Updated: May 22, 2019
A question we all want the answer to. Instant gratification rocks, so immediately would be ideal, right? However, every person is different and unique, so you should expect that your results would also be unique to others. It may be quicker or it may be slower. If you do not see results immediately, do not panic. Your body is already getting stronger and healthier after your first workout.
What is the order I should see changes happen?
John Romaniello explained the order of change typically occurs with strength first. You'll notice the weights you’re using seem lighter than they were before, resulting in you lifting heavier. This happens because your brain learns to recruit more muscle fibres in order to lift heavier loads.
The second adaptation to occur would be with your performance. Meaning you are becoming better at moving. Your body and nervous system are developing and become more efficient at the movement patterns and building endurance.
Endurance means you’re able to lift weights or perform a certain amount of work without tiring easily. This occurs because your body is increasing the number of Mitochondria – the cell's espresso machine. The more mitochondria you have, the more energy your muscles will have.
However, this is where many people can become frustrated. In my earlier years this is where I would jump ship and swap programs because I wasn't seeing these visual changes. The issue is they don’t really start to appear until after your strength increases and performances improves. I wasn't giving the program enough time to actually run it's course. The method of program hopping was a detriment to my progress. This is why consistency is so important in your workout regime.
“Okay, but when do I see the results of my hard work?”
If you don't make the errors I made early on, within the third adaptation there will be a decrease in body fat. After approximately 4-6 weeks you are able to notice a fat loss, because your body is more efficient and able to perform more work (burning more calories).
Lastly, after strength and endurance increases, better movement patterns, and fat being lost to energy expenditure, you gain muscle. This is where you really start to see the results in the mirror. This lean muscle you have will also burn fat to help maintain itself, in addition to the more intensive calorie burning workouts.
Of course this is a general outline of the body adaptation process and you can very likely notice measurable differences along the way giving a proper nutrition and workout regime.
BOTTOM LINE: the process of “getting fit” is a journey that expands over months and years, but the benefits start on the first workout. If you’re consistent, you should start seeing the visual results after 4-6 weeks.