Time- it’s a funny thing. Time in the fitness world tends to be even funnier. If you read a lot about coaching and or fitness it is inevitable you will come across different perspectives when it comes to the “time” debate and how it fits into training. What makes this even worse for me, is over the weekend I spent an hour (of time) watching this Morgan Freeman show where he discusses the relevance of time. This really got my mind spinning and then really thinking about time within training.
One of the biggest questions most coaches get is, “How long should I train for?”
My answer, after a lot of reading and experience both with myself and clients is always the same, “Depends.” Now I wish this was my own, witty answer to a question that most novices and a lot of more advances fitness practitioners have, but it is not. It is the work of another famous DJ.
So what does it mean? Should our sessions be 60 minutes? 90 minutes? Does this include a warm-up and a cool-down? What the hell is a warm-up and a cool-down anyway? (A topic for another time.) Remember when my answer was “Depends?” Well, it depends. What is your goal? What is the achievement you are trying to reach in this particular session and your program? (If you don’t have some sort of program you’re following or a program someone is having you follow, GET ONE!)
Without getting too specific, lets keep this to 2 really simple modalities of training; strength and conditioning.
Strength is a relative term, it really is. What is strong to me, heavy to me, might not be that way for you. And vice versa. For a strength workout, I like to keep the sessions below 60 minutes. This includes the “warm-up.” If my strength sessions exceed 60 minutes I am doing something very, very wrong that day. And in all honestly, when I say under 60 minutes I try really hard to make it 45. It is not uncommon for me to spend 10 minutes warming up, followed by 10 to 25 reps max and be done. This type of program has had amazing results for both myself and my clients. The best part, is that with that amount of reps, setting up the rep / set scheme comes with a lot of variations, so getting bored is pretty hard to do.
My advice, keep the strength portion simple. Less time often equals greater simplicity and better results.
The conditioning part is just as simple. Don’t let the amount of exercises become a distraction. Remember, our goal is simplicity. Now, depending on the goals of our training segments, I try to keep our “true” conditioning to 30 – 45 minutes. True conditioning is time you actually spend moving; this is 30 to 45 minutes of fairly consistent movement.
The question always arises is, “What exercises should I do when I condition?” My reply, you guessed it, “Depends.”
What is your goal? For example; we are lucky enough to train a high school rugby team for their S&C. We are going to keep these kids moving in a fashion in which they are accustomed. Rugby games are 80 minutes, 40 per half. Now each kid is not going to play all 80 minutes and there are dead-balls in which play stops momentarily plus a half time break. We see this team twice a week for 90 minutes at a time. The conditioning aspect of their training is 45 minutes twice a week. That equals 90 minutes of conditioning for their 80 minutes of rugby play per week.
So, what is your goal? What are you training for and how does conditioning fit in? Not everyone needs to keep a conditioning level to that of a high school rugby player. Triathletes for example need something a little slower but for a longer period of time. They condition accordingly. Others, MMA fighters for instance, will fight no more than 5 rounds at 5 minutes. Guess how they condition? They condition for 5 rounds at 5 minutes and or relevant to their next upcoming fight.
It is that simple. Don’t over complicate your programing when it comes to the time aspect. Just make sure your time is being spent appropriately for what your goals are.
Keep it simple here folks!