Making sure you’re spending the right amount of time at the gym is absolutely vital to ensure that you’re getting the most out of your exercise regime and that you’re going to hit your targets, whatever they may be.
Whether you want to lose weight or build muscle, determining your ideal work out duration is an essential part of the planning process. Planning and setting the correct fitness goals for you are an inescapable part of the process. If you just turn up to the gym and start playing around on some machines, then you’re less likely to reach those goals than if you’ve got a clear idea of what you want to be doing.
As individuals, we are all different and have different fitness levels, different abilities and different restrictions on what we are able to do, as well as what we enjoy doing when exercising. Here, we set out some general guidelines to help you understand approximately how long you should be spending in the gym, depending on what you want to achieve. You may want to adjust it slightly for what you’re comfortable with, depending on how quickly you want to reach those targets and how able you feel to exercise for that length of time.
We’ll also take a look at the dangers of over-training and how pushing your body too far can lead to serious problems down the line.
How Much Exercise Should I be Doing Anyway?
Here at Everyone Active, it’s our mission to get everyone doing at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, five times a week, or 150 minutes. This is the basic amount everyone should be aiming to achieve in order to live a healthy lifestyle and keeping their body in good condition.
Now, ‘moderate-intensity exercise’ means different things to different people. For some, a half hour stroll might be sufficient to get the blood pumping, while for others, they may need to get themselves working a little harder, by doing half an hour of running on the treadmill or attending a group fitness class in order to fulfil the ‘moderate-intensity’ qualifier.
Whatever it is, it all counts. Just because you can’t run at full pelt on the treadmill (yet) or do half an hour on the exercise bike, that doesn’t mean what you’re doing isn’t having the same impact on you, or that you won’t be able to do that in the future.
How Long Should I work out to Lose Weight?
If you’re looking to lose weight, then it’s important you’re specific and realistic with your goals, otherwise you’re likely to lose motivation and momentum, rather than weight. The 150 minute target mentioned earlier is a great place to start, especially if you’re relatively new to exercise or are returning to it after a long lay-off. Working to this time frame is a great place to start, but you may want to start pushing yourself a little harder, or staying at the gym a little longer.
Once you’ve reached a certain level of fitness, it may be worth upping your gym visits to around 45-60 minutes each. This will mean that you’re burning more calories and, therefore, more likely to continue losing weight.
It’s important, however, that you don’t just limit yourself to using cardiovascular equipment in your bid to lose weight. Not only are you likely to get bore of your exercise regimen if you limit yourself to just one form of exercise, but you’re likely to see less impressive results too. If you lift some weights before starting your cardio workout, you’ll begin using up your glycogen stores in your body more quickly, meaning that once you’re on the treadmill, exercise bike, cross trainer or rowing machine, you’ll have moved on to burning fat for energy, resulting in quicker weight loss.
How Long Should I exercise for to Build Muscle?
When lifting weights, your body relies on its stores of creatine phosphate and glycogen to generate the necessary power to lift and build muscle mass. Your body has a limited store of these two substances and once it’s used up, it’s gone until it’s been replenished through rest and diet. You can increase your stores through diet and supplements, but for most people, a weight training session beyond about 30 minutes could actually become counter-productive, breaking down, rather than building muscle mass.
What are the Dangers of Over-Training?
It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that the more you do and the longer you spend at the gym, the quicker and more successful you’ll be at reaching your goals. This, however, isn’t necessarily the case.
Not only can over-training lead to injury, which in itself will knock your whole exercise regime off balance and lead to you missing your goals, but it can also lead to over-training syndrome. This is characterised by an inability to sleep, moodiness, irritability apathy and a loss appetite. This is both deeply unpleasant for you and those around you and it can make your workouts less effective too.
Generally, it’s advised to put between 48 and 72 hours between each training session, with perhaps light cardio in-between just to keep your muscles warm. This will mean you don’t get bored, are less likely to get injured and more likely to reach your goals.
It’s all About you
Basically, it’s all about you. Listen to your body and what it’s telling you. If you feel like you should take it a little more easily, then do so, if you think you can up how long you’re spending at the gym, then do that too. No-one knows your body better than you do. Most of all, however, make sure you’re enjoying yourself. If you’re not enjoying your workouts, then something’s wrong.