One thing I’ve noticed over the years is that people seem a lot more interested in how long it will take to reach a certain fitness goal than actually DOING what’s needed to reach that goal in the first place.
That’s probably why I get asked how long it takes to lose weight, or build muscle, or get a six pack almost as often as I do about HOW to reach those goals.
And this is reason #1,835 that people fail to get the results they want. They’re just too focused on time frames and making things happen fast that they never actually make things happen at all.
That’s why my answers to questions like these are always more sarcastic than useful. Something like “It will take you exactly 78 days, 14 hours, 32 minutes, 15 seconds” or “Infinity plus one” or “Longer than it would have if you didn’t waste time asking stupid time-frame questions first.”
Real mature, I know. However, since I still get asked these questions on a weekly basis, I figured I’d use this article to finally give my best non-sarcastic answers to them. Specifically:
- How long does it take to lose weight?
- How long does it take to get a six pack?
- How long does it take to build muscle?
Since these appear to be the most common goals people want time estimates for, these are the questions I’ll try to give real answers to right now. Let’s begin…
How Long Does It Take To Lose Weight?
Well, on average, most people can lose weight at a rate of about 0.5-2lbs per week. That seems to be the sweet spot in terms of healthy, realistic, sustainable and permanent weight loss that doesn’t result in much (if any) muscle loss along with it.
Of course, the more specific answer to the “how long does it take to lose weight” question is that it depends on exactly how much weight you have to lose in the first place. Shocking, right?
Meaning, with effort levels and consistency being equal, it will obviously take someone with 100 pounds to lose a lot longer than it will take someone with 10. And the more fat you have to lose, the faster you can (and should) lose it.
So someone with A LOT of weight to lose might lose it at a rate of 2 pounds or more per week without any problem… especially early on. Someone with A SMALL amount of weight to lose might end up losing closer to 0.5-1 pound per week. Someone with an AVERAGE amount of weight to lose might end up losing between 1-2 pounds per week.
Which means, the more weight you have to lose, the faster you’ll lose it but the longer it will take due to the total quantity that needs to be lost. And the less weight you have to lose, the slower you’ll lose it but the sooner it will happen because there’s just not as much there to lose.
So, figure out how much weight you’re trying to lose and do some basic math to figure out how long it should realistically take you. But the second you figure it out, make sure 100% of your focus shifts into actually DOING what needs to be done to make it happen. You know, this: How To Lose Fat
How Long Does It Take To Get A Six Pack?
The answer here is actually damn near identical to my previous answer.
You see, the reason you don’t have a six pack is rarely EVER because your abs aren’t developed enough or being trained properly. And it sure as hell has nothing to do with special ab workouts, magical abdominal exercises and fancy infomercial machines.
It’s simply because you have too much ugly body fat on your stomach, and it’s covering your pretty six pack.
This means that actually being able to see your six pack requires losing that fat. So how long will that take? See my answer from above regarding how long it will take to lose fat in general. The same thing applies here, with the only difference being that we don’t all lose fat from the same body parts in the same order.
I mean, we all lose fat the exact same way (that darn caloric deficit). But, our individual genetics predetermine the exact order and pattern it will happen in. And no… it can’t be changed.
All you can do is just start eating and working out in a way that effectively causes fat loss, and your body will eventually lose that fat from the specific area you want it to the most (in this case, your stomach). So while it’s easy to say you can lose X pounds of fat per week, it’s impossible to say where those X pounds will come from.
The more it comes from your stomach, the faster you’ll get your six pack (or technically speaking… the faster you’ll be able to see/uncover your six pack). And the more it comes from some other body part first, the longer it will take.
But again, there’s nothing you can do in your diet or workout routine to change this fat loss pattern. All you can do is just start losing fat as effectively as possible and wait for everything to take care of itself. At some point, you’ll have your six pack.
Additional details here: How To Get A Six Pack & Lose Belly Fat
How Long Does It Take To Build Muscle?
Based on my own firsthand experience, all of the real world results I’ve seen, and various research and expert opinions looking at the rate of muscle growth, here’s what I can tell you.
The average MAN can expect to build between 0.25-0.5lb of muscle mass per week. The average WOMAN can expect about half that.
But just like with weight loss, this is really just the general answer to the “how long does it take” question. The more specific answer again depends on you.
For example, a beginner to weight training will be able to gain more muscle much faster than someone who is advanced and has already built a significant amount of muscle. Someone with amazing genetics will be able to build muscle faster than someone with crappy genetics. And of course, someone using steroids will be able to blow everyone else away completely.
So while these individual differences play major roles in predicting exactly how long a certain amount of muscle growth will take, the majority of men can probably expect to gain (on average) about 0.25-0.5lb of muscle per week, and the majority of women can expect around half that.
For further details, read this: How Much Muscle Can You Gain & How Fast Can You Build It
How Do I Reach These Goals As Fast As Possible?
Now that you have a general idea of how long it will take you to lose weight, get a six pack or build muscle, there’s one last important point that needs to be mentioned: all of these time estimates are based on the best case scenarios.
Meaning, it assumes you’re using a diet and workout routine that is designed as effectively as possible for that specific goal. It assumes you’re as consistent as possible and working your ass off. It assumes you’re doing everything right and not screwing up along the way.
And especially of note for someone reading this article (that would be you)… it assumes you’re putting 100% of your focus into making all of this happen rather than just wasting time and energy obsessing over how long things will take and when you can expect to be done by.
Whatever super fast time estimate you’re looking for, you’re not going to find it. It’s always going to be a slow and gradual process, and anyone telling you differently is just trying to take advantage of your unrealistic expectations.
So, the moral of this story is simple. If you truly want to get the best results as FAST as possible… spend less time worrying about how long it will take, and more time just making it happen.