How long does it take to get stronger?

I work in a cubicle and don’t get out much in the winter so you could say at the time I’m fairly sedentary. I do work out for a few minutes a day in the company gym but nothing extreme. Just something to get the muscles moving and the blood flowing. I thought the daily workout would get me a little bit in shape but then a friend suggested we go to the college and use the rock climbing wall they had there. Holy CRAP!! We started out with a few of the easier climbs and then went to some of the harder and harder ones. By the end of the night I came to the conclusion that I AM A WUSS!!! Anyway…My arms got one hell of a work out and it got me thinking that the more I did it the stronger my arms would get. But how fast? Does the muscle build even as I work out? Once the fatigue is gone, am I technically a little stronger than I was before even if it’s not noticable? How long before I actually could tell that I was stronger even if just a little? Will one workout make me stronger or is there a minimum amount I need to do in order to add strength?

A somewhat related question. The guy holding the ropes had mentioned he used to be into body building and would go for periods where he would take in 6 thousand calories a day. I asked how much weight he put on with that kind of intake and he said he would gain about 5 pounds in a month. That doesn’t seem like much to me. I was expecting it to be a lot more. Does this sound right? Is it because he burned so much of what he took in from working out? Is it because it was pure lean muscle he was putting on with no extra fat? Was he bullshitting me? I could put on five pounds in a couple of days, but of course it would be fat pounds.

Your strength is affected not only by your muscle size, but by how efficient your nervous system is. You will see some gains in the first six or so weeks, but those will be mostly due to your nervous system being trained. After that, the style of training you’re doing becomes the most significant factor. If you do nothing but climbing, you’ll see it get easier for a while, but eventually you’ll plateau, and you’ll need to do something else if you want to increase your strength. On the other hand, if your only goal is to be able to climb for fitness, you might not need to?

Regarding your trainer’s diet, it’s possible that he was eating six thousand calories a day and not gaining weight. Muscle has a very high active metabolism, so if he was very large and very active, that could be close to his daily expenditure. But it’s also possible that he was overestimating the amount he ate–people are notoriously bad about tracking their calories without strict logging.

Rock climbing is more than just strength. If you use good techniques you don’t use as much strength. You should mostly use your legs to move up and not your arms. Most people have legs that are much stronger than their arms. If you stick with rock climbing you will get better, it also helps to take some basic classes to learn better ways of climbing.

Ah…this would probably explain why my arms were basically useless for two days while the rest of my body was fine.

At the height of Michael Phelps’ fitness, he was ingesting a staggering 12,000 calories per day. Obviously, he wasn’t packing on the pounds. Christ, the guy must have done nothing but swim, eat, and sleep.

Ingesting that much, I suspect there was at least some time spent on the toilet each day!

Otherwise, I really don’t want to swim in the same pool.

The highest my upper body strength has ever been was immediately after I came back from a two-week canoeing campout. That’s not very strenuous exercise, of course, but I was spending most of my waking hours on it for that entire time.

So I’d say that if you really work at it and devote more time than you probably have available, you can definitely see significant improvement in a couple of weeks or less.

Lesse, 1 KCal = 1 liter of water, 1 degree C

Your average kiddie pool is between 70 & 90 gallons- say 80 average.
If we remove his volume, and a little water so he can move without spilling, let’s call it 65 gallons

1 Gallon = 3.785 Liters, so 65 gallons is a smidge over 246 liters.

12,000 C/liter * liter/246 = 48.78 degrees celsius

Darn. He could not make a kiddie pool boil. But it could go from “just barely liquid” to “uncomfortably warm”.

Phelps swims 5 hours day, 365 days a year, he never takes a day off when he is training. Most swimmers take 1 day off a week.

Wond’rus calculatin’!

Of course, he’d have to be able to do his regular work-out in 65 gallons of water, which might be a bit of a stretch.

Back to the OP: I joined a club (once, way back when) and went almost every darned day and did a circuit. Took about 30-40 minutes. No change for weeks. Then about 6 week later, I zoomed through the circuit; everything seem lighter than usual. When I weighed myself, I had gained 3 pounds–apparently all muscle.

So, different people build muscle in different ways and at different rates. YMMV :slight_smile:

The last time I lifted in a serious attempt to add strength/weight I saw gains pretty quickly - certainly within a couple of weeks, but significant increases within 6 months.

Each week I did 3 different full body workouts, doing each exercise at the max weight I could do with a goal of 3 sets of 15 reps. For example, on different days I would do bench, incline bench, and decline bench. As soon as I could do all 3 full sets, I would up the weight. After 2 months, I increased the weight such that I was doing 12 reps, again increasing as soon as I could do 3 full sets. Then 2 months later down to 10 reps, then again down to 8. At this point I was lifting some pretty serious weights in all muscle groups - especially compared to when I had started. After 2 months at 3X8 I switched to higher weights for a limited number of core exercises - bench, squat, deadlift, etc.

Tremendous gains in strength and size in well under a year.

I made the same mistake when I first climbed an (artificial) rock wall. It was really embarrassing because my arms were so dead that I couldn’t even make it to the top, then right after me a little girl maybe 10-12 years old made it all the way.

Definitely climb with your legs and not your arms. :smiley:

IMHO, three weeks from starting an activity so that you can notice the difference, and three months so that people you associate with start seeing a difference.

The muscle does not build when you work out. When you’re exerting, you’re actually tearing the muscle. The building comes with recovery, which generally takes 24 to 72 hours, depending on how strenuous the activity was.

And the distances he swims just for “warm-ups” and “cool-downs” are incredible. We’re talking thousands of meters. I guess thats how you get to be the greatest.

Strength training:

Eat chicken/pasta/broccoli mix 6 times a day to even metabolism out.

Work a muscle group for 6 weeks, then switch. (back/legs/arms etc)

One week off every 6 weeks, one day off each week.

Use free weights not a machine.

Sleep 9 hours each night.

Bulk (eat heavily for 3-6 months) to gain muscle, then Cut (diet to ideal weight) to lose fat.

Proper form is very important for results without injury.

Drink protein shake following workout.

It takes at least 25 years to achieve max strength.

(all from my son (22) who has trained as above for 6+ years and can bench press a house)

Why do you say this? I don’t see much physical difference between free weights and machines, other than machines can actually help you keep your form more precisely.

Three reasons:

First, machines simply don’t involve all of the muscles that are involved in free weight motions. The human muscular system consists of two different systems, one that’s used for movement and one that’s used for stabilization. Machines only involve the first, while free weights and pretty much anything you do outside of a gym involve both systems.

Second, machines force you into performing the same movement pattern over and over again. That’s how repetitive stress injuries happen.

Third, there are just a lot of free weight movements that you can’t replicate on a machine. (Note that cable stations are much more like free weights than machines, and should be part of any well-equipped gym.)

That’s not to say that you should never touch any machines–some, like the leg curl and lat pullover, are actually good to use. But there are some–the leg press, the seated overhead press, torso rotation machines, and certain pec deck machines–that you definitely should avoid.