Are You Working Out Too Much, Too Often?
There is a question that I would like to ask you to ask yourself: Are you wasting too much of your valuable time by going to the gym to lift weights? Are you trying to convince yourself that the more time you spend in the gym working out, the better off your results will be?
The Biggest Misconception
One of the biggest misconceptions I deal with each and every day as a personal trainer is the belief people have that it takes hours in the gym lifting weights to produce a fit and toned body. I have some (good) news for you. What if I told you that only 20% of your total fitness results will come from the time you spend lifting weights.
What if I told you that 80% of your weight loss or weight management results come from the time you spend out of the gym! How much time do you really need to spend lifting weights to get a great body and be in great shape?
What if I said only 3 minutes a day, 3 times per week, for a total of 9 minutes per week! (Are you scratching your head yet or calling me names?) I am willing to bet money that you are spending a lot more than 9 minutes per week on weightlifting and I am also willing to bet you are not totally happy with your results.
Before totally labeling me crazy, let me explain. Let's take a visit to the gym for a moment, and join up with yourself in a workout. Today is "chest day" for your workout. Let's assume that for each exercise, you perform the standard norm of 10 repetitions per set. So, if you do a bench press, you probably do 10 reps.
Actual Time Lifting
That, my friend, amounts to about 10 seconds of time that you are actually physically moving the weight. Next time you are in the gym, time yourself and see how long it takes to perform a set of 10 reps. (Please do not look at your watch while doing the exercise!) Let me save you the time—it takes 10 seconds. If you perform 3 sets, which most people do, you are now up to 30 seconds (3x10) of actual lifting movement.
Let's assume you do two muscle groups per workout (let's say chest and back). You have doubled your 1 1/2 minutes to 3 minutes. 1 1/2 minutes spent on chest actually physically lifting the weights and 1 1/2 minutes spent working out your back, actually physically lifting the weights.
Total time=3 minutes.
All of the other time you are spending can be put into one of these other categories:
- Resting Between Sets
- Wasted Time
Hopefully, most of the time that you are not actually lifting is spent in category #1, rest. Waiting between sets, walking around a bit, getting a drink of water. But this should only amount to 1-2 minutes between sets. So, what does all of this mean?
You have 3 minutes to make or break your results.
Three minutes to give everything you can give while in the gym. Treat it like the last three minutes you will ever have (you never really know when it will be) and I absolutely bet that you will have an incredible workout and will soon be reaping incredible results. Remember I said at the beginning that 20% of your results come from the time spent in the gym lifting weights and the other 80% comes from time spent out of the gym.
If you are spending only three minutes total each workout and nine minutes total each week actually moving the weights up and down, shouldn't it stand to reason that most of your results will come from outside of this 3-9 minute time period, outside of the gym? The time you spend in the gym is meant to accomplish one thing. Muscle stimulation. Period.
The time spent in the gym lifting weights is for muscle stimulation, which in turn, will lead to muscle growth and improved muscle strength. I hope you weren't thinking fat loss.
You cannot burn body fat during the lifting process, lifting is anaerobic, not aerobic. Don't worry though, weight training is probably the best investment for future fat-burning capabilities! Your time spent lifting should focus on muscle stimulation by progressively lifting heavier weights so that your muscles become stronger and bigger.
The other 80% of your results come from:
- Proper rest outside of the gym
- Proper nutrition to support muscle growth
- Intense, yet brief aerobic/cardio exercise
If either of these three areas are compromised, results are minimal. All of the weight lifting in the world will bring about nothing positive if you are not recovering properly between workouts,are not eating to support muscle growth and fat loss, and are not performing aerobic activity to help the heart and also aid in fat loss.
Focus Your Efforts
Focus and direct your efforts on making sure these three criteria are being met and I guarantee you will see positive results. In conclusion, because you are only spending three minutes of actual weight lifting time each and every day, do you see areas in your own routine that can be cut down to become more efficient? Are you spending way too much time in search of those elusive results you're after, all the while unsure if what you are doing is even the right thing?
I know this much for sure. There is no universal law that states if you double your time spent in the gym, you double your results. Quite the contrary. I see many people spend needless hours in the gym, not changing their physique a bit. I also see people that change quite dramatically by losing fat and gaining muscle.
I know for sure that these people are making that 3 minutes of each workout the best possible 3 minutes they can give. It is not the time that matters, it is how well you spend that time. Make your 3 minutes of your workout the most intense, focused three minutes you possibly can and I guarantee you will start to see better results.
So, the next time someone asks you how long you work out for each day with weights, you can tell them, with confidence, that it only takes three minutes per day to get a great, muscular and toned physique. Everything else is either rest or time wasted.
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