How Long Should I Workout?

How Long Should Your Workouts Last?

How long should I workout is debated by many all over the fitness community. Today’s topic is going to cover exactly how much time you should spend at the gym to maximize results. Back when I was first starting out, many times I would spend close to 90 minutes in the weight room going hard the entire time. As you advance however, it is hard to continue keeping up that kind of schedule and intensity without over training or getting injured.

When you are trying to grow your muscles and get fit, the statement “less is more” is often very true. You do not have to spend hours in the gym to get fit. In fact, you can get away with putting in 10-20 minutes of intense work and see major benefits. Your goal when weight training should be to get in, put in some serious work, and get out.

The Effects Of The Workout

As we discussed in a previous article, testosterone is huge when we are trying to build lean muscle and burn fat (again, this will not make you bulky). When we weight train, our bodies naturally produce more testosterone than normal. However, if we workout too long our bodies will start producing less testosterone and start producing cortisol which promotes fat storage and will eat away our muscle.

Below is an outline of how to maximize our weight training when it comes to making testosterone work to our benefit:

Start of a workout: Our bodies naturally start producing testosterone as we start engaging in intense exercises.
15 minutes into a workout: Our bodies are producing more and more testosterone as we continue our workout.
30 minutes into a workout: Testosterone peaks as we hit around 30 minutes into the workout.
45 minutes into a workout: Testosterone levels start dropping back down to baseline.
60+ minutes into a workout: Our bodies start producing less testosterone and start producing more cortisol which can lead to increased fat storage and will hurt lean muscle growth.

As you can see, going past the 45 minute mark in a workout can actually start hurting your results. When first starting out, you may be able to get by going over an hour but as time passes you will find it much harder to recover and over training will start to kick in.

Workouts that are shorter and intense, will allow you to recover faster and let you train more frequently which will lead to more muscle growth and more fat burn. Recovering from a 45 minute workout is much easier on the body than trying to recover from a 90 minute workout.

Another huge factor when it comes to keeping your workouts shorter is focus. Back in college, my coach used to force me to keep my individual basketball workouts to 40 minutes. In high school I would workout for hours at a time but when I got to college my coach informed me that when we workout, we start losing major focus at around 40 minutes into our workout.

He was definitely right. It is much better to have a focused 40 minutes of work than a mediocre 90 minutes. It is very difficult to do squats when we aren’t fully focused on each rep. Keeping your workouts short will allow you to focus more on every rep and every set rather than thinking you still have another 85 minutes to go in the gym.

Workout Breakdown

In terms of your workouts, 30-45 minutes refers to the weight training or strength training portion of your workout. This time does not include your warm-up, your finisher, or abs. Take a look below at what your workout breakdown may look like. Although the fully focused part of your workout will only consist of 30-45 minutes, you may still need to plan to be at the gym for an hour:

Warm-Up: 10 minutes
Strength Training: 30-45 minutes
Finisher/Abs: 5-10 minutes
Cool Down: 5-10 minutes

As you can see, your full time at the gym may be around 60 minutes, but only 30-45 minutes of that is fully focused and very intense. Your strength training should be your biggest area of focus and that is why having a great warm up is key. Once you are finished with your strength training, you can then move on to doing a few ab specific exercises or a short finisher workout to burn a few extra calories!

In closing, keep your workouts short and focused. Going past that 45 minute mark can hurt your results and eventually your body. Get to the gym, put in your focused time of work, and get out.

Questions or Comments?
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11 Comments

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