Blog

reps

How long should I be lifting weights during a workout?

The American College of Sports Medicine, the leading trade association of exercise physiologists and other professionals working in exercise, has recommended guidelines for lifting weights. They reviewed the evidence and they throw light on how to lift weights to develop muscular strength, muscle mass, power, and muscular endurance.

Lifting weights for maximum strength

lifting weights

 

To develop high levels of strength, according to the ACSM, you could lift weights for 3 sets per exercise, for 12 repetitions per set, with at least 3 minutes between sets. It should take about 3 seconds to complete each repetition. Let’s assume that the workout includes 5 exercises. The total number of repetitions will be approximately 180. (I say “approximately” because some of the exercises may be unilateral, and those repetitions would be counted for each limb.) The total time to complete those repetitions will be approximately 9 minutes. The total rest between sets will be approximately 42 minutes.

If you’re lifting weights for maximum strength, plan on doing it for about 51 minutes. That doesn’t include time spent on a warm up or cool down.

 

Muscle hypertrophy

 

To grow bigger muscles, according to the ACSM, you could lift weights for 5 sets per exercise, for 12 repetitions per set, with at least 2 minutes between sets. It should take about 4 seconds to complete each repetition. Let’s assume that the workout includes 9 exercises. The total number of repetitions will be approximately 540. The total time to complete those repetitions will be approximately 36 minutes. The total rest between sets will be approximately 88 minutes.

If you’re lifting weights for bodybuilding, plan on doing it for about 2 hours. That doesn’t include time spent on a warm up or cool down.

 

Power

 

 

To develop high levels of strength, according to the ACSM, you could lift weights for 3 sets per exercise, for 6 repetitions per set, with at least 3 minutes between sets. Each repetition should be performed as fast as possible, perhaps in as little as 1 second. Let’s assume that the workout includes 4 exercises. The total number of repetitions will be approximately 72. The total time to complete those repetitions will be approximately 1 minute. The total rest between sets will be approximately 33 minutes.

If you’re lifting weights to be more powerful, plan on doing it for 34 minutes. That doesn’t include time spent on a warm up or cool down.

Muscular endurance

 

 

To develop muscular endurance, according to the ACSM, you could lift weights for 3 sets per exercise, for 20 repetitions per set, with at least 3 minutes between sets. It should take about 2 seconds to complete each repetition. Let’s assume that the workout includes 6 exercises. The total number of repetitions will be approximately 360. The total time to complete those repetitions will be approximately 6 minutes. The total rest between sets will be approximately 51 minutes.

If you’re lifting weights for better endurance, plan on doing it for 57 minutes. That doesn’t include time spent on a warm up or cool down.

Keep in mind that none of the aforementioned durations include time for warm-ups and cool-downs. They also don’t specify exercises, exercise technique, workouts per week, and other important variables.

Phil Clark

Phil is the proud founder, owner, and manager of The Training Station, Philly's Award Winning Gym, and Run Shoe Store, known for it's premium sneaker fittings.