When I tell people I only workout 3-4 days a week and my workouts last about 15-30 minutes they are surprised. There's a perception you have to "kill" yourself in the gym for hours and hours to get results. I actually just watched a re-run of Doogie Howser MD, and poor Doogie wanted to get buff for his girl, so he spent 3 hours in the gym and drank the infamous raw egg. Thanks Rocky!
The good news is that it's not necessary.
I believe there are three main factors for building muscle;
- Progression through "Failure" - By lifting a weight to a point you can't do any more, our body then has a reason to adapt and become stronger. Failure is the switch that tells our brain to build a muscle stronger so that it can do it the next time. Then by increasing the weight and reps each workout you continually become stronger.
- "Burning out" - Recent studies have shown that lactic acid is the precursor to Growth Hormone or exercise-induced growth hormone response (EIGR). So please "feel the burn" your body decides how much GH to release based on how much lactic acid is present.
- Recovery - (protein, sleep, and rest)
- If you don't get enough protein through diet, your body will still get what it needs by catabolizing other muscle tissue for it's amino acids. So you have a viscous cycle of building and burning muscle. Raw eggs are not a good protein option. You can avoid catabolizing muscle by eating a high protein diet, and getting protein at the 3 critical times; morning, post-workout, and before bed.
- Another important factor for recovery is resting muscles in between workouts. You should rest each muscle group at least 2-3 days, and longer if you are still sore. The soreness is your brain's warning that it is rebuilding muscle and you should heed that warning.
- Sleep is the other part of recovery, you should get 7-8 hours of solid sleep a night, to allow your body time to recover, and maximize growth hormone release.
My "Failure & Burn" workouts involve sets that begin with one-set failure exercises and end with, "Spike Gauntlet", a few exercises that are done without rest to burn-out and promote lactic acid.
When you workout with the "Failure-Burn" Principal you can get a great workout done in under 30 minutes, and with proper recovery you will be able to build muscle in the most efficient and healthy way possible.