Have you been thinking about, or have started making some changes in your life to get healthier, fitter and losing some weight. If so, great! But how long does it actually take for you to start seeing those changes?
The good news is that when you start exercising your body starts to get stronger and healthier from day one.
Changes in strength
After a couple of strength training sessions you start to recruit more muscles fibres at once, and your strength increases. Depending on the intensity you are training at, this is usually well before you see any changes in your muscles getting bigger. However, as those muscle fibres get bigger, you will probably see even more gains in strength.
Changes in muscle size
While dependant on a range of factors, studies have shown that you can see a significant difference in muscle strength at around two months, and an increase in muscle size after about three months. However, you will probably need to be doing at least four hard workouts a week to get such quick results. While it can vary from person to person, for most people strength gains will still happen relatively quickly, but any real changes to body shape usually take around six months or longer (so don’t give up if you’re only a few weeks or months into your training).
Changes in weight loss
This also varies from person to person and depends on your starting point of how much weight you have to lose, your genetics, workout routine and your diet. Aiming to lose about 1 – 2lbs per week of would be a good amount to aim for. However, remember that if you are exercising, you may be gaining weight as well as you gain muscle. You should still find that you are losing size (e.g around your waist), as a pound of muscle only takes up about a third of the space of a pound of fat.
Changes in health
Health benefits start after your first session. Your muscles will use more glucose than usual after about 48 hours, which brings blood sugar levels down. This is beneficial because too much blood sugar releases insulin, which can make you store more fat. Your insulin sensitivity improves after a few workouts, which gives you even more control of your blood sugar (potentially reducing the risk of developing disease like type 2 diabetes).
You aerobic (or cardio) health improves as well. You get more mitochondria (the cell’s power house that gives you energy), meaning you can do things easier than before (not feeling so out of breath), and burn more fat in your muscles. You can increase the amount of mitochondria levels by about 50% or more after around six weeks of training.
So, bear in mind that the process of getting in shape can be over weeks and months, but you’ll still be getting benefits (whether you see them or not) from day one, so don’t give up.
– J.A Hawley & S. J Lessard. Exercise training-induced improvements in indsulin action. Acta Physiologica, 2008, 192, 127 – 135.
– K. Kubo et al. Time course of change in muscle and tendon properties during strength training and de-training. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 2010, 24 (2), 322 – 331.
– Anderson et al. Training vs body image. Does training improve subjective apperance ratings? Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 2004, 18 (2), 255 – 259.