This is a question I keep hearing all the time but just haven’t got around to putting pen to paper or in this case fingers to keyboard and giving a complete answer!
Discovering for yourself a successful and effective workout is definitely something that doesn't come overnight. Finding the correct balance between exercises, tempo, rest periods, equipment used, pre-workout nutrition and selecting to train mornings or nights all contribute to that feeling of satisfaction or emptiness we all feel after our workouts.
I've always been a fan of strict routine, if I can't get used to something I'm pretty much guaranteed to give up on it! I don't just train for the sake of training, I train to improve my mind & body all year round. The way I do this is by not planning my workouts around the rest of my day, but by planning the rest of the day around when I'm working out!
So what makes an effective workout?
I could go on for days about this, but there are a few things you should really start concentrating on.
Maximum Muscular Stimulation
Muscle hypertrophy (tissue growth) involves stimulation, microtrauma, new protein sources, repair and rest. Our workout fits into the stimulation and microtrauma category.
When weight training for growth, our goal is to first recruit as many muscle fibres as possible (stimulation) and then maintain tension until a point of healthy injury (microtrauma). The stimulation of muscle fibres is directly related to the amount of resistance against your body and the exercises you use.
I recommend lifting heavier weights first, after a warm up. This increases production and release of the hormone testosterone which plays the role of the 'quality control manager' during protein synthesis. I also recommend using compound movements that cause large amounts of stress on a muscular region, rather than an individual muscle.
An example would be;
Barbell Squats Recruit (Compound Exercise)
Leg Extensions (Isolation Exercise)
The compound movement prepares an entire region for war rather than only calling upon one or two primary muscles.
By stimulating muscular regions using compounds you are not only emphasising your primary targeted muscle, though you are putting that muscle under such a large amount of stress that is sends the call out far and wide to other surrounding muscles so it can succeed in the task at hand. This then sets up a perfect environment for further stimulation. You have increased your transport speeds of valuable nutrients and hormones by increasing your heart rate and have already began to call upon most major energy stores.
So what do we do next?
Winning the lottery is one thing, but what you do with it makes all the difference!
So you've managed to get the attention of your muscles via heavy compound movements. Your muscles are now fully alert and waiting like a guard dog for your next move!
It's now time to take your workout to the next level, by releasing a barrage of reps and sets from different angles. It all comes down to the battle between energy exertion and muscle microtrauma.
Energy Exertion vs. Muscle Microtrauma
Always remember that we weight train to cause micro damage to muscle fibres so they can be re-built larger and stronger. One thing that can often get in the way of this damage to muscle fibres is the total depletion of your natural energy stores, glycogen and ATP (adenosine tri phosphate) and the consequent build up of lactic acid within a muscle. This causes our muscle contraction signal to stop, ultimately ending your workout.
Often people mistake lactic acid build up as the essential stage of microtrauma during hypertrophy. Well, they couldn't be further from the truth.
How to tell the difference?
Well, there is the million dollar answer and to be honest it is very very difficult. But on the bright side, creating a training pattern which stops you even getting to that point is well within grasp.
In a standard heavy resistance, high paced workout, microtrauma is eventually going to happen. But whether or not those levels of microtrauma are effective for growth is determined by lactic acid timings. If you can restrict the build up of lactic acid within your muscles during training, you can cause massive amounts of ultra healthy microtrauma to targeted muscles. The best ways to do this include;
> Targeting eccentric contractions (negatives/downward phase) which increase microtrauma on muscle
> Sensible nutritional practices (especially maintaining an adequate amino acid pool which must be high in the BCAA's, to effect protein turnover)
> Eating adequate energy foods to replace those depleted during intense training. A minimum of 5 meals daily
> Keeping your rest periods between sets to around 60 seconds while deep breathing to increase nutrient circulation and energy production
To sum it all up...
I didn't want to get into too much of the nitty gritty but by reading this it looks like I have! As I'm sure you understand this amount of detail is necessary.
So to answer the question of how long should you spend in the gym during a workout, the answer would be as long as it takes to get the microtrauma done.
Including my warm up, most of my sessions last around 45-55 minutes. Remember to have everything planned before you start, don't take 10 minutes in the middle of a session to decide which exercise you’re going to do next. Take a piece of paper in and scribble down each task, crossing them off once finished.
Remember, the small rest periods you have between sets are almost as important as the set itself. This is the time you are re-fuelling your muscles cells with valuable nutrients and energy helping to delay the onset of lactic acid.
As a simple rule of thumb, lift at a rep range of around 7 reps (where at 8 you fail) on all compound movements and a rep range of 11 (where at 12 you fail) on isolation movements.
My training quote for the week.
Your body is one of your most valuable possessions.
Your gym has the tools you need to change it.
Your mentality is the glue that binds them both together.
Now I want to hear from you below!
1) How long do you currently spend in the gym?
2) What is your average rest time between sets?
Tired of little or no results?
Join the thousands of people who have discovered how my Permanent Muscle program gives you every tool required including; workouts, meal plans, exercises and more to achieve stunning muscle building results over the next 6 months.
Even more of my methods for how to build muscle fast!
People in this conversation