The Optimal Workout Length To Achieve Your Best Results

Identifying Your Goals To Develop The Right Workout Length

The average workout length for your goals ultimately depends on what you want from your workout. For example, if you want to lose weight then the optimal time will differ from an individual working on building larger muscles.

The optimal workout length for a teen or adult differs based on their goals and current situation. Start by writing down your main goal and small steps to take to reach the goal. By setting a clear path, an individual improves his or her ability to develop the right plan of action.

Goals you may consider include:

  • Losing weight
  • Toning specific muscle groups
  • Strengthening the muscles to lift more weight
  • Obtaining a specific physique or appearance
  • Improving your physical health
  • Improving sports-specific strength & abilities
  • Improving the muscle to fat ratio in your body, such as losing fat while gaining muscle

Although a certain rule of thumb applies to most workout goals, the length of time you spend on your workout plan varies slightly. While you don’t want to exercise too much, your goals help you determine when your current routine doesn’t devote enough time to accomplish your goals.

Types of Workout Routines To Reach Your Goals

The length of time required for an effective workout plan depends on the goal you set and the type of routine you plan to use for your goals. For example, if your goal is maintaining your current health and body, then a traditional plan with 30 to 45 minutes of exercise about three to four times per week may work well for your situation. On the other hand, an individual with a busy schedule might find that a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) program works better for their situation.

Workout plans fall into different categories based on your goals, current situation and your level of health.

Consider Your Current Health Before Getting Started

After clarifying your goals and determining the types of workouts available for your needs, evaluate your current health and physical fitness levels. If you have concerns about your health or a chronic illness complicating your workouts then discuss your situation with a medical professional. For example, an individual with a heart condition should discuss any exercise with a doctor and work under medical supervision. Any chronic health condition complicates your workout routine and may limit your options at the beginning.

Individuals with a regular workout routine and a healthy body may not need to discuss current health with a doctor before starting a new routine. If you’ve already worked on building up your physical fitness level, then adjusting the routine to accomplish a new goal will simply require changing the workout length and the type of exercises in your routine.

As a general rule, physically fit and healthy individuals need more time or intensity to accomplish their goals. An effective plan considers your current health and situation before identifying appropriate lengths of time.

Factor In Your Age And Level Of Physical Development

Physical development refers to your body’s current development. A teenager differs from an adult because he or she is still growing and developing physically. Older adults also have different needs when compared to young adults because they may notice a gradual decline in their physical strength, endurance or health from natural aging processes.

Teenagers should always discuss their goals with a medical doctor before establishing a new routine. A medical doctor may advise a certain amount of caution based on a current stage of growth. For example, if a teenager has grown several inches in a short amount of time, then a doctor may suggest starting with shorter workouts and then working up to longer routines.

Older adults need regular exercise to maintain their health and well-being as their body ages. HIIT workouts may help maintain the appearance of the body, but it does not actually help with endurance because it is a short workout plan. If an adult wants to maintain a high level of endurance, energy and strength while aging, then he or she may need a reasonable workout length to accomplish the goal. Generally, three to four workout sessions per week will help with energy and endurance goals.

Signs of Too Much Exercise

The ideal workout length differs for each individual based on their current health, personal goals and the age of the person; however, any individual can exercise too much and face health complications due to the excessive exercise. Recognizing the signs of too much exercise helps prevent long-term damage to your body. It also allows you to adjust your routine and plan if you notice the signs of a problem.

Common signs of too much exercise include:

  • Reduced performance or a decline in your ability to perform at the same level while exercising
  • Sudden lack of interest in exercise
  • Delayed recovery time, or taking too long to recover from exercise when compared to normal
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Fatigue
  • A faster resting heart rate
  • Disinterest in eating, or a lowered appetite
  • Gaining fat instead of muscle
  • Getting sick easily

Early signs of exercise overload generally relate to insomnia, fatigue and delayed recovery time. If you persist in over-exercising, then you will notice changes to your motivational levels, immune health and ability to accomplish your goals. In some cases, you will even lose muscle while exercising.

General Rules to Follow For Your Ideal Workout Length

The bottom line is that your ideal workout length will vary based on personal goals and health, as well as your lifestyle outside of working out.

As a general rule, spend around 15 to 30 minutes working on cardiovascular exercise at least three times per week. A high intensity workout requires less time, but is only effective if an individual does not let the energy and intensity drop. During strength training, work out roughly for 10 to 15 minutes. Focus on appropriate combinations to avoid excessive muscle fatigue. For example, do not combine large muscle groups like the back and legs in the same workout routine. Instead, focus on combining a large muscle group with a smaller muscle group in one routine. Alternate your muscle groups during each routine for the best results.

The key is to start light and monitor whether you’re doing too much or too little and make small adjustments along the way. You should continue to adjust your workout routine to maximize your results. Most of all, pay attention to what your body is telling you: Does your workout feel too light? Too hard? Painful? Listen to your body as you advance through your workout plan and adjust your workout length according to your evolving goals and limits. 

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