How Long Should You Spend Working Out?

You may be thinking to yourself that the more time you spend in the gym working out the better off your results will be.

But, the question you should be asking yourself is: Am I wasting too much of my valuable time in the gym?

Many people have the misconception that it takes hours of working out in the gym to see the results that they ultimately want to achieve, such as an increase in muscle mass or to achieve a fit and toned body.

In fact, about 20% of your weight management or weight loss results come from the time spent in the gym, lifting weights. That means about 80% of your weight management or weight loss results come from the time spent outside of the gym.


So, How Long Should You Spend Working Out?

First, we should break down the time spent actually doing exercises. When you take a closer look you may be surprised at what you will find. Let’s take “pull day”, this is the day where you focus on your back and biceps. Next time you are at the gym take a pen and pad and time how long each set takes, then simply add up every set.

To simplify this calculation on here let’s assume that you have seven different exercises that you will perform during this pull day workout session. Let’s also assume that for each and every exercise, you will do three sets and for each and every set, ten repetitions will be performed. Next, we need to look at how long each set takes to perform, this can vary depending on the type of training you do. For instance, you may be focusing on increasing the time under tension, therefore you would expand the time for each set to account for this. However, for this purpose, we will assume that each set takes 10 seconds to complete.

What is the total time lifting? 10 seconds (set) times 3 sets (10×3) equals 30 seconds per exercise. Times 30 seconds by 7 exercises (30×7) equals 210 seconds (3.5 minutes). The total time lifting weights amounts to only 3.5 minutes per session.

What’s happening between those sets? It can be put down to two things, resting or wasting time.

Hopefully, the time spent between each or your sets is time spent resting. If not it can only be put down to wasted time. A general principle is for 30 seconds to 2 minutes rest time between each set. This varies with the type of training session you are doing, for instance, this can be increased to 4 minutes rest time between sets if you are performing a powerlifting weight session.


What Is The Total Workout Time?

Let’s take the 2-minute rest time between sets as the average. We have 3 sets and 7 exercises (3×7) which total 21 sets. 21 sets times by 2-minutes (21×2) totals 42- minutes. That’s 42-minutes of rest time in total. Add this to the time actually lifting time (3.5-minutes) and you have just over 45-minutes.

This means you can get a very effective workout in just 45-minutes or less. But, the most important aspect of this time is not the rest between sets but, it’s the quality of those 3.5-minutes of actual lifting that you actually put into the workout.

What you need to be thinking is how can I make each set as effective as possible, how can I make those 3 and half minutes of lifting be the most beneficial. To expand on this, many people may end up doing very long workout session 1.5 – 2+ hours long. This could be made up of very long rest periods or some individuals may include a lot of exercises per workout session. You need to factor in that the quality of each set may diminish as the session draws on. You may fatigue somewhere past the hour mark and each set after this point may not be that effective. This is the point where you may need to consider whether you are just wasting time or not.

So, how long should your workout last? Ultimately, it comes down to the quality of those three minutes, not the length of the workout session as such. So, as long as you make every rep count you will progress.