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Are you asking yourself “is my weight training workout working?” Feeling like you are not seeing the results you had hoped for? Or maybe are you wondering how long does it take to see results from your weight training?
There are plenty of factors that could have an impact on your results.
Keep in mind that because of physiological differences, this is not a one size fits all answer. Your friend or neighbor might be getting different results from you with the same workout routine. Maybe their metabolism is different, or nutrition is more dialed in. Plenty of other things could influence results.
Today we will look at what to expect from your weight training routine, how long you need to start seeing results, and also how to make sure that your workout is effective.
How Long Before I See Results From my Workout
This is a common question and the short answer is: it depends. We will look below at what needs to be done for your workout to be effective.
Results will depend on what your goals are: muscle gain, weight loss, general fitness level, etc. They will also be linked to your exercise frequency and intensity.
Speaking broadly and as a general guideline, if you are a beginner you should start seeing or feeling results sooner. Sometimes as soon as within a few weeks or a month. If your goal is to have the ultimate beach body will you achieve that in a few weeks? No, but you will start seeing and feeling changes towards that ultimate goal.
More meaningful muscle gain and/or weight loss usually start materializing around eight weeks. But once again this is to be taken with caution and seeing results will depend a lot on what you do and how you do it.
As we have seen, “results” can be quite a vague term. Another key to being successful and seeing results from your workout is goal setting. The more your objective is specific and realistic, the easier it will be to measure results and keep motivated to achieve them.
Instead of getting started with the aim of: “I want to look as good as Bob next door without a shirt” or “I want a great beach body this summer”, try to specify exactly what it would take to reach that feeling or sense of achievement.
Goal Setting is Important:
Work on setting SMART goals. SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound.
Some examples of SMART goals (and non-SMART goals) can include:
- I want to lose 2% body fat in two months. This is a SMART goal because it is Specific (lose 2% body fat). If you said you wanted to lose 5 pounds, that is more difficult to Measure since it’s hard to break out fat loss or water weight loss. 2% body fat loss in 2 months, for most beginners, is Achievable. It is also Realistic since it is a target that will take some work, but it won’t take a miracle. Finally, with the 2-month goal, it is Time-bound.
- I want to lose 2% body fat in a week. This is an example of a non-SMART goal. Primarily because it fails the Achievable and Realistic elements.
- Running 10k in less than an hour within 6 months of training. This is a SMART goal.
- Looking better by sometime next year. Non-SMART goal because it is not Specific, Measurable, and really not Time-bound.
Once again, these goals will depend on how to fit you currently are and how much time and effort you can dedicate to reaching that goal.
So let’s dive into what you need to do to see results!
Try High-Intensity Interval Training
More and more studies show that the intensity of your training is more important than the duration. To put it basically, a 20 minute HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) sessions is more efficient than hours of mild cardio training.
In a 20 or 30 minutes workout with high efforts and some short breaks, you get more cardiovascular benefits, as well as a more efficient way of losing weight. Keep in mind however that if your goal is muscle mass gain, HIIT will likely need to be combined with more conventional weight training.
You will find plenty of ways to do HIIT training, one of the easiest to start with is to use bodyweight exercises such as burpees, squats, push-ups, or lunges.
The intervals will depend on your general level of fitness to start with. A popular option is 20 seconds of reps and 10 seconds of rest for 4 full minutes, then a minute of rest.
You can of course start differently with 20/20 seconds for example, and gradually shorten the pauses as you progress.
Morning Workouts Enhance Your Metabolism
Research shows that if you can work out in the morning, you are likely to get better results. For similar workouts and diets, people working out in the morning, preferably before breakfast, tend to get better results.
This could be the case for a number of physiological reasons. For example, it is the moment of the day when in most men the level of testosterone is the highest. Testosterone has been shown to contribute to muscle building.
Research also shows working out in the morning can help with blood pressure and sugar levels during the day.
On top of potentially better results, there are plenty of other reasons why you might want to work out in the morning:
First, you will be less likely to skip out your workout. Don’t let the risk of a bad day at the office or extra work you need to finish, ruin your exercise. Just get it done in the morning and then you don’t have to worry about it for the rest of the day!
Second, it has been proven that exercising in the morning, for most people, increases energy levels throughout the day.
Get Your Morning Exercise Nutrition On Point
There are plenty of opinions on whether or not you should eat before and/or after an early morning workout. As for a lot of things when it comes to exercise routine, the best answer is: whatever feels right for you is probably the correct answer.
You can choose to eat a small breakfast or a snack before you work out, such as bananas or protein bars or shake. Keep in mind however that you should give your body at least 30 minutes to digest the food before you start exercising.
The amount you eat before exercising will also depend on how long and how hard you are working out. If you do long intense training, an hour, or more, you may need fuel to sustain the effort.
If you are doing intense but short training like a HIIT workout, eating too much beforehand might make you feel a bit nauseous. You can experiment and see what feels comfortable for you.
If you are a fan of intermittent fasting (which we are here at EMH) you can check out our article about the truth behind intermittent fasting and exercise.
In any case, your meal after your workout is crucial. You will need carbs and proteins to replenish your body’s energy. Whether it is a chicken sandwich, eggs, and toasts or a smoothie with fruits and protein powder, make sure you eat enough to keep you going until lunch!
Consistency is Key to Getting Workout Results
If you are asking yourself: is my weight training workout working, or why is my workout not working? The first question you need to really ask is “am I being consistent with my SMART goal?” Consistency is key.
If you are not seeing results from lifting weights, for example, you need to ask yourself if you are remaining consistent.
The Grand Canyon
Do you know how long it has taken to create the Grand Canyon we enjoy today? About 6 million years. And how was it carved into its current beauty? Because the Colorado River flowed over the same path day over day for 6 million years.
That is consistency.
Do you need to do the same thing every day for years and years? It depends. If your SMART goal is dependent upon doing the same thing every day, then yes. If your SMART goal does not require that, then no.
However, I suspect that any SMART goal is going to require some element of consistency. Follow the path of the Colorado River and create your own Grand Canyon.
It takes our bodies over 2 months to acquire a new habit and adapt to a new routine. Whether it is a workout, diet change, or a morning routine.
Therefore, you need to give the time to your body to adapt to any changes in your fitness routine. You will not reach adaption and change unless you are consistent. If the Colorado River changed course every few weeks we would not have the Grand Canyon today.
Do you know what primary thing Warren Buffett attributes to his enormous wealth? It is not his superior wisdom, fortune-telling abilities, or even luck. It is compound interest. Compound interest is so amazing that Albert Einstein famously called it “the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it … he who doesn’t … pays it.”
Your exercise, post-adaption concurrent with consistency, will begin to allow you to develop compound interest within your fitness. You will build upon your results if you are being consistent.
With time and regular efforts, your fitness level/muscle-mass/endurance will increase through compounding results due to consistency.
A recent editorial in the British Journal of Sports Medicine argued that exercise alone isn’t enough when it comes to losing weight or staying healthy.
“Let us bust the myth of physical inactivity and obesity. You cannot outrun a bad diet,” the authors wrote.
Nutrition is an essential part of your routine. For most people, this is an area where it is sometimes difficult to be consistent.
For most of us, it is hard to follow a very strict and restrictive diet plan on top of a fitness routine. It is great to work out 5 or 6 times a week, but you will not see results as expected if you eat burgers and fries with a beer on top every other night.
If you need help with your nutrition, you can check out our Eat page for some great ideas to help you.