For some weird reason, most of us seem to think that our workouts must take a long time and be incredibly gruelling to be effective. At one point or another, most of us have even felt guilty for leaving the gym after anything less than an hour in there. The truth is that we should only be spending 30-45 minutes a day exercising, according to Exercise.com.
Keeping our workouts under an hour has many benefits. Firstly, it helps you maintain your focus throughout the entire workout. You’ll avoid muscle burning and maximise your results. Better yet, you’ll protect your joints from excessive wear, and you’ll free up more time to do other productive things with your day!
Here in this article, we’ll take a deeper dive into all of those reasons as to why you should keep your workouts under an hour per day. Once you understand these reasons, you’ll be able to plan your workouts for better efficiency while still getting the best results possible.
Let’s get started.
When you look around the gym, what do you often see? The chances are that you see at least a few people who aren’t focusing on their workouts at all. They might be chatting with someone, playing on their phones, or even reading the newspaper. It’s hard to get results when you’re not able to focus on the task at hand.
That loss of focus also tends to happen when your workouts last more than an hour. Why? Because when we spend too much time doing something, it starts to get very dull. Once our mind starts to drift, our intensity drops all the way down. That’s just human nature.
One of the most compelling reasons for keeping your workouts under an hour is so that you can keep your head in the game from start to finish. In other words, shorter workouts are easier for you to focus on, which means you can give it your all without getting so easily distracted.
By keeping your workouts short, you end up creating a very positive loop. Your workouts are short so that you can focus better. When you focus better, you’ll have a higher-quality workout and require less time to recover. So, by the time your next workout comes around, you’ll be fully recovered and can perform even better than before!
No matter what workout you’re doing, be it lifting weights, running on a treadmill, or even doing yoga, one of your goals is to ‘feel the burn’. That’s excellent, mainly because many good things come from that feeling like our muscles are heating up.
However, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. That certainly applies to that ‘burn’ as well.
You see, feeling that burn during a short workout is wonderful. But if your workout drags on for far too long, say an hour or more, your body could end up burning its muscles instead.
There’s a lot of biology behind this, which could fill up a whole article, but here’s the simplified version: when you stress your body with exercise for too long, your body gets triggered to burn muscle for energy.
A classic illustration of this that many people like to use is comparing the body of a marathon runner and a sprinter’s body. Typically, a marathon runner is carrying very little fat but also very little muscle. The sprinter, on the other hand, is seen with less fat but with much more muscle.
Why the difference? Well, think about how both of those athletes train on an average day. The marathon runner constantly trains to run at a steady pace for extended periods (often for an hour or more). That tends to lead to more muscle being burned.
A sprinter, on the other hand, trains in short but highly intense bursts. That kind of training doesn’t trigger the body to consume muscle, but rather to keep it while the body burns fat instead.
The bottom line? Despite the differences in fitness goals, nobody wants to lose muscle. So, workout durations should be kept at less than an hour to prevent that from happening.
Remember: whether you’re trying to lose weight or build muscle, your results will mostly happen outside the gym, not while you’re in there. That’s right! When you stop working out, and your body starts to repair itself, that’s when your muscles will grow, and your metabolism will increase.
When working out for hours on end, you end up over-stressing your body. That’s even worse if you’re doing it on consecutive days, as it leaves very little time for your body to recover before the next workout fully.
To maximise your results, focus on shorter workouts that are more focused, intense, and purposeful. Before that hour is up, stop working out and let your body begin to repair itself. That will lead to much better results all around.
Our joints are continuously under stress whenever we work out. For instance, if we’re doing a high-impact form of cardio like jogging, every step we take causes stress to our ankles, knees, and other joints.
Besides that, our joints will also experience stress when we lift weights or throw punches repeatedly against a bag in the martial arts room.
All of the joints on our body can handle a certain amount of stress. After all, that’s what they’re designed to do.
However, training for too long could over-stress our joints and cause an injury. The longer you jog, for example, the higher the chance of you feeling soreness and pain in your knees and ankles.
So, by keeping our workouts below an hour, we also have the benefit of protecting our joints from excessive stress. That’s incredibly important, considering how a joint-related injury could keep us out of the gym for weeks or even months, depending on its severity.
Last but not least, keeping your workouts under one hour will free up more of your time. I know you have fitness goals, and you’re 110% dedicated to them. That’s excellent! Still, you must remember that most of your success during this fitness journey will not come from inside the gym.
Your fit lifestyle will also depend on the food you prepare for yourself in the kitchen and the time you use to rest and recover. When you keep your workout time to only what is necessary (i.e. less than one hour a day), you’ll have more time to focus on preparing nutritious meals that support your goals and give your muscles enough rest to grow stronger.
More importantly, you’ll also have time to handle your other responsibilities much more efficiently. We’re talking about your job, your family, and so on. With more time at your disposal, your day-to-day responsibilities won’t seem so stressful, and that will allow you to channel even more attention and energy into your fitness pursuits.
The bottom line in all of this is clear and straightforward: when it comes to your workouts, you should be focusing on quality more than quantity. And doing that doesn’t require more than an hour of your time.