Three Weeks of Training and Nothing Changed? Here’s Why You Should Keep Going

Just the other day, I had a chat that stuck with me. It was with one of our newer clients, who, with a mix of frustration and curiosity, mentioned, ‘I’ve trained for three weeks but haven’t noticed a change.’ This isn’t uncommon to hear, and it’s a perfect jumping-off point to talk about something I think we all wrestle with: the gap between our expectations and the reality of physical transformations.

We often start our fitness journeys filled with optimism, imagining immediate and visible results. But, like so many things in life, the reality of physical change is more complex and subtler than it first appears. Let’s unpack why the transformation you’re undergoing isn’t always visible, and why what’s happening beneath the surface is crucial for lasting change.

When you first begin a training program, especially if you’re diving in after a period of inactivity, your body starts undergoing changes that aren’t immediately perceptible. It’s not just about shedding pounds or gaining muscle mass that you can see and feel. In fact, a realistic expectation for weight loss might be about 0.5 kg per week, and gaining muscle mass can occur even more slowly. The initial weeks are often about setting the groundwork, where much of the action is happening on a cellular level—your muscles are starting to adapt, your metabolism is revving up, and even your brain is getting rewired for a new level of activity.

So, what exactly is happening at the cellular level? Here are a few of the beneficial changes that begin almost immediately, even if they aren’t visible on the outside:

  1. Muscle Fiber Recruitment: Your muscles are learning how to efficiently recruit and use different fibers, which is crucial for both strength and endurance.
  2. Increased Mitochondrial Density: This means your muscle cells are building more mitochondria, the ‘powerhouses’ of the cell. More mitochondria translate to better energy production and endurance, allowing you to train harder and longer as you progress.
  3. Enhanced Blood Flow: Exercise increases capillary growth in your muscle tissues. This improved blood flow enhances the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to your muscles, which supports recovery and growth.
  4. Hormonal Changes: There’s an increase in the release of hormones that help in muscle growth and fat loss, like growth hormone and testosterone.

Understanding this can help bridge the gap between your expectations and reality. It’s important to recognize that these foundational changes are vital. They prepare your body for more visible changes down the line and ensure that you can sustain them. It’s like building a house; the foundation might not be exciting to watch being poured, but it’s essential for the stability and longevity of the structure.

It’s equally important to recognize that these internal changes are significantly influenced by external factors. These include your diet, sleep, stress levels, and overall lifestyle—elements that can either accelerate or impede your progress.

Diet and Nutrition: What you eat fuels your workouts and recovery. Getting the right balance of nutrients ensures your body has the resources to repair and build muscle. For instance, protein is crucial for muscle repair, while carbohydrates provide the energy needed to perform each exercise session effectively.

Sleep: Never underestimate the power of a good night’s sleep. During sleep, your body goes into overdrive repairing itself. Lack of sleep can not only hinder your muscle recovery but also affect your metabolism, making it harder to lose fat.

Stress: High stress levels can lead to elevated cortisol, a hormone that can hinder muscle growth and promote fat storage. Managing stress through mindfulness, yoga, or other relaxation techniques can help optimize your body’s response to training.

Consistency and Lifestyle: The way you integrate your workout regimen into your daily life also matters. Consistency in your workouts, coupled with a balanced lifestyle, paves the way for better results. Just as a stray workout won’t transform your body overnight, a single day of poor eating or poor sleep won’t derail your progress—however, consistency is key.

By taking a holistic approach to your fitness journey, considering both the biological changes and the environmental factors, you can create a conducive environment for visible results. This approach not only ensures you are supporting your body’s internal changes but also reinforces the importance of a balanced lifestyle in achieving and sustaining your fitness goals.

Recognizing the interplay between your body’s internal adaptations and the external influences is crucial. Yet, equally important is your mindset and the philosophy with which you approach your fitness journey. This is where our core value of ‘Chop Wood, Carry Water’ comes into play—a philosophy that emphasizes persistence and the value of sticking to the basics over time.

The saying ‘Chop Wood, Carry Water’ originates from an old Zen proverb that teaches the value of loving the process and doing the necessary work every day without being overly fixated on the results. In the context of fitness, this means showing up for your workouts, eating right, getting enough sleep, and managing stress consistently, not just for weeks or months, but as part of a continuous lifestyle.

Embracing Daily Rituals: Much like chopping wood and carrying water, your daily fitness rituals might not seem glamorous or lead to immediate rewards. Yet, each workout, every balanced meal, and every night of good sleep are all crucial steps towards your larger goal. These actions build upon one another, reinforcing your body’s capabilities and gradually leading to significant transformations.

Patience is Key: It’s natural to want quick results, but real progress is often slow and incremental. Understanding and accepting this can transform your approach to fitness from one of occasional sprints to a marathon where endurance, consistency, and patience are key.

Consistency Over Intensity: While it’s tempting to push hard in every session, consistent moderate effort over time often yields better results than intermittent periods of extreme exertion. This approach not only prevents burnout but also helps inculcate fitness as a sustainable part of your lifestyle.

Embracing the ‘Chop Wood, Carry Water’ philosophy not only helps in appreciating the process but also sets the stage for establishing realistic goals and cultivating the patience needed to achieve them. In the world of instant gratification, where quick fixes and rapid transformations are often glorified, it’s vital to ground your fitness goals in reality.

Setting Achievable Milestones: Start by setting small, manageable goals that lead up to your larger ambitions. Whether it’s improving your strength, increasing your endurance, or losing weight, each goal should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). This method not only provides clear targets but also boosts motivation as you achieve each milestone along the way.

Understanding Your Body’s Timeline: Every body is unique, and so is every fitness journey. Factors like genetics, starting fitness level, age, and lifestyle play significant roles in how quickly you see results. It’s important to have open conversations with your trainers at Adaptive Strength about what realistic progress looks like for you. This tailored approach helps manage expectations and keeps you focused and committed to your regimen.

Cultivating Patience: As you set these goals, patience becomes your greatest ally. Fitness is a journey, not a race. It’s about making incremental improvements and consistently striving to be better than you were yesterday. This mindset not only helps in coping with the inevitable plateaus but also in celebrating the small victories along the way.

By focusing on realistic goals and exercising patience, you’re not just chasing after an ideal body or a number on a scale. Instead, you’re committing to a healthier, stronger version of yourself—one day at a time. It’s about finding joy in the journey, trusting the process, and knowing that each day you’re investing in your long-term health and happiness.

As we’ve journeyed today from understanding the unseen changes happening in your body to embracing the daily grind with the ‘Chop Wood, Carry Water’ philosophy, and setting realistic goals paired with patience, it’s clear that fitness is more than just a series of workouts. It’s a holistic approach to living a healthier, more fulfilled life.

I hope this conversation helps illuminate not just the how, but also the why behind the fitness process. Remember, every small step you take is building towards your greater well-being. It’s about persistence, patience, and embracing every part of the journey—even when progress feels slow or invisible.

I would love to hear from you now. How have your expectations shifted during your fitness journey? What small victories have you celebrated recently? Or perhaps you’re struggling with patience in your path to wellness? Let’s open up this dialogue. Share your stories and questions with us, or reach out during your next session at Adaptive Strength. Our community is here to support each other, every step of the way.

Together, let’s continue to chop wood, carry water, and celebrate every milestone, no matter how small. Because in the grand landscape of health and fitness, every effort counts, and every moment of patience pays off.

Functional Training Centre - Booragoon


Functional Training For The Everyday Person


Personal Training & Kettlebell Training


I have developed an approach to exercise motivation that has enabled many average individuals to achieve amazing weight loss, health and fitness results.


I have developed an approach to exercise motivation that has enabled many average individuals to achieve amazing weight loss, health and fitness results.