T Nation

Optimal Hours/Week in the Gym

What are the biggest factors in determining how many hours a week a lifter should be training? For the sake of this forum we can say the goal is to get bigger, stronger, and leaner, either by adding muscle mass while minimizing fat gain, or losing fat while minimizing muscle loss. Or just getting stronger in general without the goal of competing.

For my part, I’ve noticed that more time = better results, no matter what I’m doing or what goal I’m chasing. My results at 8 hours/week will be better than 6, and results at 10 are better than 8.

Is more always better? Is there a point where another hour of training is actually detrimental, or really not worth it?

I feel like I see a ton of programs entailing about 6 hours of lifting per week. I’m not sure why this seems to be a de facto standard. If someone has the time to train 14 hours/week, is there any reason not to?

I’m also really curious as to how this changes for someone spending most of their time on compound lifts vs. isolation stuff. Would love to hear from some of the more knowledgeable guys.

The only down side I can think of is not having enough rest but if your working say 3 hours a day mon-fri that is 15 hours and you will still have 2 days off… I am not n expert but I will I could find enough time to “train to much”…

[quote]Furyguy wrote:
What are the biggest factors in determining how many hours a week a lifter should be training? For the sake of this forum we can say the goal is to get bigger, stronger, and leaner, either by adding muscle mass while minimizing fat gain, or losing fat while minimizing muscle loss. Or just getting stronger in general without the goal of competing.

For my part, I’ve noticed that more time = better results, no matter what I’m doing or what goal I’m chasing. My results at 8 hours/week will be better than 6, and results at 10 are better than 8. [/quote]

Yeah, more is better… TO A POINT.

[quote]
Is more always better? [/quote]

No!

Yeah!

[quote]
I feel like I see a ton of programs entailing about 6 hours of lifting per week. I’m not sure why this seems to be a de facto standard. If someone has the time to train 14 hours/week, is there any reason not to? [/quote]

Reason: 14 hours is completely unnecessary for lifting. However, there are exceptions, such as Brian Siders, who enjoys nerve-fraying, four hour workouts.

You can try to see if you can endure 14 hours of lifting per week.

[quote]
I’m also really curious as to how this changes for someone spending most of their time on compound lifts vs. isolation stuff. Would love to hear from some of the more knowledgeable guys. [/quote]

The more difficult stuff you do, the more recovery you have to pay attention to rest and nutrition.

How about you not try to re-invent the wheel and do what most of the successful people do: lift 4 to 6 hrs per week and add whatever other activity you need to or want to.

Your posts are one of those that indicate a lack of experience or in-depth knowledge. How long have you been lifting, and on a scale of 1 to 10, how do you rate your knowledge base?

Where’s that point?

[quote]

Reason: 14 hours is completely unnecessary for lifting. [/quote]
I agree with you that it is unnecessary. I don’t agree that this is a sufficient reason not to do it if rate of progress can be increased or improved upon.

You’re spot on. I don’t have much experience or in-depth knowledge, which is why I’m asking questions like this in the first place. I would say 4 out 10 on the knowledge base, though that may be being generous

And I still would like to know where the 4-6 hour/week sweet spot came from, why it’s so often prescribed, and why doing more is seemingly a bad idea.

Thanks a lot for the reply.

I don’t know. I’m an obtuse guy and I never pay much attention to what-if scenarios or stuff that no one does or doen’t typically do training-wise.I’ve only done what everyone else who knows what they’re doing does: 3 to 4 sets of 8 to 12 reps for size and 3 to 10 sets of 1 to 6 reps for strength or power or whatever other set and rep combo is typically used for a desired result. If the correct number of exercises are used for a goal, the workout can last 60 to 90 minutes (although, as I said before, there are people who lift for 3 to 4 hours, usually in powerlifting training groups).

[quote]
I agree with you that it is unnecessary. I don’t agree that this is a sufficient reason not to do it if rate of progress can be increased or improved upon.[/quote]

As I said before, if there’s a situation in which more is better, then the person should do more. And as I also said, there are diminishing returns, in just about every endeavor. For example, working more will produce more money. But there does come a point in which increasing work is unfeasible or won’t make someone more money or will in the long run comprimise the person in was in which they can’t work more in the future (eg, working to the point of burnout).

[quote]

You’re spot on. I don’t have much experience or in-depth knowledge, which is why I’m asking questions like this in the first place. I would say 4 out 10 on the knowledge base, though that may be being generous. [/quote]

Why not try a typical beginner’s program that has yielded results for tons of people and get on the path to know just how much work you can handle? What are you doing now, program wise?

[quote]

And I still would like to know where the 4-6 hour/week sweet spot came from, why it’s so often prescribed, and why doing more is seemingly a bad idea. [/quote]

It’s not bad per se. People try to be economical with training. If more volume produces more results for you, do it. If you write out a typical bodybuilding program or powerlifting routine, it usually comes out to something like 4 to 8 hours per week. I said 6 before, but these are just ranges I’ve seen, and even they’re not exact. As I said, there are guys who train a ton. I mentioned Brian Siders before and I mention him here again becuase he’s one of the few men who can endure workouts that would put someone like me in the hospital.

Welcome.

Have you read beginner articles on here?

I like to train more frequently and with shorter rest periods when cutting so I’d be going to the gym about 6 days a week to lift for around 1.5 hours plus around an hour of cardio a day. I cut when I’m really motivated and just go balls to the wall every day. After that if I’m focusing more on bulking or enjoying life a bit more I’ll just go 3x a week to the gym on a 3 way or 2 way split and bring down the cardio to around 30 min a day.

I have been training about 4-5 hours/week after warm-up (4 sessions of a little over 1 hour) and have been getting better results then I was when I was training 10-15 hours.

I currently always use a stop-watch, super-set almost everything and have pretty short rest periods, so the ~1 hour is pretty much constant movement.

I get much better sleep, more consistent eating and life is just less stressful when I have that many more hours out of the gym where I can get work done, cook, nap or go to bed earlier etc…