4. Limit Workouts to One Hour vs Take the Time Needed to Complete Your Training
You may have heard you need to keep your workouts to a maximum of an hour or your cortisol will spike and you’ll become catabolic. This myth dates back to an Olympic strength coach who wanted more control over his athletes. It also fits the common commercial gym personal training hour session model, further preserving the myth.
Were this myth based in truth, farmers, construction workers, and anyone who’s work meant long days of physical labor wouldn’t be some of the strongest people to walk around in society.
Cortisol is neither the catabolic boogeyman it’s portrayed to be in acute post workout doses (chronically elevated stress hormones can be detrimental to our health), nor should we limit our training sessions to under an hour if our training needs and schedules require more.
According to Feldman, “Cortisol briefly increases after workouts, as hard workouts put stress on the body. Increases in cortisol after exercise won’t hamper your muscle or strength gains. In addition, taking more time to rest between sets (which leads to longer training sessions) is better for getting bigger and stronger muscles.
More important to consider when choosing a workout length is balancing how it best fits into our work and family lives, our overall training needs to optimize progress, and our ability to recover from training. We risk injury and poor progress if we don’t sleep, fuel, and recover enough from our training.
Verdict: Don’t arbitrarily limit your workouts to one hour.
The old ways are rich with training wisdom. They’re also a minefield of pointless practices. Challenging old beliefs while continually seeking knowledge will help you make the best progress in your training.