T Nation

workout length

The usual consensus on resistance training is…under an hour or so to keep cortisol down and so forth.
Now, if you’re doing cardio and weights in the same workout, how does that work together? Especially if you do interval cardio, then weights? Or even just steady state and weights? What about a little cardio to warm up, then weights, then some steady state? Can I fit any more wondering queries on here?? :slight_smile:
I love having the time to space out cardio and weights but it is not practical with my jobs.

IMO light warm up, then the workout begins. Whether that’s HIIT, weights, or a combo, they are stressful enough to produce the (initially beneficial)hormonal changes you imply.

Therefore, they are also stressful enough to induce the adverse effects you imply if you take it much over 1 hour. So, either split, or shorten if you’re getting into a marathon. Hope that helps. SRS

I think this is a hugely individual question and I don’t really see any problem with a workout going over an hour especially if there are different components - warm-up, lifting, cardio, etc.

The old school mentality of less than an hour was a good thing as it helped people get more focused in the gym, but it is definitely not a hard truth.

I believe the less than an hour recommendation specifically applies to weight training since after about 45 minutes you reach your peak Testosterone and GH levels. So the “experts” have recommended that you keep your workouts to under an hour so you take advantage of this peak and don’t go into a catabolic state.

My Renegade workouts usually take me about 1 1/2 hours and have gone up to 2 hours. That is a complete workout from my warmup to my post-workout stretching. My weight lifting session is usually about 45 minutes long. It’s the warmup and GPP that usually increases the time of the workout. But I’m addressing all my needs within each workout (agility, speed, weights, GPP, stretching, etc.).

Like Jason said, I think it’s highly individual. Some people can tolerate or make better gains on longer workouts or with more volume. You have to figure out what works best for you.

I think 45-60 minutes of weight training is enough. If you can do more than that, you’re probably not training correctly or very hard. If you add HIIT, cardio or GPP to that, I think you’re still okay. Just be sure to end your workout with a good post-workout shake.

Gotta agree with my boy Natt Dogg here. I think 45-60 minutes of LIFTING is about the norm. I used to be one of those people whose workouts would take 1.5-2 hours (just lifting) and I think it was more detrimental than anything. Needless to say, once I discovered the importance of tempos and timed rests in between sets, my workouts have gotten shorter and I have gotten great results.

yup, nicely written Natey Dogg. My usually last about 1.5 hours as well, and yup it’s renegade training too.

Da Boxer

The biggest problem I see with long workouts is that they’re such a drain on one’s schedule. It’s hard to be able to consistently get to the gym during stressful/demanding times if you have to give up three hours to workout.

Well, nice to have some variation in opinion here. I’m afraid I’ll stick to my guns. I still find that at a high intensity (such as I exert in HIIT or any of my weight workouts) then after around an hour I’m just flogging the dead horse. Now, here it’s the way I FEEL that’s telling me it’s probably time to stop. I definately could go on, but is it worth it?


And to think, several years ago I’d think nothing of >2hrs in the gym. But what was I REALLY doing during those 2h? What was my ratio of hard work to talk, sitting around etc.? Hmmmm… I think that it’s the change in training style, the increased intensity that I can summon, the bigger weights handled, and my relatively “peaked” level of conditioning that have caused that diference. So I’m not just going on that “expert advice” about 1 hr max.


But I will consent, it probably does have some individual component, and this is where the factors I listed above start playing a role. Not sure where Elveneyes fits on this scale. I will presume she’s been training a while, and is able to train with a relatively high intensity.

In this scenario, if it’s a light warm up of 20mins, hard weights for 45-60, and a post-w/o stretch of 20 mins, then fine. But I’d still go against a high intensity cardio PLUS weights for a long session. I just don’t think you’ll be able to do the end parts of the workout justice if you try to do it properly, and you’re fairly certain to be in a poor hormonal state (both for this workout, and subsequent ones if you can’t recover in time).


I guess bottom line is that you can work on the ability to SENSE when you’re doing more harm than good for that session.


Haven’t done Renegade, so shouldn’t really comment on this training scenario.


Nate Dogg- addressing your response specifically, -Are you saying that time-specific hormonal changes only occur during weight training and not during cardio training?

I think you'll find that there still exists definitive periods of beneficial (GNTRP's and T, GH stimulus), then detrimental ( incr Cortisol, decr anabolic hormone) activity with this type of exercise too. I will add that these changes are influenced once again by the time (years) training, the current conditioning level of the athlete, and the intensity level of the training session. Once again, an athlete with greater experience/ time training, and consequently conditioning (fitness for the sport) will be able to summon higher intensity subconsciously. However, I should add to this that there may well be a degree of chronic overtraining in these athletes too, affecting their session-specific hormonal responses.

Oh yes, And I haven't even MENTIONED nutritional status of the individual yet (long term and peri- workout influences)!!.

It's a very interesting and unfortunately complex subject. I'm sorry if I appeared naive in my simplification of affairs. Unfortunately though, without a blood sample every few minutes taken during every session, it's only going to be time, results, and how your body feels that will be the test in the "real world". So, IMO, if your training's working satisfactorily for your goals, less is more. THAT'S why I said keep it under an hour. There's always another day. SRS

No, I don’t believe it only occurs with weight training. I think in the case of certain cardiovascular training, you would have the same hormonal changes. But I believe this would mainly occur in activities such as sprinting, HIIT, Renegade GPP and other intense sessions. For someone who is slowly jogging on a treadmill, pedaling on the stationary bike or performing “traditional” cardio, there may be less of a hormonal response.

I don’t have all the info to back this up, but I know in reading various articles JB and others have talked about how a sprinting or HIIT session causes similar responses as weight training. I just didn’t address that in my first response. Typically, people equate weight training with hormonal changes.