Your weight training sessions should last no longer than one hour. And you know what? I’m being extremely liberal with that amount of time. I really believe you can be extremely effective in far less time. But, because I know it’s such a challenge for most of us to shorten our workouts and still feel confident that we are doing enough to meet our bodybuilding goals, I’ll make the cutoff point one hour. Regardless of how you try to rationalize it, longer training sessions are NOT more productive. You must force yourself to become just as effective in a shorter period of time by becoming more efficient. I’ve given the time I spend training in the gym the empowering title of my “Hour of Power!”
Now, before you start crediting my years of bodybuilding experience for allowing me to get significant results with such short workouts, let me make this point perfectly clear: It’s not my experience that allows me to shorten my time in the gym without sacrificing effectiveness. It’s your lack of experience that makes you feel you must stay in the gym longer! The only way you will ever become more efficient is by setting ambitious goals for productivity. I don’t mean to sound harsh. I only want to help you. I simply want you to avoid making some of the same mistakes I’ve made over the years. To borrow a phrase I learned from former Mr. Olympia Lee Haney, you want to “stimulate” the muscles when you are in the gym and not “annihilate” them. Stimulating the muscles can be done quite effectively in one hour or less. It’s a fact that the more time you spend in the gym, the more your concentration and focus will wane. The more your mental focus and concentration diminish the less effective you will become physically.
Earlier in my bodybuilding career, I remember when a more experienced bodybuilder, Ron “Alcatraz” Coleman, told me that he finished his workouts in about 40 minutes—including cardiovascular training! I simply couldn’t believe a person could effectively get the job done in such a short period of time. Even though I had a lot of respect for Ron and knew he had about 15 years of training experience and a world title under his belt, I simply couldn’t believe it. “Surely his success had more to do with his years of training or superior genetics,” I thought. Does that kind of thinking sound familiar to anyone you know? Uh-huh. I know exactly what you’re thinking right now! Besides, I had been training for about seven years at the time and was already a national champion myself. It wasn’t like I was a rookie in the gym by any means. Well, guess what? After about five long years, I finally understood what he was talking about. I wish he could have coached me a little better. I wish he could have persuaded me to understand his intelligent, effective, and efficient approach to training. Quite frankly, I wish he had hit me with a dumbbell to ram that valuable lesson through my thick head! If he had done so, I would have saved at least five years of less-productive training and hours of time wasted in the gym. I wish Ron had forced me to challenge myself to become more effective with shorter workouts.
Do both you and me a favor, won’t you? Don’t make the same mistake I did by not listening to a successful, more experienced bodybuilder. Hopefully, I’ve done a better job of convincing you why shorter, stimulating-not-annihilating workouts are more effective than longer, less focused ones than Ron did with me. Hopefully, YOU will do a better job of understanding and applying my advice than I did with Ron’s!