As good as working out makes us feel, there are always those days when we dread going to the gym. Whether you’re planning to hit the cardio machines bright and early before work, or you like to grab the weights when the sun goes down, it can be hard to stay motivated when you’re trying to juggle everything life throws at you — especially when you find yourself working out for more than an hour.
If you repeatedly find a massive chunk of your day is devoted to exercise, then you’ll want to rethink your fitness plan. Though you might think you’re doing more for your body by working out so much, it could be overrated. Here’s why you might want to cut back on those seriously long sessions.
1. They’re bad for your heart
Marathon runners may appear to be in peak physical shape, but the demands of such long and grueling exercise can have a serious effect on the heart. According to Breaking Muscle, long, intense bouts of exercise are not necessary to get in shape. The story highlighted a study that found cardiac risk is increased by seven times if you’re putting serious physical demands on your body.
While working out for an hour a day or less is good for the body, don’t think that you need to start running long distances for hours on end to achieve a healthy heart. In fact, it may do just the opposite. If you’re getting the recommended 30-minute sessions throughout the week, you’re probably just fine.
2. Overtraining will halt your progress
You might give yourself a pat on the back for getting to the gym six to seven days a week and going hard with the cardio and weights, but it could slow your progress. Without enough of break between sessions, you’re at risk for overtraining. This means you’ll put yourself at greater risk for injury and see fewer gains.
Men’s Fitness explains overtraining puts you at greater risk for prolonged soreness, poor concentration, and may make you more susceptible to sickness. You’ll also notice that you’re not making much fitness progress either, as you’re not letting your muscles rest, which is necessary for growth. If you really want to go to the gym every day, make sure you’re working in easier days and alternating muscle groups.
3. You’re not getting in shape any faster
The longer you work out, the better shape you’ll be in, right? Not exactly. There’s a reason short, intense bouts of cardio that last about 20 minutes are the new trend, and it’s because they work just as well as those long cardio sessions.
If you’re not familiar with high-intensity interval training by now, then it’s time that you incorporate this method into your workouts. Steady-state cardio has its time and place, but on those days when running on the treadmill is the last thing you want to do, then familiarize yourself with this speedier workout. The idea here is you give your maximum effort in quick bursts of exercise, then take an active recovery period for a few minutes before repeating, explains Time. An example is one minute of intense exercise for every three minutes of active recovery, which you’ll repeat for 15 to 25 minutes. Sound easy? Give it a try, and you’ll see why it torches calories.
4. You’ll lose motivation
Those long workouts aren’t doing as much for your physical health as you might think, but more importantly, they could be wreaking havoc on your mind. If you already find yourself dreading long workouts at the gym, that decreased motivation might lead you to stop completely.
If you’re used to doing the same old thing at the gym every time you go, then the first step to staying motivated is to switch it up. Greatist recommends a few interval workouts you can perform at the gym. They’re short, difficult, and can even be fun. Try incorporating moves like push-ups, jumping rope, high jumps, mountain climbers, and burpees. Simply perform one of these moves for 30 seconds, and then take 10 seconds of rest before continuing to the next move. Repeat this circuit for six rounds. Circuits like this will keep you motivated, and you won’t be working out for very long, either.
5. You may suffer from an overuse injury
Your long, grueling workouts may be putting you at a greater risk for injury. While improper form and jumping right into an fitness program can also cause you to injure yourself during exercise, putting heavy strain on the same muscle over and over again might be worse. According to Mayo Clinic, it’s always a good idea to cross train when you’re at the gym. Performing a variety of low-impact exercises like swimming, biking, or walking can break up your routine and work different muscles.
If you love those hard, intense workouts, then make sure they’re not lasting for more than 30 minutes at a time. And, always give your body the rest it needs. Without properly recovering you may cause an injury that will take weeks, or even months, to heal.