Yesterday I wrote a post about length of workouts for muscle building and today I’m going to stick with the same topic, but this time answering the common question “how long should my workouts last for losing fat?”.
Similar to people trying to put on muscle, most beginner gym go-ers that are trying to lose weight feel that the longer they are in the gym and the longer their workouts last the more fat or weight they will lose. This couldn’t be further from the truth, as the longer your workout is the less intense it will be. And low intensity workouts are not good for losing weight.
When you are trying to burn fat you want to keep your workouts very short and intense, with short rest periods. You will be incorporating techniques such as “supersets” (back to back exercises) which are intense, but decrease the workout length.
There are a lot of different factors that determine how long you workout should last for optimal fat loss, but in general cardio workouts should last about 20-25 minutes total and weightlifting workouts should on average about 35 minutes.
Again that will depend on a lot of different factors including your fitness levels, health issues, experience, your gym schedule, your routine, the muscles you are working, rest times, etc.
Let’s take a more in-depth look at workout times for both cardio and weight lifting, as both are important for losing weight.
Cardio workouts can include anything from running or jogging, to biking, to skipping. For the most part I recommend High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT for short) as cardio workouts for those looking to lose fat. These HIIT workouts require you to give maximal efforts for a specific duration (say 20-40 seconds) and then allow you to “rest” (go slow) for a specific duration (say 1 minute), and then repeat. Because of the nature of these workouts you shouldn’t be able to last more than 20 minutes – and by that time you will have burned a lot of calories and your body will be burning up that fat.
About once a week I also often recommend a bit slower, and longer cardio workout. For example a 40 minute jog. This will work different energy systems and will also help with optimal fat loss.
If you want to choose between either the 20 minute HIIT cardio workouts or the longer, slower cardio you would benefit greatly performing the HIIT workouts.
Weight Lifting Workouts:
As you will see at #5 on my fat loss tips page lifting weights isn’t just for those trying to pack on muscle or weight. Lifting weights is a great way to burn extra calories, and in the end melting away fat.
What you don’t want to be doing when you are performing your weight lifting workouts is doing the same routine as the person beside you who is trying to gain weight my lifting weights. Lifting weights to burn calories needs to be done with high reps, low rest periods, and sometimes putting exercises back to back with the supersets I mentioned earlier in this article.
Your rep range should be in the 10-20 range, while rest periods should be anywhere from 40 seconds to 90 seconds max.
You are going to want to be performing complex exercises that use multiple muscle groups at once. An example would be a barbell squat which uses your entire lower body and your core. An even better exercise for weight loss would be a barbell front squat + press where you will be using your lower body + core + entire upper body on the press portion of the lift.
Covering weight lifting for weight loss wasn’t the point of this article (I was just trying to give rough ideas of how long your workouts should last), so if you want to learn more about lifting weights for fat loss check out www.5WeeekMakeover.com.
Your number of sets performed will vary, but somewhere between 15-20 is ideal (sometimes lower if you are using full body exercises).
A good test to see if you are working out too long is if you aren’t breathing very hard and sweating a lot throughout your entire workout. You should be somewhat exhausted after 30-35 minutes of lifting weights if you are doing it properly.
Again this is just a rough guide, but I hope you now have a feel for how much time a workout should take if your goal is to lose weight. Good luck!