How Long Should Your Workouts Actually Be? Probably Not as Long as You Think

Joshua Wood

Michael Jones

5 min read


Juggling work and family responsibilities can take a lot of mental and physical energy. And let’s be honest: For many people, working out can feel like a luxury rather than a necessity. If you don’t have much free time to work out but want to make sure to get your steps in, you’re probably curious about how much time it takes to reap the rewards of exercise. How long should workouts be, anyway?

According to trainers, here’s the minimum amount of time you dedicate to working out to see results.

How Long Your Workouts Should Be


A good rule of thumb is to aim for 30 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio three to four days a week. Suppose you're trying to lose weight, extended. In that case, intense cardio sessions of 45-60 minutes are more effective for weight loss than shorter, moderate-intensity workouts, Michael Jones, Personal Trainer, Movement and Mobility Specialist, explains.

Related: Here's How Much Cardio You Actually Need To Do Every Week To Lose Weight

Weight lifting

Most weightlifting routines last between 45 and 60 minutes, with warm-ups and cool-downs. If you're starting, you may want to keep your workouts on the shorter side (30-40 minutes) until you get a feel for how your body responds to lifting weights, Jones states. As you become more experienced, you can gradually increase the length of your workouts.


If you're new to strength training, start with shorter workouts and gradually increase the duration as you become more comfortable with the exercises. A general rule of thumb is to aim for 30 to 60 minutes per session, but even shorter workouts can be effective if they're done regularly and with intensity, Jones explains.

Why Overdoing It Can Actually Be Problematic

While the occasional hour-long workout is fine, generally speaking, workouts should only be about 45 minutes. This counts for almost all workouts, from cardiovascular to weight training workouts, Matt Scarfo, NASM-certified personal trainer and Precision Nutrition Pn1, states.

That’s because workouts longer than 45 minutes can actually open you up for adverse effects like cortisol build-up from too much stress, energy debt due to a loss of glycogen, dehydration and injury due to poor form. If you’re a long-distance cardio athlete like a runner or cyclist, you may need to practice running for longer periods to train for your races.

When you train for these events, make sure you’re doing so with plenty of rest and recovery before and after the event, with plenty of intra-workout fuel and hydration during your session to keep your muscles fueled and your brain alert.

How Many Days Per Week Should You Work Out?

Generally, it’s best to start with two or three weekly workouts and gradually increase the frequency, Jones says, and adds that intense workouts more than four times a week are unnecessary.

It’s also important to listen to your body—if you’re feeling overly tired or sore, take a day or two off from working out.

How Long To Rest Between Workouts

If you’re starting to work out, your body will need more time to recover than someone already in shape.

For beginners, waiting 48 hours between strength/weight lifting workouts is recommended. This gives your muscles time to repair and rebuild, Jones explains.

As you become more fit, you can start decreasing the time you rest between workouts. For people already in good shape, resting for 24 to 48 hours is often sufficient. However, everyone is different; some people may need more or less time to recover, Jones adds.

If your body is feeling fatigued, you’re experiencing muscle soreness, or you’re tired, skipping a workout is okay to give yourself extra recovery time. However, if you’re feeling fresh, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to workout every other day or every day, Scarfo says.

To ensure you’re recovering well, ensure you’re eating plenty—including carbs and protein—to give your body the energy and tools it needs to recover. Also, prioritize sleep, so your body can rebuild while you rest, Scarfo states. Human growth hormone is essential to building muscles, and it’s released during deep sleep, so try to shoot for eight to nine hours a night for the best results.


  • Michael Jones, Personal Trainer, Movement and Mobility Specialist

  • Matt Scarfo, NASM-certified personal trainer and Precision Nutrition Pn1

Purya Bangkok

About Michael Jones

Michael Jones, CErg. He's an Ergonomist and Speaker with 15 years of experience helping desk workers who are hunched over their computers and phone for hours, reverse their slouched posture and end text neck pain.

Do you sit at a computer for more than 7 hours per day? My course helped thousands of people beat burnout and feel great again