What Happens When You Train For Hours and Hours in the Gym

Updated: January 14, 2021

What Happens When You Train For Hours and Hours in the Gym?


Mark “Coach Rozy” Roozen

MORE IS BETTER! That’s the American Motto.  We have the same mentality when we workout.   “If I train for an hour and see good results – imagine what will happen if I train for 2 hours or even 3 hours a day!

We think the more we do things, the better we get – and in most cases that is true.  However, “more is better” does not apply to strength and conditioning. In fact, training for too long can lead to diminished results, and worse, an injury.

Here we look at the problems that can occur when we spend too much time in the weight room.


Workouts are designed to put stress on your muscles. Workouts need to put in place the “overload principle”.  This principle’s general basis is that you need to push past what you’ve done before and overload the system you’re training to get benefits.  That’s the only way you can make gains in training – do more than the time before. .

Regardless of the type of exercise you do, the more fatigue you experience, you can expect it to seriously impact your workout performance as you move through your training session . At a certain point, you won’t be able to perform exercises with the same speed, strength, technique or ability as when you started.  

Long workouts create a lot of fatigue that will deteriorate your movement patterns.  So you need to think that it’s quality versus quantity.  It’s not always best to say your did the longest workout of anyone in the gym!


As you pass the 45-minute mark in your workout, cortisol levels begin to rise in your body. Cortisol is a stress hormone that helps regulate metabolism to ensure the body has sufficient energy to function. The concern is that as cortisol levels rise in a workout, the hormone will signal your body to use your muscle protein as a source of energy—essentially wiping out the positive effects of your workout. The exact time when this begins depends on the intensity of your workout, but the levels gradually increase once it starts.

When cortisol levels remain elevated, inflammation increases throughout the body, which subsequently reduces insulin sensitivity. Insulin helps shuttle the nutrients you eat into your muscles so they can grow. Reduced insulin sensitivity makes it more difficult for this process to occur, putting your body in a situation where it can’t create new muscle.


Strength training damages muscles. To see and experience gains you need to give your system (body) the time and ability to repair the microtears,   By allowing time to repair, you are than creating muscle fibers that are larger and able to handle more stress, or it becomes stronger. This rebuilding process occurs when you recover from workouts, not while you’re training.

Create too much damage too often, and your muscles won’t be able to repair themselves.  You could cause your muscles to decrease in size and strength from workouts that are too long because your body can’t recover. It can cause you to go backwards.

That’s why a key component is to prioritize recovery with routines such as foam rolling and other recovery methods to help muscles repair before the next workout. 


When we model our training off of people who do three-hour workouts, like “the pro’s” and “famous actors”, we need to consider a few things. First, if it’s an actor or a bodybuilder, they have a specific goal, to look good, which often must be accomplished in a short amount of time. So drastic training methods might be necessary.

These individuals typically pay a ton of money for training and have every resource available to them. They’re closely monitored by experts throughout the process to ensure that things don’t go awry.  They’re working with someone who is watching and monitoring everything they do. Their recovery is a lot better. The motivation to do it is usually short-term.  

Maintaining such a routine and pace over an extended period of time is hard and many times can lead to injuries and other issues.


Too much training without allowing for recovery causes overreaching. In simple terms, the body shuts down to protect itself from too much stress. It’s like post-workout fatigue that doesn’t go away. Common symptoms include premature fatigue, lack of strength and endurance, lethargy and elevated resting heart rate.

Stress outside of the weight room can make matters worse. School, homework and sports all take their toll. We all need to realize that training adds to this stress, and doing too much can cause the body essentially to fight back.

Fortunately, overreaching is short-lived as long as you recover. But if you don’t, you might slip into the overtraining category. The symptoms are more severe and it takes several weeks or even months to recover.


The key take away is to “train smarter, not longer”. Workouts should last no less than 60 minutes and no more than 90 minutes. This is sufficient time to challenge your body with quality reps. Anything more, and you’ll see diminished returns for your efforts.

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