How Long Does It Take To Get In Shape?
Nowadays, more people want to get in shape not just for aesthetics but also for overall better health.
However, one common question we get is “how long does it take to get in shape?”
Lots of people ask this question because they are frustrated from not seeing any appreciable results after following some “quick” fitness makeover program.
Still, many others ask because they want to manage their expectations.
Regardless of why you’re asking, this guide serves up realistic answers. Read on to understand what getting in shape means and how long until results start to show.
What Does it Mean to “Be in Shape?”
What does getting in shape actually mean?
To understand this, it is crucial to quickly explain the different components of physical fitness.
- Body composition: The ratio of fat to muscle mass makes up your body composition. For men, a healthy body fat ranges between 10 and 20 percent and around 20 to 30 percent for women. Body composition is what most people mean when they say they want to get in shape.
- Muscular strength: This is your ability to use your muscles to their fullest capacity. Don’t ignore strength training even if your fitness goal is weight loss.
- Muscular endurance: This refers to how many repetitions your muscles can take before reaching their limit. Combining cardio training with high rep strength training can increase muscular endurance.
- Flexibility: Your joint’s ability to move through a full range of motion is known as flexibility. It is essential in avoiding injury during exercises and also reduces joint pain.
Factors Affecting the Time It Takes to Get in Shape
How long does it take to get in shape, really?
Understandably, most people will prefer a straightforward answer (like they get from ads promising miracle fitness makeovers!)
Unfortunately, this is one of those questions with an “it depends” answer – we know it’s frustrating, but that’s just the reality.
There is no one-size-fits-all time for everyone to get in shape and that’s because “getting in shape” means a different thing to different people.
Some of the major factors that can affect how long it takes for you to get in shape include the following:
Your Fitness Goals
The time it takes to get in shape partly depends on what your fitness goals are.
Do you want to lose weight? Are you looking to shed some body fat? Maybe you are exercising to get stronger or to stay generally fit.
Again, you might be trying to beat or improve the time it takes to complete your preferred workout routines.
All of these shows that the exact time it takes to get in shape depends on your definition of “getting in shape.”
Your Current Fitness Level
Whatever your fitness goals are, it will take a shorter time to see results if you are a newbie compared to someone who has been working out for a long time.
Beginners have a significantly lower starting point on the fitness ladder. That means it takes less workout effort to challenge their bodies.
With proper training, beginners will see considerable jumps in overall strength and fitness nearly every week until they hit a plateau.
In addition to the time difference between beginners and experienced fitness enthusiasts, the type of exercise program will also differ, depending on what they are trying to achieve.
All of these can affect the time it takes to get into shape.
When Should You Expect to “See” and “Feel” Results?
Now that we are clear on fitness goals and levels, let’s get more practical.
Indeed, there is no fixed time for getting in shape and the exact period before results start to show varies between individuals.
That being said, results shouldn’t take forever, right?
Whether you are training for a competition or to stay generally fit, you can expect to see results after a few weeks to a couple of months.
Generally, you should start to notice weight changes within about 2 to 3 weeks of consistent exercise.
However, burning appreciable levels of fat and building muscle mass can take up to two months or even more!
That’s another way of saying don’t believe it if any fitness program promises a complete makeover in 30 days or anything of that sort!
Here’s a crucial thing to keep in mind.
Nearly everyone wants to “see” results – it’s a common metric. You want to show the bulging biceps or chiseled abs, and that’s okay.
However, another type of change happens within a shorter period that you can’t see but only feel.
Regardless of the time it takes for you to start “seeing” results, it is more important to pay attention to how you “feel” because that’s when the real benefits of exercising start to kick in.
Committing to a regular workout routine about 4 to 5 days a week should make you start to feel some benefits, even if you don’t have the muscle mass to show for it yet!
It might be something as simple as not getting tired too quickly when you do rigorous physical activities or being less out of breath when you take the stairs.
If you eat well and do your exercises correctly and consistently, your brain will start to feel positive benefits such as:
- Feeling more rested and improved sleep patterns
- Enjoying more energy throughout your day
- Having better confidence in yourself
When you start to feel these benefits, you can be sure your workout sessions are yielding positive results even if they are not yet visible.
How to Boost the Process of Getting Shape
Deciding to get in shape is a good first step. Maintaining your workout regimen is a different ball game entirely!
Here are a few important tips to help make your fitness journey a success.
You can exercise all you want and still undo everything if you don’t eat well. For this reason, it is important to choose what you feed your body.
First, limit your intake of processed foods as much as possible.
Instead of eating lots of processed and sugary foods, consider filling your plate with more vegetables, carbs, and protein.
The proportion of micronutrients in your diet will depend on your weight and goals among other things.
However, you don’t need to split hairs about the exact proportion of nutrients. Instead, focus on moderation and making healthier food choices.
Keep in mind that 100% drastic change isn’t usually sustainable. You want to gradually eliminate unhealthy and junk foods and replace them with healthy food choices.
Get Enough Rest
One common mistake many people make when they commit to working out is overdoing it. This is especially the case with beginners.
You can’t build muscles, burn fat, or lose weight overnight.
For any of these things to happen sustainably, your body needs enough time to rest and recover.
It is important to prioritize rest.
This usually means taking a day or two off your exercise regimen. It also means getting enough shuteye at night.
Besides helping you to feel well-rested, sleep can prevent excessive snacking.
When you sleep well at night, your insulin and leptin hormones are well balanced so your blood sugar level is under control and your appetite is properly regulated.
Your body will have a tougher time adjusting to your exercise regimen if you are not consistent.
To make your exercise routine more sustainable, have a plan and stick to it. You also want to be realistic with your goals and the number of days to work out.
Lastly, choose the type of exercise that you enjoy doing. Nothing makes working out more difficult than doing routines you absolutely dislike.
Develop the Right Mindset
It is normal to hit plenty of bumps along the way to getting into shape. The most important thing is not to throw in the towel when you encounter temporary setbacks.
You might not be able to exercise for an entire week because you are ill. In some cases, you may not have the energy to get over the inertia and hit the gym.
All of these are normal.
Instead of giving up the entire process, accept these bumps along the way and get back on your path to success.
So, how long does it take to get in shape? There is no one correct answer to that.
Generally, you should start feeling the positive effects of working out within a couple of weeks if you remain consistent.
Depending on your specific fitness goal, your body fat should start to decrease within 1 to 2 months. And you should see an increase in strength, endurance, and muscle mass within that period.
Increased flexibility should follow and pretty soon, you’ll naturally want to increase the intensity of your workout because the current exercise regimen will become too easy.