T Nation

How Long Should a Workout Session Be?


#1

I'm currently doing 5x5 (mostly), and find that I can typically finish within 30 minutes. Usually I'm at my limit, and my muscles are sore at this point (the day after, they are -really- sore).

But I see here on this board and others where people are working out for 60-120+ minutes. Some even say you're not doing it right if you're not going for that long. Am I doing something wrong?


#2

Are you making progress? If your lifts are improving and you're looking better I'd say you're doing it correctly. I find that workouts tend to get longer as you gain experience since you lift more weight and tend to add in exercises to help your weak points. I used to finish my workouts in ~45 minutes, but lately they've been stretching to 55 or 60.


#3

Your session should be as long as it takes to do what you need to do. There are so many factors that play in to this. What sort of warmup you're doing, stretching, after workout recovery, is anyone working in with you.

Just do what you need to do to make gains. If 30 minutes are working than 30 minutes are working. Part of why your muscles are sore might be because you're giving your heart beat enough time to slow down and take a deep breath but you might need more time for your nervous system to recover. At least thats how I understand it.


#4

Not seeing fast or major gains, but yes I am seeing some slow progress.


#5

It's a given if you are new to training, your body isn't going to be able to handle much work. As you progress, your nervous system will adapt and allow you to train longer.

There really isn't an optimal length of time to train. Basically if you can achieve enough of an overload, you'll get an adaptive response. Whether or not you grow is dependent on how you eat every day.

Some people can get away with 45 minutes, others need 90 to 120 minutes. Your goal should be to train hard enough to get the response from your body that you want. Don't over think it too much. How will you know you get the right response? That comes down to time under the bar. Raw trial and error. Progression will speak for itself.


#6

I've been training nearly 6 years now. Gained about 40lbs lean total. Went from an obese 200 lbs, right now at 213 but at 200 I'm very lean. It's a marathon not a sprint. You stay consistent now and in a couple years time you'll be much further ahead than most people.


#7

It takes as much times as it takes. Some days I skip accessory work and I'm out in 30 mins, other days I end up spending 2 hours in the gym if I'm really feeling it.

That stuff about needing to be done in 45 minutes is horse shit.


#8

Anywhere between 50 to 90 mins for me. I do mostly compound work, some isolation, I rest as long as I feel like it (I go by feeling more than the clock, even though I've used a stopwatch my entire lifting career). Some days now I do cardio after my weights. I don't see a loss in performance I work hard from my first rep to my last one.


#9

I dont know if you need to be there for 2 hours, sounds like a lot of bull shitting going on to me... Even on routines like DC where the workouts tend to be a little longer, I think 90 minutes is pushing the upper limit of how long you can REALLY devote full intensity to your sets.

30 minutes is probably on the short side, but as you get stronger and stronger 3 things will happen naturally:

1 - You will require more warm up sets

2 - You will require more rest in between heavier sets

3 - Hotties will start pulling you into the locker room and having their way with you

These three things alone (alright, maybe just 1 and 2) will lead to the addition of 10-20 minutes to your workouts as you progress without any extra thought. In the mean time, just keep focusing on getting shit strong, and keeping fat gains to a minimum by sticking to a good diet and adding in cardio when needed.


#10

When you say 5x5 waht else do you do?
5x5 squats in 30 min is fine but if you're doing other stuff you might need more rest between sets.
Could you detail your routine?

My workouts tend to range from 75-105 mins (5/3/1) thn add 30-45 min Cardio unless I knackered.


#11

Keep in mind that most people that train two hours aren't doing big movements like squats and bench presses the whole time. If I'm feeling a little stiff and sluggish, a workout can easily take one and a quarter hours because of the extended length of the warmup and the extra pre-hab stuff at the end. But just I'm probably under the bar half that time if that.


#12

Oh look, this thread again...


#13

The best metric is progress -- and the easiest metric to measure is increased weight on your lifts. Especially beginners, you'll probably be able to add 2.5, 5 or even 10 pounds to your lifts ever week or two. At that rate, it doesn't take too many weeks before you have some nice increases. "Big gains" are a fallacy. It never happens that you just role out of bed one day and add 50 pounds to a lift. Instead, it is a slow progression.

With that said, there are also many variables.

Are you "young" or "old"?
Have you ever trained before?
Do you have your diet in order, eating enough protein?
Are you too fat (and need to lose weight), or are you lean?
What is your goal? (strength, endurance, look good, compete, lose weight, gain weight?)
What is your rest time between sets? (30 seconds or 3 minutes)?

It is a popular opinion that beginners do best with 1) multiple movements per workout, and 2) compound movements (squat, bench, deadlift, chinups).

Starting out, you won't be able to do much weight on these, so it is conceivable that you could do all 4 exercises, every workout -- with rest days. But as you progress, and add weight, and sets, you won't be able to do all exercises every workout. You'll start to notice that whatever you do first that day, is your best lift, and what you are doing last -- is your worst lift. Doing squats first, you'll set a personal record. Doing bench last, you'll be lucky to do the same weight you did last time. At this point, you will need to start breaking movements up into different days (upper body one day, and lower body another day is common).

30 minutes per workout -- sure. If you are focused and efficient. You do these 4 exercises for 6 months, add weight when you can, at 30 minutes per workout -- then you will be significantly stronger in 6 months. I also bet you will want to spend more than 30 minutes per workout after 6 months.

Oh, and please don't waste your time doing doing curls. You can add curls after you can do 3 sets of at least 8 reps, bodyweight chinups.


#14

I'm 29.

Lifted about 3-4 years ago for about a year with a friend who was an ex-PT. The program he had me do was lifted from this site actually. I don' remember what it was called, but it wasn't one of the well-known beginner ones (SS, 5x5, etc.). Did see a -lot- of results though - but even then our sessions were usually just 30 minutes or so.

Then went through about 2 years where I didn't have much time for anything, and I've atrophied.

I'm a bit skinny-fat. On the skinny side (but not too), but with a slight gut.

Rest times between sets is 60 seconds, sometimes up to 90.

Goals: Get bigger (but not -huge-). Get functional strength for certain sports I do. Definitely want to lose the gut and "look good".