If you’ve ever had a trainer before you’ve probably worked out for either an hour, or half of an hour because that’s the way the sessions and packages are set up. But how long should you workout for?
In this article you’ll find out:
- Why 1 Hour+ sessions are not the best for you.
- What Lessons I’ve Learned From My Most Succesful Clients
- How to Figure out How Long You Should Train for
1 Hour – really?
When first starting off, an hour training session is asking for trouble. If you’re going from the couch to the gym, trying to actually train for a full hour will have very detrimental effects on being able to get up from the toilet the next two days. (sidenote: I’m talking real training here, not supersetting pec deck with facebook)
But after a while, you might find that in order to get through your full program, it might take you an hour or more <gasp!> to finish.
So what’s the BEST amount of time to train, and how do you figure it out?
Marathon Training Sessions: Not Your Best Bet
I have a client that has been training with me for a few months, and doesn’t feel like he’s gotten a workout, unless he leaves the gym beat to shit after 90+ minutes. The hardest challenge I have given him so far is not giant complexes or heavy deadlifts, but shorter workouts.
But why would I want someone to workout less?
During the workout your body releases HGH (human growth hormone) and Testosterone, which are both essential for repairing broken down muscle fibers (gains), stimulating the metabolism (staying lean), and getting restful sleep (recovery).
These hormones peak in their release around the 45-50 minute mark, and start to greatly decrease after an hour.
Working out is a stressor for your body, so Cortisol (your stress hormone) starts creeping up after an hour or so, which is bad for most of us in our highly stressful urban jungle of co-workers, bosses, and football teams that don’t do what we want them too.
So purely from a hormonal level, shorter more intense workouts are preferable.
You also have a job, a family, and a whole fanny pack of other responsibilities and duties that don’t include working on your biceps peak. So getting long marathon training sessions in during the week isn’t even feasible for most of us.
My busiest clients are also some of the most successful people I know, and they’ve taught me several valuable things:
1. Always prioritize your workouts – It’s no wonder that every C level executive I’ve ever worked with has always trained in the mornings. They know that life gets in the way sometimes, but they still put a high priority on their physical and mental healthy becuase it directly effects EVERYTHING else they do at work and at home.
2. Your training sessions should fit your life and not the other way around – this means that if you have 30 minutes in the mornings and 15 minutes in the afternoon for physical activity, then that’s what you’ll use. Trying to cram an hour long session into a packed evening schedule will lead to burnout and higher stress.
3. Do The Best with What you Have – When a client comes in at 7am and says they have a “hard stop time of 7:35am”, you better believe that the only rest they get that session comes from 7:35am-7:55am. The rest of the time we’re constantly moving.
If we’re resting between heavy sets, then it’s mobility and stretching, and if not – we’re doing supersets and complexes that get them the best results for their time.
How Long Should You Workout?
Your personal workout should be based on two things: Your goals and your lifestyle.
That being said, The ideal time to train for is about 45 minutes. This leaves you with the ability to get in and out the door in an hour, which is do-able for most people IF you manage your time well.
The best workout schedule for long term gains is a higher frequency of lower duration sessions. The best results I’ve seen come from 6x per week 35-45 minute sessions – 3 gym and 3 home seems to work best.
How Should I Workout?
To get leaner and more muscular, don’t waste time in the gym. Leave your phone in the car, or at least stay off social media for the duration of the workout.
Spend the majority of the time supersetting or doing complexes of complimentary exercises. Superset a pushing exercise (like a bench press), with a pulling exercise (like a dumbbell row), so that you keep the heart rate high because you’re continually working, but are not taxing the muscles beyond what they can handle.
PROTIP: Make sure that the difficulty of the exercises adds up to ’10’. So if you’re doing a dumbbell bench press that you think is probably about a 5 on a scale of 1-10, then add a cable row that is another 4 or 5.
If you’re doing a Bulgarian split squat, which is feeling more like an 8, add in a lighter isolation exercise, like a side dumbbell raise or a mobility exercise, so that you’re ALWAYS being productive.
You might find that a workout that previously took you 90 minutes can be condensed into 50 minutes if you actually start to move your ass.
Questions? Drop a comment below.