One Hour Gym Workouts
Sticking to short, high-intensity sessions may be tempting when time is tight. But if you have specific goals in mind, carving out an hour to exercise brings with it fitness benefits that micro workouts just can’t replicate.
Even if gyms are closed, or you’d just rather work out at home, an hour gives you plenty of time for a well-rounded routine with a proper warm-up and cool down. You could do a full body workout, target specific areas or work on your cardiovascular endurance. Plus, having 60 minutes lets you build the intensity over the course of your workout session.
Whether you’re prepping for a triathlon or an obstacle race, regular one hour exercise sessions at the gym are an excellent step in the right direction. Longer sessions are perfect for honing specific techniques to get you over the finish line, letting you work on foot strike, breathing patterns, pedal rhythm or pull-ups, for example.
But for maximum return on your time investment, having a solid workout plan in place is key. Pre-planning lets you move around the gym with purpose, without wasting precious time wondering what to do next.
In this article we’ll be covering:
- What are the benefits of a one hour workout?
- How many calories can you burn in one hour at the gym?
- How many one hour workouts should I do per week?
- Is one hour at the gym enough to get fit?
- Is a 60 minute workout better than a HIIT session for cardio?
- Can I do an hour gym workout everyday?
- What if I don’t have time for a one hour workout?
- 1 hour full body workout plan
- 1 hour HIIT workout plan
- 1 hour cardio workout plan
- 1 hour strength workout plan
- 1 hour kettlebell workout plan
Our 1 hour workout ideas below make a great starting point. But to get the most out of every minute, download the PureGym app. Totally free of charge even for non-members, the app lets you tailor your plan to both your goals and current level of fitness, from absolute beginners looking to build muscle, to athletes needing more variation.
What are the benefits of a one hour workout?
Whether squeezed into your lunch break or tacked onto your commute, one hour workouts can have huge benefits on your physical and mental wellbeing. Regular sessions that include both aerobic and resistance elements will put you well on your way to achieving (and even exceeding) the minimum amount of activity needed for good health.
Official recommendations from Public Health England state that adults should accumulate at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity (like brisk walking or cycling) per week or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity (such as running). In addition, the PHE suggests we do resistance training on two days per week, to develop and maintain strength in all the major muscle groups.
According to the government’s own report, achieving this amount of exercise is associated with better mental health and cardiovascular fitness, can contribute to a healthy weight status and can also have a protective effect on chronic conditions including coronary heart disease, obesity and type 2 diabetes.
Sixty minute sessions also allow time for a short stretching routine, helping you work on the third (and often overlooked) pillar of health after muscular strength and cardiovascular fitness: flexibility. From sprinters to bodybuilders, joint mobility is vital to athletic performance as it reduces the risk of injury and soreness. But it’s also important when it comes to maintaining posture and balance as we age, something that can significantly increase our quality of life.
How many calories can you burn in one hour at the gym?
The number of calories burned in a 1 hour gym workout depends on many factors such as your height, weight, body composition, so this number will vary person to person and the activity and intensity, so it will also vary workout to workout.
For example, if you weigh 11 stone (154 lbs, or just under 70kg), your estimated calorie burn is 224 calories for an hour’s weightlifting, 520 calories on either the stationary bike or rowing machine at a moderate intensity, 670 calories on the elliptical trainer or 744 calories for one hour on the treadmill running at 6mp.
Whilst it may be useful to know how much calories you might be burning to take into consideration your energy balance, tracking calories isn't for everyone and it isn't necessary. Completing a workout in order to reach a calorie target or exercising to burn calories would not be recommended and could do more harm than good, so it's important to consider whether tracking would be beneficial for you.
How many 1 hour gym workouts should I do per week?
This depends on your needs, fitness abilities and goals.
If you haven't exercised for some time or are new to working out, it's a good idea to start with one to three one-hour gym workouts per week and focus on showing up consistently and then gradually build up from there if you want to.
Ask yourself how many sessions would be feasible for you to realistically stick to. Trying to squeeze in 5 workouts per week when you can only realistically manage 3 workouts per week will not be sustainable and would more likely leave you feeling a failure because you keep missing two workouts and forgetting that you are doing well by keeping active and going to the gym consistently three time per week.
If you are working our regularly, always make sure to include enough time for rest in-between sessions to allow your enough time to recovery from your gym workouts.
Is one hour in the gym enough to get fit?
When it comes to building strength, an hour-long session is more than adequate for both beginners and intermediates. It will allow you time for a 5-10 minute warm-up, 40-45 minutes of weight training and 5-10 minutes of cooling down and stretching.
But is one hour enough to remain healthy? That all depends on what you do for the other 23. Even if you hit the gym every day, you’d still be classed as ‘sedentary’ if you then sat immobile in your work and leisure time, with all the health risks this incurs.
In a fascinating 2015 study, 28 Premier League footballers wore activity trackers for a week. Researchers found that, apart from matches and training, they were ‘alarmingly’ inactive for 80% of their non-playing time, with the majority of their day spent not moving at all. Researchers believed this still put them at higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, regardless of the effort they put in on the pitch. The solution? Go for a few short strolls and engage in some light activities in addition to your scheduled 1 hour exercise sessions. In a controlled trial, just two minutes of walking every 20 minutes was enough to reduce insulin levels and lower blood pressure.
Is a 60 minute workout better than a HIIT session for cardio?
This will depend on what your training and health goals are.
Short, super-high-intensity workouts can help to improve speed, strength, power and aerobic fitness, particularly if you're short on time. However, performing high intensity workouts are likely to be more physically demanding which will likely mean you need more time to recovery from training. Ensure you get a good amount of rest in-between sessions.
Longer, less intense cardio sessions of up to an hour can help to improve cardiovascular endurance, lunge capacity and are usually not as physically demanding. This type of workout would likely mean you will need less time than HIIT training would require to recovery, so over the span of a week, you could do more running sessions.
Both workouts are valid. Do what is best for you and what's aligned with your training goals.
Can I do a one hour gym workout everyday?
You can, but you do need to be sensible. Lifting weights that target the same body part each day brings with it increased risk of injury and over-training. Without adequate recovery time you could overload your joints and tendons.
If you wish to weight train every day, consider targeting different parts of your body, such as upper and lower, and training them on alternate days. Or alternate the intensity of your sessions, with active recovery sessions in between more challenging cardio sessions, for example.
Remember, more doesn't necessarily mean better results. Rest and recovery in-between session is just as important as your training. Make sure to allow yourself enough time to recover from your workouts.
What if I don’t have time for a one hour workout?
Can’t block out an entire hour to exercise? Don’t sweat it, because doing something is always better than doing nothing. Time constraints are often cited as a barrier to exercise with many under the mistaken belief that if they don’t workout for a full hour, it’s not enough to benefit.
But while it’s true that you’ll see greater improvements the more work you put in, sometimes the biggest battle is just getting through the gym door. Even if you can only find time to work out for 20 minutes, it’s still worth going to remain consistent with your exercise habit.
1 hour full body workout
What it’s good for: Improve your cardiovascular fitness and work all the major muscle groups with a full body workout that you can fit into your lunch break.
What you’ll need: For this routine you’ll need to use a stationary bike, a mat and a bench or step, a weighted barbell that you can comfortably squat with and dumbbells that you can chest press,
How it works: Warm up for six minutes on the exercise bike at a low resistance level, aiming for a range of 80 to 90 RPM. After your warm up, perform each of the exercises for 30 seconds with a 30 second rest in between. Do the workout three times then include a short stretching routine of static stretches at the end.
- Dumbbell squats
- Mountain climbers
- Dumbbell chest press on bench
- Back raises
Not sure how to do all the moves? Here’s an explanation of all the moves you’ll need. Or discover some other smart ways to do cardio.
1 hour HIIT workout
What it’s good for: HIIT can help you build muscle endurance and improve your cardio fitness, and this workout will also work your entire body. But because each interval is meant to be intense, you shouldn’t keep going for minutes on end even if you have a whole hour to fill. Stick to 30 second intervals with 30 seconds’ rest in between so you can really give each set your all.
What you’ll need: For this routine you’ll need a kettlebell (we suggest 8kg to 10kg for a beginners, 12kg to 14kg for intermediate and advanced) and a mat. Choose a weight you feel comfortable using with good technique.
How it works: Warm up your body. Then perform four sets of 30 seconds on/30 seconds rest with a one minute rest between sets.
- Bodyweight squats
- Mountain climbers
- Kettlebell swings
- Ab bikes
- Alternating lunge
- Sit up touching knees
- Leg raises
- Plank from knees
Not sure how to do all the moves? Here’s an explanation of all the HIIT and abs exercises we’ve included so you can perfect your technique.
1 hour cardio workout
What it’s good for: Love the treadmill? Adding a once-a-week interval run to your usual steady state cardio routine can improve your speed, and help you hit a new PB on your next 10k.
What you’ll need: For this routine you’ll need a treadmill but you can use a ski-erg, assault bike, rower, exercise bike if you prefer.
How it works: During your run you’ll do short bursts at a higher intensity. We’ve used sprints, but you could just as easily adjust the incline on the treadmill to include some hill intervals. During the work periods, you should be exerting yourself hard enough that talking would be difficult, while during the rest period you should fully recover, even if that means walking instead of jogging.
- Warm up with a light jog or brisk walk for 10 minutes
- Work: run for one minute, giving it an 8 out of 10 effort
- Recover: walk or jog for two minutes
- Repeat 10 times
- Cool down with a light jog or brisk walk for 5 minutes
- Stretch to cool down
1 hour strength workout
What it’s good for: This workout involves using progressive overload so you’re constantly challenging your body, helping it get stronger. You can increase the intensity by upping the number of reps you perform each session, or by increasing the weight you choose. It’s important to get the technique right first, so read our beginner’s guide to training with free weights if you’re new to lifting.
What you’ll need: For this routine you’ll need to use a barbell and dumbbells at weights that challenge you, but allow you to complete your reps. You’ll also need to have rest days in between sessions to rebuild muscle fibres and to avoid risk of injury.
How it works: Warm up your body. Then perform 8-10 reps of each of the exercises for 4 sets, concentrating on your form. Rest one minute in-between sets. You’ll also have time for a stretching routine at the end.
1 hour kettlebell workout
What it’s good for: Looking for a one-hour exercise routine that ticks all your boxes? Kettlebell workouts give you a resistance and cardio workout in one.
What you’ll need: For this routine you’ll ideally need two kettlebells, a lighter one for the upper body exercises, a heavier one for the leg work. If you’re a beginner, try a 6kg to 8kg kettlebell for the upper body, switching to a 10kg to 12kg for your legs. Not challenging enough? Start with a 10kg to 12kg kettlebell for your upper body, then try a 14kg to 16kg for your legs.
How it works: Warm up your body. Make sure your warm-up also includes slow, controlled wrist and neck circles, shoulder circles and glute activation exercises. Then perform one set of each kettlebell moves back-to-back to keep your heart rate up. Do the entire kettlebell workout three times then a short stretching routine at the end.
- 10 kettlebell sumo squats
- 10 kettlebell single arm swings (each side)
- 10 kettlebell side lunges (each side)
- 10 kettlebell press and overhead tricep extensions
- Kettlebell plank drag-throughs, 40 seconds each
- 10 kettlebell V-sit Russian twists
Not sure how to do all the moves? Watch them demonstrated by our PureGym kettlebell workout instructor to perfect your technique before you start
These one-hour workouts make a great starting point, but if you’ve got a specific goal in mind, our Personal Trainers can help get you there. Book in a session and they’ll put together a personalised plan based on your aims and fitness level. Tight on time? Try one of our classes. With cardio, strength building, circuits, HIIT and more, they let you workout for 20 to 60 minutes, so you don’t waste a single second.