How many months does it take to transform your body? This is a question that many people who are considering working out or have recently started exercising often wonder about. Many would like to see results within a few short weeks. However, is this physically possible? How long does it take to get in shape?
How To Get In Shape
Before thinking about ‘how long after starting to work out do you see results’, you must first learn how to get in shape. Here are some tips and tricks that you should follow to ensure that you lose weight and get in the shape of your dreams.
Determine How Much Weight You Should Lose
The best way to do this is by calculating your BMI. Your Body Mass Index – aka BMI – is a person’s weight in kilograms divided by the square of their height in meters (2). You can do this by using a reputable BMI calculator or by going to a doctor who may help you get a more accurate estimate. A healthy BMI for a healthy weight ranges from 18.5 to 24.9 (11). Anymore means that you are overweight and any less will mean that you are underweight.
Take A Critical Look At Your Diet
The type of foods and drinks that you consume are most probably the main hurdle in your weight loss and fitness goals. You are unlikely to achieve any of these if you are not eating the right things and in the right way. Here are some things that you should avoid to achieve your ‘how to get in shape’ goals.
1. Cut Out All Junk Foods
Take a break from visiting your favorite local fast food restaurant for a while. No matter how tasty these foods are, they are often full of saturated fats and extra calories that will prevent weight loss.
2. Cut Out Sugar, Soda, Carbonated And Energy Drinks
These drinks are usually full of added sugar. These are added calories that you do not need in your diet (20).
Instead, replace these unhealthy foods with healthier options and habits such as:
1. Drink More Water
2. Eat More Vegetables
The best thing about veggies is how low in calories they are. You can eat an entire plate of them without being worried about overdoing your calorie intake, as long as they are not fried. Ensure that your meals consist of dark leafy greens such as Bok choy, kale, spinach, Swiss chard, arugula, cabbage, and Romaine lettuce.
3. Consume More Protein-Rich Foods
Healthy sources of proteins include eggs, milk, legumes, protein powders, Soy (tofu), cheese, oily fish (salmon, mackerel, tuna, bass), poultry, nuts, yogurt and lean poultry or meat. Proteins keep you full for longer, preventing snacking, increasing muscle mass and strength, and boosts your metabolism; all factors that will help you get in shape (19).
4. Eat More Fruits
Not only will they help kick your sugar craving, but they also help lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, prevent some types of cancer, and lower risk of eye and digestive problems (17). They are also a good source of dietary fiber, vitamins and minerals, including folate, vitamin C and potassium (24).
5. Eat Your Carbs
When people are trying to get in shape, most are quick to cut out all carbohydrates from their diet. However, this is not a good or sustainable plan because our bodies need carbs.
Not eating carbs can lead to serious nutrient deficiencies. On the other hand, the body turns carbs into glucose which we use as a source of energy. While we can use other sources such as fats and protein as an energy source, remember that the brain still requires glucose to function well (4).
However, not all carbs are made equal. Simple carbs such as white bread, pasta, pastries, and candies are mostly sugar and are what give carbs a bad rap. Simple carbs provide a rapid source of energy, and you soon get hungry after consuming them.
Complex carbohydrates, on the other hand, are what you should be consuming. They are starches that consist of long chains of sugar molecules (23). These can be found in grains such as quinoa, vegetables like tomatoes, potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, and pumpkin, as well as in whole grains such as brown rice, wild rice, oatmeal, bulgur, millet, barley, popcorn, and whole-wheat bread, pasta or crackers. Complex carbs are healthier and will keep you fuller for longer.
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Mind Your Calorie Intake
People tend to think that because they are eating healthy foods, they should not mind their calorie intake. This, however, is not true. You can overeat even when you are eating healthy options. When it comes to calories, the average woman requires about 2,000 calories while a man needs about 2,500 calories a day (22).
This number can go up or down depending on factors such as age and lifestyle. To lose weight, it is advisable to cut about 500 to 1000 calories a day (3,500 – 7000 cals a week) (6). To determine how many calories you eat a day and track your new intake, download a reputable fitness or calorie app to help you along. This will enable you to lose about 1 to 2 pounds a week.
Start Working Out
Other than eating right and within your recommended calorie intake, the other best thing to do is to incorporate workouts into your daily routine. Please note that your exercises should be full-body workouts not just specific for ‘trouble areas’. You cannot just do ab workouts or exercise just your glutes in hopes to get in shape. Spot exercises or spot reduction does not work (14).
Instead of this, try doing compound exercises instead. These workouts are multi-joint movements that work several muscles or muscle groups at one time. They are great for anyone who wishes to get the most out of a workout session. Compound workouts do this by providing a full-body workout in less time (5).
Some fantastic compound workouts to transform your body in a couple of months include:
They work out your lower body, engage your core and improve strength and stability in the trunk and upper body.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, resting your arms straight down at your sides.
- Bracing your core and keeping your chest high, begin to push your hips back, bending your knees as if you are going to sit down.
- Ensure that your knees do not cave in and when your thighs are parallel to the floor, pause for 2 – 3 seconds.
- Push up evenly through your whole foot back to the starting position.
This targets your shoulders, pectorals, triceps, and core.
- Get on the floor on all fours, positioning your hands slightly wider than your shoulders.
- Extend your legs back so that you are balanced on your hands and toes. Keep your body in a straight line from head to toe without sagging in the middle or arching your back.
- Engage your core by pulling your navel towards your spine. Do not hold your breath.
- Inhale as you slowly bend your elbows and lower yourself until your elbows are at a 90-degree angle.
- Exhale as you begin contracting your chest muscles and pushing back up through your hands to the start position.
If you are a beginner and this standard push-up is too hard for you, modify it by doing the workout on your knees instead of straightening out your legs. You could also do an inclined push-up. Do the same movements above against a table or bench.
These target the muscles in your hamstrings, glutes, back, hips, core, and trapezius.
- Hold two bottles of water in front of you with an overhand grip (your palms should be facing the body).
- Hinge forward at your hips, slightly bending the knees, lowering the dumbbells to the ground without allowing your back to round.
- Brace core and lift back to the starting position. Keep your shoulders together and your spine in a neutral position throughout the workout.
- Try doing this 20 times for one set.
Be sure not to arch your neck or curl your chin into your neck.
Lunges work out the muscles in your core, quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, and glutes.
- Keep your upper body straight, with your shoulders back and relaxed and chin up (pick a point to stare at in front of you, so you don’t keep looking down).
- Make sure to engage your core.
- Step forward with your right leg, lowering your hips until both knees are bent at about a 90-degree angle. Make sure your right knee is directly above your ankle, not pushed out too far, and make sure the left knee doesn’t touch the floor.
- Keep the weight in your heels as you push back up to the starting position.
- Do this 20 times before switching to the other leg and repeating the movement.
This workout is best done with weight. It can be done with dumbbells or a barbell. If you do not have any of this, you can use water or milk bottles. For beginners, women should use a 5-pound weight, while men should use a 10-pound one.
- Stand upright and keep the back straight.
- Hold a dumbbell in each hand at the shoulders with an overhand grip. Thumbs should be on the inside and knuckles facing up.
- Raise the weights above the head in a controlled motion while exhaling. Pause at the top of the motion.
- Return the dumbbells to the shoulders while inhaling.
- Repeat this 15 to 20 times.
The exercises work out the pectorals, deltoids, triceps, trapezius, and core.
They target the muscles of the core, hips, glutes, hamstrings, and the upper body, including your shoulders and lats.
- Stand with feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart as you hold a kettlebell in front of your body with both hands, arms straight.
- With a slight bend in your knees and a flat back, hinge at your hips and swing the kettlebell back through your legs.
- Use that momentum to stand and swing the kettlebell out in front of your body, up to shoulder height. Thrust your hips forward, and engage your glutes and core as you stand up straight.
- When the kettlebell hits shoulder height, your knees should be straight, and glutes contracted in a full hip extension.
- Allow the kettlebell to swing back down through your legs.
While these are great cardio and full-body workout, it mostly targets the muscles in your arms, shoulders, quads, and core.
- Begin in a traditional plank position with your shoulders directly over your hands and wrists.
- Be sure to keep your back flat and your butt down, maintaining a neutral spine. Do not curve your back or sag your hips.
- Engage your core and lift up your right knee, bringing it toward your elbow (or as far as you can). Return the right knee back to the starting position as you simultaneously drive your left knee up toward your left elbow.
- Return to the starting position and continue switching legs as you pick up the pace. It should feel like you are running in place in a plank position.
This is a fantastic cardio workout that is not only fun but works out muscles in both your lower and upper body (21).
How Many Months Does It Take To Transform Your Body By Swimming?
Swimming is a fantastic full-body workout that can be done by almost anyone. People with disabilities, children, the elderly, and even pregnant women can safely swim as a way to incorporate exercise in their day to day (16).
When it comes to burning calories, a dip in the pool is also a good idea. Different swimming styles and intensities burn different numbers of calories depending on your weight. Here are the calories you can burn in 30 minutes while swimming (3)
- Leisurely – 180 to 266
- Backstroke – 240 to 355
- Breaststroke – 300 to 444
- Vigorous laps or treading – 300 to 444
If you are wondering how many months does it take to transform your body through swimming, this is not an exact science. Your body transformation largely depends on what you eat and your workout regimen, as well as many individual factors including genetics. However, with a healthy diet and regular intensive swimming, you could start seeing results in as little as a month (7).
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How Many Days A Week Should You Work Out?
Most people tend to think that they need to work out as much as possible in order to achieve their desired result. This, however, is not true. Going to the gym, or doing home workouts seven days a week is not always healthy for you and could lead to overtraining.
Overtraining is when you work out without allowing enough recovery time between sessions. Not only does this hinder your results, but it can also lead to other physical and mental problems (15). When it comes to how many days a week should you work out, as a beginner, it is advisable to do some moderately intense cardio 3 days a week. After a while, you can work up to doing cardio 5 to 6 days a week.
If you are lifting weights, then the same rules apply. However, do not exercise the same muscle groups two days in a row. I.e, if you did lower body workouts on Monday, switch to upper body exercises on Tuesday. If you are doing full-body strength training, be sure to skip a day in between your workouts.
Depending on your fitness level, you should workout 3 to 5 days a week (12). Never skip rest days to allow your muscle to recover and grow and prevent overtraining.
How Long Does It Take To Transform Your Strength, Fitness, And Physique?
When looking at yourself in the mirror when you first begin working out and eating right you might see some slight changes in just two days, but this is mostly due to lack of bloating and loss of water weight (9). However, when it comes to strength and building muscle, this takes longer. Some say that it might take four to eight weeks to see results while others believe that changes start appearing after six weeks (8).
Factors That Affect Fitness
There are numerous factors that can affect the fitness levels of different people. They include:
- Age. Older people are not as flexible as they were when they were younger. Their muscle mass declines, and bones become brittle preventing them from being as physically active as they would like.
- Diet. People who eat healthy, nutrient-dense foods will perform better at the gym than those who fill up on unhealthy options and empty calories.
- Illness and Fatigue. Anyone who is unwell or tired has no business in the gym. It is better to wait until you are well and fully rested before resuming training.
- Drugs. Especially controlled substances will cause damage to vital organs affecting your fitness and performance. They could also lead to death.
- Gender. Unlike women, men are generally stronger than women. This is because women have type I muscle fibers while men have type II fibers. Type II fibers ensure that men have a greater power output, while type I ensure faster recovery (13).
How To Accelerate Your Results The Safe Way
Enrolling in a gym or starting home workouts and improving your diet are two great steps in your fitness journey. However, did you know that there are some things you could that will help you arrive at your goals faster? They include (10):
- Increase your protein intake. Many fitness experts tend always to have a protein shake after their workout. This is because eating adequate amounts of protein helps you maintain your muscle mass and provides the building blocks for muscle growth, especially when combined with weight/strength training.
- Eat enough food for your goals. If you are looking to lose weight, eat on a calorie deficit but make sure that you do not under-eat. Under-eating will leave you unable to exercise and will make your body hold on to fat because it thinks you are starving. If you want to build muscle, then you must increase the number of calories you eat to give enough strength to lift those heavy weights.
- Lift more weights. Fitness is not just cardio; strength training is also a major part of it. Combining cardio and weight lifting decreases body fat and builds muscle faster.
- Do more HIIT workouts. High-Intensity Interval Training workouts have a lot of benefits among them being burning a large number of calories in a short amount of time (1).
- Change your workout routine. This should be done every six to 12 weeks. Our bodies tend to get used to repetitive exercises, and they stop being as effective after a while.
The Bottom Line
How many months does it take to transform your body? This answer differs from person to person. Some might start seeing changes as soon as a month into their routine, while others might have to wait until they are two months into their regimen.
Your diet and exercise regimen matter a lot in when and if you will see any results. As long as you keep eating healthy and stay on track with your workouts (either in the gym or at home), you will see results. However, remember that you must always see a doctor and nutritionist before changing your diet and starting a workout regimen.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any medical conditions. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- 8 Reasons HIIT Workouts are So Effective (2014, acefitness.org)
- Body Mass Index (BMI) (2020, cdc.gov)
- Calories burned in 30 minutes for people of three different weights (2018, health.harvard.edu)
- Carbohydrates — Good or Bad for You? (2015, health.harvard.com)
- Compound vs. Isolation Exercises: Pros and Cons (2019, verywellfit.com)
- Counting calories: Get back to weight-loss basics (2020, mayoclinic.org)
- How Long Do You Have to Swim to Lose Weight? (2019, livestrong.com)
- How long does it take to build muscle? (2020, msn.com)
- How Long Does it Take to Change Your Body After Working Out? (2019, livestrong.com)
- How Long Does It Really Take to See Fitness Results? (2019, health.usnews.com)
- How much weight do you need to lose? (2020, nhs.uk)
- How Often Should You Workout? (2020, verywellfit.com)
- Muscular Strength in Women Compared to Men (2019, livestrong.com)
- Myths and Misconceptions: Spot Reduction and Feeling the Burn (2013, acefitness.org)
- Overtraining | 9 Signs of Overtraining to Look Out For (2017, acefitness.org)
- Physical and mental benefits of swimming (2018, medicalnewstoday.com)
- Vegetables and Fruits (n.d, hsph.harvard.edu)
- Water: How much should you drink every day? (2017, mayoclinic.org)
- What foods are high in protein? (2020, medicalnewstoday.com)
- What Happens When You Cut Out Added Sugar? (2019, webmd.com)
- What Muscles Do You Use While Jumping Rope? (2019, livestrong.com)
- What should my daily intake of calories be? (2019, nhs.uk)
- What you need to know about carbs (2017, medicalnewstoday.com)
- Why 5 A Day? (2018, nhs.uk)