Training to build muscle is different to training to tone up your body and lose excess fat. It involves some of the same exercises, but the goal is different. Therefore, the approach is a little different.
One of the most confusing things about working out to build muscle is that there are various theories about how many hours you should be spending in the gym.
How long should a workout be to build muscle? Suggestions vary from 30 minutes to 60 to even 120 per session. In this article we’ll look at what the ideal time is and why.
Before we dive into how long you should be working out your muscles for the best results, let’s briefly discuss a few things that will help you understand what works and what doesn’t.
How Do Muscles Actually Grow?
The human body can change its shape because skeletal muscle is the most adaptable tissue it has.
When you do weightlifting or similar ‘extreme’ training, your muscles undergo trauma, also called muscle injury. While this sounds like a terrible thing, it’s actually what helps muscles to form.
When your muscles are injured, your body responds by activating cells on the outside of the muscle fibers. These cells will try to repair the damage and join together, increasing your muscle fiber and ‘beefing you up’.
Certain hormones aid the growth of muscles. One example is growth hormone, which triggers your metabolism and results in amino acids being turned into protein, which bulks up your muscles.
How Do You Build Muscle?
By targeting all the major muscle groups in your body at least twice a week, you will see results in the size of your muscles and their definition.
It won’t happen overnight or even within the first week of course, but if you stick to your exercise routine, you will reap the rewards.
Every strength training session promotes muscle growth, even if you can’t see or feel it. Even hours after your gym session, your body is still actively responding to all the effort you put in.
In the 2 to 4 hours after you’ve exercised, protein synthesis is stimulated and could even stay at high levels for up to 24 hours. This, of course, is a good thing and great for muscle-building in the long run.
If you don’t have access to a gym, you shouldn’t worry about it too much. As advised on the Muscle Gaining Secrets website, you can gain muscle with just a basic home gym.
Some recommended strength training activities include:
- Training with stationary machines like the leg curl machine
- Training with free weights
- Bodyweight exercises such as lunges, squats and push-ups
When lifting weights, try to aim for 8 to 15 repetitions in a row. That makes up one set. Rest between sets and repeat.
The number of sets will differ from person to person. It depends on your own endurance levels, and you shouldn’t rush into too many sets too quickly as by doing this you could seriously hurt yourself and hinder your muscle growth.
In general, for excellent muscle growth, 12 to 15 reps is a good target.
Rest Is Vital
You have to give your body time to rest, especially when starting with an exercise program. If you don’t, you will very likely get injured and have to take time off, which is counterproductive to your goal and will significantly slow down your progress.
Several experts say that doing strength training on the same muscle group 2 days in a row is a bad idea. Instead, alternate the routines you do for better results.
A Word of Advice
Don’t simply copy the kind of rigorous training your favorite professional bodybuilder does. He or she didn’t get to that point overnight, and neither will you.
As discussed on the Muscle Gaining Secrets website, those people have their own workouts figured out, and some even use steroids to give them a boost. Focus on what works for you and stick to that.
How Long Should a Workout Be to Build Muscle?
Surprisingly enough, when it comes to this question, less is more. You don’t have to spend hours and hours tiring your body out. The best approach is one of “go in hard, hit the gym with all you’ve got, stimulate growth, and get out.”
This means you won’t spend more than an hour working out, including your warm up time.
As soon as you start working out, your body responds by boosting testosterone to higher than normal levels. However, this boost will peak at the 30-minute mark. Research done on athletes has showed that when they reach the 45-minute mark, testosterone levels start returning to normal.
It has even been found that once you exceed 60 minutes, your body produces less testosterone and starts producing more cortisol. This hormone eats muscle tissues and increases body fat storage. That will reverse the good you did during your training, don’t you think?
To keep cortisol-related effects to a minimum, make sure your body is getting enough nutrients.
In addition to this, if your workout goes on for too long, your body will find it more difficult to recover. For the best results, it is recommended that you work out for 45 minutes, but during that workout, you have to go hard.
As with many things in life, less can be more, and working out to build muscles is no exception. If you want your body to change its shape and build nice, big guns, you don’t have to spend hours every day pushing yourself. Instead, push yourself for about 45 minutes at a time, and you will see good results.
Also, remember to stick to a healthy, protein-rich diet, so that your body is fueled for muscle growth.
Give yourself enough time to rest as well. There’s no reason to tire yourself out, as this could lead to muscle fatigue and slow your progress. Avoid targeting the same muscle group for more than two days in a row.
With these tips, you should be able to build muscle in no time!