It’s so important to set goals when pursuing a new workout regimen or training plan. Having success markers in-mind can help you stay motivated on days when you’re tired. Goals help you to choose what kinds of exercises to do and their frequency.
So, after putting in all of this effort, how long does it take to see results?
Most new exercisers notice that they feel more energetic within a couple of weeks. Your posture will improve and you’ll feel more muscle tone. Gains in performance, like lean muscle mass and cardiovascular endurance, require around three months of regular effort. (1, 2)
Here are five tips that can help you reach your new fitness goals in a fun, sustainable way! Use them, and you’ll cut down how long to see results from working out.
1. Start slowly
So, when do you start seeing results from working out? Slowly, and that’s a good thing. Since people are generally very motivated when they start working out, the tendency is to overdo it. Training very frequently and intensely might feel effective at first, but this will drain your body of energy pretty quickly (both in the workout and days afterward). The result is a drop in performance, which may affect motivation and make the workouts less fun.
Exercise Science 101:
Your circulatory system needs time to adjust to exercise and frequency. This can take days or even weeks, depending on the exercise intensity. Your muscles, tendons, joints, and ligaments require a similar adaption time. And this adaptation is mostly physical! Amazingly, neurons adapt their ability to transmit electrical impulses between the brain and muscles within minutes.
Give your body the time it needs! Keep your mind focused on the end-goal. Learn more about neuromuscular adaptations to specific kinds of exercise in this Physiopedia article.
Starting slowly, but frequently, will help you get through the initial (irksome) hump of training. In fact, after you’ve created a regular workout schedule and stuck to it, maintaining your fitness might literally be a walk in the park. The Center for Disease Control states that, “After a person has obtained gains in VO˙2 max by performing cardiorespiratory exercise six times per week, two to four times per week is the optimal frequency of training to maintain those gains.” In summary: work hard and regularly now, relax later, and continue to reap the benefits.
2. Set goals
When setting goals, it helps to have a specific target in mind. It might be something quantitative, like completing a cycling race. It could also be qualitative, like feeling more energetic every day. The important thing is to also plan medium-term goals. These will motivate you along the way and help you to keep an eye on your current fitness levels. Participating in relaxed races throughout the year is a strategy to keep you motivated, help you stay focused, and a great way to meet new workout buddies!
The goal you set defines your training:
Lose weight, gain muscle, or improve endurance without losing muscle mass — the training method and combination of workouts you choose depends on your goal. Don’t forget to pay attention to your nutrition. After all, how you fuel your body has a powerful impact on your progress. You can find loads of helpful nutrition and workout tips on our blog.
These 5 tips can help you set your personal goal:
3. Make a long-term plan
The best part about setting medium-term goals is that you’re more likely to reach them — and feel the associated positive buzz from success. But what happens next? Fitness is a habit, a lifestyle, and a contributor to longevity. Yes, sticking to a new training plan is the first hurdle. But ignoring the end-of-the-end is a recipe for slipping back into “Netflix and chill.”
While you are still in the first training phase, plan how your medium-term goals will stack up to an overall change in your quality of life. What will it feel like when you can run a 5K with ease? What new adventures will you be able to pursue? As you consider kickstarting your new exercise schedule, start researching hiking vacations, sporty hobbies, and even life-altering decisions (like having a child) as well. Once you’re fit enough to accept them, the world will send many opportunities your way!
By musing on the long-term while following a short-term schedule with medium-term goals, you’ll be able to envision a fit life. Changing your diet and setting new goals can help you maintain the progress you’ve made or move things up a notch.
Find a plan that works for you:
Don’t get discouraged if your friends lose weight or gain muscle faster than you. All people respond differently to the same exercise program (none of us has the same DNA). No matter whether your training is focused on strength or cardiovascular endurance: long-term goals have to be right for you, and your progress is specific to you. The most effective workouts are ones that fit the needs of the person doing them!
4. Exercise Regularly And Continuously
There is one important question you should ask yourself right at the start: how much time and energy do you want to invest in your training? Make a realistic plan based on your feasible time commitments. There are always interruptions, but you’ll be less likely to fall off your training with foresight and planning.
Beginners and those returning to exercise after a break will see results quite quickly (yay!). Your continuous commitment will ensure that you continue to see fitness gains. The more advanced you are, the harder it might be to see a tangible improvement to your performance. Don’t get discouraged!
For the most noticeable changes in physique, try strength training. Especially for those new to exercise, strength training results in a metabolic boost that will continue throughout cardio exercise and in daily life.
5. Implement Progressive Overload And Adequate Recovery
In order to achieve any gains in fitness, you must continuously challenge your physical body to near-failure. Don’t worry: in the exercise world, the term “training to failure” is a good thing!
Progressive overload occurs within a single workout and with each workout over time. For instance, in a sprint workout with 4 sets of 100 meters, the runner should strive to go faster with each dash. Over the course of a month, every time that the athlete does this workout, they should try to start/ end faster than the last.
According to the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), “With any training regimen the body is always in a state of adaptation. To continuously improve performance over time, your training must be modified to increase the acute variables and progressively overload the muscles.”
Of course, this isn’t always possible. Some weeks are easier than others (especially for women). But, tracking your progress and bumping up the challenge when a workout gets easy ensures that you will never plateau. Or, worse, muscle atrophy.
The progressive overload followed by an appropriate recovery phase helps you get the most out of your training. The supercompensation model leads to a drop in performance when not followed by adequate rest time for muscular regeneration. If you don’t give yourself time to recover, you will end up overtraining, which has a negative effect on your results.
As this University of New Mexico (UNM) article dictates, there are three kinds of recovery:
- Natural recovery that happens during movement, like the rest one leg while the other leg strides (“immediate recovery”)
- Rest between sets or repetitions of an exercise (“short term recovery”)
- Rest between workout sessions (“training recovery”)
The authors explain, “The greater the stress of the workout, the greater the overall muscle recruitment, and the greater the potential for muscle damage and soreness, therefore the need for longer recovery time.”
So, how much recovery time should you get?
The UNM article states: “For untrained individuals and trained individuals a frequency of 3 and 2 days, respectively, per week per muscle group is optimal, which translates to 1-2 days rest between sessions. However, this will vary depending on total volume of resistance training, individual training status, and overall goals (e.g., training for hypertrophy, strength, endurance, etc.).”
Start slowly and give your body time to adjust to new training stress.
6. Use The Right Exercise Technique
Fast, hard, and frequent — these are the words often used to describe what people imagine to be the perfect workout. But if you have poor form when you do the exercises, you’ll likely work other muscles/ functions than those that you’re intending to target. Worse yet, you can injure a muscle instead of strengthening it. Problems that arise from improper training are often noticed later on. By then, you may have already learned to do many exercises the wrong way. In order to get the results you want, you have to do the exercises correctly.
7. Physiological Differences Between Genders
Not too long ago, many sports practitioners thought that women should train just like men do. As we gain scientific understanding of the difference between men’s and women’s bodies, we’re learning that men and women should train differently, and will react to training differently.
It is true that men and women are physiologically similar in that both burn fat by building and maintaining muscle mass. The main difference is that women don’t tire as easily(3) and recover faster than men. This is partially because women have less body mass, which means their muscles can be supplied with oxygen more efficiently. According to one study, estrogen may have protective effects on skeletal muscle and may therefore shorten necessary recovery time.
What’s that mean? Women may benefit from more frequent lower-intensity exercise. Men’s bodies may respond better to less-frequent, higher-intensity sessions.
Good to know:
Genetically, women have more body fat and lower muscle mass than men. Men also have more than ten times more testosterone. When women exercise, the fat-burning process is stimulated to a higher degree, while muscle growth is activated more easily in men. You can read more about muscle growth in women on our blog. Both women and men experience increased testosterone levels when they exercise, although men to a greater extent.
The Bottom Line
With commitment, time, progressive overload and rest, you will see results and gains within three months of beginning your new fitness plan. Consider the tips listed above when planning your training goals and workouts. The key is to assess how much time you are prepared to invest in your workout. That way, you’ll have the most realistic expectations and the greatest ease sticking to a plan.
Need help getting started? The adidas Training and adidas Running apps are full of workout plans and accountability mechanisms!