“Because I don’t have the time” may seem like the quick and easy answer. And although there is truth in this, it actually goes a lot deeper than just simply not having the time. Yes, like many people, I have a busy life. Between my day job, training/coaching, writing, and spending quality time with family, I like many others am often short on time.
This however, is not the main reason I don’t train for several hours each day, and quite honestly I don’t think most should.
In my experience, both training myself and others, long training sessions are not as productive as they are often glorified to be. We hear people often bragging about how much time they spend in the gym, and my response to it is always… “Why?”
Why do you need to spend two, two-and-a-half, three hours training. Someone who spends 2-3 hours in the gym 3-4 days a week is not necessarily going to be stronger, more muscular, or leaner than his friend who goes for 1 hour 3-4 days a week. There’s more to it than just how long you were there.
That being said, the real reason my training sessions typically last no longer that 1 hour is because I have found that once I hit that 60 minute mark, my energy seems to disappear and subsequent work is rather unproductive. Regardless of how much work I’ve done. At first I thought that maybe this was just my overall lack of conditioning and that I simply needed to work on my work capacity. Or that maybe I would just push myself too hard during that time and would wear myself out.
But this does not seem to be the case.
Over the years I’ve done a variety of training programs and I’ve found that at least for me personally (and for some of the people I train) the most productive work is done within the first hour of training.
This holds true for past programs in which I would do only three exercises (ex. Jim Wendler’s 531), taking plenty of time to recover between sets, as well as my current programing which include short rest intervals and a lot of work. *No, I do not do Crossfit*
The big thing for me is just that 1 hour mark. There seems to be this back and forth debate on this topic. Some people say you should under no circumstances be in the gym longer than 45 minutes. Others say that the total amount of time you spend training does not matter, therefore you are free to spend your whole day there if you like.
Honestly, I think it’s a little of both. Some people can spend hours having productive training sessions. Others, like myself, need to get in and out in order for it to be productive.
Why this is… I really don’t know.
It could very well be that my recovery is not as dialed in as it should be… which it isn’t.
One thing I’m working on right now is improving my recovery, which include better nutrition, sleep, soft tissue work, ext.
Or, it could simply be that that is how my body performs best. Some people feel great after 6 hours of sleep, some need 9.
Fact is, we are all different and we need to figure out what works best for us individually. Try something for a little bit, if it’s not working, try something else.