How long does it take to get fit and get in shape?
Getting fit and leading a healthier lifestyle is one of the best things you can do for yourself. But it's normal to wonder - how long does it take to get fit? The answer isn't straightforward. Achieving your fitness goals requires commitment, hard work, and patience. With the right approach, you can get fit, feel great, and develop lasting healthy habits.
- How Long Does It Take to Get Fit?
- How Fast Can You Expect to Get Fit Based on Goals?
- Tips to Get Fit Faster
- How Long Does It Take to See Results? What to Expect Week to Week
- How Much Exercise Per Week Is Needed to Get Fit?
- How to Structure Your Training Schedule
- Sample 12 Week Plan to Get Fit
- Maintaining Fitness Long-Term
- Final Thoughts
- How long does it take to get fit and get in shape?
- How long does it take to see noticeable results?
- Can I get into shape in less time?
- How long will it take to get back into shape after being inactive?
- How long does it take to get fit through weightlifting?
- How long does it take to improve cardio fitness?
- How long does it take to get back in shape after a break?
- How long does it take to get fit by taking the stairs?
- How long does it take to get fit without a personal trainer?
- How long does it take to get fit by working out three times a week?
How Long Does It Take to Get Fit?
How long it takes to get fit depends on several factors:
- Your starting fitness level
- The fitness goals you want to achieve
- Your commitment and consistency following an exercise routine
- Following a healthy diet that supports your goals
- Allowing time for your body to adapt and improve
Realistically, it takes time to get fit. It's not something that will happen overnight. But with dedication and smart training, you can make remarkable progress in just a few months.
You'll start seeing initial results in just 4-6 weeks. But for more significant, lasting gains in cardiovascular fitness, strength, endurance, and body composition, it typically takes a minimum of 3-6 months for most people.
Extreme fitness levels like competitive athletes take years to achieve. But for general health and aesthetic goals, you can build an impressive physique and high level of fitness within 6-12 months.
The main factors that influence rate of progress include:
Your Starting Point
If you have very low initial fitness levels from being sedentary, you should start seeing progress immediately. Even basic exercise will help you improve fast when you first get started.
But it inevitably gets harder to make rapid gains as you get fitter. Someone going from couch potato to 5K runner will improve much quicker than a seasoned marathon runner trying to shave a few minutes off their time.
So be patient and focus on consistency as you get fitter, the rate of progress naturally slows down. Celebrate your beginning gains, don’t get discouraged.
Goals and Workout Routine
Your goals determine what type of exercise routine makes sense. Want to run a 5K? Train 3-4 times per week with running, intervals, hills and endurance workouts. Want to get toned? Prioritize strength training 4-5 times per week.
Pick a training program that supports your goals and stick with it. Proper programming, progressive overload, and periodization all help stimulate fitness adaptations quickly and safely.
Exercise alone isn’t enough. Your nutrition habits play a huge role in getting fit and achieving results. To get fit, aim for a modest calorie deficit, eat enough protein, minimize processed foods, and eat plenty of nutrient dense whole foods.
Getting nutrition dialed in will help boost energy for workouts while allowing your body to effectively burn fat and build muscle. Make sure you’re fueling properly for the activity levels required by your fitness routine.
Consistency Over Time
Getting fit requires consistency following an exercise and nutrition plan over months and years. Skipping workouts, taking long breaks from training, and making poor nutritional choices will all slow down your progress.
Build habits that help you stick with your plan. Prepare healthy snacks, log workouts, join challenges, use accountability partners, set reminders. Do whatever it takes to stay consistent.
Expect Plateaus and Recovery
On your fitness journey, you will inevitably hit plateaus where your progress stalls or regresses temporarily. This is normal.
Your body needs adequate rest and recovery to adapt and get fitter. Expect progress to come in waves with periods of slower and faster gains. Stick it out through plateaus, your breakthrough is coming.
With the right workout programming, your body will continue making progress as long as you persevere. Patience during setbacks will help you win in the long run.
Body Changes Take Time
It takes time for your body composition to improve as you get fitter. You may be getting stronger and fitter even if the scale or mirror isn’t moving yet.
Changes like losing fat, building muscle, and improving health markers happen on the inside over weeks and months. Trust your process. Take measurements and track progress overtime, not day to day.
Getting and staying fit is like growing a tree, not a mushroom. Consistency and patience produce lasting results.
How Fast Can You Expect to Get Fit Based on Goals?
To give you a better idea of realistic timelines, here’s an overview of how long it typically takes to achieve a few common fitness goals:
- Improve cardiovascular fitness: better endurance, breathing, stamina
- Increase strength: lift heavier weights, do more pushups/pullups
- Enhanced flexibility: better range of motion, mobility
- Boosted energy levels
- Improved sleep quality
- Potentially initial fat loss of 1-2 lbs per week
- Run a 5K without stopping
- Lose 10-20 lbs of fat (at a rate of 1-2 lbs per week)
- See muscle definition in arms, legs, abs
- Increase strength 25-50%+ on compound lifts
- Vastly improved cardiovascular fitness
- Fitter appearance/posture; clothes fitting better
- Complete a half marathon or sprint triathlon
- Safely lose 25-50 lbs+ of fat
- Noticeable increase in muscle size and definition
- Bench press/squat/deadlift 1.5-2x bodyweight
- Well-defined 6 pack abs visible
- High level of fitness and stamina for sports
- Complete an Ironman triathlon
- Lose 75+ lbs and keep it off long-term
- Competitive powerlifting/weightlifting numbers
- Elite marathon/endurance athlete capabilities
- Bodybuilder level of muscle definition
- Sustain peak fitness levels year-round
As you can see, getting initially fit with basic strength, endurance, and fat loss results can happen in a few months. But more extreme fitness goals take 6 months or longer to achieve safely and sustainably.
Be patient with yourself. Getting fit and reaching your desired shape takes time. But by stringing together days, weeks, and months of consistent work, you will get there.
5 Tips to Get Fit Faster
Here are some tips to accelerate your fitness progression without burning out:
1. Follow a Structured Program
Don’t try to wing it. Follow a professionally designed program tailored to your goals, experience level, schedule, and interests. Programs designed with periodization get you fitter faster than random workouts.
2. Incorporate HIIT Workouts
Research shows high intensity interval training is one of the most time efficient ways to boost fitness. Mix in short HIIT sessions to supercharge endurance and accelerate fat burning.
3. Strength Train to Transform Your Body
Resistance training preserves and builds metabolically active muscle mass. This helps reshape your body as you lose fat. Prioritize progressive strength training 2-4 days per week.
4. Optimize Nutrition for Your Goals
To lose fat or build muscle more efficiently, pay close attention to your nutrition. Follow an appropriate calorie target, eat enough protein, time nutrients properly, and hydrate sufficiently.
5. Recover Smarter
Allow enough rest between workout days, get adequate sleep, take occasional deload weeks. Proper recovery enables your body to adapt to training. Don’t overdo it.
Getting fit faster requires training smarter: following programmed progressions, incorporating the most effective modalities like strength and HIIT, fueling properly, and recovering appropriately.
Be strategic with your time by investing in the workouts that will give you the most bang for your buck while staying healthy.
How Long Does It Take to See Results? What to Expect Week to Week
When you first start working out consistently, you should begin noticing some initial results right away:
- Improved energy levels
- Better mood and reduced stress
- More restful sleep
- Possible onset of muscle soreness
- Slight increase in cardiovascular fitness - you can walk or jog further without getting winded
- Muscles start to feel stronger during workouts
- Muscle soreness begins to subside
- Clothes may fit differently as body composition starts to improve
- Weights feel lighter, you’re getting stronger and progressing
- Developing more muscle endurance - able to do more reps without fatigue
- Improved muscle tone, muscles looking fuller and firmer
- Scale weight decreasing if in calorie deficit; measurements improving
- Faster pace running or walking certain distances that used to be challenging
- Muscle definition becoming visible, vascularity increasing
- Long workout recovery time decreasing - less sore between sessions
- Body fat decreasing, leanness increasing if following nutrition plan
The initial adaptations to exercise happen remarkably quickly. Within 4-8 weeks, you’ll look and feel like you’ve made significant fitness gains.
This “beginner gain” phase doesn’t last forever though. To keep improving, you’ll have to continually challenge your body beyond its comfort zone.
After a few months, your rate of visual or scale changes may slow down. At this point, it’s critical to not get discouraged but trust that progress is happening internally leading to enhanced fitness.
Reflect on how far you’ve already come, get your mind right, then keep putting in the work. Your body will transform further in ways you can’t yet see.
How Much Exercise Per Week Is Needed to Get Fit?
Most fitness experts recommend exercising about 150 minutes per week to improve your overall health and fitness. But the ideal amount depends on your specific goals:
Minimum: 75-150 minutes per week
This level of exercise helps improve heart health, aids weight management, and provide some functional fitness.
Aim for a mix of cardio and some basic resistance training. This range is appropriate for complete beginners or those with very limited time.
Moderate: 150-300 minutes per week
Exercising 4-5 days per week in this range allows more substantial fitness improvements and faster progress towards goals.
You can start training for events like 5K’s, build athletic performance, and achieve moderate strength gains with consistency.
High: 4-6+ hours per week
Dedicated recreational exercisers or competitive athletes generally train in this range to get quite fit.
Higher training loads help boost endurance, strength, speed, and muscle development significantly beyond average population norms.
What Intensity Level?
For all levels, the majority of your workouts should be moderate intensity where you can maintain a conversation. But also incorporate higher intensity intervals 1-3 times per week.
Including some periods of hard exertion optimizes fitness benefits in less time. Mix up longer steady workouts with brief intense sessions.
How to Structure Your Training Schedule
To see the best and fastest results, make sure your training schedule incorporates variety at an appropriate volume and intensity.
Here are some evidence-based guidelines for structuring your fitness program week-to-week:
1. Lift Weights 2-4 Times Per Week
Include strength training at least two days per week to build metabolically active muscle mass. More frequent lifting (4-5 days) can further boost results.
2. Do Some Form of Cardio 3-6 Times Per Week
Engage in cardiovascular exercise (running, biking, swimming, sports, HIIT, etc) for 20-60 minutes at a time, for a weekly total of 75-300 minutes depending on your goals and current fitness level.
3. Include HIIT 1-3 Times Per Week
To enhance cardiovascular fitness and accelerate fat loss efficiently, incorporate brief sessions of high intensity intervals into your routine.
4. Take At Least 1 Rest Day Where You Recover
Your body adapts and gets fitter during rest. Avoid exhaustive exercise 7 days a week. Listen to your body and take rest days whenever needed.
5. Periodize and Progress Your Training
Vary your workouts thoughtfully using periodization principles to constantly provide new challenges and fitness stimuli. Progressively increase demands over time to force further adaptations.
6. Fuel and Recover Properly
Structure your nutrition and lifestyle to support energy needs, recovery, and body composition goals related to your training. Don't undermine your hard work with poor fueling and lifestyle choices.
Following these evidence-based training principles and programming variables will optimize your rate of fitness improvement so you can reach your goals faster. Be consistent and patient.
Sample 12 Week Plan to Get Fit
Here is an example beginner fitness plan covering strength, HIIT, and cardio to help you get fitter over a 12 week period:
- Strength train 2 days/week total body
- Low intensity steady cardio 3 days/week, 30 mins
- 1 HIIT workout, 20 minutes
- Active recovery/stretch 1 day
- Strength train 3 days/week split routine
- Moderate steady cardio 3 days/week, 45 mins
- 2 HIIT workouts, 20-25 minutes
- Active recovery/stretch 1 day
- Strength train 4 days/week upper/lower split
- High intensity cardio 2 days/week, 60 mins
- 2 HIIT workouts, 30 minutes
- Active recovery/stretch 1 day
This builds your workload and intensity progressively over 12 weeks. You’ll enhance muscular fitness, cardiovascular fitness, endurance, and body composition by training smart.
Make sure you’re fueling properly and recovering adequately during this 12 week journey. That will enable you to keep progressing and prevent overtraining.
After 12 weeks of consistent training, you’ll be leaps and bounds fitter and healthier than when you started. Use this momentum to continue your fitness journey over the months and years ahead.
Maintaining Fitness Long-Term
Getting fit is one thing. But maintaining your fitness is a lifelong endeavor. Here are some tips:
- Continue exercising most days of the week, but reduce volume by 10-20% from peak training periods
- Take more rest days whenever needed; listen to your body
- Periodically cycle between higher intensity and lower intensity blocks
- Include sufficient protein and eat at maintenance calorie levels
- Stay active with recreational activities you enjoy on rest days
- Accept that your fitness will fluctuate in periods of life stress and busyness
Make long-term fitness part of your lifestyle. Be flexible, accept ups and downs, and keep coming back to regular workouts. Your dedication will pay off in a lifetime of health.
Improving your fitness takes consistent effort over time. But sticking with it is worth it. Regular exercise provides tremendous physical and mental health benefits that you’ll get to enjoy for years to come.
Be patient and trust in the process. Your body is adapting, even if you can’t see all the changes happening underneath the surface yet. Progress will come in waves, with periods of quicker and slower gains.
Stay focused on your “why.” Remind yourself regularly why getting and staying fit matters to you. Let your big-picture motivation push you through temporary struggles.
You can get remarkably fit in just a few months. But the journey of reaching your potential and sustaining fitness is a lifelong adventure. Embrace it. Consistency and moderation are key.
Keep exercising, fueling well, recovering properly, and progressing sensibly. You’ll be amazed how far you can go. Now go get after it!
How long does it take to get fit and get in shape?
The time it takes to get fit and get in shape can vary depending on several factors such as your current fitness level, commitment, and consistency. However, with regular workouts and proper nutrition, you can start noticing changes in your body within four to six weeks.
How long does it take to see noticeable results?
It generally takes about two to three months of consistent training to see noticeable results in terms of muscle strength, endurance, and overall fitness level. However, this timeline may vary from person to person.
Can I get into shape in less time?
While it is possible to make noticeable improvements in a shorter time frame, it is important to have realistic expectations. High-intensity interval workouts and working with a personal trainer can help expedite your progress, but it may still take several weeks or months to achieve your fitness goals.
How long will it take to get back into shape after being inactive?
The time it takes to get back into shape after a period of inactivity will vary based on the individual's starting fitness level and the length of their inactive period. Generally, it can take anywhere from six to eight weeks of consistent exercise to regain previous fitness levels.
How long does it take to get fit through weightlifting?
Weightlifting is an effective way to improve strength and build muscle. With regular weightlifting sessions, you can start to see noticeable improvements in your muscle tone and strength within four to six weeks.
How long does it take to improve cardio fitness?
Improving cardiovascular fitness, also known as VO2 max, can take time and consistent effort. With high-intensity cardio workouts three times a week, you can start noticing changes in your cardio fitness within 3 to 4 months.
How long does it take to get back in shape after a break?
Getting back into shape after taking a break from your fitness routine will depend on several factors, including the length of the break and your prior fitness level. On average, it can take about six to eight weeks of consistent training to regain your previous level of fitness.
How long does it take to get fit by taking the stairs?
Taking the stairs instead of the elevator is a simple way to incorporate more physical activity into your daily routine. While it may not dramatically transform your fitness level, regularly opting for the stairs can help you burn calories and improve your overall fitness over time.
How long does it take to get fit without a personal trainer?
You can get fit without a personal trainer by following a well-rounded workout program and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. It may take longer to see results compared to working with a professional, but with dedication and consistency, you can still achieve your fitness goals.
How long does it take to get fit by working out three times a week?
Working out three times a week is a good starting point for improving fitness. With consistent workouts and attention to nutrition, you can expect to see noticeable improvements in your fitness level within four to six weeks.