T Nation

Regrets on Focusing Too Much on Working Out?

Felt like this was the right place to post this.

So, I’ve been really thinking lately: have I spent too much time in the gym? I’ve been lifting since about 19 years old. Pretty regularly, to borderline obsessive.

Now as I get older I keep asking myself if any of it was/is worth it? I love lifting, I love working out, but has it been somewhat detrimental to my life since I’ve spent so much fucking time doing it when I could have been doing other things?

Have any of you felt like that? if it was all worth it? I mean, don’t get be wrong I get depressed if I feel/look like shit so stopping isn’t an option. I’m trying to find a way to cut back while not losing any gains or getting fat.

I’m mostly in there 4-5 times a week, for over an hour. I take a hell of a long time to warmup, so sometimes my sessions can drag into the 2 hour range.

How do some of you feel about the time spent working out?

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What else would you have been doing? If you’re missing time with friends or family, not excelling at work, or missing something else important, then it’s a problem. If you’re doing it when you would have been watching TV, relaxing, or doing another activity, then it’s not a problem.

Also, one thing I’ve learned as I’ve gotten older is that I can get similar results with shorter workouts as I did with longer ones. For example, I can super-set a 531 workout and be out (including a warm up and mobility) in under an hour every time.

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Since the vast majority of my lifting has been with a few good friends, it has been great.

Have a coffee/ warm up, hit the weights, hang out and have dinner/talk about life stuff. Years go by, I started bringing my son, now he loves going over to uncle So&So’s house and runs right over to get “his” weights.

Time well spent if you ask me.

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Those seem like pretty legit ways of spending your time. If you didn’t go to the gym, you probably would have been sitting in front of a computer with your dick in your hand.

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I didn’t realise it was an either/or situation.

@greenboy if you can’t immediately answer the question “what would you have done instead”, you made the right decision in my opinion

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This is deep coming from you lol. Jk. I feel you

I thought this myself a bit. At times I’ve used lifting as an escape from life which led to things spiraling out of control. Definitely time that should’ve gone into not fucking up my life lol.

When I injured my back recently I considered that might be it for big squats and deads so all that time and effort is for nothing.

Things a better now but even with the bad I don’t regret it. Lifting has given and taught me a lot: friends, passion, nutrition, discipline etc. The way I think of lifting is that it’s something I still love and will probably continue to do as long as I can. That being said there’s a lot more to life for me to pursue and love just as much as lifting: making a positive difference in the world, building fulfilling relationships with other people, food and cooking etc.

Maybe I didn’t realise it when I started lifting to be fair. But somewhere along the way I acknowledged that I needed more in my life than lifting.

For all of once when we get into this we understand that one day sooner or later there will be no PRs.

Maybe keep lifting but take a maintenance phase like low volume and use the extra time to see what else is out there for you.

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A few people have already said this, but it would have to boil down to whether or not there was something you think you were/are missing out on. What’s the opportunity cost of working out?

It’s completely subjective for sure. But, for me, absolutely not. Being an older dad of a toddler, I’m thankful I stayed in as good of shape as I have to this point. I see some dads at day care who are about 10 years younger in terrible shape … I can’t imagine how they keep up with their kid(s). On top of that, my quality of life is fantastic compared to some of my peers in my age group…

Wife and I are always doing fun, active stuff and still have enough energy for more. Taking care of your physical self is very important in the short AND long run, among the psychological and spiritual self as well…

I find that being fit makes life more enjoyable. You have more energy to do things, you get hurt less frequently, and you’re able to do things that other people wouldn’t be able to.

I wouldn’t call it detrimental unless you’re spending 3 hours a day at the gym and NOT making any money out of it.

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Having been a huge fan of bodybuilding since I was young and loved working out, and going through a contest prep, I believe there is a huge difference in working out to be healthy with some muscle and strength gains versus training in a way in which you optimize your potential. A guy, like my current self, who treats this as something for casual recreation, health benefits, even some socializing at the gym with people of my town, can lift three times per week, sometimes four, do cardio outside of a gym or play some games, make the right food choices, not overeat, and miss workouts when they can’t be done or… gasp… when they’re simply not worth it (eg, after 12 hours of running around, doing errands, events, whatever, and my mind is shot).

That’s much different than a guy hellbent on getting strong and jacked as possible. You didn’t waste your time if you can’t pinpoint an actual endeavor that lifting interfered with. And if it’s interfering now, you can do it less. It’s that simple. I can almost guarantee that nothing in most men’s lives will change from less strength and muscle if he has above average fitness levels. Five hundred plus pound deadlifts don’t make chores easier than a 315 one. Same with other lifts. And nearly everyone can’t distinguish between a guy with a nice body versus one with “capped delts”, “lower lats”, “rear delts”, and other muscular detail only seen in gym freaks and BBers.

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I used to love going to the gym for 60-90 minutes when I was single and deployed. Now it’s like the 12th thing on my priorities list… For me, it’s really just about general fitness now. Trying to carry a two-year-old around with DOMS isn’t ideal, lol. But, at the end of the day, it’s about personal preference and your situation. Like someone mentioned, if you’re just going to substitute gym time for TV time or whatever, I don’t see the harm in spending more time in the gym if that’s what you’d rather be doing. If, on the other hand, you really want to learn _________ (insert whatever, painting for example) then I would spend less time in the gym and peruse other interests. 45-60 minutes is more than enough time for a healthy hobby like lifting, imo.

I’ve gotten into circuit training recently (I’d done it in the past, but not to this extent). That might be something to look into. Built for Battle is 60 minutes tops including a 15-20 minute warm-up for me.

I’m also a big fan of just walking. Stan Efferding recommends 10 minute walks 3x a day. I usually do 20 minute walks once or twice. It just works out better for me that way. Everything feels better when I am consistent with the walks.

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I regret spending so much time reading about training, nutrition, and supplements, and obsessing over working out when I was younger. All it resulted in was a lot of program-hopping and wasted time and money. I didn’t realize how simple it actually was. I would have been out getting laid or doing something productive had I not been glued to my computer reading (and re-reading) T-Nation articles, forums, and studies.

I do not, and will never, regret the actual training itself. And there have been times when I trained 15+ hrs per week. Even now, in my late 30s with 4 kids and a career, I still train around 10 hrs/wk between the gym and bjj. It’s part of my lifestyle, and I’ve made it part of my family’s as well.

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Thanks for the replies.

Yeah, I think the main issue I have is the fact that I still have it in my head if I’m not training hard, if I’m not going 4-5 days a week for over an hour I won’t gain, maintain, or worse I’ll regress. Chances are I won’t gain anything crazier than this if I don’t pin. I’ve been doing it long enough to know my genetic limit. So, I’m asking myself do I really need almost 2 hours?

I keep trying to fit everything else around my lifting time. “ok, I can’t eat this right now because I’m going to the gym in an hour” or “fuck it I’ll skip beach and lunch with friends because I’ll end up not getting a good lift in”

And worse right now it looks like the new shiny job I thought I was going to get isn’t happening right now, so I have to transition and focus on building where I’m at for the next 2-3 years until the other opportunity pops up again. That’s going to take some serious mental fortitude that sometimes I’m too exhausted after working out to think about anything else.

People say you can maintain with 60min 3 days a week sessions at the gym. Can you really tho? Like, really?

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If you’re spending this much time in the gym every workout, you should be a model or competing in something. That’s the only way I can see someone justifying skipping going out with friends and working out that long everytime.

Why do you workout in the first place? If it’s just to look and feel good, you’re over doing it. If it’s to make money by competing or a photoshoot, then yeah, this is basically your job.

Also, ask yourself, are you really working out that efficiently? Or are you just bullshitting at the gym for a 3rd of your workout.

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it’s the warmups, I take a long time to warmup.

I should try and find a way to do it more effectively. I also get addicted to that feeling of a good long workout even though its probably not the most optimal way and I’m probably overtraining at that point. there’s going to be adjustments made.

But ya know it’s not just the actual workout. Unless you have a home gym you have to:

  • Get dressed, some people like to shower before
  • Drive or walk to the gym (walking usually takes longer)
  • Park, head in, maybe piss or whatever
  • Do a warm up on stairs or light walk (usually 12-15min)
  • Warm up sets
  • Work out
  • Drive/ walk home
  • Get home and shower
  • Eat
  • Unwind both physically and mentally before doing other tasks

When it is all said and done it is easily a 2-3 hour process at minimum. Is it not?

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I thought your workout itself was taking that long, not the whole process. This makes much more sense.

What do your workouts look like?

This a fairly basic and effective mindset.

This is an unhealthy and unnecessary mindset for anyone not actively competing or making a living from their efforts in the gym.

I’ve never heard of someone deliberately showering before going for a workout. If you’re walking to the gym, it’s redundant to also do a cardio warm-up at the gym. If you’re walking home from the gym, there’s your physical/mental unwinding time.

Sounds like the general warm-up and workout can absolutely be fine-tuned for better efficiency. Target the warm-up to bang-for-buck movement that specifically address your individual physical issues and re-examine your training plan (particularly daily volume and weekly frequency). A new thread with your current routine would help.

Leaving in all the time-sinks, yes. But, no, it doesn’t have to be.

If you know what you’re doing in the gym, absolutely yes. 60 minutes is on the long side for a session.

Honestly, I regret focusing on things other than working out.

Relationships come and go. Being true to yourself is forever. At the same time, some people are okay with being weak tityboys. I like being called brother and respected by like minded alpha males. I make working out a priority.

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What exactly do you feel like you’re missing out on?

Yes, really.

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