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Steve February 7, 2013

Spending too much time in daily fitness programs will quickly burn most people out and/or prevent them from even starting.  It’s too often that when someone discovers their motivation to exercise for the first time (or maybe getting back at it for the fifth or tenth time), they get ballistic and work out for hours upon hours hitting the same body parts 3-4 times per week, training 7 days a week.  It’s not necessary for your workout sessions to exceed over an hour, let alone continuously breaking down unrecovered muscle from previous workouts.  If your sessions are lasting over an hour, you are either doing way too many exercises and need to cut back to include more compound lifts and less isolated movements or you are just taking extended rest intervals between sets.  Less is definitely more when it comes to building lean muscle, which in turn will maximize caloric expenditure (increased resting metabolic rate).
Working out past an hour could also have you seeing a rapid decline in blood sugar levels along with potential overtraining.  In addition, your cortisol release will also start to go up, which is a catabolic hormone that promotes muscle breakdown and fat storage.  If you can’t seem to get your workouts under an hour, then it’s likely time to have a look at a specific exercise selection or your workout split of choice.  If you are trying to do a full-body plan three times per week for example, it may be better to look at doing a four-day, push-pull type of split instead.  This will prevent falling into the risks of overtraining.

What is overtraining you ask?

Overtraining occurs when you push your body too hard and pass the point that your body is able to recover from.  To make gains you must overload the muscles and then allow adequate time for recovery and growth by resting. Overtraining occurs when either the overload is too high, or the rest period aka recovery time is too low.

It’s easy to be told ‘Your workout lasts too long’ or ‘you’re doing too many sets’ but as often as the conversation transpires with eager gym goers and dedicated clients, people too often ignore this advice.

Less is More.
Many people are under the impression that more is better; however this is often not the case when trying to gain lean muscle.  To break this down and make it a little easier to understand, think of digging a hole, the time that you spend in the gym or training at home is equivalent to digging a hole, the time your body needs after to recover from training is how long it takes to re-fill the hole, and piling a mound of dirt on top of the hole is development and growth of the muscle.  So, you can pile extra dirt on top ONLY when the hole has been re-filled, which takes time!  If you dig a hole that is too deep, it will take too long to re-fill… and there will be no time to place extra dirt on top… this means no muscle development!! Training a body part 2 days in a row would be equivalent to digging one hole, and then continuing to dig the same hole even deeper the next day… you will never have the chance to pile any dirt on top which means you will never gain any lean muscle training like this.  In fact you are moving backwards. You will probably be losing muscle and almost certainly be over training!


2 Responses to “LESS is MORE”

  1. David says:

    What if you break up your long workout into 2 in a day? Would that be considered overworking?

  2. Fitastic says:

    Great question! This would be considered a daily split routine and provided you have the additional time in the day, NO you wouldn’t be prone to overtraining. Again, assuming you were giving the selected muscle groups adequate rest from the previous training session. You would have ample opportunity (thinking of AM and PM split) to replenish the body with the appropriate nutrients to dominate another workout session several hours later.