Patience is not one our greatest assets; we want it all and we want it now. At least that is, when it comes to fitness and physique related pursuits.
As a Personal Trainer I often hear requests of near miraculous proportions and it is compounded by outrageous claims from publications on the subject that offer the next “Six pack abs in 28 days” article which simply serves to draw you into buying what is in essence a catalogue of products for sale by the advertises that pay for the magazine.
So just how long should we wait until we see our dream bodies manifest in the mirror before us? As always, it depends. I know, I say that a lot but it is worth heeding.
Excellence in any endeavour appears to take 10 years according to Malcolm Gladwell (author of “The Tipping Point”);
“Everyone, from all three groups, started playing at roughly the same time – around the age of five. In those first few years, everyone practised roughly the same amount – about two or three hours a week. But around the age of eight real differences started to emerge. The students who would end up as the best in their class began to practise more than everyone else: six hours a week by age nine, eight by age 12, 16 a week by age 14, and up and up, until by the age of 20 they were practising well over 30 hours a week. By the age of 20, the elite performers had all totalled 10,000 hours of practice over the course of their lives. The merely good students had totalled, by contrast, 8,000 hours, and the future music teachers just over 4,000 hours.”
And although this is a reference to musicians it certainly spills over to any arena that requires skill practice, which is to say pretty much everything we do from running to computer programming.
The book “The Talent Code” insists that 10,000 hours of practice, no matter what the field are needed to achieve the levels of excellence we see displayed in sport as a daily occurrence on our televisions! That’s one hell of a lot of gym time.
But what does this have to do with reaching the body we want, the fat loss, and the tone we so diligently chase? Everything and nothing.
I think it is fair to say that most people that workout are not there to master a skill and perform at world level but they still want to look like many of the athletes that put in those 10,000 hours.
How quickly you can reach a sexy low body fat percentage and attain the firm bum and thighs of a competitive athlete is a combination of how out of shape you have let your self become over the years and how hard you are willing to work.
A nice rule of thumb is for every centimetre of excess fat you can pinch near your belly button; in reality aim for nothing less than a month to get rid of it. Most people need about 4-6 months of consistent dieting to achieve something resembling their end goals and sometimes a lot more. Obviously the less disciplined a diet the longer it will take (the further you move away from meat, fish, vegetables, dairy and fruit as a base diet, the harder it is to reach low body fat levels).
As far as the shapely and sexy muscle tone of an athlete, well that can happen over a similar period of time depending again on your activity levels over the past 6-12 months. If the most strenuous exercise you have done of late is walking to work and up and down a few stairs, or God forbid jogging then we have to assume a base level of strength as nil. Your starting point is that of a recovering car crash victim. I don’t say this lightly but in most cases the body will have discontinued the maintenance of strength in ranges motion you don’t use so you must first relearn how to squat down to ground level, stand up and work in positions you have neglected for years. Then and only then, when full flexibility and base strength has been recovered can we begin to work on your future, advanced self.
“When mobility returns to base, you can progress”
If you have been an active individual and used your body through its full range of motion on a regular basis through a sport, yoga, pilates or something similar then you probably have mobility sorted and a focus on strength can be made which will see you transform your shape within 2-3 months give or take (and provided your diet is in order). Make no mistake, strength training and its sporting equivalents are what make a muscle “toned”. Sprinting, jumping, throwing, punching, kicking and any explosive bodily movement have the same, albeit, smaller effect as resistance training; a request of the muscles to produce high levels of force. This is the secret to a firm and capable body.
Ladies have no fear, you will not get bulky from weight training.
So if you are looking for excellence then you should have started as a child and spent a minimum of 10 years or 10,000 hours practising BUT if you just happen to want to look as good a world class athlete then relax, you can make damn good headway in somewhere between 3 and 12 months depending on your starting point. Phew!
Three to twelve months to undo perhaps decades of bad lifestyle choices, thats an amazing return on investment in anybodies books.
Your Personal Trainer,
Richard ‘Peg Leg’ Ham Williams