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Time v Effort

What requires more energy- a 5km run or a 5km walk? 

Surely running requires more effort than walking, right? If it was running v walking over the same time frame, then yes. However, you’re moving the same distance so your energy output will be virtually the same. It’s just that the walk is likely going to take you about twice as long as the run. 

Now, what do you think requires more energy – a 30 minute workout or a 1 hour workout? 

You’re going to say the 1 hour workout, aren’t you? If we go back to the run/walk scenario, you’re only getting a more effective workout (in terms of energy output) if you run for the hour. If you walk for the hour versus run for half an hour, you’re getting a similar energy output for the session. 

As you can see, it’s not the time that matters, it’s the effort and intensity put into the time that makes a difference. 

Now apply this to your training. 

You’ll often hear people brag about how many hours a day they spend in the gym, as though there’s a prize for most hours in the gym. But do these people tell you how hard they work while they’re in the gym? 

I used to compete in powerlifting and I had some sessions that lasted 2.5-3 hours, but I can guarantee you I wasn’t training with high intensity for that whole time. There were a lot of long rest periods and even more mucking around with my powerlifting friends.

However, these days, there’s no need for me to be training with such specificity and at such high loads, plus I don’t have the time to be spending that long in the gym. So instead, I put more effort into my training and in 30 minutes I can get an effective workout to improve my strength and fitness for the life I want to live. 

Time is not the key factor in an effective workout. Intensity and effort will give you greater return than just time. 

If you want to maximise your results and make the most of your time in the gym, focus on your energy input and intensity during your session. 

A few ways to do this: 

  • Start how you plan to finish – begin with determination and intensity to get it done, rather than bumbling about 
  • Don’t cheat your reps – always complete all the reps with full range of movement
  • Pick the heaviest weight you can perform quality reps with – you can lower the weight as you get fatigued if necessary but don’t shortchange yourself
  • Time your rest
  • Put your phone down and focus on what you’re doing

You don’t need to spend more time in the gym to get results – you just need to increase the effort and energy input during the time you do spend in the gym

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