T Nation

Long Training Sessions

Who here has tried doing long training sessions, like 2 hours? Did you have success with it?

I have always been pretty conservative with how I train, pretty low volume, have never gone over an hour, and Im sick of it. Im longing for the feeling of destroying the muscle and being spent after I get out of the gym.

Im also hoping that the long training sessions will increase my appetite, since back when I had long football practices i could easily eat 6k cals a day, and now I struggle with anything over 3k.

Doing more for the sake of it isn’t good idea. Destroying a muscle for the sake of it is

However, if you must use more volume and this takes two hours, so be it.

Like Brick said, I’d just go in and get it done. However much time that takes is irrelevant. If you can seriously hammer your target muscle(s) in only 30-45min, go for it. I’ve heard that training for too long can actually be detrimental, but I’m not sure if there is any proof of that.

I personally believe in trying to increase training density as long as performance doesn’t suffer. This means trying to do the work in a shorter amount of time. So I do have a pretty rapid workout pace.

If I trained 2 hours in one session with the pace I’m doing right now, I’d do roughly 50 sets in a workout and since I’m doing almost exclusively big lifts, that would be a disaster waiting to happen!

Now, I could go for 2 hours, using a slower training pace, getting in 25-30 sets… but really I’m getting close to that amount of work in a 45 minutes session. So if I simply stretched that out over 2 hours I would actually have a lesser training effect.

And I personally notice that if I keep my training pace up, my focus is much better than if I rest longer between sets. In fact, resting too long between sets is the best way to get me out of the zone.

I also notice that if I go much past 60-70 minutes, I start to lose focus and some drive/guts. Which leads to inferior performance. In my opinion, when that happens, the added volume is simply garbage volume, burning more energy (that could be used to fuel the growth process) and doesn’t contribute to stimulating growth. I believe that training initiate a cell signaling action that triggers the adaptive/growth process. Once that signal has been sent, additional volume will not lead to more rapid growth.

When I want to do more work, I perform two sessions in one day. This allows me to perform shorter sessions, in which I keep my pace and focus up.

Really, the duration in time of the workout doesn’t mean much by itself. I have know a lot of people who pride themselves in “training” for 2 hours or more, but they do less volume (and a lot lower quality of work) than I do in 60 minutes.

I would recommend trying to do more work in the same amount of time without having a decrease in performance before thinking about simply spending more time in the gym.

I’m doing PH4D right now.

My powerlifting days are taking me about 2 hours but I’m taking huge breaks between sets.

my hypertrophy days take me like an hour and a half.

I’ve been getting awesome results.

[quote]Brian14 wrote:
Who here has tried doing long training sessions, like 2 hours? Did you have success with it? [/quote]
I’m currently doing the OVT program and the sessions are right around two hours, sometimes a bit longer. Prior to this, sessions were usually closer to an hour or an hour and a quarter. I’ve been happy with the results, for sure. Can’t say I’ll go out of my way to keep longer training sessions in the future, though. As was said, it’s just about getting the job done. The clock is incidental.

I haven’t noticed an increase in appetite but around the second week, I started noticing a more ammonia-ish smell to my sweat so I’ve had to increase carbs to compensate.

I’d been keeping carbs low in earlier in the day, one scoop of Surge Recovery before training and two during, and then carbs later in the day, but I still needed to bump them up. One carbtastic weekend and added carbs in the meal before training seemed to improve things a bunch. Um, that was a bit of a tangent. Moral of the story: Yes, longer training will require increased nutrition, but they won’t necessarily increase appetite.

My sessions are normally about two hours and I keep a pretty good pace. Most workouts are 45-70 sets depending on muscle groups worked. Been doing this type of volume for about 8months. I love it. Does it work better than less volume. Don’t know don’t care I love training I love being in the gym and I’m still progressing so that’s all I want.

Long sessions can be perfectly fine (especially if the goal is strength/powerlifting) but I think most people would do better with quality over quantity.

I prefer quantity and quality :slight_smile:

[quote]ryanbCXG wrote:
I prefer quantity and quality :)[/quote]

Did you gradually change to doing more and more volume? Do you have issues keeping strength and intensity up for so many sets?

EDIT: Would love to see a layout of one of your training sessions…

[quote]The Rattler wrote:

[quote]ryanbCXG wrote:
I prefer quantity and quality :)[/quote]

Did you gradually change to doing more and more volume? Do you have issues keeping strength and intensity up for so many sets?

EDIT: Would love to see a layout of one of your training sessions…[/quote]

Yes I’ve slowly built up volume but I’ve done a lot of training since Hs. It just used to be more sport related.

I bastardized a JM set up. Today was chest and shoulders and actually cut it short because I had an insomnia flare up last night at didn’t get any sleep so felt like shit.

Neutral chest press machine: 6x10 2 sec neg

Incline bb 30 degree: 135x14, 185x8, 205x8 225x6 235x5 245x4 225x6 185x2x8

Very low incline DB: 100x12 110x10,8 120x6 100x10 90x10

Bw dip: 25, 20, 18.

Incline cable fly 10x10 45 sec rest (this I would normally do but didn’t today due to energy.)

Rear delt machine 6x20-12

Land mine lateral 4x10

Lateral partial 4x30

Triceps pump 6-10 sets.

x2 I would also love to see a typical training day

My sessions normally last 2 hours, maybe abit longer. Nothing detrimental about it.

[quote]Christian Thibaudeau wrote:
I personally believe in trying to increase training density as long as performance doesn’t suffer. This means trying to do the work in a shorter amount of time. So I do have a pretty rapid workout pace.

If I trained 2 hours in one session with the pace I’m doing right now, I’d do roughly 50 sets in a workout and since I’m doing almost exclusively big lifts, that would be a disaster waiting to happen!

Now, I could go for 2 hours, using a slower training pace, getting in 25-30 sets… but really I’m getting close to that amount of work in a 45 minutes session. So if I simply stretched that out over 2 hours I would actually have a lesser training effect.

And I personally notice that if I keep my training pace up, my focus is much better than if I rest longer between sets. In fact, resting too long between sets is the best way to get me out of the zone.

I also notice that if I go much past 60-70 minutes, I start to lose focus and some drive/guts. Which leads to inferior performance. In my opinion, when that happens, the added volume is simply garbage volume, burning more energy (that could be used to fuel the growth process) and doesn’t contribute to stimulating growth. I believe that training initiate a cell signaling action that triggers the adaptive/growth process. Once that signal has been sent, additional volume will not lead to more rapid growth.

When I want to do more work, I perform two sessions in one day. This allows me to perform shorter sessions, in which I keep my pace and focus up.

Really, the duration in time of the workout doesn’t mean much by itself. I have know a lot of people who pride themselves in “training” for 2 hours or more, but they do less volume (and a lot lower quality of work) than I do in 60 minutes.

I would recommend trying to do more work in the same amount of time without having a decrease in performance before thinking about simply spending more time in the gym.[/quote]

Very good information CT, thanks for taking the time to post a lot lately on the forums; it’s great to be able to get insight from you more frequently. OP, I know what you mean about wanting to feel like you destroyed your target muscle(s) in the gym, but to echo many of the other posters in the thread, don’t let the clock dictate your workout. Rest time is a variable to manipulate and use to gauge progress in the same manner as weight, sets, reps, etc. If you can perform 3 sets of an exercise with a weight using 45 second rest periods for what used to take 1:20 rest, that’s an increased work capacity right there! I tend to notice a point in my workouts where I feel like I reach a point of diminishing returns if I train for much over an hour and 15 mins by myself; that said, if I’m training with a partner, the workout can take 2 hours and I still am getting after it on my sets

[quote]ryanbCXG wrote:

[quote]The Rattler wrote:

[quote]ryanbCXG wrote:
I prefer quantity and quality :)[/quote]

Did you gradually change to doing more and more volume? Do you have issues keeping strength and intensity up for so many sets?

EDIT: Would love to see a layout of one of your training sessions…[/quote]

Yes I’ve slowly built up volume but I’ve done a lot of training since Hs. It just used to be more sport related.

I bastardized a JM set up. Today was chest and shoulders and actually cut it short because I had an insomnia flare up last night at didn’t get any sleep so felt like shit.

Neutral chest press machine: 6x10 2 sec neg

Incline bb 30 degree: 135x14, 185x8, 205x8 225x6 235x5 245x4 225x6 185x2x8

Very low incline DB: 100x12 110x10,8 120x6 100x10 90x10

Bw dip: 25, 20, 18.

Incline cable fly 10x10 45 sec rest (this I would normally do but didn’t today due to energy.)

Rear delt machine 6x20-12

Land mine lateral 4x10

Lateral partial 4x30

Triceps pump 6-10 sets. [/quote]

Looks good man. Thanks.

Up until recently my workouts always lasted one and a half to two hours. However, this was not necessarily intentional but rather a result of my routine. Roughly half of my workout would be comprised of two core lifts (bench, incline bench, power clean to push press, hang clean, squat, deadlift, pull up, and bentover row) and the other half would be made up of assistance or auxiliary work in a bodybuilding or timed fashion with roughly 90 seconds rest.

Granted your workout should fall in line with your goals. Being a former offensive lineman in football my goals were to add strength and at least maintain conditioning and athleticism. Whether or not I did so optimally is certainly up for debate, but it was a routine that I knew worked to some capacity.

Now that I’m done I have increased the pace of my workouts, finishing in under an hour typically, and have been losing a great deal of fat along with a smidgen of muscle.

After all of that I would simply say you ought to structure your workout around what your goals really are…do you want to destroy your muscles for the sake of destroying them or do you have a goal in mind?

[quote]pwolves17 wrote: OP, I know what you mean about wanting to feel like you destroyed your target muscle(s) in the gym, but to echo many of the other posters in the thread, don’t let the clock dictate your workout. Rest time is a variable to manipulate and use to gauge progress in the same manner as weight, sets, reps, etc. If you can perform 3 sets of an exercise with a weight using 45 second rest periods for what used to take 1:20 rest, that’s an increased work capacity right there! I tend to notice a point in my workouts where I feel like I reach a point of diminishing returns if I train for much over an hour and 15 mins by myself; that said, if I’m training with a partner, the workout can take 2 hours and I still am getting after it on my sets
[/quote]

Training to get maximum results is not the same as training a lot. If anybody was all about doing more and more volume it was me. I always took great pride in outworking everyone. I distinctively remember one day while in Colorado where I did 70 bench press sets in the morning and50 in the evening!

HOWEVER I will say that doing too much work can kill your progress.

First let’s understand something: there is a significant difference between training in a natural state and training when using performance-enhancing drugs.

I talked about it in the past. Your body has a finite capacity to handle, grow and adapt to hard physical work. The former Soviet sport-scientists called it “adaptation reserve”. I like to refer it as training money!

Everybody has his own amount of training money to spend on training. See it as a form of investing.

The more money you invest (or the better your investments) the greater your return is (growth, strength gains). However if you exceed the amount of training money you have to spend (contract a debt) you will eventually hit the wall and will go backwards (have to pay back the debt with interests).

Now, the thing is that performance-enhancing drugs artificially increase your capacity to perform, recover from and grow from hard physical training; it increases the amount of training money you have. If someone already believes that the more you do, the more you grow (a lot of peoples have that mindset) and turn to drugs because they are disatisfied with their progress (likely because they are doing too much for what their body can handle) and then suddenly do more work to “take advantage of the drugs” and can grow great from doing too much work (because the drugs allows them to handle the recovery), they do not think “hey, drugs made me grow”… they think “I was right all along, it IS about doing more work”.

Just because XYZ big guy can train hard and do tons of volume, 30, 40, 50 sets per workout doesn’t mean that it is something smart to do for someone who doesn’t have the same advantage. I’ve seen some people who are stimulus addicts (are addicted to training) take drugs not necessarily to grow more, but to be able to do more work and recover from it.

I have worked with enough pro and high level amateur bodybuilders to know that they themselves do not realize how much money they artificially have and thus do not realize how it is like to train on a “normal” body.

Furthermore not everybody has the same amount of “training money” as naturals. Just because someone can tolerate and grow from doing 30-40 sets in a workout doesn’t mean that everybody can. We all have our own physiology to live with as well as our own athletic background, which influences our capacity to perform and recover from hard work.

What I’m saying is that everybody can handle a different workload and grow from it. Some can recover from a lot more work than others (either because of drug use, their own natural physiology or their background) so even if someone successfully does 50 sets every workout and grow doesn’t mean that YOU can do it too., unless you share a similar physiological situation.

Then there is the issue of isolation vs. compound and light vs. heavy. Big compound lifts are superior to build overall strength and size. But that comes at a cost. The impact on both the nervous system and energy expenditure is much greater than when doing isolation work. As a result doing 50 sets of deadlift and clean & press will be a zillion time more draining than doing the same 50 sets in biceps curls, triceps extensions and lateral raises!

Similarly, heavier work drain the nervous system much more. Ask a sprinter to run 60m sprints at 90% intensity and he can easily do 12-20 sets in a workout. Ask him to run at 100% and if he does more than 4 or 5 he will be neurologically fried for 2-3 days and performance will suffer. Same thing goes with lifting… if you like to lift heavy for 3-5 reps per set you will burn out more easily than if you prefer sets of 8-12 reps.

And if you go to total failure you can tolerate much less volume than if you stop 1-2 reps short. So 50 sets is not 50 sets… other variables have to be included in the analysis.

We were raised to think that if you do more, you get more back… study more and you will get better grades… work more and you will earn more money… etc. But it doesn’t always work like that. You can invest 2 millions dollars… if it’s all on sh*tty investments you will not grow rich… someone could invest only 100 000% in the right places and earn a lot more than you did!

[quote]ryanbCXG wrote:

[quote]The Rattler wrote:

[quote]ryanbCXG wrote:
I prefer quantity and quality :)[/quote]

Did you gradually change to doing more and more volume? Do you have issues keeping strength and intensity up for so many sets?

EDIT: Would love to see a layout of one of your training sessions…[/quote]

Yes I’ve slowly built up volume but I’ve done a lot of training since Hs. It just used to be more sport related.

I bastardized a JM set up. Today was chest and shoulders and actually cut it short because I had an insomnia flare up last night at didn’t get any sleep so felt like shit.

Neutral chest press machine: 6x10 2 sec neg

Incline bb 30 degree: 135x14, 185x8, 205x8 225x6 235x5 245x4 225x6 185x2x8

Very low incline DB: 100x12 110x10,8 120x6 100x10 90x10

Bw dip: 25, 20, 18.

Incline cable fly 10x10 45 sec rest (this I would normally do but didn’t today due to energy.)

Rear delt machine 6x20-12

Land mine lateral 4x10

Lateral partial 4x30

Triceps pump 6-10 sets. [/quote]

Hey ryan, how come for chest you seem to work up to a heavier weight then back off some for more volume, yet for shoulders you seem to do straight sets?

Or did you just not bother to type out exact weight, sets and reps for the shoulder exercises since they were the same principle as the chest portion?

Just curious.

I like to increase volume by increasing frequency, not length. Slowly add training sessions to the week, then you can start adding some days where you train twice a day and on up.

Right now, my sessions are only 30-45 minutes, but I’m doing a total of 10 sessions a week. 4 days have 2 sessions, 2 days have 1 session, and 1 rest day.

[quote]DoubleDuce wrote:
I like to increase volume by increasing frequency, not length. Slowly add training sessions to the week, then you can start adding some days where you train twice a day and on up.

Right now, my sessions are only 30-45 minutes, but I’m doing a total of 10 sessions a week. 4 days have 2 sessions, 2 days have 1 session, and 1 rest day.[/quote]

IMHO and experience, that is the smartest way to do it