2 Hours Too Long To Spend At The Gym? How Long To Stay?
May 1st 2019
Find out how long is too long to stay at the gym. Working out and staying healthy is always the number one priority for all lifters. Especially when you are strength training, it is important to make sure that you put in the time to get all your sets and reps done. With that in mind, you need to also be effective and efficient at the gym. You do not want to waste time and hang out when you could be maximizing your time elsewhere. So, how long should you spend at the gym if you are strength training?
Is 2 hours at the gym okay?
When beginner lifters first start lifting weights, they will be at the gym for an hour tops. The average strength workout should last around one and a half hours. While it is not uncommon to have workouts lasting over two hours, this is usually reserved for elite and world-class athletes.
When you are strength training, a majority of your time will be spent on rest. This is just a fact about lifting weights. You will spend more time recovering from your working sets than you actually spend on doing the exercise.
Are you strength training?
If you are on a beginner program, like Greyskull LP or Starting Strength, you have already committed to a strength training program methodology. As a beginner, you will spend very little time at the gym at first. Because the weights are so light, novice lifters can practically breeze through their workouts in about 30 - 45 minutes.
As workouts get more challenging, the time may extend up to one hour and may even trail up to an hour and a half. There is nothing wrong with this progression; your body just needs time in order to make sure you are well-rested for your upcoming working sets.
If you are on a 5x5 program, you may notice that your workouts can extend past 2 hours easily due to the high amount of volume, with a moderate amount of intensity. Be careful and know that once you past 2 hours with a basic strength workout, you will need to reevaluate.
Typically, lifters will spend around 3-5 minutes rest in between sets. This is a standard range for rest intervals for all strength development.
Elite and world-class athletes are an exception
While there are a few strength athletes that can get their workouts done quickly, a lot of athletes will spend up to 2-3 hours at the gym. There are some lifters that can spend 4-6 hours at the gym easily, but many of these lifters usually train in groups. So, along with the motivation and buddy system, you have a great training experience.
These elite group of lifters needs more rest since they are handling a tough training stimulus. In addition to that, many experienced lifters will also let you know that part of the resting time is also spent in order to mentally recover from heavy sets as well. High-intensity sets are taxing. So, in order to prevent ourselves from just suffering all the time, we ease it a little by taking a longer break.
Intermediate lifters with a 2 plate bench, 3 plate squat and 4 plate deadlift?
There are some lifters that spend well over 2 hours at the gym with these stats. For me, I am slightly above these stats and do not spend over 2 hours at the gym. In fact, I probably spend around 1 hour or 1.5 hours at the gym.
However, I would say that lifters with intermediate or even advanced stats will need to work on their conditioning and work capacity. Your body is capable of doing a lot more than you can ever imagine. If you need to change a training parameter to better condition your body, you should do that. If you want to add in a quick 3-minute jog or some HIIT, that would be another option.
What about strength training + cardio?
Adding cardio adds one more layer of complexity to the equation. There is no right or wrong answer for how much cardio you should do. Rather, you should ask yourself whether or not doing cardio matches your goals.
Let me explain, in college, you select a major in order to specialize from a general path. With this major, you need to take certain classes in order to graduate. Otherwise, you are not fulfilling your end of the bargain. However, if you want to take an extra class that does not count towards your major, this responsibility will be placed on you. You get no bonus points for taking extra classes; this is only for your enrichment.
The same is true for cardio and strength training. Most strength training programs do not include a section to add in cardio. Yet, all gyms have cardio machines you can just hop on and start moving. You need to decide whether or not doing cardio will match your goals. If your goal is to lose weight primarily, adding in cardio may be beneficial, depending on how you organize your time. If your goal is to improve your cardiovascular health, adding cardio is a very good idea with a plethora of options.
I am just going to the gym to do some machines + cardio
For a majority of lifters, they just want to go into the gym and do some weight machines. This is their strength training and will spend however long they need to on a cardio machine. Often times, they will also complain that they see no results from their training and that their strength gain is minimal. These are your lifters that look the same years after hitting the gym. These lifters can spend 2 or 3 hours at the gym and still get no results.
Have a clear and definite goal
If I have somewhat described your lifting routine above, you need to get focused. You need to understand that in order to achieve your fitness goals, you will need to do something different. If what you have been doing for the past year did not produce any results, it is clear that you need to change the way you are doing things. In general, you should give yourself a couple of months before you begin to reflect on your training history.
People understand that while it may not take days to see results, some lifters can see changes within a few weeks. Then, all lifters will show a response to training within a few months. Show some faith in your workout program and trust that it will bring you closer to what you want.
Working at for over 2 hours at the gym is not uncommon but you should reflect on why you are doing it. Make sure that you always have a gameplan beforehand and do a routine checkup to see if you are progressing normally.