How Long Will It Take To See Results From Exercise?

Exercise is a powerful tool for improving your physical and mental health. But how long will it take to see results?

A lot of factors affect the timeframe, like consistency, intensity, frequency, and duration. Find out what type of exercise you should try based on these different factors that can help maximize your workout time below.

First up, an email from a subscriber:

I am so excited! I have been doing everything that your Dirty Little Book of Dieting told me to do. Some days are more of a chore than others but I am finally seeing the weight come off.

And not just a little bit of weight loss here and there, it is coming off in chunks!

It has only been a month since I started this new diet program and already people who haven't seen me in a while are flabbergasted. This new lifestyle is really taking shape for me.

The thing about being on your own healthy weight loss journey is you get to meet all kinds of interesting people who have had different experiences with their diets.

One day while talking with a fellow dieter at work over lunch he tells me that his wife did the Atkins diet and lost all of her weight on the program as well. She was a big girl and lost over 300 pounds.

They were so excited about what they had done for their health that they just went ahead and signed up to become an Atkins coach.

Anyway, I'm taking the next step and starting to incorporate exercise into my weight loss program. How long will it take before I start seeing results?

woman on exercise ball lifting dumbbell
The amount of time it takes to see results from exercise depends on your genetics, metabolism, muscle mass, age and gender, and the type and intensity of your workouts. If someone tells you they know exactly how long it'll take for everyone without knowing any details about them, they're full of you-know-what.

Anecdotally, I have a friend who's been on the Mediterranean Diet and doing bodyweight training at home.

She lost 15 pounds in 2 months. She's loving the diet and feels great from the exercise.

Not too shabby. Let's get to it!

How Long Will It Take To See Results From Exercise?

Well, the answer to that question is a tough one, because of the sheer amount of variables at play.

Some unchangeable (read: genetic) factors that affect the results you’ll get are:

  • Your age
  • Your sex
  • Your “framework”, i.e., your bone structure and limb length
  • Your metabolic type (fast-burning, or slow to go?)

Glum, I know, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

In fact, while factors exist that are beyond your control, there are an overwhelming number of variables you can actively tinker with that will directly affect your fat loss success.

The most important factors in fat loss, in no apparent order, are:

Factors That Affect The Speed Of Your Results From Exercise

  1. How motivated you are to create changes in your body
  2. How well you will adhere to nutritional and lifestyle changes
  3. Your workout consistency
  4. How you deal with the stress you have in your life

Assuming that you follow our instructions and advice reasonably well (meaning, you strength train consistently, you eat correctly more than 90% of the time, you get semi-adequate recovery) then you can expect to see real, tangible results at about the 4-6 week mark, maybe later if you aren't particularly good with nutrition or if you miss workouts, etc.

This figure is based on my training experience and the pooled anecdotal experiences of my colleagues, clients, friends, and acquaintances.

The biggest mistake I see is that someone will be “good” for a day or two (“I ate a salad today; why aren’t I losing weight?”), hastily conclude that the program isn’t working, and return to their old habits.

Not only must you find an approach that works for you, but you must also give it time to work.

Let's start with the basics, as you are a beginner to exercise.

Weight Training

Weight training is great for fat loss because it helps to preserve lean muscle tissue. The more lean muscle tissue you have, the higher your metabolic rate will be (because muscle burns more calories than fat).

In addition, weight training helps to speed up your metabolism after you finish your workout, so you continue burning calories even when you’re not working out.

Plus, weight training helps to increase strength which directly affects your ability to perform regular daily activities, meaning you'll become more active in general.

Interval Training

Interval training is also very good for fat loss because it requires shorter sessions of exercise, but higher intensity movements.

This means that interval training makes the most out of the little free time you have, while also helping to burn more calories.

Plus, interval training has been shown to be more effective than traditional cardio exercises when it comes to fat loss. (This is if, for some reason, you had to choose between cardio and interval training. If you have the time, do both to speed fat loss results).

Bodyweight Training

Bodyweight Training is great if you don't have access to a gym or weights at home.

Plus, bodyweight exercises can be done anywhere at any time, making them a very convenient option.

Just be sure to choose exercises that are challenging enough for you so that you continue seeing results.


Cardio is great to burn extra calories. Especially high-intensity cardio, which has been shown to boost the metabolism for up to 24 hours after you finish your session.

But, cardio specifically should be done in addition to weight training and bodyweight exercises if you want to maximize fat loss results.

This is because cardio amplifies the calorie burn, due to having more lean muscle (from the weight training).

Low-intensity cardio, like walking, is fine. However, you don’t continue burning extra calories after your workout is over.

Getting Started With Exercise

Getting started with exercise is often the hardest part. Once you start, it becomes easier and more rewarding to continue.

Whether your goal is weight loss or muscle gain, these guidelines may help you get on track for success.

The most important thing about starting an exercise program is consistency; even if you only do 10 minutes of bodyweight training each day, this will have a positive impact on how you feel during the day.

If you need to stick with something simple at first—walking outside in nature every other day might be perfect—you should see results within 12 weeks!

Consider sharing these tips with friends who need the motivation to stay consistent too!