• Gabrielle Babineau

How long does it take to get in shape?


In this article, I’m not going to talk about optimal training frequency, or the details of the physiological changes in our bodies, since that would require an article of its own. We know that physical fitness is essential to the health of our bodies and minds... so I wanted to highlight a few training facts to help you take action, but also to encourage you to maintain your active lifestyle and stay committed once summer is over.


Important points:

  • Your body actually starts getting stronger and healthier just hours after you start working out.

  • After just a few strength-training sessions, your brain learns to recruit more muscle fibers and make them contract all at once to produce a greater force. This “neural activation” kicks in after only a few workouts, allowing you to get stronger almost immediately, well before your muscles get noticeably bigger.

  • For the average person at the gym, it will take six months or more to see significant sculpting of the body – even though strength has been increasing from day one.

  • After a strength training session, there’s an increase in your muscle protein synthesis (MPS) rate (MPS rate is what adds protein to the muscle, which makes it larger). Once your workout is completed, MPS rate increases above resting levels for ~24-36 hours.

  • Strength training workouts can be constructed in many different ways. Common training variables include (each of these training variables influences the extent of muscle growth):

  • Contraction mode (eccentric, concentric, isometric, etc.)

  • Relative load (% of 1RM)

  • External load type

  • Range of motion

  • Exercise selection

  • Volume

  • Proximity to failure

  • Rest period duration

  • Repetition duration (tempo)

  • Weight loss is more difficult to predict, because it depends on your starting point, your health history, your genetics, your eating habits, your workout routine, and many more factors.

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

  • Aerobic exercise increase 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 faster and faster you can run, at the more fat your muscles will burn.

  • Studies have found that 6 weeks of training will boost mitochondria levels by 50%.

  • Health benefits on the other hand kick in after a single bout of aerobic exercise.

  • For about 48hrs 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.

Bottom line:

“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.

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