When I first started "working out", at the age of 13, I was still buying into those infomercials. I mean if the guys looked jack and their using the bowflex, that means the bowflex would make me jacked right? Well being the cheap-skate that I am I bought a bandflex, yes ladies and gentlemen that is how I started working out, with a bowflex knock off.
I mean, I did experience some newbie gains. Since I had never tried seriously working out before and I hadn't fully hit puberty yet even sneezing would have gotten me some abs. Suffice to say I was consistent every other day with the bandflex, and I was getting results. At one point I decided that if I was doing every other day with such success then every day would be even better. Well, as it turns out, it wasn't true. In fact I was spinning my wheels, because quite frankly I was receiving better results with the every other day program.
Memories of my glory days aside, I would later learn that what I discovered was the law of diminishing returns. In economy this law pretty much states that more isn't always better and in fact the return can even become negative compared to how much more you're adding.
The funny thing is, in training this is also true.
Let's look at it this way; working out two days a week may get us double the results of one day, working out three days will add to that by another 50% to those results from two days a week, and working out 4 days a week may add another 25% to the three days. As we keep going, the results we add with the amount of days we work gradually decrease. Basically, we're putting in more time and not getting much more out of it.
In all honesty, for most people, 3-4x a week of training is the sweet spot. This does not mean that the other 3-4x a week we're not doing anything, by all means we want to still be active on our off days. That might just mean taking our dog for a walk, or playing some pick up basketball.
What I am saying is that in regards to training, you're best off not wasting your time.
This same law can be applied for what we do in the session as well. More exercises are not always better, in fact we're better off spending 1 hour in the gym rather than 2.
I like the quote from EXOS Performance Coach Brett Bartholomew, "Simple things done savagely well". Simple. At the end of the day, the best way to put the Law of Diminishing Returns is to not over-complicate things. If you feel like your wasting your time training, odds are you're doing too much.