How Long Should You Workout?

“Less is More” – three important words to remember when you’re feeling extra motivated and determine to spend that extra hour at the gym. In theory it may seem like a good idea for achieving better results, but more exercise is not necessarily better.
Finding a balance between duration and intesity will get you better longterm results, as well as spare you from injuries and overtraining – not to mention create a better gym/life balance.

That being said, whether you want to put on size, cut down and get lean, add strength, or just maintain, the amount of times per week that you train can be a direct correlate to your results. As a general baseline, if you’re looking to achieve your health and fitness goals in a resonable amount of time, I’d recommend that you train at least 3 times per week. This exposes your body to a training stimulous througout the week, which enables your body to adapt and become stronger, leaner and fitter. Any less than this will certaintly help maintain your current levels, but you will not see much improvement.

 

Fat Loss

When training for fat loss, focus on doing 2 – 3 workouts per week. Fat loss workout programs often involve total body training, large movements, and a lot of energy expenditure to kick start the metabolism.
Short, high intensity routines are also very popular for fat loss – you can read more on fat loss in this artice.
This style of training takes alot of effort and can run your energy stores thin if you don’t give yourself adequate recovery time, so be sure to get sufficient rest between your active days.

 

Size

If you are looking to put on size, look to increase your total weekly volume. In this case, our muscles have a “quota” they need to hit weekly so that they each receive a sufficient amount of training to promote growth. Usually the protocol used is a muscle group isolation split, which often calls for 4 to 5 workouts per week. My favourite split is:

  • Day 1 – Back/Biceps
  • Day 2 – Chest/Triceps
  • REST
  • Day 3 – Legs
  • Day 4 – Shoulders/abs
  • REST
  • Day 5 – Cardio

 

Strength

When training for strength, remember to focus on the big 3 movements. Squatting, deadlifting, and bench pressing target the most major patterns of the whole body. 4 days per week can do the trick when adding in a day for isolations, weak links and specifics. Strength training requires a lot of heavy sets, and heavy sets can have a greater impact on fatiguing the nervous system. That said, recovery time and a good night sleep is vital!

 

The above example is merely an example of a “perfect” week. I do not suggest planning your life around your workout routine, rather to do the opposite.
Very often I combine my cardio with legs and skip biceps, etc, but this is fully depended on my schedule of the relevant week/day.
I spend about 1 hour in the gym for each session, and I would not recommend doing any longer than this for a good fit/life balance. A high intensity workout over 1 hour is often more efficient than a long 3 hour session with long breaks and heavy lifting.

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Interval training, cardio sessions, and a proper diet all have effects on results. Some common signs of overtraining are lowered strength, lowered body temperature, poor sleep quality, increase in body fat/water retention, and susceptibility to illness such as colds, flu, and digestive problems. It’s all about balance, and rest is just as important to your results as regular exercise.

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