Exercise And Weight Loss – How Much Time It Takes To Gain And Lose Muscle Mass

Meri Raffetto

Exercise And Weight Loss - How Much Time It Takes To Gain And Lose Muscle Mass feature image

I realize it’s not new information that exercise is important for weight management and health. The hard part is staying consistent. If you’re like most people you’ll find yourself having conversations in your head where you talk yourself out of exercise: “I don’t have time today”, “I don’t feel like it”, “I don’t want to get sweaty and have to shower again”.

In the beginning you’re motivated and exercise 4-5 days a week for a couple of weeks and then some minor disasters happen at work or home and you exercise only once that week, and then once every two weeks, and pretty soon you aren’t exercising at all.

According to Ann Etheridge, fitness trainer and owner of Living in Balance, it takes a full 6 weeks to build muscle mass. For you to begin seeing results you have to be consistent with your exercise for 6 weeks straight. This valuable piece of information also shows that true fat breakdown and building lean muscle mass doesn’t happen overnight. When you start on a journey of making lifestyle changes to lose weight (and keep it off) it is a continuous process.

The most startling news is that while it takes 6 weeks to build muscle, it only takes around 3 weeks to lose muscle mass. You can see, with all the on again/off again exercise, it will be difficult to obtain the results you are working towards.

Here are 3 steps you can take right now to keep you on track:

1. Commit. One thing you can learn from those who have lost weight and kept it off is that they made exercise a high priority in their life and committed themselves to a regular routine. Ask yourself, what am I willing to commit to? Start with something you are truly ready to do consistently. My best advice is to do something you actually enjoy like walking, biking, swimming, etc. It’s fine to mix it up but if you’re doing something you hate you won’t stick with it for long.

2. Schedule the exact days and times you will exercise. Keep this appointment with yourself just like you would a doctor appointment. In other words, unless it is a dire emergency, don’t let anything interrupt your scheduled exercise time. If someone asks you to do something during this time you don’t have to tell them you are exercising, just politely tell them you have an appointment.

3.  Don’t let setbacks destroy your progress. No one is perfect and we all have days where we miss our exercise. When you miss a day, get right back on track as soon as possible to avoid losing the muscle mass you already built. You lose muscle mass and limit your weight loss progress when you let your setbacks turn into weeks and months. There’s no need to beat your self up over your setback. Just get back on track. The quicker you get back into your routine the more progress you’ll make.

Don’t forget all the wonderful short term benefits of exercising. You will get a serotonin surge to make you feel fantastic, improved metabolic rate during and after the exercise helping you to burn more calories, decreased stress, and improved sleep. Find exercise routines that you enjoy. This will help you to stay consistent and reap all the wonderful benefits that exercise has to offer.


  • Meri Raffetto

    Meri Raffetto was the original founder of Real Living Nutrition. A triplet mom and author of the Glycemic Index Diet for Dummies and coauthor of the Glycemic Index Cookbook for Dummies, and Mediterranean Diet Cookbook for Dummies.