Contributed by Matt Stafford

How long should my session last?

Many people see it as a badge of honour to do a three hour gym session. Regardless of whether you’re training for hypertrophy or strength, a session that lasts over 1 hour is most often counterproductive.

(Click here for some training plans that take just two hours a week!) 

More time on the gym floor is not always better. To keep a high level of intensity past the 60 min mark is extremely difficult, and very rarely achievable outside of elite sport.

For the average person, you’re starting to cause more stress to the body than necessary by forcing it to work on empty. That stress on the body can actually prevent you making the gains, or losing the weight, that’s the very reason you’re trying to work so hard in the first place.

For me, the hour starts when I hit my first work set. A rough breakdown of what the session will look like :

0-10 mins – Specific dynamic warm-up

10-70 – Main workout 

70-80 – Static stretching cool down 

So in 1 hour 20 mins I’ve hit everything needed for a complete session. 

Don’t be that person who spends 3 hours in the gym and becomes frustrated with the lack of progress. Have longevity of training in mind. Get in, get the work done and then enjoy the rest of the day with family, friends or pursuing another passion. 

Some tips for focus and being time efficient in the gym:

Keep phone on airplane mode – does anyone REALLY need to see what’s happening on Twitter between sets?

Time all rest periods – 2 minutes can very easily turn into 5,6 or 7 without measuring it.

Keep the chatting to post-workout – see above! 2 minute chats rarely last just two minutes.

Be realistic with the training plan – you don’t need 15 different exercises in your plan!

Be creative with weekly training splits to achieve your goals – fit into the time you have available.

Stay focused and bring some passion to your gym session – get your head into training and away from work/life stress

Have a training journal to log training and rest periods – a training log is VITAL.

For some people the gym is where they socialise and de-load from stresses in the day. I’m not saying don’t be sociable – just save most of it for post workout! I’ve met some lifelong friends in the gym and for me, the only thing better than training is talking about training – but the training comes first!

Real World Fitness Personal Training   
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