How Long Should Your Workout Last?

I’m sure at some point after a training session you’ve asked yourself – “Did I do enough or should I have done more?”

Most people believe that more is better when it comes to building muscle, believing that more time spent working in the gym will produce greater gains in muscle growth.

It’s a common problem, after all, we’ve always been told – “You only get out of something what you put in”, so people think the harder and longer they work the more they’ll get out of their workout.

It sounds logical, but unfortunately the human body doesn’t work like that, and there’s plenty of supporting scientific evidence to show that more is not better if you’re looking to get bigger and stronger.

Keep reading to find out why those two hour training sessions are not optimal for growth.

The Optimal Workout Duration

European sports researchers, observing the Bulgarian Olympic weightlifting team used ’round-the-clock’ body chemistry tracking and analyzed blood samples – most importantly pre, intra and post workout, to discover that heavy lifting for more than 45 minutes caused blood testosterone levels to decrease by as much as 80% and the catabolic (muscle breakdown) hormone cortisol to increase.

Overworking to the point where blood levels of testosterone, critical to recovery and growth, drop up to four fifths, means time spent recovering will be less efficient, and attempts to gain muscle mass, largely reduced.

Your workout should last 45 – 60 minutes max. After this time the ratio of catabolic hormones start to outweigh the anabolic hormones.

Testosterone is a powerful anabolic hormone, you want as much of this stuff in your system as possible during the post workout recovery phase. Remember, you grow outside the gym, when you are recovering. The faster and more efficiently you can recover – the faster and better your results.

Weight training causes testosterone levels to spike during a workout. This is great because this increase in testosterone will get to work in repairing and building muscle fibers after training.

You must ensure that you do everything you can to avoid the reduction of testosterone, especially around workout times.

An intense workout that takes 45 – 60 minutes tops is enough time to get in all of your working sets and keeps you in the optimal workout time frame to maximize testosterone production.

Let’s say you completed the following in one training session:

12 sets for chest (60 seconds per set x 14 sets = 12 minutes)
8 sets for biceps (60 seconds per set x 9 sets = 8 minutes)
22 rests between sets at 1.5 minutes each = 33 minutes

12 + 8 + 33 = 53 minute workout

Leave the chit-chat, texting and watching TV for after the gym. When you’re training you should be focused on getting the work done. Get in, hit it hard, get out and start the recovery process.

The 45 – 60 minutes “sweet spot” is “sweet” for another reason: it is the time frame in which the body effectively processes blood glucose (blood sugar), which helps power the muscle cells for maximum performance. And by keeping training session length shorter, you will preserve mental energy to focus on good form and have stronger drive to propel you through your next session.

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