I love a good big box gym.
These gyms have everything you could ever need to get in amazing shape.
With rows of equipment for cardio, strength, and calisthenics training, large corporate gyms are a one-stop-shop for all of your fitness needs.
Of course, the results you see depend on a couple of things like:
- What workouts you do
- How hard you push yourself
- How consistently you show up and put in the work
But assuming you’re ready, willing, and motivated to put in the effort…
… what results can you expect from the gym after one month of workouts, and beyond?
For most beginners, the biggest results from working out at a gym after the first month aren’t physical. While you may notice physique improvements like weight loss of 2-6 pounds and rapid strength gains, the increased focus and improved mood are dramatic and incredibly motivating.
Gyms give you a lot of freedom compared to group fitness classes, but that can be intimidating for many fitness beginners.
So, with the help of fitness professionals, let’s take a look at what you can expect during your first 30-days at a gym, with plenty of tips for getting the best and fastest results possible along the way.
If one of your fitness goals is to lose fat, working out is just one piece of the puzzle.
Ensuring that you are eating in a calorie deficit is crucial to see weight loss results at the gym.
That means eating fewer calories than your body burns in a day, forcing it to tap into fat reserves for energy.
You cannot outrun a bad diet if you are over your daily calorie needs.
If you are not a fan of counting calories — which can be stressful and lead to other problems for some people — eat lots of nutritious and fresh foods. Try to limit the amount of processed and sugary foods you eat each day.
This will naturally lower your calorie intake without the need to track every snack and meal.
The gym is a great place to burn calories and help create that daily deficit.
You’ll have your pick of tons of different cardio equipment like treadmills and ellipticals.
But how much weight can you actually expect to lose at the gym after a month of working out?
Fitness professional Tobias Sjösten had this to say:
“For my weight loss clients, I usually plan for them to lose around 1% of their total body weight per week. That’s 1.5 lbs per week and close to 20 lbs over three months for someone weighing 150 lbs.”
While you can see results for fat loss rather quickly, you should also pair your cardio workouts with some strength training.
Increasing your muscle size has been proven in studies to increase the number of calories you burn during the day.
Plus, building and/or maintaining muscle as you lose fat will help you develop a seriously impressive physique.
Realistically, if you eat properly and train regularly at the gym, you can safely lose anywhere from 2-6 pounds in your first month at the gym.
(For more on this, read about the best gyms for weight loss.)
Strength & Muscle Gain
Maybe weight loss isn’t your main goal at the gym.
Maybe you’re looking to pack on some muscle and strength for a more athletic and powerful look.
If so, most gyms can accommodate you — but some gyms are better for weightlifting than others.
Most gyms, though, will at least have:
- Resistance machines
- Light to medium dumbbells
- A Smith Machine (a power rack with guided barbell track)
If you’re just starting out, even this basic equipment is enough to help you seriously increase your strength.
As a beginner, you have the benefit of what is known as “newbie gains.”
This term refers to your body’s quick response to muscle and strength building in the beginning stages.
Strength coach Alex Parry mentions this experience noting:
“For muscle gain, beginners are actually really responsive for the first few months. It’s not unusual for complete beginners to put on quite a few lb’s/kilos of muscle in the first 2-3 months of lifting.
“However, this rate of progress won’t last forever, so don’t expect to be the next Mr. Olympia within the year!”
It’s not unusual to add 5 or even 10 pounds to your big compound lifts each and every workout at first (think your bench press or squat).
After a month at the gym, you could increase your bench press from just the empty, 45 pound barbell to well over 100 pounds!
But again, that rapid progress won’t last forever. And you won’t notice much different in your muscles for a couple of months.
While you can lose several pounds of weight per week, the same can’t be said about building muscle.
As a result, you should only expect to gain 1-2 pounds of muscle each month during the first months of training in most cases — even as your strength skyrockets.
The longer you lift, the slower and harder it is to put on new muscle.
(For more, check out what results you can see from lifting weights for a month.)
Treadmills, stationary bikes, stairmasters, and more—gyms are the perfect place to improve your cardiovascular endurance.
However, the most crucial factor for improving your endurance is how hard you push yourself during these workouts.
All of the cardio equipment is programmable, allowing you to pick just the right amount of resistance for your fitness level.
Unfortunately, these settings can also be a disadvantage, as the lowest settings can offer little challenge for many gym-goers.
For many, they believe the amount of time spent in the gym is more important than what is being done.
While you may think spending several hours in the gym will result in more improvement, many fitness experts believe the opposite.
After you reach a certain point during your workout, the benefits that you receive will start to decrease drastically.
Your body needs time to rest, and pushing it too far can be counterproductive.
When asking John Frigo of Best Price Nutrition about how long workouts should be, he said:
“It doesn’t take a ton of time in the gym if you’re working hard and being efficient with your time. 30-45 minutes can get you a great workout.”
Sticking to a schedule is also a significant factor in helping you improve your endurance and overall health.
Alex Parry added:
“Are you consistently sticking to your program and your recovery plan? As a coach, I can promise you that adherence/consistency is often the biggest factor in someone’s success.”
One of the essential things that also should be included in your routine is rest days.
As a beginner, your body isn’t quite accustomed to the stresses of frequent intense cardio workouts. Therefore, it’s often recommended to rest one day in between your workouts.
As you continue to push yourself on the various cardio equipment, you will notice your conditioning starting to improve.
For example, the treadmill setting that was once too fast is now manageable for you.
It’s tough to measure your conditioning the same way you can measure your strength, but you’ll see pretty rapid improvements in the gym as a total beginner.
For example, if you’re starting from scratch it could take as little as 2 weeks to be able to run a mile or as long as 9 weeks.
Just remember to keep upping the intensity if you want to see cardio improvements, but be sure to take it slow if you need to.
Pushing yourself too soon can be a recipe for injury and set yourself back in progress.
Agility, Mobility, & Flexibility
For gyms with group classes that teach yoga, pilates, or barre classes—flexibility will be more of a focus.
However, flexibility and mobility are often afterthoughts for many people’s gym fitness routines.
While you may not directly focus on improving your flexibility, some of the exercise movements you do will indirectly help your mobility.
For example, Pilates instructor Gemma O’Hare mentioned the mobility benefits of going to the gym, saying:
“Beginners may see improvements in mobility and technique as they will start to master the basics of the hinge and squat movements.”
To reduce your chances of injury and to feel better overall, spend some time at the gym doing stretches and mobility work.
If you avoid flexibility training, your body will become more rigid as you gain more muscle.
Your stretching routine does not have to be in-depth, but spending 10-15 minutes after your workout will save you from injury down the road.
In addition, if you attend group fitness classes from an experienced instructor, you will notice your mobility improving.
In most cases, mobility and flexibility are not easily tracked for improvement.
However, you will notice that you can perform certain exercise movements easier, or you no longer need to use assistance tools in fitness classes.
(For more, read this guide to stretching results.)
Mind, Mood, & Overall Energy
While you will notice physical improvements if you stick to your fitness routine, you will notice mental benefits as well.
No matter what type of training you do, you will start to feel more energetic and improve your mood.
Pilates instructor Gemma O’Hare mentioned how the mental benefits of exercise help people stay motivated, which can be tough for beginners:
“Although seeing physical changes may take a while to see, the internal changes can make a huge difference in maintaining motivation. Beginners can start to experience positive changes in their physical fitness in a matter of weeks.”
When you combine an exercise routine and a balanced diet, you will notice the greatest improvements in your focus, energy, and how good you feel daily.
Your physical progress will also increase your confidence and self-esteem.
If you choose to join group fitness classes hosted by the gym, you will also enjoy the benefits of being part of a fitness community.
The community setting improves your discipline and makes you look forward to attending the next classes.
After a rigorous workout at the gym, you will even notice the benefits as you sleep.
Your sleep quality will improve, which translates to an improvement in all areas of your life. Sleep is essential in fitness, helping you recover from your strenuous workout routine.
With gyms open throughout the day (and sometimes all night!), anyone can find the time to work out a few times per week.
Not to mention, big box gyms give you a ton of flexibility and all the equipment you need to work on strength, cardio, athleticism, or whatever your goals are.
As for the results you’ll see from going to the gym for a month (and beyond)…
You can expect to lose 1-2 pounds a week of fat and gain only a few pounds of muscle a month as a beginner. Your mood, sleep, and energy levels will improve almost instantly if you were previously on the sedentary side.
In the end, the most important part is staying consistent and looking for long-term results rather than a quick fix.
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Hope this helps!