• Henry Godfree BSc, FitPro

How long does it take to get in shape?

Your body starts getting stronger and healthier just hours after your workout.

For gaining muscle - studies from the University Wisconsin-La Crosse showed that after a 6-week intense exercise program (modelled on BowFlex), zero percent of the participants achieved washboard abs. In fact, a panel of 6 judges could detect no differences whatsoever in their physical appearance.

However, that doesn’t mean nothing is happening. After just a few strength training sessions, your brain learns to recruit more muscle fibres and make them contract all at once to produce a greater force.

This kicks in almost immediately allowing you to get stronger before you noticeably get bigger muscle size.

Further strength gains come as the individual muscle fibres within your muscles get bigger, which starts in as little as 2 weeks if you’re training intensely.

The University of Tokyo carried out a study that found the biggest increases in strength after 2 months and the biggest boost in muscle size after 3 months.

Weight loss – Is a bit more difficult to predict because we all start at different weights and it really depends on your diet and workout routine.

But like strength training, aerobic exercise produces major health and performance benefits long before you see them in the mirror.

Aerobic exercise increases the number of mitochondria, which are essentially the cellular power plants in your muscles that use oxygen to produce energy: The more mitochondria you have, the further and faster you can run, and the fatter your muscles will burn.

Studies have found that about 6 weeks of training will boost mitochondria levels by 50 to 100 percent!

Health benefits kick in after every bout of aerobic exercise.

For about 48 hours after a workout, your muscles will be consuming more glucose than usual, helping to bring down blood sugar levels. After a few workouts, your insulin sensitivity will begin to improve, offering further control of blood sugar.

The SUMMARY: Getting in shape is a journey that extends over months and even years, but the process – and the benefits – start as soon as you begin exercising.

So if you’re having trouble staying motivated without immediate physical changes, track your strength & endurance gains along the way.

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