February 17, 2021 4 min read

So you’ve just signed up for a fitness course and been handed your 24hr gym access card. You’re nearing the end of your first workout in a while - drenched in sweat and there’s one question blaring through your mind:

When will I see results?!

It’s the question that haunts everyone at some point in their fitness journey. And don’t worry, it’s only natural. But saying that doesn’t actuallyhelp, if anything it only makes the curiosity worse. Especially given the long hours spent pushing and pulling in the gym, it feels like we’re entitled to know. Here’s everything you need to know when askinghow long do you need to workout to see results?

First up, some factors that affect results…

Personal goals 

Your fitness goals have everything to do with results. Even if you think you don’t have a specific goal - whatever it is that’s motivating you to get to the gym, hit the track is, or read this is part of the ‘why’ factor. And everyone’s goals are different. If your goal is to lose weight, then the strategies you use to get there will impact how long before you start seeing results. Same with bulking up. Setting your weight and strength benchmark will give you an idea about how much work you’ll need to do to get there. Maybe your goal is less numbers-driven, and more of an idea of what you want to achieve - whether you’re running a half marathon or toning up, everyone’s starting points are different and everyone's goals are different.

The kinds of exercises you’re doing 

Once your goal is set, it’s now down to the kinds of workout routines you do. Thrashing yourself on the treadmill and having no energy left for deadlifts isn’t exactly a good strategy if you’re hoping to bulk up quickly. The key here is to find focus and work with a strategy. Grab the help of a PT at your gym, sit down, and write up a strategy that works for you (and your goals). 

Frequency of exercises 

Yes, the hard bit. While you may have heard that exercising too much can put you back, the fact is leaving out key days in your schedule isn’t going to help you achieve your goal any faster. Seeing some initial results often lulls some of us into a false sense of security and will end up skipping a day here and there, next minute you’re taking a week off. Yes, time outside the gym is just as important - just don’t let your schedule down.

OK, butwhen will I see results?

Alright down to business. Bear in mind your health is always paramount, so if you’re not experiencing changes as fast as you’d like - don’t overthink it too much, just remember every human body is different. Here is a rough guide of how long do you need to work out to see results and what to expect:

The first week

You might notice a change in mood and hormones, even light aerobic activity or a walk can improve your mental health and well-being. In the first week, it’s easy to get sidetracked as you start new routines and your body gets into the swing of things. Set the tone of your workout routine and stick to it religiously.

1-2 weeks 

  • Lower heart rate - you’ll start to notice some initial shifts in your heart rate as your body gets fitter. An increased stroke volume means your heart will be able to pump more blood and do so more efficiently. This will lead to a drop in your resting heart rate. If you’re already fairly fit - expect your heart rate to recover faster after your first two weeks of training. 
  • Weight trainers may start to notice some new muscle, but hang in there - this is just the beginning.
  • Anyone hoping to lose weight will most likely need to keep up the hard work.

2-4 weeks 

  • Decreased blood pressure - for those who suffer from high blood pressure - expect a moderate drop. Anyone with normal blood pressure will most likely see little to no drop. 
  • If you’re in it for the gains - the 4-week mark should be where you start to see your first improvements. With a rock-solid and consistent workout plan - you’ll begin to notice larger muscle mass along with quicker recovery times and a few extra kilos. 
  • Weight loss crew - this is also when you should start noticing improvements in both weight and recovery time. Keeping your workouts consistently above 60 mins every day with a moderate or higher intensity will see big changes.

4-8 weeks  

For those looking to dramatically improve aerobic fitness and see significant changes in strength and conditioning - this is when you’re going to start seeing the fruits of your labour. Endurance and strength training often takes the longest to start seeing results - but when it happens you’ll notice some big changes. 

Consistency is key

Starting to see even the slightest change will feel like a huge success. But from there it’s about keeping up the momentum. This can often be harder than the actual workout itself. While the beginning of results can happen fast - reaching your ultimate goal will often take a lot longer. Be prepared to reach your goal and then work just as hard to maintain it, or raise the bar. Fitness is an ongoing process - not a one-off event. 

Tips on getting there faster 

It helps to have your life in order before you start thinking about implementing a fitness regime on top of other commitments like work and social life. Things like what to wear to the gym or getting the right headphones for your HIIT class - these are the types of game-changers that make your goals easier. 

Getting your fitness wardrobe in order and making sure you’ve got the right gym clothes to get you to the gym and through a workout without a hassle is key. Stop messing around with your old tracksuit pants and give yourself the best shot with gym apparel that works for you.

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