This Is How Much Strength Training Is Necessary To See Results


When you’re new to the strength training game, every day feels like a serious struggle. The moves seem so freaking difficult, and all you want is to see your muscles start to build and your body continue to tone. If often feels like there’s no end in sight, that you’re just going to have lift weights and swing kettlebells until you die, hoping you at least look good at your funeral.

But we have some good news — there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and you will reach it long before old age catches up to you.

First, let’s address the fact that gains you can see and gains you can feel are entirely different things and arrive at different times in the getting-fit process. You actually experience an increase in muscular strength within two weeks of starting your strength training routine even though you don’t physically see a difference. In this span of time, the communication between your brain and the working muscles adapts to better perform the movements you’re telling your body to do. And when it comes to aesthetic changes, give it six weeks. At this point in training, the muscle fibers are ready to start growing in size after being challenged consistently.

Both of these timeframes require a proper strength training schedule, though. You need to exercise each muscle group you want to see gains in at least two times each week, using weights that are heavy enough to feel challenging after repeating an exercise 12 times (because that’s how the muscle fibers initially break and repair themselves to become even stronger). You also need to complete two sets of 12 reps of each exercise you’re hoping to benefit from.

If it’s the duration of each workout that you’re worried about, we have answers there, too. You really shouldn’t have to be focusing on strength training for more than 20-45 minutes at a time if you’re doing the right number of exercises the right number of times and moving through them efficiently. If anything, it’s more important to focus on the intensity of each move rather than how long it takes. Like we mentioned earlier, picking weights that feel challenging by the twelfth repetition is more important than walking out of the gym feeling proud that you did 100+ squats.

So, if you’re looking for total body strength gains, you need to do two total body strength training workouts each week, or break things down into more targeted sessions and make sure you hit each muscle group twice a week. Your sessions should reach the 20-minute mark, but not exceed 45 minutes. And you can expect to feel strength gains within two weeks, while aesthetic results will start to arrive after six weeks or so.

It’s not a small ask, but it’s also not impossible. If you’re smart with your routine planning (and somewhat patient), you can see muscle definition gains from head to toe as well as feel seriously stronger in less than two months by powering through two, 45-minute, total body strength-training workouts. Sounds like the perfect job for HIIT class if you ask us!