How fast you make gains in fitness largely depends on the intensity, frequency and duration of your workouts. What you eat will also make a significant difference, as will your current fitness level. If you have been working out for some time and are in decent shape, you will be closer to your goal than someone who is out of shape and just starting out. Twelve weeks is the minimum number of weeks a workout plan should be to achieve gains, as long as you are following some sound principles.
You have two types of muscle fibers -- fast twitch and slow twitch. Fast twitch are for short bursts of power and slow twitch are for endurance. However, unless you have some very expensive tests done, you have no idea which you have more of. Men's Health says to vary your reps per set from five to 15 to hit both types of muscle fibers. Do your shorter sets first. You need to adjust the weight to the number of reps by lifting enough weight that the last two reps of each set are difficult. Only rest for 30 seconds between sets.
Sporadic workouts will not get you the fast gains you yearn for. You need to do four weight-training workouts per week. Split your muscles into groups so each muscle group gets exhausted once a week. Work your back and biceps on day one. Hit your chest, shoulders and triceps on day two. Rest on day three and then work legs on the fourth day. Save day five for your core since it includes muscles from other groups as well. If you hit a plateau, change it up so every muscle group gets worked twice.
In addition to intensity, the duration of your workout sessions is also key to how quickly you will see results. To get gains you need to challenge your muscles beyond their current abilities. Your body's current fitness level is merely a reflection of what you have asked from it. Ask more and you will see results. The American Council on Exercise suggests that your workouts last from 30 to 45 minuets to allow enough time to complete multiple sets for each body part.
Safety and Tips
A burning sensation in your muscles is normal during weight training, especially when you are hitting it hard. However, you should never feel any sharp pains in your muscles or joints. During heavy training, use correct form to protect your joints. An injury can put you out of commission for months. Drop sets are a great way to demand more from your workouts. Begin with a weight that allows you to do four to five reps. Make sure you fail on the last rep. After you fail, grab a lighter weight and finish the set to 10 reps.
- Men's Health: 5 Muscle Myths Holding You Back
- Ace Personal Trainer Manual; American Council on Exercise
- Photo Credit Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images
- Effective Strength Training: Analysis and Technique for Upper-Body, Lower-Body, and Trunk Exercises