A question frequently asked, and a whole load of answers. Don’t worry, we got you.
What level are you at?
First off consider what level you’re at. If you currently do little to no exercise and have no experience, then start off by taking things slowly. You don’t want to risk the chance of pushing your body too far and getting injured. If you know this is you then start with a couple of workouts a week under 30 minutes. Try something simple like upping your step count, doing some light resistance training, or go to a class. Gradually build this up, once you’re feeling more confident.
Consider how intense your session is going to be, for example you could keep intensity high and complete a session in 30 minutes as opposed to taking your time and taking close to an hour. It all depends on preference and which one you think benefits you. If you know you take your time between sets then allow longer for your workouts. Remember, this is subjective, everyone is different. If you feel you’ve got enough out of your session, you probably have. Don’t worry about Dave next to you.
Consider your overall goal when deciding how long your sessions should take. For example, if you are trying to improve long distance running, then longer sessions will be needed to make sure you are improving your cardiovascular endurance. On the other hand, if you want to get toned, then an intense 40-minute circuit will be enough for that. Time is just a number, it’s not a competition.
How much rest are you going to be taking during your sessions? For example, if you are lifting heavy weights, after each set, you are going to need quite a while before you go again. You will need to add these intervals into your routine and realise a large proportion of your time may be recovering in between working out. Rest days are also crucial. Without recovery, you won’t see progress, it’s as simple as that. So yeah, you could go to the gym 7 days a week, but 7 average sessions will never beat 3-4 highly productive sessions.
If you have a super busy schedule, whether that’s work, studying, other sporting commitments, then you will need to factor these in when structuring your routine. Be realistic and make sure you give yourself the chance to get round to whatever it is you need to do!
Ultimately, there is no right answer to how long you should be spending at the gym, you need to count in all these factors and simply decide what works for you, the important thing is you don’t do too much. Don’t burn yourself out as quantity doesn’t necessarily mean you are making progress. The average gym goer works out around 3-4 times per week, so remember, you don’t need to be burning yourself out to see progress. See what works for you, and stick with it!