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[Newbie Question] Constantly Increased Training Time due to Progressive Overload


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Hi Guys,

I am a newbie who just start weight lifting for about 4 months. I know in order to increase my muscle and strength, I need to do progressive overload, which I did, and it works well. I'm getting very good improvement over most of my exercises and muscle size.

However, because of all the volumes I am slowly adding to my training, and other supporting activities associated to it (more warm up sets before working sets, setting up, adjusting weights, re-setup the failed barbell from spotter back to rack, more resting between heavy set, etc). I see a huge increase of my training time. My average training time was around 1.2 to 1.5 hours when I started, now I'm at 2.4 to 2.6 hours, and it keeps increasing week by week. I am not sure if I can handle this in the long run, can't see myself using 3 hours per day to do workout for like, the next 10 years or something ...

Did any of you guys experience the same thing when you first begin your lifting journey? Please let me know what should I do to fix it, thank you, also if you need any additional information from me, I'm more than happy to share. Thank you in advance.

Update:

I'm adding my routine here:
Screenshot_20201103-134224.jpg
Screenshot_20201103-134205.jpg
 
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chrisk

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It's supposed to increase and get to a point where you have to split up your sessions to get anything meaningful done, when you're more advanced. Training almost 3 hours after 4 months of experience is probably indicitave of some suboptimality.

I'd say rest between sets should cap out around 5 minutes for heavy compound lifts. 3 minutes should be fine for isolation.

Warmup doesn't have to take very long, 4-5 quick easy sets adding weight without rest on the first lift. Maybe 1-2 easy activation sets without rest for later exercises.

Actual failure shouldn't occur so often that you consistently train longer due to re-setting weights.

Volume has some realistic limits to it, in terms of sets per training session, and maybe number of exercises. Especially as a beginner you don't need a ton of them. I'm guessing that's the main culprit here.

What does your routine look like?
 

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  • #3
It's supposed to increase and get to a point where you have to split up your sessions to get anything meaningful done, when you're more advanced. Training almost 3 hours after 4 months of experience is probably indicitave of some suboptimality.

I'd say rest between sets should cap out around 5 minutes for heavy compound lifts. 3 minutes should be fine for isolation.

Warmup doesn't have to take very long, 4-5 quick easy sets adding weight without rest on the first lift. Maybe 1-2 easy activation sets without rest for later exercises.

Actual failure shouldn't occur so often that you consistently train longer due to re-setting weights.

Volume has some realistic limits to it, in terms of sets per training session, and maybe number of exercises. Especially as a beginner you don't need a ton of them. I'm guessing that's the main culprit here.

What does your routine look like?
Hi Chrisk, thank you again for answering my question, really appreciated. I updated my routine at the top, please give a look, thanks again.
 

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Well the push pull legs structure fits those who would otherwise exceed a maximally reasonable workout duration in a fullbody or upper/lower session for example. Often beginners start out with a fullbody routine with just 1 compound lift per muscle group per session, which takes about this long but with half as many sessions per week. And combining muscle groups in setups like that is more suitable to supersetting opposing exercises to cut down on time by a lot.

You may not be resting too much, you're just doing a lot of work. This is pretty much the maximum volume/exercises you would ever need. But 2 hours or a little more isn't necessarily excessive either. Though it shouldn't increase any further from here, for sure.

You could leave it as it is and just be sure to stick with reasonable rest times, warmup efficiently, and don't go to actual failure so often that it takes longer to train. (preferably you pretty much always stay away from failure)

But you can cut down on things a little, too.

The exercise selection on pull day can be improved a good bit. 3 vertical pulls, 3 horizontal pulls, and 3 bicep curls is a bit much of each. 1 or 2 of each is fine. Might move the pullovers from push day to pull day.

For leg day you can superset leg curls and leg extensions without them interfering with eachother. Maybe rdl and lunges too, if you can handle the cardio demands. On your weakness day you can superset flys and side raises. Just a few small things like that can make it easy to restrict time to what's reasonable.

Do you repeat these days twice per week? If so I would use that second day to do the variants of exercises that are excessive to put together on the first day. That should be more than enough variation and total volume.

Glute kickbacks seems like something to put on weakness day while deadlift, a squat variation, and good mornings are heavy lifts that deserve to be put in their respective slots on either of the two leg days.
 
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Well the push pull legs structure fits those who would otherwise exceed a maximally reasonable workout duration in a fullbody or upper/lower session for example. Often beginners start out with a fullbody routine with just 1 compound lift per muscle group per session, which takes about this long but with half as many sessions per week. And combining muscle groups in setups like that is more suitable to supersetting opposing exercises to cut down on time by a lot.

You may not be resting too much, you're just doing a lot of work. This is pretty much the maximum volume/exercises you would ever need. But 2 hours or a little more isn't necessarily excessive either. Though it shouldn't increase any further from here, for sure.

You could leave it as it is and just be sure to stick with reasonable rest times, warmup efficiently, and don't go to actual failure so often that it takes longer to train. (preferably you pretty much always stay away from failure)

But you can cut down on things a little, too.

The exercise selection on pull day can be improved a good bit. 3 vertical pulls, 3 horizontal pulls, and 3 bicep curls is a bit much of each. 1 or 2 of each is fine. Might move the pullovers from push day to pull day.

For leg day you can superset leg curls and leg extensions without them interfering with eachother. Maybe rdl and lunges too, if you can handle the cardio demands. On your weakness day you can superset flys and side raises. Just a few small things like that can make it easy to restrict time to what's reasonable.

Do you repeat these days twice per week? If so I would use that second day to do the variants of exercises that are excessive to put together on the first day. That should be more than enough variation and total volume.

Glute kickbacks seems like something to put on weakness day while deadlift, a squat variation, and good mornings are heavy lifts that deserve to be put in their respective slots on either of the two leg days.
Thank you Chrisk, my rest is cap at 5 min for leg compound, 4 for upper compound, 3 for rest, it seems working for me. I rest 1 day after this 4 day routine, then repeat, not really by weekly.

So basically what's your suggestion is keep the volume like this, and adding super set if I want to reduce the time consuming a bit, I think it's a good advice, I will try to include some super set, and check if I'm capable to it in terms of conditioning.

I have a few questions about the pull part you mentioned above.

Which ones do you suggest that I should remove? I am also thinking about removing one or two from it, but all these exercises seems have different stimulation to my back, and my overall back stimulation is very small, my arms often fatigue before my back. In fact I never experienced back fatigue so far....

I feel more chest and triceps when doing pull over, so I put it together with chest, should I feel the back more than chest for this exercise?
 

chrisk

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Well which exercises you take out (move to another day) depends on what you do on the other day of the cycle.

For rows I would do either barbbell or dumbbell first, then something like seated rows (or inverted rows) as a secondary exercise.

For pullups I'd suggest either pullups or chinups first, followed by one pulldown with either the same or a different grip.

Whatever different stimulation you seek from each exercise can be achieved on different days. With more effort and focus put into each.


If you don't really feel your back very well then you may want to experiment or refine technique to find which movement really works for you and just put more effort into that rather than dividing the effort by piling on more exercises that you don't feel very well.

Also, how do you fatigue your arms more than your back and then still have energy left for 3 more arm exercises afterwards? How does that work? :P

And you may not need to feel it as specifically as you expect; if your lifts are getting stronger for reps without compromising technique then they and the muscles involved are progressing regardless of what you feel.
I don't really feel any particular muscle in my back doing the work either, except maybe a good lat pump at the end of it all, but they're all well developed.
Do you really feel the specific back muscles during deadlifts? Even if you don't surely you're still going to have a big back when you get to repping out 220+ kg.


I'm not sure about your pull overs. The movement is supposed to primarly use the lats so if your chest or especially triceps are doing any significant amount of work you're maybe doing it more like a triceps extension from behind the head?
 

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  • #7
Well which exercises you take out (move to another day) depends on what you do on the other day of the cycle.

For rows I would do either barbbell or dumbbell first, then something like seated rows (or inverted rows) as a secondary exercise.

For pullups I'd suggest either pullups or chinups first, followed by one pulldown with either the same or a different grip.

Whatever different stimulation you seek from each exercise can be achieved on different days. With more effort and focus put into each.


If you don't really feel your back very well then you may want to experiment or refine technique to find which movement really works for you and just put more effort into that rather than dividing the effort by piling on more exercises that you don't feel very well.

Also, how do you fatigue your arms more than your back and then still have energy left for 3 more arm exercises afterwards? How does that work? :P

And you may not need to feel it as specifically as you expect; if your lifts are getting stronger for reps without compromising technique then they and the muscles involved are progressing regardless of what you feel.
I don't really feel any particular muscle in my back doing the work either, except maybe a good lat pump at the end of it all, but they're all well developed.
Do you really feel the specific back muscles during deadlifts? Even if you don't surely you're still going to have a big back when you get to repping out 220+ kg.


I'm not sure about your pull overs. The movement is supposed to primarly use the lats so if your chest or especially triceps are doing any significant amount of work you're maybe doing it more like a triceps extension from behind the head?
😅By fatigue arms I mean something like, I do a set of 12 seated row, for example, my arms are the limit factor that I can only do 12 of that weight, not my back. Not really fatigue fatigue 😅😅.

I did feel something from my lats when doing pull over, but my lower chest feels the most. And I feel stimulation from a very small part of triceps that none of other triceps movements shared... Maybe I should do more research on this movement...
 

chrisk

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Arm muscles getting tired before back muscles might be some subtle technique issue. Especially on rows I would suspect youre 'curling' a bit too much, rather than pulling with the elbows. Or maybe your arms just need to get stronger before those moves can really stimulate the back well.

If you're doing it right you might have an advantage in that you're getting to grow your entire arms without even needing isolation moves for them. I get plenty of biceps stimulation from chinups for example. Could make a fine pull workout with just an hour of chinups and a row.


I'm not an expert on pullovers as I never/rarely do them. The pec muscles do get stretched and assist a little, the long head of the triceps works in the shoulder extension as well for sure. But not at all like when they're the prime movers and go through their entire range of motion in an exercise, like in bench pressing or extensions respectively.
 
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