Answered by Nicci Micco on Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Rome wasn't built in a day, and you can't transform your physique overnight. "On average, if you weight train three times a week for forty-five minutes to an hour at a time, you should see physical results within six to eight weeks," says trainer Sal Fischera, a spokesperson for the American Council on Exercise in New York City. You can, however, see great gains in strength even within a few days, because neurological adaptations—in which an increased number of muscle fibers are recruited due to muscle stimulation—occur more quickly than physical ones. In fact, it's not uncommon to see up to a 40 percent increase in strength within the first few weeks of your program. But if adding power isn't your goal and your aim is purely aesthetic, Fischera advises doing 20 to 30 minutes of aerobic exercise three to five times a week in conjunction with your weight training program in order to get a more lean, "cut" body. "Cardiovascular exercise plays a major role in defining your muscles and shaping your body, because it burns fat and decreases the amount of subcutaneous (right beneath your skin) fat that you have, making your muscles look more defined," says Fischera. "You could do a thousand sit-ups a day, but if there's a lot of fat covering your abdominal muscles, you'll never catch a glimpse of those great abs." Weight training, like cardio, burns fat. "Muscle tissue burns fat, so the longer you keep up your weight training routine, the more muscle mass you'll have," Fischera explains. Doing lower repetitions (5 or 6 reps) at a high intensity results in increased strength and power. On the other hand, higher repetitions (12 to 15 reps) at a lower intensity build endurance and burn fat more effectively. But neither weights or cardio alone are nearly as beneficial as the two combined, says Fischera, so do a balance of both for best results.