How Long Should a Workout Be To See Results?
It doesn’t matter if it’s your first time in the gym or your 1,000th time in the gym – there are so many variables that can affect the effectiveness of your workout. And one of these variables is time.
It can feel intimidating to come to the gym, do your workout, and then leave before anyone else. But time might not matter nearly as much as some other factors in your workout. Here is everything you need to know about the length of an effective workout and how to stay fit even when you’re short on time.
How Long Does an Effective Workout Need To Be?
One of the key misconceptions about strength training is that a longer workout is directly related to a more effective one. In reality, time in the gym is not nearly as important as what you’re doing with your time.
Someone who spends two hours in the gym might walk away with a less effective workout than someone who just spent 30 minutes. Not to mention, everyone’s workouts might look slightly different depending on how often they hit the gym on a given week.
With that in mind, there are some guidelines by the Department of Health and Human Services that you can use. It’s recommended that you get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity per week or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity. This is a good indicator for cardio-focused activities, but it is not as clear for resistance training.
Some variables that are outside of your control can also affect the length of a workout. For instance, if you’re inside of a gym where people share equipment, you might need to wait longer to get certain pieces of equipment. Consider supersets or switching with a partner during rest periods to make the most of your time.
For strength, a good rule of thumb is to try to spend anywhere from 45-90 minutes in the gym whenever you are trying to focus on muscle. Of course, with Speede, you can get the benefits of a 90-minute workout in as little as 15-minutes — and we’ll talk more about that below.
But regardless of what machine you’re training on, one of the key components of strength training that is often overlooked is the rest period. These are the moments in between sets where you allow your muscles to recharge so you can get back into it and perform at your best. It’s very easy to rest for too short of a period and difficult to rest for too long.
How Long Should a Rest Period Be?
Spending a longer time in the gym can be effective as long as you spend more time taking rests in between sets. Beginner lifters often rest for too little because they are focused on burning calories and getting a muscle “pump.”
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is based on the idea of minimal rest in order to burn more calories. And while this is an effective method for calorie burn, it often does not give your muscles enough time to rest and recharge in between sets.
Believe it or not, it’s been found that the most effective rest interval for muscle gains is anywhere from three to five minutes. That might feel like a very long time, but it makes sense. Adequate rest allows for greater repetitions over multiple sets, which produces greater increases in total strength.
For example, if you do eight reps of a chest press at 100 pounds but only take a minute to rest before going in for your second set, there’s a good chance you won’t be able to match that weight. You haven’t given your muscles enough time to rest, and you might finish your sets without pushing the maximum weight you’re capable of.
However, if you rest for four minutes, you’ll probably be able to maintain that heavy weight for every single set. This can help you get stronger much more quickly, even though each exercise takes longer for you to complete.
This is to say that longer workouts can be more effective if you utilize rests properly.
How Many Sets of an Exercise Should You Do?
The number of sets, reps, and weight are usually better indicators of a workout's effectiveness than time. As a rule of thumb, you should train every muscle group at least two times a week.
The way you decide to split that up is entirely up to you. Some people like a push, pull leg muscle split where they devote two days a week to each. Others prefer upper body and lower body splits trained twice a week.
Either way, rep ranges can vary depending on the intensity of your workout. A good place to start is three sets of a given exercise for about 8-15 reps each.
How Long Should Workouts Be When You’re Short on Time?
If you have a busy schedule that doesn’t allow you to be in the gym for more than 30-45 minutes at a time, you can still get a super effective workout in. It all comes down to the concept of time under tension.
Ultimately, what you're looking for is not a certain number of reps or sets, but a cumulative amount of "time under tension" that fully exhausts your muscles. Time under tension can be understood as the amount of time when your muscles are actually working — in other words, it doesn't factor in the time spent racking or unracking weights, cleaning equipment, or resting between sets. With traditional gym equipment, it's possible to spend 90 minutes at the gym and only experience 2-3 minutes of actual time under tension!
The best way to create this time under tension is with a machine that adapts to your personal limits — like Speede. Speede uses the latest muscle science to deliver results in just a fraction of the time. It can feel like you’ve done a 30-minute workout within just 10 minutes.
What makes Speede so effective is that nearly all the time you spend training is spent as time under tension, especially in our isokinetic Nemesis Mode which fully challenges your muscles throughout an entire movement.
The machine perfectly matches your resistance throughout an entire range of motion, growing muscle quickly and effectively even when you’re short on time. Book a demo today to feel what it’s all about.
Especially for people new to exercise, it can be hard to know exactly how long you need to be in the gym for an effective workout. While there are some guidelines and recommendations for cardio in a given week, resistance training is less clear. With traditional equipment, anywhere from 45-90 minutes is usually sufficient. (With Speede, of course, you’d spend much less time than that.)
However, factors like your rep range and max weight are also important. An effective workout is one where you are using the maximum amount of effort, and this is usually thanks to adequate rest periods. You want to ensure you’re resting for around 3-5 minutes between sets of exercises.
If you’re short on time, you can make your workout more effective with the isokinetic, eccentric and isotonic training offered on Speede. Book a demo today to see how Speede can efficiently amplify your gains.