Realistic results: When does progress become visible?

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It’s natural when you first start regular exercise to expect results straight away. However, this isn’t always the case and many end up becoming frustrated, demotivated and in the worst case scenario, giving up. So how far into your training can you realistically expect to see results? Unfortunately it’s not that straightforward and there is no one answer to this question. However, what we will do in this article is explain the different factors affecting weight loss, a rough estimate based on previous research and ways to stay on track if you do start to feel demotivated.

Which factors should be considered?

Every individual’s body is different and results differ depending on the goal. Some see changes after a week, others after a month, and in many cases it could even take three to four months before there is visible progress. Here’s what it comes down to:

Your starting point

Someone who is overweight and not used to regular exercise is likely to notice a change more quickly compared to someone who is lighter and at a more advanced stage. One reason for this is that they have greater mass, which requires more energy to move. As a result, they end up burning more calories than someone lighter doing the same workout.

Consistency and intensity

Consistency is key to long term weight loss. The more consistent your training plan, the faster and more likely you will see visible results. In terms of intensity it’s simple: the harder you work, the more you progress.

Different goal, different time frame

Weight loss can happen pretty quickly. It’s not uncommon for some to notice a difference on the scales even in the first week. This is usually due to the body shedding extra water retention. Just beware: although it’s nice to see this number drop, it’s important to keep it at a steady and healthy rate that can be kept up in the long run. Gaining muscle on the other hand takes a little longer, and the first visible changes are likely to only show after the first month.

Genetics and gender

Ever wondered why some people do little-to-no exercise and somehow still manage to stay slim or maintain a muscular physique? In some cases this is due to their genes. Unfortunately, there is nothing that can be done to influence this, therefore it’s important you don’t base your success on someone else’s results.

When it comes to gender, men build muscle and lose weight faster than women due to higher testosterone levels, more muscle mass and a higher metabolic rate in most cases. Although women’s bodies respond just as quickly to exercise and training, they don‘t do so at the same intensity as males. When it comes to building muscle, men on average can gain 1.5 – 2.5 pounds of muscle every month, whereas with women it’s more likely to be around 1 pound every month.

What can you do to boost results?

Nutrition

Your diet is likely to be the most important factor to your success. Period. Training alone is not enough. Your success is 70% nutrition and 30% exercise. Therefore it’s important you maintain a healthy, balanced nutrition to support your training and help you reach your goals faster and more effectively.

Recovery

Recovery is a vital factor when it comes to seeing results. You need to give your body the time and rest it requires to build new muscle after each training session. This means sufficient sleep, rest days, stretching and lowering stress levels between training days.

Remember it’s not all about visible results

It’s important that you do not focus solely on your reflection in the mirror. If you base your perception of success on this alone, chances are you will be disheartened and disappointed at some point. Turn your attention to the way you feel. Your positive mental attitude and the improvement in your physical fitness.

Always think long term

It’s not a quick fix. If it doesn’t happen straight away, be patient. Do not give up. As we said before, some don’t see changes for up to 3 months. This is totally normal and should never be a reason to quit. Your body requires time to come to terms with the change. Chances are that once it has, you’ll start seeing progress on a weekly, if not daily basis.

If you continue to work hard one thing‘s for sure: it will happen. If you quit it definitely won’t.

Discover more about weight loss and the importance of energy balance.