How many hours do you spend in the gym? Do you think you’ve been devoting more time to your workout regimen than necessary? Your body could be telling you that you need to start taking it easy, and with good reason. You see, your hormone levels can be drastically affected by the length and intensity of your workout.

If you’re in the gym for several hours a day and have a habit of overtraining to the point of extreme exhaustion, you will experience some negative side-effects.

Aside from increasing your risk for injury, unnecessarily long workouts can cause a drop in your testosterone and growth hormone levels, thus hampering your natural ability to grow and recover. Overworking can also wear out your adrenal glands and lead to a rise in cortisol production. And to top it off, you’ll have less time to spend with family and friends.

What can you do to make your workout more time-efficient?

1. Plan it.
I always say if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. If you’re serious about shedding weight or putting on lean mass, you need to have a workout plan. Don’t just wander in the gym in search of vacant machines or free weights — have a written plan that tells you exactly what you must do. If you have no idea where to start, don’t hesitate to get in touch with a fitness mentor who will guide you every step of the way.

2. Use music to your advantage.
Listening to songs you enjoy will elicit the release of endorphins and adrenaline in your body. These hormones will give you the boost you need to power through your workout and finish faster.

3. Increase the intensity.
High Intensity Interval Training is the best solution to workouts that take too long. There’s no strategy that is more effective at burning calories and stimulating the muscles in a short amount of time than HIIT. This method alternates short periods of intense exercises with less intense recovery periods. It has been proven to be effective at improving strength and  cardiovascular capacity, burning fat, and enhancing glucose metabolism.

4. Don’t start your workout unprepared.
Before heading off to the gym, make sure you have your essentials with you. Fill up your water bottle and make sure you have enough to last your entire workout. This way, you won’t have to take a break every 15 minutes just to fill it up. And of course, packing a change of clothes and towel goes without saying,

It’s worth noting that full body workouts for beginners are typically short, taking up around 30 minutes. On the other hand, more advanced programs usually take twice or thrice as long and thus need more time for warming up, which translates to longer workouts.

On average, a workout will take between 30-120 minutes. It all depends on your specific goals, training program, rep ranges, resting periods and many factors that are beyond our control. Now, I’m not saying that there is an ideal workout length we must all adhere to. But I will tell you that, rather than working out longer, you should work out smarter.

Unless your schedule allows for you to spend a specific amount of time in the gym, there’s no reason why your workouts must always last a certain number of hours. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter how much time you can devote to your exercise; what matters is how you use it.

If you haven’t started hitting the gym yet, here’s how to ease your way into exercise. And if you want to boost your recovery in the most delicious way possible, find out how to make the best protein shake in the world

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