I want to make it clear right away that this article is about beginners and not-so-experienced gym-goers.
I decided to write about this topic because lately a lot of people have asked me this question:
How long should a workout last?
How many times have I heard: I’m going to the gym to exercise and I won’t be back for the next 2-3 hours.
My first thought is, oh, that’s going to hurt, and it’s not effective.
And then I remember that I made the same mistake at the beginning of my career.
Personally, I think we’ve all been through this phase.
One beginner thinks that the key to success is to do as many exercises with as many series and repetitions as possible. (1)
Of course, the truth is different.
Why do some people work out 2-3 hours?
Well, there are different reasons.
Some spend so much time in the gym because besides exercising, they do other things like talking, flirting, or even making phone calls.
They exercise, then they do something else for 10-15 minutes.
Others think that they need to exercise for 3 hours to see the results.
They are convinced that the more exercises they do with the more series and reps, the faster they will grow muscles and strength.
This is a common misconception and they brag about the 1-inch bigger biceps or how they lift 50 pounds more on the bench press.
The truth is that a beginner can do any program in the first 2-3 months because their body is not used to such stress.
After those 2-3 months they will hit a plateau and ask themselves why they don’t make progress anymore.
So, how long should a good workout last?
In my opinion, 60 minutes is the optimum period for a workout. (2)
Of course, this doesn’t apply to professionals.
They already know how much time they need to exercise, they know the intensity, which muscle group to exercise, etc.
They’ve already learned to listen to their body to such an extent that they can freely rely on their instincts.
Why 60 minutes?
After 60 minutes, the body begins to secrete cortisol – a stress hormone.
Your body reacts to the stress caused by training.
Cortisol secretion will reduce glucose intake and consumption, reduce the anabolic process, increase protein breakdown (catabolism).
As you can see, cortisol is our biggest opponent and it is not worth fighting it because you will definitely lose.
Everything you do at the beginning of the workout will be in vain and you won’t make progress.
Also, when you exercise for hours, your concentration drops.
After an hour of training, your level of concentration will drop and you will not be able to train nearly as good as in the first 30-60 minutes.
And as we all know, strengthening your muscles can only be done with maximum concentration!
So, exercise for an hour and you are good!
What’s the bottom line?
You now know that intense training lasts no more than 60 minutes.
If we add warm-up to this then we get a time period of some 70-90 minutes.
If for some reason you don’t get to finish your training within 60-90 minutes, then it is better to leave the rest of your workout for your next workout.
That’s better than bringing your body into catabolism or get injured due to extremely long training!
My name is Cliff and I am a personal coach, sports lover, fitness enthusiast and author of MusclesMagician. I have 15+ years of experience in fitness and bodybuilding and I want to share it with you. I am here to help you build muscles and lose fat faster.