Starting a workout routine can be daunting. It's easy to lose motivation when you don't see any results after sweating it out week after week at the gym. Diet plays a much bigger role in weight loss than exercise. Some say that losing weight is 80% eating healthy and 20% exercising. If you need a healthy weight loss plan, click here.
Exercising is also important for physical health regardless if you're trying to lose weight or not. Strength training and cardio can help improve your metabolic rate and mental health, while high-intensity interval training can help burn fat. So, how long does it really take to start seeing results?
NASM-certified personal trainer and cofounder of New York Personal Training, Guychard Codio, said you can't work out, eat in a caloric surplus and expect to lose weight. In order to lose weight, you have to burn more calories than you take in.
Like I mentioned earlier in the article, Guychard Codio also said that healthy eating habits have to be an integral part of your workout routine. Codio said that some may see results after just two to three weeks but that's in extreme cases. Usually, those people who do aren't able to keep the weight off since they didn't give their bodies enough time to adapt.
Codio also warns about trying to lose weight too fast, like boxers or bodybuilders do before competition or how people try to lose 10 pounds right before a wedding. Codio says that slow and steady is the way to go. If you have more intense parts of your workout and diet plan where you cut out a lot of calories for two months, gradually bring those calories back up and increase your exercise as you do.
NASM-certified personal trainer, Ashley Kelly, puts clients on a six-week program if their goal is to lose weight. The first three weeks involve introductory training to get their bodies used to increasing their heart rate. The fourth week is a lighter week and then the final two weeks involve higher-intensity strength training.
Another NASM-certified trainer, Ashleigh Kast, gave a scenario in which people only focus on exercise to lose weight. "If you're trying to lose fat by working out, you're going to need to establish a caloric deficit through working out alone. The amount of working out you need to do in a week without addressing food to maintain that caloric deficit can be very stressful."
Eating in a caloric deficit and exercising is typically recommended for weight loss because if you didn't, you would have to work out 5 days per week and burn 500 calories each workout to lose just one pound a week. This just isn't doable for many people especially if they're new to working out. "In some cases, where calories are still very high, it's simply not enough to create the necessary deficit," Ashleigh said.
These three trainers weren't able to give a definite answer for the amount of time it takes to see results from working out because it all depends on your goals, body type, weight, age, and other health factors. They did say that generally, it will take at least a few weeks to see healthy results.
If you're trying to gain muscle, Ashleigh said if you complete a strength-training cycle of ten to twelve weeks with at least three days lifting per week, you can easily gain five to seven pounds of muscle.
For people who already have muscle, it will take them much less time to build on that muscle. Guychard said these people will see results in as soon as two weeks. For people who haven't worked out before, it may take two months to see results of muscle gain depending on how much you're trying to build.