What is the “PERFECT” Workout Length?
Your workout duration and intensity can dramatically affect the hormonal response you get from exercise. In fact, working out for TOO long or TOO frequently can damage your hormone balance and actually make you GAIN fat instead of losing fat.
In addition, working out for TOO long can accelerate AGING in your body, which you obviously want to avoid. Let’s explore the “perfect” workout duration in the article below…
by Mike Geary, Certified Nutrition Specialist, Certified Personal Trainer
Author of best-sellers: The Fat Burning Kitchen & The Truth about Six-Pack Abs
If you want to balance your hormones, lose fat faster, and SLOW the aging process, you NEED to exercise correctly, and for the proper “dose” or duration…
Unfortunately, the vast majority of people either work out for WAY too long or at the wrong intensity for their body. In fact, in all the years that I worked in gyms as a personal trainer, I’d estimate that 80-90% of the people in most gyms were working out excessively long and therefore bringing their fat loss to a halt while actually accelerating aging in their bodies.
So what is the most effective workout duration?
- 5 minutes/day
- 15 minutes/day
- 35 minutes/day
- 90 minutes/day
Well, there’s no exact answer, because many variables come into play, such as how many days per week you work out, the intensity that you work out, your age, the type of workout you’re performing (slow cardio, intense bodyweight training, weight training, etc), and many other factors.
However, even though there’s no exact answer, I’m going to give you some solid principles based on science to figure out the best workout duration for you…
Warning: You want to AVOID the typical mistake that most exercise enthusiasts make, and that’s doing 1-2 hours or more of slow cardio exercise per day (and for the running or biking enthusiasts, this includes jogging or distance biking for more than 30-60 minutes a day) …these types of excessively long cardio routines increase the rate of aging in your body, and detrimentally affect your hormones, making fat loss harder.
The first MAJOR principle is your hormonal response to exercise, principally the growth hormone vs cortisol curve.
As you may have heard previously, growth hormone (GH) is a powerful hormone that is triggered in your body by exercise and helps to burn fat while building lean sexy muscle in both men and women. It’s also known as the “youth hormone” for its anti-aging properties.
On the other hand, cortisol that’s produced in excessively high amounts from exercising for too long, can destroy your hard earned muscle, lower your metabolic rate, and make it nearly impossible for you to burn fat. Yes, as hard as it is for most people to grasp, let me repeat again…working out TOO long can make it HARDER for you to lose fat!
As you can see, your goal with an effective exercise program is to MAX out your growth hormone production, while minimizing cortisol. And here’s how we do this:
According to expert exercise scientist, Rob Faigin, author of Natural Hormonal Enhancement…
“The greater the intensity, the lesser the duration of exercise need be for growth hormone to be released. Generally, the requisite duration ranges from 10 minutes for more intense exercise to 30 minutes for less intense exercise… In most cases, peak growth hormone levels occur 20-50 minutes after the onset of sufficiently intense exercise; after which growth hormone declines, but cortisol continues to climb.”
When your growth hormone during the workout starts to decline, and your cortisol starts to rise too greatly, this is when your workout becomes more detrimental rather than beneficial. If we looked at a normal intensity level of a weight training workout that’s mixed with interval training, this duration is approximately 35-50 minutes where most people should cut off their workout to avoid excess cortisol from overtraining.
However, that’s not a cut and dry answer for everybody, because higher workout intensities can max out your growth hormone release faster and bring on the cortisol faster too… in many cases, extremely high intensity workouts (the types that you often see in Crossfit, Insanity, etc) can often achieve the max growth hormone release in as little as 10-25 minutes of exercise time, with the cortisol spike coming on faster. So caution needs to be used in not training TOO long if you’re the type of person that does VERY intense workouts.
There are other options too that further enhance GH release, while minimizing cortisol…
Another way to max out the fat loss and anti-aging benefits of a workout while minimizing the negative effects of overtraining and cortisol production is to split your workouts into shorter durations at high intensities and multiple times per day (don’t worry, this is easier than it sounds) …
The reason for this is that some studies show that growth hormone can be stimulated with as little as a couple 30-second “bursts” of extremely high intensity exercise such as sprinting, and multiple “mini workouts” per day provides more opportunities to trigger growth hormone release rather than just one longer workout per day. And these shorter workouts will never cause the harmful cortisol release that longer workouts can cause.
Admittedly, this schedule won’t work for some people based on job schedule, etc, but for those that can make it work, it can be really powerful.
As an example, depending on your schedule, and your availabilty of workout equipment at home (or just using bodyweight training, kettlebells, sprints, etc), you could experiment with workout durations such as this:
- 5 minute high intensity workouts; 3x per day, and 3x per week
- 5 minute high intensity workouts; 2x per day, and 4x per week
- 5 minute high intensity workouts; 1x per day, and 6x per week
- 10 minute high intensity workouts; 2x per day, and 3x per week
- 10 minute high intensity workouts; 1x per day, and 5x per week
There are many other ways to do this based on your schedule, but the “mini workout” principle is very powerful for maxing out your growth hormone release while also helping to suppress excess cortisol. And as I explained earlier in this article, that means you can burn body fat a LOT faster, maintain more lean sculpted muscle, and get a great anti-aging benefit from your workouts too!
I have another VERY powerful anti-aging exercise technique that you don’t want to miss on the next page…
In fact, you can make it “look” as if you are aging backwards with this technique that only takes no more than 90 minutes a week: