Exactly how long should my workouts be?

April 5, 2022

I’m sorry to say that I have to begin this blog with some bad news: there’s no magic figure which I can guarantee will definitely work for you.

Here’s the good news though. When I get to know more about you – your starting fitness level, the nature of your metabolism, and what you want to achieve – I can estimate the amount of training time it will take to get you on your personal fitness journey. And since I will be there to support you every step of the way, we’ll soon know exactly what your optimum training duration is and build your Personal Training programme around it.

Official recommendations

There are official guidelines on the amount of exercise a person needs to maintain a general level of health (as opposed to leading a more sedentary life). Most authorities, on both sides of the Atlantic, are in agreement on the figures – 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes per week of intense exercise is the target to aim for.

Whilst that may be enough to keep our bodies functioning well and keep many lifestyle-related diseases such as heart disease and diabetes at bay, it may not be enough to reach personal goals related to weight, fitness or body tone. Indeed, if your starting level of fitness is relatively high then you may need to ramp up the intensity or duration of your workout to achieve any noticeable benefit at all.

If weight loss is your goal then the rule of thumb is that, in order to lose a pound or two per week, you’d need to burn somewhere in the region of 500-1000 more calories per day than you consume. That equates to around 3 hours of relatively intense exercise per week and doesn’t even take into account your starting point, fitness level or metabolism. 

Quality over quantity every time 

I tend to speak to my clients about the quality of their exercise sessions rather than the duration - quality over quantity is always the way to go. You will know how hard you are working out by how challenging you are finding it. The most effective bits of your programme (i.e. the activities which are taking you closer to your goals) are those bits when your heart rate is elevated, and you get at least a little breathless. 

If we have developed the right plan for you, with the correct frequency, duration and difficulty of exercises then you’ll start to feel the results. Yes, you may noticeably look better, and your bathroom scales may start to go in the direction you want them to, but you should also simply know that your strength, stamina and recovery rate are increasing too. Improvements – the obvious and more subtle ones alike – are the telling factor that your current workout sessions are the perfect length. For now.

Moving the goalposts to keep your goals in sight 

My role as your Personal Trainer is to ensure that we continue to develop your programme to keep it challenging and interesting, ensuring that you continue to see results and that you still set off on your daily exercise routine with enthusiasm. If it’s working for you, you’ll keep working out and that’s my ultimate goal.

Of course, if I’ve done my job properly, you’ll be having so much fun when training you’ll be asking for longer workouts to max out on the feel-good factor!!