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How to have a Longer Workout

Updated on April 3, 2013
Me curling a dumbbell.
Me curling a dumbbell. | Source


You can build muscle, lose weight, increase your endurance and even improve some of your mental abilities by working out. Workout a lot and you can quickly get noticeable results. However workouts are often not as long and productive as they should be. Telling yourself that you are going to workout for a long time does not usually work. People get tired, sore, bored, distracted, or just don't feel like doing it. So they quit early or waste a lot of their workout time. However there are many ways to make the workouts longer and more productive. I use them to make my workouts longer.

Good Reasons

The first things you need are some good reasons to workout longer. You may want to burn more calories, increase your endurance or build more muscle. Maybe you just want to get results faster or feel a sense of accomplishment.

If you don't change the workout on a regular basis then you are not going to change your body. That is a great reason to increase the duration of the workout. One of my reasons is that I want to be in good enough shape to do the things I want to do when I want to do them.

Food And Drink

If you don't eat enough healthy food or you eat too much before your workout then the workout is going to suffer. After a nice healthy satisfying meal I can have a nice long workout. Eating fast food for supper usually results in a much shorter workout. I feel less energetic. So I have a difficult time working out. Even if you are trying to lose weight you should have a nice healthy satisfying meal before you workout. After a good meal I can burn over 1,500 during a workout. After an unsatisfying or unhealthy meal it is more like 300 calories or less.

Staying hydrated is also important. Make sure you drink a lot before and while working out. Take some quick drink breaks. Ideally you should be drinking water. I drink a lot of water before, during and after long workouts. You can last longer and perform better when you are hydrated. When a person is dehydrated they become weaker.

Me doing incline push ups.
Me doing incline push ups. | Source

High and Low Intensity

A good workout should include high intensity excises but high intensity workouts are usually short. You can not sprint or do a difficult weight lifting exercise for a long time. To make an intense workout last longer you can temporarily lower the intensity. When I do push ups I start with the more difficult variations like decline push ups. After tiring myself out I will switch to incline push ups. If I get really tired when biking I will slow down.

Lowering the intensity allows me to keep going without stopping. I can catch my breath and then increase the intensity again. It works for cardio and weight lifting exercises. I alternate the intensity between high and low to make the workout longer and more productive. Another advantage of changing the intensity is that it adds some variety to the workout, making it seem shorter. Low intensity workouts often feel like a waste of time because they usually are unless you are trying to relax, have fun or give your muscles more time to recover.

If you feel like you are wasting your time then increase the intensity or make it fun and relaxing. Relaxation is good for your health and you can't do intense workouts all of the time. I would never walk in my house for 45 minutes but most days I go for a 45 minute walk on a trail beside the woods. It is relaxing. I also play Wii sports games for fun. Near the end of most intense workouts you should reduce the intensity before you stop. Slow down or lift less weight for a few minutes and then stop.

Working my triceps and obliques  with side planks.
Working my triceps and obliques with side planks. | Source

Switching Muscles

Your muscles can only do so much. If your start to experience muscle fatigue or pain you can give the muscle a break while exercising a different muscle. Switch the exercise and you can switch the muscles that are used or use the muscles differently. For a workout I did push ups, dumbbell curls, leg lifts, shadow boxing, rope jumping and side planks. Then I did the routine two more times. Change the focus and you don't need to quit just because one muscle needs more time to recover.

Even a small change can make a big difference. I biked over 35 miles and could barely pedal any more. Then with only a very short break I went for a long walk. The biking only slightly reduced my ability to walk.


Taking a break can be good or bad. Long breaks are usually bad. Try to avoid them when possible. It is better to slow down or switch to a different exercise unless you need to get a drink. When you do take breaks in the middle of a workout try to keep them brief. Long breaks lead to shorter workouts. Some of the workout time is wasted and it is hard to get started up again. If I take a long break it usually means the end of the workout. You can rest after the workout is over.

Woman biking.
Woman biking. | Source


When I started jumping rope I tired out quickly so my jump rope workouts were short. My calf muscle were another problem. They would become sore and I had to stop to prevent injury. However my body adapted. As my endurance gradually improved I was able to increase the duration of the exercise. I did not tire as quickly and my calf muscle could last much longer. The body adapts.

I just needed to let my muscle recover and become stronger before exercising again. If you keep running, biking, jumping rope or lifting weights on a regular basis while trying to improve then your endurance can improve. That is why I can go for a 3 hour bike ride, run for two hours on my elliptical trainer or jump rope at a very fast pace for over 30 minutes.

Compete with yourself and keep trying to do a little better each time.


Running is normally a high impact exercise because your feet are pounding the ground. It is hard on your joints and other parts of your body. Low impact exercises are easier on your body. That means you can last longer before your body can not take anymore. It also takes less time to recover. When I run I like running on an elliptical trainer because it reduces the impact. It is easier on my knees, ankles and feet but the muscles still get a good workout. When I punch I use boxing gloves and a light punching bag so I don't hurt my hands. If an exercise is hard on your body there is more pain and a greater chance of injury. People can workout much longer and more frequently if they are not hurting themselves.

My elliptical trainer
My elliptical trainer | Source


Feedback is important when working out. It can tell you how long you have been working out and sometimes how hard. The displays on my elliptical trainer make it easier for me to run at a good pace for a long time. I know how long I want to run for and then I keep pushing myself until I reach that goal. I also know how fast I want to go and try to run at that pace. Sometimes I pick the duration and sometimes I pick the distance. When I bike, run, walk or swim outside my feedback is the scenery. I can see how far I have traveled and I can see approximately how fast I am traveling. While I don't check my watch while I am exercising I know approximately how long it will take me based on my previous experiences.

I can run or bike for hours if I am traveling somewhere outside or using an exercise machine with displays. Just running on the spot is different. There is less feedback so I don't usually last very long and I have trouble maintaining a fast pace.

Go Somewhere Outside

One of the best ways to have a longer workout is to workout outside. Run, bike, hike, canoe, kayak, swim or climb a mountain outside. When people do amazing physical feats requiring a lot of endurance they do them outside. Think marathons, triathlons, people swimming across lakes, groups of people biking over 60 miles. One day I biked nearly 60 miles. You may not be able to get outside very often and you probably don't want to do anything that extreme but going outside is a good way to have longer workouts. I see lots of people rollerblading, biking, running, kayaking or canoeing long distances while I am biking outside.

When you go somewhere outside under your own power finishing is not an option. If you don't finish you are stuck between point A & B. That is the main reason why my longest workouts have been outside.



Often people that are working out by themselves quit before they get a good workout. People that are working out with a trainer will usually try to keep going until they are given permission to quit. That is why a lot of people hire personal trainers, go to a workout class, buy exercise DVDs or buy a fitness video game with a virtual trainer. I have a kick boxing DVD. While watching the DVD I learned the basics. So I can do the exercises by myself. However I have trouble lasting 5 minutes by myself.

The exercise DVD is 45 minutes. When I watch the DVD I always last the full 45 minutes. I like using exercise videos to get me to workout for a longer period of time. Sometimes I watch two of them in a row.

For some workouts I need to take the control away from me and give it to a trainer. They decide when I stop. The only problem is that a DVD workout stays the same.

Be Your Own Trainer

You can act like your own trainer. Write down what you are going to do and then do everything in your list. First you make up the workout and then you do it. That way you are not asking questions like "How many more reps should I do?" or "Should I quit now?" while you are working out. Questions like that shorten the workout. Don't decide when you want to quit while you are exercising. While you are exercising you should be thinking about doing the exercise. If I don't make a detailed workout plan before I start exercising by myself then it hurts the quality and duration of the workout.

When exercising by yourself there is no one to give you encouragement. You don't hear someone saying "You can do it." or "Your doing great. Just a few more.". Hearing things like that is very helpful but you don't need someone else. Use self talk or talk out loud if you want to.

I use self talk when I workout. My favorites are "I can do it." and "I am powerful.". So far my longest workouts were the result of me deciding I wanted to do something and adding it to a to do list. I decided I wanted to run 12.5 miles on my elliptical trainer. That is the distance of the closest beach from my house. I kept increasing the distance and eventually I could run 12.5 miles on my elliptical trainer at a fairly fast pace. My longest bike rides involved me biking 37 miles to a beach. It took 3 hours. My longest weight lifting workouts were the result of me writing down a detailed workout plan.


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