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  1. #1
    Registered User cosmokramer1990's Avatar
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    How long is too long per lifting session?

    Is there an ideal length of time for lifting weights? 1 hour? 1.5 hours (90 minutes)? 45 minutes?

    The reason I ask is because lately, my lifting sessions have been getting longer (between 90 and 120 minutes). I've been trying a lot of new exercises and different set/rep ranges which explains the increase in time. I've also added traps and forearms at the end of every upper body workout (3x per week) because those were stubborn areas for me and hitting them 1x per week wasn't getting the job done - this has improved those areas but added more time to each workout.

    By doing these longer lifting sessions, am I limiting my capacity for gaining muscle in the long run? Is there a certain point after which your body cannot handle anything more for the day (assuming heavy lifting for 3-4 sets of 6-8 reps per exercise) and any further exercise is actually detrimental? Maybe I should do 3 sets max, and skip the 4th set altogether?

    Most importantly, can a longer lifting session actually start to cannibalize the body's muscle, assuming a heavy workload as described above?
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  2. #2
    Registered User kc0716's Avatar
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    Unless you are using 100% home equipments, 2 hour session at places like 24 Hours Fitness is not "out of this world"..mainly due to all the bros working on their curls and presses for 12459827598246983456 sets. This is especially true if you work the regular 9 - 5 work and HAVE to work out at the busy times, which usually are 5 ~ 10 pm.

    If there was no wait time AT ALL? I'd say 0:45 ~ 1:20 is a good range. It, of course, also depends on the volume of the program. Things like Starting Strength will be on the short range.
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  3. #3
    Registered User cosmokramer1990's Avatar
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    Yeah, waiting for the various benches and machines at my gym definitely adds to my workout time. Like you suggested, I'm busy from 9-5 or 6pm and so I'm always at the gym during the prime busy hours...even if I "work in" with someone, it's never a quick workout.

    Still, I'm wondering if I should cut things down a bit. I started doing 4 sets x 6-8 reps (rather than 3 sets) of certain exercises, which has definitely made my workout sessions longer. Wondering if that 4th set is overkill or if I should keep it for select exercises (such as stubborn muscles).

    Also, I've been lifting heavier of late and thus taking longer in between sets. Sometimes on my chest day, I'll go really heavy on the bench press and need a good 3-4 minutes between sets. That's probably way too long to rest, right? Maybe I should lower the weights a little and try for shorter rest periods?

    I mean, I'm getting better results, but I'm wondering if there's a point after which a long workout starts to get counterproductive.

    For what it's worth, I'm a fairly advanced lifter (I've been lifting since the late '90s) but not an aspiring bodybuilder. In other words, I know what I'm doing with the weights and machines and have a pretty good routine for the most part, but I'm constantly tweaking my set/rep range because sometimes I get stuck in plateaus and whatnot.
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  4. #4
    Registered User TheCelt1982's Avatar
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    Some guys swear by 1 hour. Some swear by 1 hour and a half. It makes sweat damn all difference really.

    Choose your programme. Know exactly what your aiming to do in a particular session and go in and do it. Take as long or as short a time as you want. Probably best to not stand around for 20 minutes getting cold after doing your warmups though.
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  5. #5
    Registered User FearTheFin's Avatar
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    I've already read approx 1 hour before you start getting a real "diminishing return" for your efforts so to speak.
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  6. #6
    I'll Rest When I'm Dead ironwill2008's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by cosmokramer1990 View Post
    Is there an ideal length of time for lifting weights? 1 hour? 1.5 hours (90 minutes)? 45 minutes?
    The 'ideal' time is however long it takes you to complete your workout.


    Is there a certain point after which your body cannot handle anything more for the day (assuming heavy lifting for 3-4 sets of 6-8 reps per exercise) and any further exercise is actually detrimental?
    Sure. The body's ability to absorb work isn't infinite.


    Most importantly, can a longer lifting session actually start to cannibalize the body's muscle, assuming a heavy workload as described above?
    Again, yes, it's possible.

    Realize that everyone's capacity to do work and then be able to recover from it is going to be different; there are a multitude of factors involved, some not even directly related to training.

    Different people progress on different amounts of training volume/frequency. Some guys can't do more than 10-15 sets in a single workout 3 times a week, while others seem to thrive by doing 50-set workouts 6 days a week.


    If you're looking for a difinitive answer to "how long can I train," there isn't one. You're going to have to find out by doing. The bottom line is, and always will be, progression; if you're able to lift more weight and/or lift for more reps week-to-week, then you're good to go. If not, you're either training too much/too frequently, you're not eating enough, you're not getting enough rest/sleep, or some combination of all.
    No brain, no gain.

    You can't out-train bad nutrition.

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  7. #7
    Registered User cosmokramer1990's Avatar
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    Thanks for the advice, guys.
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  8. #8
    Registered User zephed56's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by kc0716 View Post
    If there was no wait time AT ALL? I'd say 0:45 ~ 1:20 is a good range. It, of course, also depends on the volume of the program. Things like Starting Strength will be on the short range.
    SS could easily run 90-120 minutes.


    Originally Posted by cosmokramer1990 View Post
    Still, I'm wondering if I should cut things down a bit. I started doing 4 sets x 6-8 reps (rather than 3 sets) of certain exercises, which has definitely made my workout sessions longer. Wondering if that 4th set is overkill or if I should keep it for select exercises (such as stubborn muscles).
    It's probably not overkill, unless it is causing recovery issues.

    Also, I've been lifting heavier of late and thus taking longer in between sets. Sometimes on my chest day, I'll go really heavy on the bench press and need a good 3-4 minutes between sets. That's probably way too long to rest, right? Maybe I should lower the weights a little and try for shorter rest periods?
    That's a good rest period for strength work. So no, don't change it unless you have a specific goal and reason to do so. Don't fix it if it ain't broke.
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  9. #9
    Registered User XShreddedX's Avatar
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    I try to keep mine between an hour and an hour and a half, including a 10 minute warm up.
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