I have always been fond of recommending workouts and training sessions that last for no more than 45 minutes and most of them are even designed to get you out of the gym by 30 minutes. However it has come to my attention that most lifters these days have also been preached that working out for more than an hour is BAD, you know – hormonally cortisol and stuff like that.
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I do admit that even I have been a little too paranoid about not letting my sessions go beyond 60 minutes worrying that I might lose some muscle. The reason for that is that this myth was also one of those that were taught to me in my early days of lifting. I was taught to be paranoid of each and every stuff that would make me lose muscle and training for more than 60 minutes is just one of them.
Like me, Mentzer designed most of his workouts to last for only 30-60 minutes
But later on as I learned more about human anatomy a(college days) and gained more experience lifting – I learned that one would not lose muscles that easy and some minimal weight loss or flatness that we experience might just be dehydration, or lack of glycogen. Anyways a muscle is like 80% water so if there is something to be so anal about – it could plausibly be water intake.
I also figured that the mental stress caused by worrying too much is much more detrimental to overall gains as stress literally drains you out of vital building blocks for muscle building placing your body very very far from anabolic state.
You see I DO BELIEVE that it is most efficient to train within 45 minutes and it has been my practice ever since. But I won’t scare you into thinking that training longer produces endocrine (hormonal) changes that will lead you to lose muscle. The Ironthumb protocol’s less than an hour regimen revolves around the fact that it is practical and convenient for muscle growth – I will explain that further in a moment.
But is there really any scientific proof backing our paranoid workout police into saying that more than 60 minutes of training is hormonally BAD and will lead you to lose muscle and produce cortisol and will reduce testosterone? Or are these people just playing smart?
Let’s take a look at a study entitled: Associations of exercise-induced hormone profiles and gains in strength and hypertrophy in a large cohort after weight training.
Below is the conclusion that they have reached:
In summary, differences in the post-exercise response free testosterone and IGF-1 showed no association with increases in adaptations to resistance training. While responses of GH and cortisol were positively correlated with changes in fibre area, the association was relatively weak and the relevance to hypertrophy is presently unclear due to evidence that GH is not anabolic to contractile tissue and that cortisol, which is catabolic in nature, is elevated after exercise programs that induce hypertrophy. A more detailed study of hormonal mechanisms is clearly required. Whereas increments in post-exercise GH and cortisol concentration were weakly associated with resistance training-induced phenotypes, other previously measured acute intramuscular markers, such as p70S6K1 phosphorylation, microRNA expression and satellite cell activation, can yield relatively robust associations with hypertrophy. Overall, because the regulation and biological actions of the post-exercise hormonal milieu are largely undefined, measuring systemic hormone profiles as well as local hormone and receptor concentrations, together with markers of hypertrophy or the phenotype itself, will enhance our understanding of their role in tissue remodelling with exercise.
Eur J Appl Physiol. Jul 2012; 112(7):2693–2702. Published online Nov 22, 2011.doi:10.1007/s00421-011-2246-z
The study clearly stated that the hormonal changes were irrelevant to muscle gains and in fact the ones who had the most cortisol ended up having the most gains in muscle size. So clearly we can scratch-off the saying that training for more than 60 minutes will lead to muscle loss because of the cortisol and hormonal effects as a dumb-ass myth.
HOWEVER I am NOT telling you to spend the whole day working out. The myth that has spread is obviously over-ratted and exaggerated but that doesn’t mean that training high intensity for less than 60 minutes is a bad idea.
In fact the fallacy in that myth lies within the premise of their argument which is training for more than 60 minutes is BAD and must be avoided and that you should as paranoid as a tax collector or a parole officer about making certain that your workouts won’t take longer than 60 minutes or else you’d be losing muscle. In fact the first part of that is true:
Training for less than 60 minutes doing the most work you can do for the least amount of time and not doing redundant moves is certainly the most effective way to train if muscle hypertrophy is your goal.
But the second part of their argument – the part that is supposed to scare you into thinking that you would lose muscle otherwise and then using some endocrinology terms (half of which they probably don’t even know) to make you think that they are really some kind of geniuses and earn you trust and sell you some packages; that my friend is hogwash.
I recommend that you still use the 45 minute protocols. Why? Because what would you be doing otherwise?
-Chatting up with your friend for hours, instead of using your time in the gym to train seriously
-Doing the same type of move patter over and over again for hours which is redundant and won’t lead to growth only burns out the muscle
-Hitting too many bodyparts which would take hours thus giving your body too much to repair in just one day – do you think it can do that without doing a crappy job? Simply put if you have a carpenter work on 15 storeys in just one day, would that be possible? Or would he have done a better job if you only gave him one storey to work on and then have him work on each on their own day?
-And other inefficient stuff that won’t do you and your muscles any good
Simply put I advise you to train for less than 60 minutes so that your workouts would be more efficient and thus make it easier for you to gain results even if you happen to be a hard gainer. It is advantageous to use high intensity techniques for just a few sets and plan your lifts wisely so that you will not end up repeating the same move patterns over and over again – since that would be useless at best.
Another thing is that a shorter time inside the gym doing high intensity training, inducing growth stimulus will make you go onto recovery phase sooner – you will be able to take your post workout protein and start the recuperative process which will only increase the odds that you will indeed experience some muscle gains.Follow @AboutLifting
PS: The best Post-workout Muscle recuperation combo: 3 Scoops Gold Standard Whey and then down a teaspoon of Dymatize Micronized Creatine Monohydrate. Don’t MIX the creatine with whey though, just take the teaspoonful separately with a gulp of water.
Remember that growth doesn’t occur in the gym but outside when you recuperate and live a sound lifestyle. That is why bodybuilding is a way of life and not entirely just a sport. Eat your eggs, people!