My usual gym session takes right around 90 min, so usually I come into the gym to do my thing and 90 min later I am done. But one day just 30 min into my workout I was dead and I could barely get through the rest of my workout, and in my head I knew that the rest of the workout really did not do much for me. So I had to ask myself is 30 min enough?
So I did a little bit of research.
Yes 30 min of strength training is enough, this is because for an effective workout the two main factors are volume and intensity, and by most people intensity is often considered the more important of the two factors. So 30 min of intense exercise is plenty to exhaust any of the major muscle groups.
Table of Contents
Choosing The Right Workout Split
If you are only limited to a 30 min workout session this step is crucial to get right to see great results from a 30 min workout,but which split is the right one?
The most popular splits are
- The Bro Split
- Upper Lower Split
- Full Body Split
I have listed the best splits for a 30 min workout from best to worst. The bro split (One major muscle group per day, e.g. arm day, back day, chest day etc). Though the bro split usually gets a bad rap, and is often considered not optimal for a 30 min workout it is a great option as in this way you can still have a very intense workout while not sacrificing a lot on the volume side of training.
Push/ Pull/ Legs is in my opinion the second best split, this is for a very similar reason. As you have split your workout into three distinct work days ( as the name suggests push ( Chest and Triceps), Pull (Back and Biceps), and Legs) In this way you can also have a great mix of both volume and intensity in a 30 min time span.
Both the upper lower split, and the full body split in my opinion are just not that great in this situation. Though if you have a long time to workout they would be great options, but with only 30 min of time on your hands you just spread yourself too thin, and in 30 min you just will not get the results you want.
In These 30 Minutes Which Exercise Should I Do?
So the reality of it is that 30 min really is not a lot of time especially considering the long rest times you should take when strength training, so we need to pick the exercise that can give us the best possible challenge in the shortest possible time.
So this means to pick compound exercises, or in other words exercises that workout multiple muscle groups in one go.
Though this is not an extensive list here are some great examples of compound movements
- Bench Press
- Pull ups
- Chin Up
- Bent Over Row
So if you decided to do a back day you could choose to do pull ups and bent over rows for those 30 min.
Progressive overload is the holy grail of training in general and strength training is no exception. The term progressively overload just means the exercise is getting harder, whether that means to add weight or to add 1 rep.
Usually when progressive overloading the exercise is not harder because you are simply increasing the difficulty of the exercise because you got better. So as you get better you will continuously make the exercise harder according to your level.
If you want to learn more about progressive overload you can read about it here!
What 30 Min Workout Strength Training Session Looks Like
This will change from person to person but this will be a rough outline for what a great strength training session looks like.
- 5 min warm up (very light weight or dynamic stretches)
- 10 – 15 min of the first exercise you chose
- 10 – 15 min of the second exercise you choose
- 3 – 5 min cool down (static stretches)
If you want a list of 8 great workouts which are 30 min or less click this link!
Can You Workout For Less Than 30 Min?
The answer is again yes, but the shorter time you get that harder it is to get a great workout. Personally I think that within that 30 minute time frame you can still get in a great strength training workout, and really and type of workout.
But when you start lowering the time below 30 min you can still get a good workout in, but not a great workout.
However, working out for just 10 minutes per day will be far better than not at all, trust me even 10 minutes a couple times per week and your body will be thanking you.
How Long Is Too Long?
Now let’s briefly look at the other end of the spectrum and ask the question when is a workout too long?
Well I would say that it is not too long if you really have all day. In saying that you really would not be spending all that with rest breaks that are not hour long.
This is because in a week it recommended that across 2 sessions that one muscle group should be hit with 10 – 20 sets per week, and right around 10 – 12 sets per session. So depending on the person this should take no longer than 2 hours per session, but many people can fit this into a 90 min time frame, and some people even squeeze this in 1 hour.
To wrap things up, yes 30 min of strength training is enough, though it is not the best possible time frame. Intensity is usually the leading factor for strength and muscle growth.
When working out you should focus on larger compound movements such as the squat and deadlift to maximize your time.