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Updated on July 14, 2011

"gain 10 pounds of muscle in a month"..."lose 40 pounds in 4 months"..."have rock hard abs in 5 minutes a day with our device"...

These claims give people the impression that they can have bad exercise and diet habits for years, and then with just 3 or 4 months of commitment to whatever the "program of the month" is to be able to get back into high school shape.

Folks, the truth is, you have to commit...and give it time. How much? Here is what I have witnessed over my personal training career.

When you do a hard workout to challenge muscular growth (research is showing that both a multiple set or single set training protocol works about the same. I prefer a single set protocol, but that is a discussion for another article), you don't gain pounds of muscle, you don't gain ounces of muscle, you gain grams of muscle. In other words, you can get your butt whipped and feel like you made massive gains, but you did not. You gained a little bit. The next workout you gain a little more. The workout after that you gain a little bit more. The truth is, you will train for about 4 to 6 weeks before you begin to see a little bit of tone and definition. If you keep at it, you will see much more noticeable gains in 6 months. I have noticed that it takes about 2 years of consistent effort to radically change the body. At that point, someone can gain about 10 or more pounds of muscle and would have lost anywhere to 15 to 30 pounds of fat, or more. That is when they really look good.

The same thing goes for fat loss. My main concern with new clients is their unrealistic expectations. They expect to lose 10 pounds of fat a month, and lose 40 to 60 pound of fat in six months. It realistically can't happen that fast. Don't forget, a pound of fat is 3500 calories. 3500! To lose 10 pounds of fat in a month, someone would have to lose 35,000 calories! Is that reasonable? Really? If scale weight loss happens that fast, valuable organ and muscle tissue is lost as well.

So, realistically, someone can lose about 1 to 2 pounds of fat a week, while gaining a little muscle every week. Doing both at the same time shows faster results than just focusing on losing scale weight. The body will show changes better, faster. Six months to big changes...2 years to completely reshape the body. Think about it this way...two years out of your life to get in shape really is not a long time, especially if it took your 10 or 20 years to get into the condition you are in.

Just like life, fitness is a journey. Take it one step at a time, and learn to enjoy the process.


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