and build lean muscles.

As I mentioned earlier, I used to exercise (jogging a little and going swimming) at least twice a week to stay healthy but as I discovered how important it was to get stronger, I started aiming at getting toned. I discovered barre fitness.

Sticking to a 5 days a week plan, you will start seeing results after one week to 2 weeks. When stop, the tone goes quickly away.

Weight loss

If your goal is to lose adipose tissue (fat) then it implies that you start watching your calorie intake. When you steadily work out and keep track of your calorie consumption, you can start seeing payoffs as little as a few days.

Generally, many start seeing results in about one to two weeks. Your starting weight and fitness/eating plan make a big difference as well as your genetics.

However, if working out is all new to you, you may, at first, see no results at all. You may even see your scale go up because exercising increases your blood volume during the first few weeks. Be consistent at it and do not get discouraged.

Keep in mind that you do not want to drop your calorie intake under 1000 calories a day. Your metabolism will decrease and you will lose in muscle mass. That is not a healthy plan at all.

A cardio along with strengthening training routine is what works best for weight loss.

Flexibility training

Being flexible enables you to move more comfortably. For instance, when you are flexible, you can bend over easily. Again as we age, our range of motion decreases, our muscles get tight and we find it more difficult to move around like when we were young. Stretching exercises are crucial to keep our joints healthy and bendable! It also helps keeping a good balance, preventing injuries such as back ache.

You will start seeing results after just one week of flexibility training but it takes about two months of consistent daily practice to become flexible. Stretch each muscle groups at least twice a week.

Wait and see…

The key to start seeing impactful workout results is to not quit and be patient! It is important to clearly identify your goals and set up a routine to achieve them.

I personally work out at least 5 days a week. My routine consists of working on every muscle group every other day. For instance, on Mondays, it’s upper body workout, on Tuesdays, lower body workout etc… It allows for each muscle group to rest in between.

When you can work out five days per week, depending on your goals, test doing two days of cardio and three days of strength training. Resting two days. If you only can train four days per week, evaluate your goals: do you want to lose weight? then add a cardio fitness day.

I started seeing results after one week, getting more toned. The most impressive result is feeling not so out of breath after a High Intensity Interval training workout which boosts up your heart rate!

One other payoff that we tend to not notice is our boost of energy! Make sure you pay attention to every little positive outcomes. It will keep you motivated.

What about you? How long before you noticed any results? I would love to read about your own experience.

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  1. jessetoikkanen says:

    Great article, it is sometimes hard to even for me, a veteran of strength training (not by age hopefully but in terms of long term training since 2001), to be patient enough to wait and wait a little bit more to see results. Especially against +15 years results come so annoying slow but have to try to keep going on. In my opinion, effective exercise should not exceed 45min but some people like to workout a little bit longer. Eating +500kcal/day makes men get avg of 0,5kg/week as pretty solid muscle mass, sure it depends on genes, quality of food and so on. Enough fats and protein and low carbohydrates guarantee mass is a quality one. But the dilemma of carbohydrates is hard to solve, if you eat no carbohydrates, your weight will start to go down even without exercises so some amounts of carbohydrates are needed. Nice to see still some people like you remember the importance of flexibility training and stretching, lack of flexibility training not only makes people have more injuries but makes muscle tissue to grow slower. Its the most underrated and underused part of good exercise and well-being plans most of the time. There are even some sayings like “stretching isn’t for men, true men don’t do it”. But its complete nonsense in my opinion to underestimate the importance of stretching. However, thanks for sharing this, I will take a further look at your website and other articles out here

    1. Anne-Caroline says:

      Thank you for your insights!! You can read about the importance of stretching, another post I wrote. πŸ™‚ I agree it nonsense those beliefs that stretching isn’t for men????!!! Glad to hear that you know how crucial it is.
      I work out not more than 30 minutes.:)

  2. I agree with a lot of what you say here, and it was a great write up. 

    Fitness, I feel, is generally one of those things where you get out what you put in. But alongside that your diet should match your goals as well. I believe that the recommended fitness target is 3 times a week, but some even say you can get away with just a bit of harder exercise or walking 30 minutes a day. Overall it all depends what you want to get out of it, but also how much you can actually do. One shouldn’t push their body harder than it’s limits or you’ll end up doing more harm than good. I generally go for a run 3 days a week and for me it works well alongside a fairly good diet. 

    I also completely agree with what you said on being persistent and not quitting. Exercise can feel hard in the beginning, but that is your body working to do what you’re asking of it. Then, over time, it will get easier and easier. If you have a target you should absolutely stick to it, and as you mentioned, make a routine and have goals that you can achieve. 

    Thanks for the post! 

    1. Anne-Caroline says:

      That’s right! Walking for 30 minutes a day is a very good workout indeed! I workout 5 days a week because I target specific muscle groups but I work out not more than 20 to 30 minutes. It is not really effective to train for too long and not so healthy to do it everyday. Our body needs rest and a very good diet otherwise it gets too exhausted!!

  3. Henderson says:

    I guess at the end, one needs to be very switched on and also exercise good patience too. For me, the two traings i am looking into is weight loss and that of flexibility too. I am thinking of starting first with some rigorous weight loss routines and then when i am satisfied, i can then go to flexibility. Thank you for sharing an insight into this. Cheers!

    1. Anne-Caroline says:

      Great plan! Yes it takes a lot of patience to see results but it is so worth it. πŸ™‚

  4. Thank you, I need to read this to get encouragement. When I begin to exercise, I’m all in; then, when I don’t see results fast, I usually lose the excitement. I will try your advice now and exercise five times a week, not only two times. And thank you for telling me I need to take notice of other things too, like having more energy. This will keep my motivation high.

    1. Anne-Caroline says:

      Thank you! I exercise 5 days for not more than 30 minutes.

  5. Thank you for all the details on various workout strategies and goals. I have had a lot of training in the nutritional needs of the body as well as how the body systems work but when it comes to physical training I’m at a loss.

    I wasn’t aware that blood volume increases when a workout program is started, how interesting! Though I could stand to lose a few pounds, my main aim is to get in better shape and tone up my muscle shape and like other women who have had multiple children, I do have a few ‘problem areas’ I would like to work on.

    I was involved in an auto accident that left me with a back injury years ago. I am dealing with it ok but it limits the types of workouts I can do on a daily basis. What type of program would you suggest someone like me starts with? Thanks again, I appreciate your input and expertise!

    1. Anne-Caroline says:

      I am sorry to hear about your auto accident.:( I would advise you to do yoga for your back and start slowly. You don’t want to make your back worse. Stretching is the ideal. You can read my post about the importance  and benefits of stretching. πŸ™‚

  6. Gaurav Gaur says:

    Hi, Anne-Caroline.
    It is really interesting to know that how much time it takes to get the results of our workout. Thanks for sharing the insight on four aims – Strength, tone, weight loss and flexibility . Till now , I was focusing mainly on weight loss, but as you rightly said, with older we become, I need to include Strength, tone and flexibility in my plan.
    Will look forward to get more details on the four aspects.
    Warm Regards,
    Gaurav Gaur

    1. Anne-Caroline says:

      Glad it helped you making that decision!! You can read my post about the importance of stretching and flexibility. πŸ™‚

  7. Very nice article, thank you for sharing!
    I am training twice per week and I feel like that is the right balance for me.
    My goal is however: keeping fit with little effort πŸ™‚
    It fits well in my program of 40 sitting hours.


    1. Anne-Caroline says:

      You found the right balance for you and that’s all it takes! Exercising twice a week is indeed a good plan!

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