Let’s face facts. We live in the digital age where everything is available at the touch of a button. Well, maybe not everything is available. You can’t get results at the push of a button. In fact, one of the most frequent questions I get from new clients is “how long until I start to see results from strength training?”
The answer is complicated because there are both short term and long term results. In the short term, you will start to see some results within 6 weeks. These results are small and can vary from muscle/strength gain and/or weight loss. The long term results are usually your goals, such as losing 100 lbs, get to 8% body fat and bench press 315 lbs. The long term results can take anywhere from several months to several years.
That is a very short description of a results timeframe and it applies to almost everybody who is working out with some long term goal in mind.
The problem with most people is the motivation and discipline needed to see the results through the long term.
Most people get quick results in the first 6 weeks and then they expect the long term results to come just as quickly. When they find out that this is not going to happen, they get discouraged and quit.
In this article, you are going to find out why the body works this way and you are going to see how you can make a HUGE shortcut to the long term goals.
The Short Term Results
Let’s say that you’re a new client. You sign up for a training program with me and you have a goal to lose 40 lbs for a family reunion you want to look good for. (A common request in real life)
After starting you out on a basic lifting and conditioning program, you start to make really fast progress. You are adding 40+ lbs of weight to the barbell, you have already lost ~8-10 lbs in the first week. Great!
Then next week you only lose 5 lbs and you start to feel discouraged. You only add 10 lbs to the bar from the last week’s barbell exercise. Progress is still being made, but you feel discouraged.
Then by week 3 and 4, you only lose 2 lbs per week and add only 5lbs to the barbell. Now you are starting to come down from the beginners high and starting to get a harsh dose of the sober reality of strength training and fitness.
Results are still being made, but now it is smaller and smaller until it eventually plateaus around week 6. Then the results almost completely stop.
What went wrong?
Truth is, nothing went wrong. This is just the way fitness and strength training work. Yet, this is the downfall of most new trainees.
More Stimulus Please!
Progress came so quickly because it was a new stimulus. The training was new to you and your body responded overwhelmingly to training by adapting to it as quickly as possible.
All physical training is a form of stress. And when you stress your body, your body has to adapt to the stress. That’s how we are wired.
But when your body is exposed to the stress for the very first time, it panics and over-adapts to the stress. So rather than just lose some weight, you are going to lose a lot of weight.
As time goes on, your body becomes better at adapting to the stress and so the response is less overwhelming. Once the stress adaptation is as optimal as it can be, most of the progress stops. Since you are physically capable of handling the stressor (exercise) with as little effort as possible, then there is no reason to waste more energy on adapting.
Well, that is how your body looks at it anyway. We would all like it a little differently.
So what do you do? You have to switch up your training program to keep making progress. This means new exercises, new training weights and shorter/longer durations.
Simple little changes like this lead to BIG results. For more information on how to do this, check out my strength training programs article.
The Long Term Results
Switching up your workout program is the secret to the success of long term results. In order to keep making progress, you need variety in our workouts. But not just random variety, that is chaos. You need a structured variety.
The ancients used to say that all order is born out of chaos. Chaos is the agent of change, but too much of it will destroy rather than create. Therefore you need to control the level of chaos.
Like I mentioned in the last section, small changes will lead to big results. Start to change your workout routines every 3-6 weeks. This could be with different exercises, heavier weight, or longer workouts. Anything will work as long as you don’t stick with it for too long.
Try to get away with changing as little as possible with your workouts and see if you can keep making progress. Always do more with less.
Then it is just the waiting game. As long as you keep training and pitting in the effort, you will keep making progress and it is just a matter of time before you reach your long term goals.
Depending on your goals, it may take you several months or a couple of years. The toughest part of making long term progress is the self-discipline required to keep making progress.
A Master Makes Quicker Progress Than An Apprentice
It is truly incredible how much wisdom an adult can learn from watching cartoons of all things. Maybe as adults, we seem to delude ourselves into thinking we know it all.
One cartoon in particular that really drives this point home is The Sorcerer’s Apprentice by Disney.
In the cartoon, Mickey Mouse gets tired of doing menial cleaning and prep tasks and so instead decides to use some of his master’s magic tricks to make the inanimate objects in his master’s house come to life to do the chores for him.
All goes well at first until he starts to lose control over the spells and all everything turns to chaos. Mickey has no idea what to do, but then the master comes back and fixes everything.
The point of the story is don’t dabble into things you cannot control. Only the master should attempt such tasks because the master has put in the practice to master those things.
What does any of this have to do with strength training? A lot!
It means if you know what you are truly doing, then you can make progress at an unbelievably quick rate. Much faster than the average person.
Because they have a deep understanding of how fitness truly works. If you want to make progress as quickly as possible, then you should seek these people out and follow their instructions to the letter.
Hopefully, Barbell Scholar has provided you guys with that kind of guidance. But if you would rather work in person with someone, then, by all means, seek someone out. Unless you have a real passion for strength training and/or want a career in fitness or athletics, you should just hire someone who knows what they are doing to speed up the results.
It may cost you a few extra dollars, but it is totally worth it.
Now you know the secret of how quickly results come. It is not an overnight thing in most cases, but if you are willing to put in the work it is more than doable.
Enjoy the initial speedy gains you make at the beginning of your training program. Then keep switching things up to make progress. As time goes on you will eventually accomplish your goal.
If you want to speed the process up and make even quicker gains, then hire a professional who knows what they are doing.
Otherwise, keep grinding because there is no easy way out.
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