Too much intensity too frequently is most often the product of the false belief that “more is better”.
We already know that to increase fitness in a specific area of the body, that area must be strained by specific exercises that stimulate the area and prompt the body’s natural recovery and repair mechanism to rebuild the exercised muscle back to a higher level of function and appearance. No amount of training will reach beneficial long-term fitness gains unless the training is properly balanced with adequate recovery time allowing the body to rebuild itself back to its full functional level.
When you start training your body will naturally boost testosterone levels significantly higher than normal. This increased output peaks somewhere around a half hour into your workout.
What you can achieve is limited by your body’s potential. You simply cannot exceed what your body can achieve: after sixty minutes your body will start to produce less testosterone and more cortisol, which is a hormone that eats muscle tissue and increases body fat storage.
When your workout goes on beyond an hour it gets easier to start overtraining and recovery from one session to the next may become more difficult: shorter workouts allow you to have more frequent training sessions, which can lead to faster gains in size and strength. The recovery period is extremely important because this is when muscle growth actually occurs. This is why, for example, it is important to sleep at least 8 hours every night, especially on days when you have had an intense workout.
That means no more than sixty minutes total, excluding warm up time.
Remember, if your goal is muscle growth, another important rule is to organize your cardio workout in different day sessions or, at least, in separated moments of the day with 6-8 hours of rest between.
Another reason to keep your workouts short is that your mental focus will start to decrease. It’s a lot easier to have an incredible training session if you know you only have 45 minutes ahead of you. Beyond 45-60 minutes you start losing your mental focus and it becomes more and more difficult to really bring it on every set.
Start every training session with at least a ten-minute warm-up, then have your 45-60 minutes strength training session and finish with ten-minutes final stretching.
If your workout intensity and training loads are within ideal range you’ll find that your fitness will increase and maintain itself with less time and effort. After a workout you should rebound quickly from the effort and feel almost back to normal within 30-minutes. A prolonged rebound is a sign the workout was too difficult and you need to go easy for a couple of days. Successful workouts will leave you feeling better at the end of your workout than the beginning. This is a sign of well-trained body. Slight muscle soreness is normal after starting to exercise, when new exercises are implemented into your workouts or when an increase in exercise intensity is done. If you feel sore then put two or more easy days into your program to let your body catch up with itself.
Exercise is a form of stress. In the right measure it is a healthy stress as it engages the body into adaption to stress which leads to fitness. But too much physical stress is counterproductive: reaching your ideal point of balance of training intensity and duration will make you feel much happier, complete and at your best.