How long do I need to strength train before I see any results?

Track athletes want to know how long they need to strength train before they see any results. If a track athlete were to strength train three to four days a week and were consistent, they would notice an increase in strength relatively early in their strength training program.

Neural adaptations

The first change your body will undergo is the adaptation of your neuromuscular system and its ability to recruit muscle fibers in the form of motor units.  This process takes 1-2 weeks and can be noticed while strength training.  As you make muscle contractions while lifting weights, you will notice early in your strength training program that the body part or parts that are performing the movement under moderate to heavy resistance will shake.

An example of seeing body parts shake can be easily seen while performing a bench press.  As you lower the weight close to chest level and push the weight back up, you may notice that your arms start shaking.  This means that your neural adaptations have not been made yet.  As you train your body more, you will notice that the shaking will decrease over the next few weeks.  You might see it again later when you decide to make heavy increases in weight or if you are not consistent in your strength training program.

Strength gains and size gains
As for seeing gains in muscle size or real strength results, the actual change in muscle size and strength through strength training will undergo a process known as hypertrophy and this process usually takes about 4-8 weeks. When a track athlete strength trains the right muscle groups consistently three to four days a week they can see results as soon as the third or fourth week. If a track athlete were to miss out on workout days or take a week off, then they might see their results around eight week or even longer.

The key is consistency, and not to mention the body is really smart. Every time a track athlete strength trains, the body tries to repair and rebuild in order to keep up with the demands of the resistance placed on the muscles. If there are gaps of training, then the body doesn’t know what to do and eventually does less to try to keep up with the strength training resistance demands. When this happens, we see a slower rate of strength or size gains or we may even see a reduction in size and strength.