How long should bodybuilding last? And cardio?

There are those that last a few minutes and those that last for hours. But how long does strength training or cardio need to take to be truly effective?

Eugenio Spagnuolo


There are those who slip physical exercise from one engagement to another and keep their eyes glued to the clock all the time. And those who, on the other hand, also recognize the social value of physical activity and never look at the clock. But there is a general rule about How long should a workout last to be effective?

How long should a workout last?

While it is true that there is no one-size-fits-all approach, the same goes for our goals determine how often we should train. Those who just want to keep in shape will have different times and schedules than those training to compete in Ironman. But, generally speaking, there’s a minimum (and sometimes a maximum) amount of time those who want to improve their fitness should devote to physical activity to optimize results.

How long should a weightlifting workout last?

The goal of weightlifting is to increase muscle strength, endurance, and muscle mass. Results that are obtained by progressively overloading the body to be able to lift more and more weight or do it longer. Improvements in weightlifting are driven by several factors, including:

  • age
  • training intensity
  • number of sets
  • number of repetitions
  • weekly frequency
  • rest between sets
  • live

For years science has tried to figure out how much we should exercise to improve our strength.. For example, a 2020 study on the minimum effective training dose showed good improvements in strength when participants performed only one set of 6 to 12 reps per exercise. But recent studies have found that better results are achieved by doing more sets per exercise than just one. But the more sets we perform, the longer the workout will last.

bodybuilding recovery timeThe duration of rest periods between sets should also be considered. And there are different opinions about it. For example, one study recommends 2-5 minutes of rest between sets to increase strength. While another recommends 60-90 seconds to increase hypertrophy and 20-120 seconds to improve muscle endurance. Using these criteria, a weightlifting session with 7-9 exercises can take 20-60 minutes.

Some studies have assessed the appropriate length of a strength training session, noting that you can benefit from weightlifting sessions that last between 45 and 60 minutes. Of course, this is a general rule to which exceptions must be made.

How long should a cardio workout last?

The duration of a cardio workout also varies depending on our goals. A triathlete or ultramarathoner is likely to spend a lot more time training than an average athlete trying to shed a few pounds or improve their overall health. In this case, the directives are those of the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week, such as walking at more than 5.6 km/h. Or try 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week, which basically means running at a pace of 9.7 km/h. Recommendations that we can modify according to our schedule, our capacities and our needs. For those looking to lose weight, the amount and intensity of cardio exercise might be even more important. For example, according to a study in the latter case, the ideal in a week would be to find time for 3 walks of 30 minutes and two runs of 30 minutes.

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