Many of us don’t have a lot of free time, especially when we have to work 40 hours a week and spend even more in college or school.
So, shorter workouts are a good alternative compared to the standard 2-3 hours for those that need more time.
But- is a 30 minute workout enough to build muscle? Yes, 30 minute workouts are enough to build muscle IF you are working at super high intensity. Otherwise, this will not be enough time. And, working out at that high intensity daily is not easy.
However, if you have the will, there’s a way. If you’re working out with very little rest time, supersetting things, it is possible to get 2 hour long workout done in 30 minutes and build the same amount of muscle- if not more due to the intensity.
In this article, we will be discussing
- How To Grow Muscle in Limited Time
- Secret methods you can do to boost muscle growth in shorter times.
- How To Overall Make Your Workouts Way Shorter
- Fit Them in Your Schedule Better
Let’s explain this more in-depth.
How Long Do You Need To Workout To Build Muscle?
To start this article off, we should discuss how long you need to work out to build muscle in the first place.
Well, that’s where this whole thing gets complicated.
It’s About Intensity and Volume NOT Time
So, if you go into the gym it doesn’t automatically make you big- but I am sure we all knew this.
But, the point really is something we need to hammer. If you do the same amount of exercises someone else does- but it takes you an hour longer to do it- you aren’t just growing more muscle automatically.
But, it’s about the intensity and volume you put into the gym, NOT time. So, if you spend 2 hours doing the same thing someone else does in 1 hour, you’re not ‘better’ than them or growing more muscle.
In fact, you may be growing less muscle- here’s why.
Intensity Is VERY Important in Muscle Growth (Less Time = More Muscle?)
Here’s the thing, if you do one bench press every hour, you aren’t really going to build muscle.
But on the contrary, if you do 1 bench press set every minute with little rest, you’re going to be building more muscle.
This is because we grow our muscles with a process called progressive overload- the idea that we need to overload our muscles to cause them to grow.
So, truthfully- no amount of sets or time will automatically grow someone’s muscle the same across everybody. This is because everybody’s muscles need different stimuli to overload and grow.
This means that for me, I will have to workout a different way than you do.
For instance, if you work construction you may need to workout way harder than someone who is sedentary to get that same muscle growth. However, you’ll likely have more muscle in general.
That’s kind of besides the point, but still, something to note.
So, If You Can Combine Intensity and Volume Into a SMALLER Timeframe – You’re Building Even More Muscle
So, when we take our two concepts and combine them into one- we can get good muscle growth, in less time.
So- really, if you do 400 reps in 2 hours, it’s no different than doing 400 reps in 30 minutes. Except it is- it’s actually BETTER for muscle growth.
If you’re able to combine intensity and volume into a smaller timeframe, you build even more muscle as you’re overloading the muscle even harder- causing more growth.
Except- there’s somewhat of a catch to all of this.
There’s A Catch – If We Don’t Rest, Our Muscles Can Fail, Resulting in NO Muscle Growth
So, there’s a big problem with all of this.
While it sounds simple to just do all the sets back to back non-stop- our bodies just cannot actually do that.
There’s a reason we rest in between sets. It’s to give our muscles time to refresh and reenergize before we lift again. If we try to lift again over and over without stopping- our muscles will fail.
When our muscles fail, it is a good thing and bad thing. If you’re doing a set to muscle failure, that is good because you are basically guaranteeing muscle growth as your muscle is being pushed to its limit.
However, if our muscles keep failing and we aren’t actually hitting those ‘rep ranges’ or numbers, we truly aren’t causing muscle growth. If we just pick up a dumbbell, and our muscle fails at 1 rep- sure, it’s causing tiny muscle growth, but not any that we really want.
We want our muscles to still be hitting those 6, 8, 10 rep ranges without failing- and the problem is, if we don’t rest we will probably find it very difficult to actually perform this task.
Our muscles NEED rest to keep performing. And that is where the whole problem of ‘shortening’ a workout down to 30 minutes lies. You need to somehow adequately hit those rep ranges with minimal rest- which isn’t an easy task.
There’s A Workaround – Supersetting
So, there is luckily a workaround to this to really shorten the workouts.
Supersetting. Supersetting is simply where you do one exercise, then do another exercise right away with basically no break in between.
- Read: How Do Supersets Work?
This cuts down on a ton of time in the gym, and actually increases your muscle gains as it creates more intensity to the workout.
Supersetting is the best way to gain the most muscle in as little time as possible.
For instance, you can turn an hour and a half workout down to 45 minutes with supersetting, and an hour workout down to 30 minutes or less.
Remember, all you’re really doing is just removing the rest time in-between exercises. We aren’t doing anything crazy except not sitting around for 1 minute after every set we do.
In fact, once you get so used to supersetting, it almost feels weird to sit around for 45 seconds to a minute after every single set.
Plus, you just feel more active and energized.
There are some drawbacks. It’s much easier to get tired while supersetting. And you’ll likely need a lot more energy and caffeine- plus the chance of you failing a set is a lot higher as well. It also takes more work, it’s easy to rest for a minute in between sets. It’s not as easy to keep going.
You Have To Do A LOT in 30 Minutes
There’s another catch to this all- you’ll have to do a LOT in 30 minutes to really build muscle.
As I mentioned, we will be supersetting and working our muscles hard. But, we cannot just do like 5 exercises.
We basically have to take a standard day of working out and compress it into 30 minutes. For most people, that will mean you will have to do a TON of lifting, sometimes in the upwards of 80-100 sets in a little amount of time.
Generally Speaking, You Will Still Get ‘Toned’ With a 30 Minute Workout, Even at Low Intensity
So, generally speaking, you will still get ‘toned’ with a 30 minute workout- even at low intensity.
And again, a lot of this depends on your goals. I know many people are going to the gym just to get a little bit shredded before summer comes up, and that’s okay.
You’ll still get that ‘tone’ factor and look much better. But, if you’re looking to put on serious muscle, you will have to spend more time in the gym.
No Time? Try Doing Multiple 30 Minute Workouts Throughout the Day
I know many people just don’t have the time to do a full 1-2 hour workout at once.
So, consider splitting that workout up throughout the day. When my schedule was really busy, I would do a 30 minute workout before college, then another hour workout after college ended for the day.
Is this the most ‘efficient’ idea? No, but it works. There are other ways you can do this better too.
For instance, if you’re able to get all of your shoulder work done on an arm day in the morning, then focus on the triceps/biceps in the afternoon- you’re still getting a really good workout.
Sure, it’s not as good as if you did it all in one, but it is still very much up there and will give you significant muscle growth.
Conclusion – Is A 30 Minute Workout Enough To Build Muscle?
So, yes and no. A 30 minute workout is enough to build muscle IF you are working hard, supersetting, and taking virtually no rest in between sets. This is very difficult and most people cannot do it.
Basically, you’ll want to spend at least an hour in the gym working hard. If you’re having problems finding that time, consider:
Splitting up the workout across the day
- For example, do 30 minutes of the workout in the morning, and the rest of it in the afternoon after work or school.
Supersetting/getting rid of most rest time.
- Instead of waiting 1-3 minutes inbetween each set, superset the workout. So, after your tricep set- go do a bicep set during that rest time. It will increase intensity, decrease time, and build more muscle.
So, if you’re limited on time- work hard and you should still see that muscle growth. And remember, this is about ‘serious muscle growth’, really any 30 minute workout will help tone your muscle, burn serious fat, and grow some muscle.