Often when we start training, we have a goal in mind. The goals can be anything from improving general fitness conditions, running a marathon, losing weight, or increasing muscle mass. People often wonder how quickly the training results will be visible. How quickly will I reach my goal?
Your basic condition, previous training, goals and schedule largely determine how quickly results in start to appear. In addition to these, various physiological factors, age and gender affect the matter. When it comes to endurance and speed, beginners may notice improvements in cardio and respiratory function in about 4-6 weeks. For those who have been practising for a longer time, it can take months before significant development starts to be seen.
You can get a temporary “muscle pump” from the gym, which makes the muscles look bigger for a while. This is due to increased blood flow from exercise and only lasts for a moment. Beginners often start to see muscle and strength development in about 6–8 weeks. For experienced trainees, this takes longer. However, it’s good to remember that training style, goals and muscle type really affect this, not to mention diet. Two trainees of the same level, with the same training program, may develop at completely different speeds.
Studies have shown that moderate exercise can lower systolic blood pressure by about 4 mmHg in those who suffer from high blood pressure. It should be noted that a 5 mmHg drop reduces the risk of stroke dead by 14%.
For those who do sedentary work, the resting heart rate may drop to 1 beat/minute during the first few weeks. However, the maximum heart rate does not decrease with the start of regular exercise. Normal ageing slowly lowers the maximum heart rate, but good fitness keeps it higher for longer.
Aerobic fitness and thus VO2max can improve by 15-20% with 20 weeks of aerobic training if there is no previous training background.
The biggest changes are often seen in one’s own state of well-being and energy. For example, mental well-being improves immediately after exercise, at least momentarily. The longer regular training is involved, the better comprehensive results start to appear. So don’t give up immediately after a week or two, or even a month. A lot depends on your own background, some results require time.
Sharman, J. E., & Stowasser, M. (2009). Australian association for exercise and sports science position statement on exercise and hypertension. Journal of science and medicine in sport, 12(2), 252–257.
Kenney, W., Wilmore, J. and Costill, D. 2012, Physiology of Sport and Exercise, 5th edition.