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How Long Should Workouts Last?

People work out for a variety of reasons — to maintain their health, increase their fitness level, gain muscle, and so much more. When it comes to doing workouts though, one of the most common questions that come up is “how long should a workout be?” While a lot of individuals hope that a short workout per week is enough for weight loss or muscle growth, that isn’t always the case. 

The same goes for long workouts. Just because you’re spending hours in the gym a bit longer than everyone else does not necessarily mean that you’re training hard or effectively. In this article, we’ll be discussing how long a workout session should be and what factors to take into account to determine the duration of your workout.

How Long Should You Workout Everyday?

Truthfully, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of how long should a workout last. A person’s exercise duration depends on a lot of factors, most notably their fitness goals and health status. Certainly, you can follow the minimum ideal workout duration per week to maintain your health and combat the negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle but it will take more effort than that if you want to build muscle or lose weight.

Is a 30-Minute Workout Routine Enough to Build Muscle?

Muscle mass decreases with age, which is why regular resistance training is important. Strength workouts can help in building muscle and enhancing bone strength, which then aids in preventing fractures and reducing the risk of injury. Weightlifting workouts and strength workouts tend to follow the same pattern as they can involve vigorous exercises such as pull-ups, push-ups, bench presses, lunges, squats, and the like.

When it comes to gaining muscle using weight lifting or strength training, it’s generally more important to count your number of sets than to measure the length. Still, any muscle-building workout typically lasts 30 to 60 minutes, with an appropriate rest time in between. It’s also important to incorporate cardiovascular training with your strength workouts. If you want to lose fat, add a day of cardio workouts to your strength exercises.

How Long Should a Strength Training Session Be?

The goal of strength training or weight lifting is to enhance muscle growth and increase muscular strength, and/or size. To build muscle with a strength training workout program means that you gradually overload your body to be able to lift weights from the lightest one you can do and move to heavy weights or push a certain weight for longer. 

A young adult who is looking to start weight training may wish to dedicate more time to their workout than an older adult who is looking to maintain their fitness and overall health. Experts also recommend considering the length of rest between sets. Thus, with those factors combined, a strength training workout featuring 7 to 9 exercises may be completed in 20 to 60 minutes.

How Long is Too Long for a Workout?

Aiming to lose a few pounds or several? Or perhaps you want to see growth in all the major muscle groups of the body? You may be inclined to work out for long hours just to see your results. Exercise is good but like most things in life, it should be done in a way that will benefit you.

For most individuals, 45 to 90 minutes of workout is more than enough. There are some cases where 2 hours can benefit a person, but it truly depends. It’s always best to stick to an optimal length of workout per week as too much exercise can lead to overtraining syndrome, which is a state of fatigue, exhaustion, and a depressed mood that can take you months to recover from.

Are 2 Hours at the Gym Too Much?

For most individuals, a 2-hour long workout may be too much. However, there are also instances where longer workouts may be beneficial. If you’re an advanced weight lifter with multiple years of training experience and you’re doing heavy strength training and having a rest time of 3 to 5 minutes between sets, you may need a relatively long workout to round it up.

Things To Consider To Determine Your Workout Duration

Whether you’re doing circuit training, strength training, or short workouts per week, there are aspects to consider to reap the maximum benefits of exercising. Here are some things that you should think about before you jump into your next workout session. 

Fitness Level

One of the most important aspects to consider when it comes to figuring out your optimal workout length is your overall fitness level or training age. If you’re a workout newbie, your training age is low and spending hours at the gym every single day might be doing you more harm than good.

You don’t want to injure yourself or push your body past its limits. If you’re just starting out, you might want to try short workouts that are 15 to 30 minutes or less. You can add more minutes every week as you feel your strength building with each session.

For those who have a higher training age, long workouts are common, especially with powerlifters and bodybuilders. Longer workouts also have a large amount of rest time in between. For example, marathon runners may have a workout training split that runs as long as 1.5 to 2 hours to properly prepare themselves for competition.

Type of Workouts

Your workout length is also determined by the intensity of your workouts. Doing a brisk walk on the treadmill for 40 minutes is alright, but maintaining a full sprint on the treadmill for 40 minutes is impossible. Before you commit to a full workout routine, think about the type of workout that you’ll be doing and the time you have.

If you’re a busy person, you may want to schedule short, intense workouts on the weekdays. On the weekends, you can go for longer workouts that are low in intensity.

Recent and Upcoming Workouts

According to experts, mixing up your workout plans is the best way to ensure that you see the results of the hard work you’re putting in. Regularly changing up the type, intensity, and workout time can help you avoid injury and strengthen all of your body’s muscle groups. It can also keep you from getting bored of doing the exact same workout every day, every week.

Choose which days to alternate between longer and shorter workouts. You also don’t have to maintain the same amount of intensity every session. You can spend one day brisk walking on the treadmill, and then spend the next day lifting weights. Another option is to work out the upper body one day and do your lower body the next day.

Amount of Rest Periods

Taking a rest between sets is a vital aspect of an effective workout. Many workout routines require rest periods for preparation, rest, and recovery. If you say you’re doing a 40-minute resistance training program, this could mean that 20 minutes of it is the actual lifting while the other minutes remaining are rest periods between sets. 

Planning on doing compound exercises and using various pieces of equipment? It’s recommended that you add at least 10 minutes to your typical workout schedule. This extra time allows you to stretch and rest between sets. 

Your Fitness Goals

Perhaps the most important factor when it comes to determining your workout duration is your fitness goal. Aiming to lose weight? The American College of Sports Medicine recommends at least 200 minutes of physical activity per week. This is equal to about 30 minutes of exercise every day or at least 40 minutes of workout, 5 days per week. 

However, if you’re busy but you still want to undergo a weight loss training program, HIIT workouts may be your best bet. A HIIT workout allows you to burn more calories in a short amount of time, more than running on a treadmill or lifting weights. 

Want to build muscle? Experts say that a weight training program can take anywhere from 20 to 60 minutes to complete. But of course, the exact duration of your training session still varies depending on the number of sets performed and the rest time between sets. 

Final Note

The health benefits of workouts are undeniable. It can help increase lean body mass, enhance your targeted muscle group, reduce the negative effects of being sedentary, reduce the risk of chronic diseases, and so much more. 

While being physically active is always a great thing and experts recommend an ideal workout length per week, it should still be noted that an individual’s workout duration is highly tailored for them due to a whole lot of factors. Always stay consistent with working out and build up your fitness level to achieve your goals. 

Tricia Montano

Tricia founded Pain Free Working in 2019 due to suffering from degenerative disc disease in her L5-S1 from working an office job for the past 18 years. She and her team strive on finding and reviewing the best office equipment to help fellow pain sufferers find relief and to enable people like her to do their jobs comfortably.