Part of what entices most people to maintain their workout routine is seeing results. Whether it’s jeans that fit better or a newfound surge of energy to power through work emails like a boss, exercise produces change. But just how long does it take to witness this transformation from the inside out? As soon as a day, believe it or not, if you ask doctors and fitness professionals.
While many factors contribute to how quickly you can lose weight or build muscle, Sam Clavell, M.D., says everyone’s body will respond to exercise. Period.
Especially when you check off the Mayo Clinic’s recommendation of 150 minutes of moderate- to high-intensity workouts per week—that’s when progress can be made. Check out a sample HIIT workout here from Aaptiv.
If you’ve ever wondered what’s going on inside your fascinating and complex system after exercise, here’s a look at what happens after a day, a week, two weeks, and a month.
After One Workout
OK, you just wrapped an intense workout—and you’re feeling it. Matthew Percia, an experienced weight loss and fitness coach, explains that after one workout, your body is in an acute fight-or-flight response as you get moving. This means a variety of chemicals and hormones are released in the body. They increase focus, heart rate, blood pressure, breathing rate, reaction time, and decision making, he notes. “Immediately after exercise is stopped, the body returns to normal resting levels in order to recover from the stimulus. It’s now that the body starts adapting and repairing.”
For the first hour or so, you’ll probably feel all those I-just-worked-out vibes. You’ll experience increased energy, focus, attention, and positive outlooks, thanks to chemicals released in your brain. A few hours later—and definitely the next day—you may start to feel soreness from the work you put in.
Get your hormones, heart rate and blood pressure up with these heart-pumping workouts from Aaptiv.
After One Week
With a week of consistent workouts, your system is in “let’s get it” mode as it acclimates to a routine. Percia explains that the body begins producing more structure to adapt. This includes mitochondrial cells, which create energy, and blood cells to transport oxygen to your muscles. “The brain and nervous system continue to learn how to work with your muscles, making each movement more efficient with each repetition,” he says. “You may begin to experience a decrease in resting heart rate, which means your heart is getting strong and doesn’t have to work as hard at rest.”
On the mental side, Dr. Clavell says your energy level will start to soar. You’ll be excited about your next gym visit or workout class. Plus, as a bonus, you and the Sandman will have a much healthier relationship. “You will start to experience the best night sleeps of your life, which is a great thing since growth hormone is released while you sleep,” he explains. “You need growth hormone for your muscles to repair themselves. Also, you’ll start to notice you will be hungrier.” Make sure you choose protein-rich foods and good carbs to fulfill your appetite.
After Two Weeks of Consistent Workouts
Percia says on the physical side, there isn’t too much of a shift between weeks one and two. All the same hormones will continue to be ignited when you burpee, squat, run, lift, or punch, but you could see a shorter recovery time between Monday and Wednesday. This means less soreness and fatigue post-workout, giving you even more momentum to push forward. “There may be noticeable improvements in performance, such as muscles improving reaction time to stimulus or strength increase in the form of more repetitions completed or weight lifted,” he adds.
The greatest difference at two weeks is actually in your mood. Dr. Carvell says most people will start to really feel the amazing endorphins that are running rampant in your bloodstream, naturally making you happier and able to handle stressful situations that come your way. On the downside, he warns that some people may notice acne flare-ups around two weeks. “Your skin is not used to so much sweat on a weekly basis, and that sweat going down your face, arms, and back can cause breakouts while your body is getting used to this new norm. If it happens to you, don’t be discouraged,” he continues. “It’s part of the process. The good thing is our bodies are extremely adaptable and your skin will stop breaking out quickly!”
After One Month of Consistent Workouts
If you feel better and have more stamina to push through even the hardest workouts but you aren’t seeing physical changes, you might feel discouraged. At four weeks, though, there is a silver lining. Percia says most people will see a difference in their body composition. What’s happening now? Plenty! “The adaptation from weeks one and two begin to compound and intensify. The increase in strength now can be attributed to some increase in muscle growth. The repetitive nature of movement results in an increase in bone density, energy levels, and muscle fiber size and density,” he explains.
Overall, you’ll feel better equipped to do daily activities with ease. Once you cross that 28-day sweet spot, Dr. Carvell says you’ve created change and a routine that make it easier to stick to your workouts moving forward. Apart from your shape, he notes most people will feel more confident, have a steamier sex life, sleep more soundly, wake up easier without feeling tired, and gain a continuous upbeat attitude. The bottom line is to find an activity that works specifically for you. “If you want to see quick results from working out, you just need to find something you like that allows you to stick with it for the long haul. The more you see results, the harder it is to quit,” he adds.
One month down—and many to go. Keep at it, and watch your body and mind transform with these Aaptiv workouts.