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Are Your Workout Sessions Too Long or Too Short? Find Out Now

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In today’s world, time is scarcer than hens’ teeth. There never seems to be enough of it, more so with jobs, family, and other responsibilities standing in the way. If you don’t have a lot of time on your hands, you may be curious to learn just how much working out you really need to do to harness the many benefits of exercise. Conversely, if you ever wondered “are my workouts too long”, this article is for you too. So how long should I work out for? Here are insights from some of the best gyms in San Diego.

Why are my workouts taking so long? 

If you’re wondering how long you should exercise, then it may be because the amount of time you spend working out has become an issue. When working out takes up too much time to the extent that it feels like a chore, most people tend to taper off working out altogether. 

Part of the reason why your workout sessions may be lasting more than they should is too much rest time. So how long should I rest between sets? Findings by the Journal of Strength Conditioning recommend a 1:2 rest-to-work formula. In other words, 15 seconds or rest would suffice for a 30-second set. 

However, this is just a general rule of thumb, because rest intervals will also depend on gender, workout intensity, muscle groups targeted, and many other unique factors. It’s best to consult with a personal trainer near me for bespoke suggestions.

Here are a few other tips to help you avoid being a gym rat, yet still get in highly effective sessions: 

  • Leverage drop sets
  • Go with HIIT workouts
  • Prioritise compound exercises
  • Dial up workout intensity

Maximum workout time per day for beginners

Fitness newbies tend to overexert themselves, driven by the high of a new challenge or the desire for quick results. That’s no way to go about fitness as you could get yourself seriously injured. 

Your muscles need time to adapt to progressively increasing physical activity so that they are not overwhelmed. Start small, then take it up a notch. It’s always important to remember that your fitness journey is more like a marathon than a sprint.

How long should you work out a day for beginners? The personal training San Diego team over at IronOrrFitness recommends prioritizing shorter workouts if you’re just dipping your feet in the water. 

Doing too much too fast when starting may take you back more than it will propel you forward. In particular, the experts recommend at most 40 minutes of low-intensity workouts when getting into it. Once your muscles are up to the task, you can crank up the intensity accordingly. 

This 30-to-40-minute recommendation is in line with guidelines by the ACSM or The American College of Sports Medicine, which advocates for a similar duration. 

The maximum duration for advanced-level fitness

If this isn’t your first rodeo, and are keen to step up your fitness, then about 1 to 2 hours should be a feasible target. But again, intensity is an essential factor here.

After talking to a personal trainer in San Diego, here’s what we unearthed: 

  • Keep it 30-60 minutes if weight lifting. The exact duration is linked to rest intervals, sets, reps, and, of course, experience level
  • Observe no more than 150 minutes of cardio per week (high-intensity) – according to the American Heart Association
  • Shoot for 300 minutes of cardio weekly (moderate-intensity)

It’s important to note that these durations are exclusive of warm-up and cool-down time, both of which you need to do regardless of the type of exercise. 

Can you work out for too long? 

How long should a gym session be? To be honest, opinion on this is divided among San Diego fitness experts, and there’s no consensus on the lower limit. But the general feeling is that you may be going overboard if a workout session is more than 120 minutes long. 

The worst part about too much exercise is that you’ll be doing your body more harm than good. Over-exercising or overtraining can have negative effects on your muscles and energy levels. Besides elevating your risk of injury, too much exercise can bleed you dry leaving you running on empty for the rest of the day.  

How do you know if you’re working out too much? Your body always speaks up to let you know. One San Diego Personal Trainer notes that you may notice the following symptoms if that’s the cause.

  • Overly sore feeling- fatigue and soreness are signs of progress. But when it gets to the point of body part immobility, that could be a red flag.
  • One-sided-soreness, which could also speak to workout imbalances
  • Sleeping trouble
  • Extended periods of rest
  • Declining performance between workouts

Workout quality declines when you exercise for too long. Therefore, aim to partner with personal trainers near me to get workout plans that fit your experience level and lifestyle.

Verdict: ideal workout duration isn’t set in stone

Here’s the deal. There’s no magic number when it comes to exercise duration. We train for different needs or goals, and that will largely dictate how long you should work out for, as well as how often. 

For instance, an ultramarathoner and a powerlifter may not necessarily spend the same amount of time working out. Alternatively, if you’re working out for competitive goals, you may not need to spend as much time in the gym, so to speak, as someone who’s just exercising to get fit.

In the former’s case, more practice time improves the likelihood of success. For the general fitness enthusiast, just the bare minimum may suffice. These differences reinforce the need to consult with a professional personal fitness trainer.  

Frequency is as important as the duration

Sure, the duration of your workout is important, but you know what is even more essential? How often do you do it? Going hard at the gym one day, only to skimp on the rest of your sessions will result in little progress. Try to split up your workouts into smaller, more effective, and more manageable chunks instead that you can be more consistent with. Visit the IronOrrFitness for more amazing workout tips, or to get one of the best personal trainer services San Diego has to offer.


Adam Mulligan, a psychology graduate from the University of Hertfordshire, has a keen interest in the fields of mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.

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