How to Gym: When will I see results from the gym? (and how to make sure that you do)

Ray from Lift, working out by doing some pull-ups

You might be wondering (and you’re definitely not alone in this), when will I see results from the gym? Unfortunately, the answer is never clear cut. Firstly, this depends on your goals. Seeing a change in your mental health versus putting on muscle or losing fat, are all going to happen at different rates for different people. But it also depends on many other factors, the main ones of which I will discuss below.

Consistency

This one is so key! If you want results, you need to put in the work, consistently. To ensure this, you need to be making sure that your plan is solid. See my previous blog – How to Gym: Creating your training plan to get started with your plan!

Your plan needs to be realistic. If it’s too ambitious, you’ll find it very hard to keep up with for more than a few weeks. You’ll see more results from going twice per week for 6 months, than you would if you went 4 times for the first 2 months but then only once or twice sporadically for the next few months. You’ve gone too hard and too fast, now you resent having to go to the gym. Realistic, achievable and consistent is the way to go.

Following the right programme for you

Again, this will play a vital role in your results. If your training programme isn’t tailored towards achieving your specific goals, you can’t expect to see the right results. If you’re following the same programme as your friend who is trying to get very lean, but you are looking to bulk up, you aren’t going to get the results you want.

Having your own programme, rather than just following what someone else is doing is important.

To build your programme, you are going to need to do a bit of research. You can start with the previous blog in this series How to Gym: Creating your training plan, there’s a really useful link there to a whole library of exercises to get you started! This could take a bit of trial and error, and checking in with gym staff. This is absolutely understandable if you’ve never designed a training programme before!

If you’re wanting to see results quicker and jump straight in with confidence, you may consider working with a personal trainer. They can show you the ropes, and support you in becoming independent in the gym and also with your own programming going forwards. Drop me a message if this is something you might want to discuss.

Nutrition

This one could be a big reason as to why previous training programmes haven’t given you the results that you wanted and left you going round in circles asking ‘when will I see results from the gym?’

Without good nutrition supporting your efforts in the gym, regardless of your goals, you are going to find them difficult to reach. I’ll give a few example goals and why nutrition is so important for each.

Fat loss 

For this goal you will need to be in a calorie deficit – this is consuming less calories than you body requires, so that it also uses stored fat to function. But, you also need to make sure that you don’t lose too much muscle mass. The more muscle you have, the more calories your body burns at rest – so once you have lost the desired excess fat, you can still eat a good amount and enjoy yourself! So, your diet will need to take these factors into consideration.

Additionally, your body will be reluctant to part with stored fat when it isn’t feeling 100%, so if we aren’t making sure we’re providing it with all of the macro and micronutrients it needs to be happy and healthy then it will be resistant to letting your stored fat go.

Mental health goals

As discussed above, how much you eat depends on whether you lose or gain stored fat, or if you simply maintain the same weight. But it is what you eat that determines how you feel as well as when you will see results from the gym.

Consuming food that will keep your energy levels consistent, keep your brain functioning well to aid productivity and to regulate your hormones (in particular serotonin and dopamine) can all make a huge difference to how we feel. It’s really important to make sure that our diet is balanced, nutritious and gives us everything we need to feel our best.

Physical and mental health are so closely linked. We can often improve our mental health by taking better care of our bodies. Good training and nutrition has completely changed my life personally. If improving your mental health is your goal, please reach out – I would love to help you get started

Strength building

Your muscles need a lot of energy to put 100% in at the gym. Also, you will need to make sure your muscles, joints and nervous system all have the nutrients they need to recover between sessions and to develop your strength.

Muscle building

This one is similar to strength building. You will need to be making sure your muscles have enough energy for training and that you support your recovery well. However, you will want to be in a calorie surplus – consuming more calories than your body needs day to day. This is so that your body can build the extra muscle.

This needs to be carefully controlled, as it’s a fine dance between building more muscle and making sure you don’t put on too much fat!

Training for an event

Again, you will want to be fuelling your body properly so that you can perform really well during training sessions but also during the event itself. You also want to make sure you are able to recover well between training sessions, especially leading up to the event, where you will likely be reducing recovery time, as your training intensity increases. This will also mean you lower your risk of injury and can keep training without interruption or needing to take time out.

You are probably noticing quite a lot of crossover in the above goals and why good nutrition is essential. If you do have any questions around what your diet should look like depending on your goals, feel free to pop me a message. You can also refer to my other blogs; Eating and exercise and also 12 best foods to build muscle as these have some useful tips as well.

Not being too hard on yourself

I think we can all admit that we’re guilty of this one, at some point or other. We always think we haven’t done enough, or that we, ourselves aren’t enough. It’s so easy to put ourselves down if we aren’t seeing results from the efforts we are putting in at the gym and the kitchen. That said, usually the point at which people start to have these thoughts is way too early in the process, say within the first few weeks. If you’re confident in your training programme and you’re eating the right things to support your sessions and your goals, then you simply need to trust the process. This is easier said than done, I know!

A big reason that people fail to reach their goals is that they don’t stick to their plan long enough to start seeing results. And when you start seeing results in the first couple of months, you use how you’re feeling about the changes you’re seeing as motivation to keep going. But it’s the journey up until that point that is the hardest.

Trust the process, be consistent and persistent and it’ll happen. 

Plan ahead

So, you now have a better understanding of why the question ‘when will I see results from the gym?’ often comes down to the old piece of string thing. Ultimately, it all depends on whether you have a solid, tailored plan in place and whether you stick to it consistently.

You can now also appreciate that different goals will see results at different rates. For example, some people may see improvements in their mental health within the first couple of weeks, and for others, it may take a couple of months. If you are looking for fat loss, you won’t see huge physical differences for the first month (give or take, this really varies per person). For muscle building you are looking at a couple of months based on building 0.5-1kg of muscle per month, realistically. Strength gains you can see pretty much immediately, particularly if you are a beginner as well, and you should see progress week on week, with the right programme.

If you’ve been training for a little while now and you still aren’t sure why you aren’t seeing results, drop me a message and we can have a chat about your current plan and what changes might be needed.

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Picture of Ray Hickford

Ray Hickford

Hi, I’m Ray, a health and wellbeing professional in Manchester working with clients through training and nutrition programmes to help them feel more confident, strong and happy both in and outside of the gym.
As a Qualified Personal Trainer and Level 4 RSPH Nutrition Advisor, I am constantly learning myself - from my clients, from other industry experts and sometimes myself! And sometimes I write some of this down for ya.

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