How long does it take to see results from strength training? Fitness trainers answer the most Googled strength and fitness questions.
Often, we set ourselves unrealistic expectations when it comes to change, be it getting stronger or learning a new skill. Whether you want to start adding extra plates to your barbell or increase the amount of reps you can do, it’s easy to hit a wall of frustration when the results don’t happen overnight.
We’re here to say: don’t throw in the towel. Progress takes time. And to find out just how long, we turned to the experts.
Each week, fitness trainers answer some of the most asked questions from women who want to get into lifting. This week, Alice Miller, member of the Strong Women Collective, and trainers Tess Glynne-Jones and Caroline Bragg are giving us the low down on how long it will take you to really see results, so you can set your goals accordingly.
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How long does it take to see results from strength training?
“A lot of people might see some kind of results in about two weeks, but to see the results they really want often takes around 12 weeks. Our bodies don’t change overnight, it takes a lot of consistency if you want to create sustainable results.”
“It depends how often people train. After about four weeks, you’ll see a slight change, and between eight to 12 weeks you’ll start seeing serious results in strength and muscle.”
“You need to think about your nutrition, your sleep, your consistency, but if all of those are working with you, you will start to notice differences in your posture, and the way you feel within your body, within the first four weeks.
“Maybe they won’t be visible to the naked eye, but you will be able to feel it as long as you’re consistent.”
How long does it take to start lifting heavier weights?
“Each week you’re going to be adding weight to your movements, so you’ll be making little progresses every single week. But if you’re trying to get a personal best with your deadlift, for example, then you need at least four weeks, and you’d have to be training consistently for it.
“It’s all about creating progressive overload – that means you’re overloading your muscles a little bit more every week. But I just think in order to see really strong results, I’d still say at least eight weeks.”
“It depends what your goal is. If it’s strength, and if you feel like a weight is getting easier and you’re not feeling fatigued near the end of the set, you can go up a weight if your form is good. If you’re going quite heavy across your sessions, then stay at that weight for about a month, and then shock your body by challenging it with a heaver weight for the next bunch of sessions.”
“It all works with your hormones, as well. There are times in the month where it’s safer to stay within a weight that you’re comfortable with, like in the second two weeks of your cycle. But in your first two weeks every session you might want to try even just a kilo heavier. That two-week period is when we tend to have better results.”
How do I build up my strength?
“For someone who’s never done a press up before, they’re not just going to get it in a week – they need to create that strength. And it takes a while for a muscle to develop more strength; it doesn’t just happen overnight.
“You’ve still got to be chasing it quite hard. You need to be focussing on the press up for eight weeks in order to try and get it.”
“Look at it as a cycle: say you’re lifting 10 kilos and the last week of training feels good. The next week see if you can do 12 kilos. That’s how your body changes. If you’re grabbing the same weight every time, people don’t tend to see results, or they’ll be really slow results.
“So, you do need to shock the body with a heavier weight, or a change in rep scheme, that kind of thing.”
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Chloe Gray is the senior writer for stylist.co.uk's fitness brand Strong Women. When she's not writing or lifting weights, she's most likely found practicing handstands, sipping a gin and tonic or eating peanut butter straight out of the jar (not all at the same time).