Bodybuilders have incredible bodies, and we all know that those bodies just didn’t poof into existence.
It takes hard work and takes forever to get these sculpted physiques! And I’m sure it goes without saying, but these guys obviously spend more than 5 minutes in the gym a day.
Yes, I know I am somewhat well known for doing Rich Piana’s famous 8 Hour Arm Workout– but is that a standard workday for a bodybuilder?
So, how long do bodybuilders workout a day?
Typically, most bodybuilders will workout 2-3 hours a day. However, ‘pro bodybuilders’ that are competing in top-tier events will often workout 4-5 hours a day. For example, Arnold Schwarzenegger used to work out 5 hours a day!
Let’s cover this more in-depth.
Most Bodybuilders Workout 2-3 Hours a Day
So, most bodybuilders workout 2-3 hours a day.
‘Most bodybuilders’ generally encompasses most people. I’m talking about the people that aren’t competing in a HUGE competition like the Arnold Classic or Mr.Olympia.
However, this category includes people that do compete in most bodybuilding competitions.
The truth is, you don’t need to workout 8 hours a day to compete! For most bodybuilders. 2-3 hours a day is all they need.
If you’ve ever tried to do a serious workout program like the Arnold Blueprint to Mass, you’ll know that it gets really tough to lift ANYTHING after that 2-hour mark. Your muscles are just EXHAUSTED.
‘Pro bodybuilders’ Typically Workout 4-5 Hours a Day When a Competition is Near
When I talk about ‘pro bodybuilders’, I mean those preparing for big-time competitions like the Mr.Olympia or Arnold Classic competition.
For the most part, these guys will often be working out 4-5 hours a day. However, this isn’t always true.
Many bodybuilders, even at the pro level, will only find themselves working out 2-3 hours a day.
When these bodybuilders are working out 4-5 hours a day, it’s CRUNCH TIME for them. They start working out 4-5 hours a day when a competition is on the horizon. Otherwise, they will usually stick to the same 2-3 hour regime.
So, let’s say that a bodybuilder has a competition in 10 months. For the first 5 months, they will usually be working out 2-3 hours a day. Then, the last 5 months will be increased, with the final days having the highest hours of training.
The reason for this is actually different than you may think- it’s not to build muscle.
Bodybuilders that are competing need to shred as much fat as they can. Truth be told, most bodybuilders end up with more fat than they expected nearing a competition.
This can literally win or lose them the competition depending on how much fat they can shred off in the last few weeks.
So, most of that extra training is literally just to make sure that fat gets burned before they step on stage.
Bodybuilders, For The Most Part, Don’t Tran That Much
For the most part, bodybuilders don’t train that much- or as much as people think.
I know in many Hollywood films or bodybuilding documentaries it may seem like that these guys train 10 hours a day- but truth be told, it’s not like that.
Most bodybuilders actually have full-time jobs. In fact, in the classic bodybuilding film Pumping Iron, the movie follows a bodybuilder, Mike Katz, who works full time as a teacher and has kids.
This guy trained a few hours a day where we could and he stepped onto one of the first Mr.Olympia competitions and nearly won it.
That’s why he is one of the most famous bodybuilders out there- it’s inspiring to follow his story and realize you don’t need to workout 12 hours a day to get results.
And even the poster child of bodybuilding, Arnold Schwarzenegger only worked out 5 hours a day- and he was doing it full time. His whole life was bodybuilding and he only did it for 5 hours, not all day as some movies may lead you to believe.
There’s a big reason for this. Because trust me, a lot of these guys would spend their whole day lifting if they could- but it’s actually detrimental. (Is Overtraining a Myth?)
Rest and Nutrition Are More Important Than Training
Rest and nutrition are more important than training (lifting) for results in bodybuilding.
Simply put, you can work out 5 hours a day if you want- but if you don’t sleep and eat enough, you will see ZERO muscle growth.
That was actually my problem when I first started bodybuilding. I would go to the gym twice a day, 4 hours a day- but I wasn’t eating enough. So, for the first 4 months of my bodybuilding career, I was spinning wheels.
Now, that’s not to say I didn’t lose a lot of fat, but I lost a lot of muscle too. I was training so hard and not giving my body the nutrients it needed to GROW. I covered a lot of this in my famous post about my experience with Anorexia (you’d be surprised to think that a buff bodybuilder like me once weighed 99 lbs in high school).
Without the proper nutrition or rest, your muscles will literally shrink and break down.
That means there is sort of a limit to the time these bodybuilders can spend in the gym all day.
Even though I did do that 8-hour arm workout, I had to take some serious recovery time- or I wouldn’t have grown ANY muscle from it.
The harder the workout, the more you have to sleep and eat to recover from it. So, going to the gym 8 hours a day is pointless when you weigh that you have to eat and sleep a ton more to properly recover from it.
Now, if you worked out 8 hours a day, slept and ate the rest, and had no other obligations- you would gain a lot more muscle than most people.
But, there are limits, your muscles can only grow so much without performance enhancers (which most pro bodybuilders take).
Bodybuilders Often Do An Hour of Cardio
Bodybuilders often do an hour of cardio on their workout days, so the times can get kind of skewed.
For instance, on a leg day, a bodybuilder may only spend 1-hour doing squats and other leg workouts, then they may do an hour of cardio. This makes them workout for 2 hours.
And then, on an intense arm day, they may spend 2 hours in there, and another hour of cardio. Which makes it seem like they are lifting much more than they actually are.
Furthermore, when they are ‘cutting’ or losing weight to prepare for a competition, you will see bodybuilders spend more time doing cardio. Meaning, they may only spend an hour lifting weights and 2 hours doing cardio.
The truth is, bodybuilders don’t spend as much time in the gym as people think they do.
While they do spend a lot of time in there, a lot of it is cardio. The hard part of bodybuilding is lifting weights, but the HARDEST part of bodybuilding is eating.
How long should a bodybuilder workout?
A bodybuilder should typically workout around 2 hours a day. But, a lot of that depends on how much rest time a bodybuilder a takes between sets.
How many hours a day did Arnold Schwarzenegger workout?
Arnold Schwarzenegger worked out a whopping 5 hours a day!
Is 2 hours of weightlifting too much?
For most people 2 hours of weightlifting is perfect, and not too much. But everybody is different!
Conclusion of How Long Do Bodybuilders Workout A Day?
So, the truth is, bodybuilders don’t spend as much time as people think they do in the gym.
While working out is hard and often lengthy, some of it is cardio- and most bodybuilders don’t spend more than 2-3 hours a day in the gym. If they’re preparing for a competition, it may increase to 4-5 hours a day.
But, like I said: lifting weights is hard, but the hardest part of bodybuilding is actually eating. Some of those bodybuilders just wish they could somehow inject calories and protein into them, it can get exhausting after a while constantly eating food.
How often do you workout a day? Let me know in the comments below.