How Long Will It Take Before I Start Seeing Fitness Results?


question-icon-newI used to weigh 210 pounds and have lost 68 pounds but gained some back. Now I can’t seem to get below 150 pounds. The first time I lost the weight it was just by watching what I ate. I think I need to exercise so today I started an exercise routine which consists of aerobics 5 times a week and a mixture of weight training and calisthenics 5 times a week. I’m working each muscle group 2-3 times a week. I have also started to watch what I eat again. My question is how long should it take before I see results? I have a medium frame and I tend to build muscle easier than most women I know. The problem is I lost a lot of muscle when I lost weight the first time because I was not exercising. Does my exercise plan look okay for me? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

answer-icon-newFirst off, it’s very important for you to always include 3 key factors in your fitness plan. These include diet, weight training and cardio. These 3 key areas will help you achieve the body of your dreams. If you allow yourself to slack on one or more of these 3 areas, you will have a much harder time reaching your physique goals. The importance of these 3 main areas breaks down like this:

  1. Diet: Without a doubt, the most important area of your fitness plan is what you put into your mouth. What you eat and drink contributes to as much as 75% of your physique results. The old saying goes, “You can’t out exercise a bad diet” and this is so true. If you get off track with your diet and decide to have some fun and eat a pizza, you will literally need to run for 3-4 hours to burn off the amount of calories in that high calorie meal that is loaded with carbs and fat. So, always remember to focus on your diet first when you are in doubt about why you have gained weight or can’t break a weight loss plateau.
  2. Weight Training: The next area of importance in your fitness plan is lifting weights. After your diet, weight training is the most important thing you need to make sure you include in your overall plan. Lean muscle tissue is the most metabolically active tissue in your body and it burns approximately 50-70 calories per pound every day. So, if you can pack on 10 pounds of lean muscle mass, you will burn an additional 500-700 calories every day. This means if you cheat on your diet and have a cheeseburger, the lean muscle tissue that you’ve added will burn off all those calories! This is why it’s so important to always include weight training to build muscle tissue and increase your metabolism.
  3. Cardio: The final area of your fitness plan is to include cardio exercise. Doing cardio helps your body burn off excess calories and it’s also great for your heart and overall cardiovascular system. The way you can look at cardio exercise would be as a “fat loss insurance plan” which means that as long as you get your cardio workout in, you know that even though you might slack on your diet and have some french fries or junk food, you know that you have burned an additional 200-400 calories which will help with controlling your body fat levels.

weight-lifting-curlsIn terms of your current weight training workout routine, if you’re training each muscle group 2-3 times per week, this is simply way too much and can quickly cause issues with overtraining. Your muscles need to recover from your workouts and if you train a muscle group with intense exercises, you really need to have sufficient rest to allow the muscle fibers to completely recover before training the muscle group again.

I recommend training each muscle group only once per week to fully allow your muscles to recover from your workouts and to avoid any plateau issues that come with overtraining. If you train at a high intensity level, you should see great results lifting weights only 3 days per week. You want to tear down the muscle fibers and give your body ample rest to build and repair them before the next workout. Here is a great 3 day workout routine:

  • Monday: Chest and back
  • Wednesday: Legs
  • Friday: Shoulders and arms

You can do cardio 5-6 days per week to lose body fat. A great tip is to do 1 hour of cardio in the morning on an empty stomach. To preserve lean muscle tissue, you may want to drink a BCAA (branched chain amino acid) supplement or have a scoop of protein powder in water before doing your cardio workout but make sure not to eat any carbs or fat pre-workout. The protein and amino acids will supply your muscles with important nutrients to preserve lean tissue during your cardio workout.

By doing cardio in the morning, it will allow you to tap directly into your fat stores without relying on glycogen (carbs) for fuel. If you eat carbs before your cardio workout, your body will need to burn off those carbs for energy before tapping into fat and this could take anywhere from 20-30 minutes.

Also, try to cut out all starches and sugars after 7pm. When you eat excess carbohydrates later at night, your insulin sensitivity is lowered which means the nutrients will not be stored as efficiently as they would be earlier in the day, so these carbs will have a much easier time being stored as fat versus being utilized as energy. Snacking on late night carbs also affects pleasure centers in your brain and releases serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is a “feel good” chemical that will make you want to eat more and more while sitting on the couch watching your favorite TV show.

By including the golden triangle of weight training to build and maintain lean muscle tissue, cardio sessions to burn fat and a clean diet to optimally fuel your body, you will be on your way to the physique of your dreams!

I agree to have my personal information transfered to MailChimp ( more information )
Join over 175,000 ShapeFit subscribers who are receiving our free weekly fitness newsletter and learn how you can build more muscle, burn off body fat and get into the best shape of your life!
We hate spam! Your email address will never be sold or shared with anyone. You can unsubscribe at anytime.

About Author

ShapeFit is dedicated to providing health and fitness information to people so they can live a healthy lifestyle. ShapeFit has thousands of pages of fitness content with fun and interactive tools to help our visitors lose body fat, build lean muscle and increase their energy levels. We wish you great success in reaching your health and fitness goals!


  1. Avatar

    This is really very helpful but I would like to ask few questions. I am skinny, but I have an excessive amount of fat in my tummy. How long should I do a cardio before and after my workouts to attain the body of my dreams? I also read that I should try to cut out carbs after 7pm, but the thing is I work graveyard shift and I sleep all day, so does that mean I should stop eating carbs at 7am?

    • shapefit

      Angela – To lose body fat and achieve a lean and fit physique you will not only need to implement cardio exercise, but your main priority will be to focus on your diet in order to see great results. It’s impossible to “out exercise” a bad diet, so always put your diet first and eat clean when your primary goal is to lose body fat. For cardio, shoot for 30-45 minutes after your weight training workouts. It’s fine to warm-up with a little cardio before weight training (10 minutes) but don’t go overboard. You want to use up your glycogen (carbs) during your weight training session and then hit cardio to tap into body fat. In regards to your diet and working the graveyard shift, it’s still important to cut out starchy carbs later at night. Try to front-load your carbs for your first meal of the day when you get up (3-4pm) and then slowly decrease the starchy carbs (rice, potatoes, bread) as the day continues. Take a few protein bars or shakes with you to work and see if this helps. Best of luck to you ūüôā

  2. Avatar

    Hello! I have a question regarding seeing results. I’m a teenage female with 16-17% body fat and a very fast metabolism. If I workout 5-6 times a week but I do not change my diet, approximately how long will it take until I see results?

    • shapefit

      Hi Emma – It depends on what type of results you’re looking for. If your goal is to build muscle then many factors come into play like the type of workouts you’re performing along with rest and your diet. Fat loss is very similar but also includes a cardio program. A good rule of thumb is to use the 90 day mark (3 months) to test results. If you’re on a new workout and diet plan, focus on monitoring your results for 12 weeks to see how you’re doing. It takes this long to really see significant results with any type of solid nutrition and exercise program. If you don’t notice changes in 90 days, switch things around.

  3. Avatar

    I just want to start by saying thank you! All of your tips and suggestions are great and I really enjoy reading them. Now, I also have a question. I have started weight training with a personal coach. She has made a meal plan and set up my weight training sessions to be 3 days of training, one day off and 3 days of training again and so forth. For the moment, she has asked me not to do any cardio. Is that suppose to be okay? I love my workouts and they are intense. We do different body parts all 3 days, then rest and do it all over again. Should I include cardio to my weight training workouts even though she asked me not to?

    • ShapeFit

      Hi Lim – It depends on several factors. How much body fat do you you currently have and what does your physique look like? If you are slender and lean, then your personal trainer probably wants you to build up lean muscle mass as the main objective. However, if you have excess body fat and you’re overweight then adding cardio into your weight training routine would be ideal for burning fat and getting lean. It also depends on the type of workouts you are doing when you weight train (circuit training, CrossFit style, etc). Please describe your workouts and include your body stats (age, height, weight, body type) so we can provide more detailed information to help you.

Leave A Reply