It is been said everywhere that any strength/muscle gain workout should be restricted to 45 minutes, due to hormone levels decay after that time. Many say that you are even supposed to cause loss of muscle mass if you keep on training beyond that time limit.

I try my best, but my workouts (very similar to StrongLifts/Starting Strength) take 60~70 minutes minimum. I end nearly exhausted and trembling (which is OK, I don't have any problem with that).

But, should I cut the number of sets, or? I want to gain strength and muscle mass. Is it really important to restrict the workout to 45 min? When you have a look at the workouts that are supposed to be followed by high-level bodybuilders, it is clearly impossible that they do that in 45 minutes.

1 Answer 1


Most of the hearsay about limiting workout length is based on studies that were done on hard cardio workouts. Comparing to this type of strength training is apples and oranges, as your intensity is much higher and you rest between sets. Also keep in mind that the difference between 45 minutes and 60 minutes isn't that great - we're not talking about several hours here!

You're right that high-level strength athletes very often take longer workouts, and more of them. Arnold, for example, was known to work out over three hours per day and six days per week. While certainly you may need to build up a "work capacity" over time by gradually increasing what you do, if you have the energy and inclination to do your lifts after 60 minutes, then by all means do them. If you do find yourself running out of gas, then work on conditioning with the goal of being able to last long enough to complete your scheduled training.

  • Thanks! I see in your profile that you do olympic weightlifting (though I am not keen enough to distinguish your level based on the weights). I guess you train or have been sometime training Madcow/Starting Strength or anything similar. How long do/did that kind of workouts take? If they take/took more than 45 min, are/were they effective anyway? (by the way, I think that you hit the nail in the head in your two first sentences! That is an important key)
    – Mephisto
    Jun 16, 2013 at 18:40
  • Hmm, I'm not familiar with Madcow, and while I've read (and very much appreciate) SS, I was already past the applicable novice phase when I ran across it. FWIW, my typical workouts are generally 90+ minutes (3-6 minutes rest between sets) 5-6 days per week, and no that doesn't hinder progress (quite the contrary) as long as I eat and sleep well!
    – G__
    Jun 16, 2013 at 21:46
  • Just to add to the Arnold portion ... Don't forget, the "things" he took enabled his body to recover much quicker than a natural training person. I learned that the hard way haha
    – Alex
    Jun 17, 2013 at 17:17
  • Yes indeed "things" help in that respect! :-) But one can still generally do much more than popular opinion might suggest au natural.
    – G__
    Jun 22, 2013 at 21:58

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