Here I am once again talking about workout lengths!
In my last Angry Issues post , I asked how long YOUR workouts were. And the answers you gave were all over the spectrum. Some of you said that you perform 15 minute workouts, while others said you workout for over an hour, sometimes as long as 90 minutes at a time.
So how long should your workouts be? There’s a school of thought that says that working out for an hour or more is pointless… but is it really?
I think it’s important to first clarify what your goals are. As I’ve admitted here on the site, I used to workout for hours at a time. I mean my leg day could easily approach two hours when I was in my twenties. Even nowadays I find myself having to watch the clock to make sure I’m not working out over an hour, and even then I still sometimes do. I can’t help it – I love exercising! Lately I’ve spoken a lot about training for health and fitness versus training for ‘a look’. But at what point does training become counter-productive?
We know for instance that short intense workouts of 15–20 minutes a time can absolutely benefit our health and fitness. Many people have gravitated towards these short, high intensity workouts and lost weight, felt better and improved their endurance. But I think that when you’re looking to make your muscles bigger or develop strength, 15 minutes just won’t cut it. One of the reasons is that when you’re training for true strength, you need to gradually progress the weight to achieve a maximal lift. True strength athletes will have a detailed plan and follow exact sets and reps at each of their workouts. And when it comes to bodybuilding, you need to exhaust all of the muscle fibers to achieve maximal growth. So that style of training usually involves multiple sets and reps using many exercises for the same muscle group.
But when it comes to shorter workouts, usually people just run through a few sets of exercise designed to jack up their heart rate, focus on a bit of bodyweight strength and keep you moving. Now I’m not discounting these workouts, they’re really tough and I use similar versions myself. So which is best?
I think the answer is clear – you need to use a variety of durations in your training. I can’t say hour-long workouts are wasteful because that would be saying all my years of training were for nothing. Honestly I don’t think I’d look the way I do now had I not trained as I did. And yes, I realize that looking fit and having muscles doesn’t mean I am fit (although I am!) but it is nice to like how you look right?
So as always a mix is best. In essence, select the modes that fit best with what you’re trying to achieve. Keep it varied. Plus – and this is huge – the mental component is key. Many people like exercising for an hour because mentally it feels good. It’s an escape from life and makes us feel energized and alive. Ironically, the hormone, dopamine and endorphin rush that exercise provides doesn’t really kick in till the 15-minute mark. So with the shorter workouts, you may miss out on the awesome “high” people feel. Heck at 15 minutes I’m still getting warmed up!
Are hours long workouts pointless – I say FICTION. Different duration workouts provide different benefits. Just be sure to know your goals and plan accordingly. Good luck everyone…
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