A lot of general questions are asked when it comes to working out. People are curious about what is the best exercise to work a certain muscle. How long should cardio be do
ne? Should cardio be done before or after lifting weights? Is it better to work out in the morning or later in the day? The list goes on. Maybe the most general and simple question one can ask: How long should a person workout?
The best way to answer this question is to put emphasis on what you DO NOT need to do and then take that for whatever it is worth.
Looking at it from different angles, a person who is single and having all the time in the world could hit the gym 5 to 6 days a week for a couple hours at a time. A family person however, with a spouse and children, time is very limited. But this is where the whole “quantity versus quality” concept comes in.
One could take a look at the people who are in the gym for 2-3 hours at a time. How much time was devoted to actually working out? When a person goes in the gym with the mindset that they have time, they tend to TAKE their time. Chatting a little bit more and even having a lifting partner here and there (which if time is of the essence, lifting with someone can keep the workouts intense but are not usually time effective).
It is easy to have the mindset in that if a lot of time is not put into something, then it is being short changed. Parenting is a great example. Children would rather have a parent play with them for 15 minutes with all out craziness than sit down with them for 2 hours through a movie where there is limited interaction. Workouts are the same way. Just because the time in a session is longer, does not mean the person who got their later than someone else and left sooner did not get a better workout in. There are bodybuilding personalities out there that talk about their 3-hour bicep workout. “You got to put the time in baby!” One does need to put the time in, but nothing beats intensity, quality and consistency of that time, not necessarily the duration.
Many people these days on any given day maybe have 45 minutes to one hour to get a workout in. This is what separates the wise from the unwise. This is what can make the workout more intense and faster, but forces the person to use the brain and only do the movements that work.
Say hello to quality.
This is not a “dig” at everyone who has the time to go in and workout for 2-3 hours a pop. All that is being noted and claimed is that a longer work out does not always constitute for a more effective one.
Guys like Dorian Yates and Frank Zane (both former Mr. Olympias) have been known for their shorter yet more intense and thought out workouts. Arnold was also known for not being a big fan of cardio because he took short breaks in between sets and just knocked out what he needed to. Lee Labrada also says if he knew then what he knows know (with the body he had then as well) his workouts would so much shorter.
One should do a personal “time inventory” the next time they are working out. How much time is actually “working out”?
Nothing beats hard work. Nothing beats quality.