Bare Minimum of Training to Keep in Shape and Healthy

Has anyone here ever come to the point in which these are the goals, and nothing else or more.

I was thinking of putting this in the Over 35 forum, but I think the topic can be used in either forum. Being that I will not compete anymore (one show wonder here) and have other priorities now, heath being a foremost concern, along with time and reduced risk of injury, I have made up my mind that for now, and possibly a long time or forever, I just want to “keep in shape” and “exercise”. I really never thought I would take on this mentality after becoming again so passionate about bodybuilding last year, but life does things to people, for me specifically, making me realize that I need more time in my weeks, more flexibility and spontaneity (in and out of the gym), and more energy as well.

As we all know, there’s no burning a candle at both ends with good results. And as I’ve said over and over, if I were younger I would compete again. But like, I can’t go back in time.

So, what do you all think of this idea of maintenance and health, and that’s it? Have you ever come to this point, for a long time or forever.

I plan on using very few or no barbell exercises and sticking with dumbbells, bodyweight exercises, cables, and machines. I no longer want to invest in 90+ minute session in the gym and take a toll on my body with gut wrenching exercises. I just plan on maintaining some muscle mass, perhaps even losing some, lifting three times per week on a full body or upper split, and light cardio topping it all off.

For those who’ve come to this point or did in the past, what did you do?


I quite often think about this, will be interested to follow this thread.

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Thanks. Well as one can see from my personal thread in the BB section, I am now doing an upper-lower split, with the lower sessions being physical therapy for my injury rehabilitation. I go to a GREAT PT and the sessions are actually quite taxing. For example a session can consist of Pilates ab drill, kneeling squats, lying barbell hip thrusts, one-legged squats, renegade rows, cable one-legged stiff-leg deadlifts, all proceeded by stretches and foam rolling.

My other two upper sessions are simply one bench variation (dumbbells, cables, or machine), one should press variation, row variation, pullup or lat pulldown variation, curl, and a tricep extension.

When I am rehabbed I plan to move on to thrice weekly full body sessions. I am interested in using the recent full body template Paul Carter put out, considering I think it’s a good setup.

So perhaps first session of the week would look like this:
Goblet squat
Stiff legged dumbbell deadlifts
Hammer Strength row
Pec dec flies
Machine lateral raises
Superset machine curls and machine tricep extensions (machines are next to each other in gym)

Session 2
Hammer Strength incline press or incline db press
HS shoulder press or standing dumbbell press
Dip or machine dip
Incline db curls
Leg extensions
Leg curls
Stiff-Arm pushdown or machine pullover

I’ll do some other stuff for the other sessions similar to above.

Interesting question and I think it reflects shifting priorities in your life. I decided to pursue a career as a golf pro in 1999 at the age of 36 with the idea of getting a job as an Assistant Pro, practicing hard, and preparing myself to play on the Senior PGA Tour when I turned fifty.

While I had some success, I won my PAT Tournament, finished second and third in a few others, I discovered that in order to compete at that level, I would have to make sacrifices that would impact the quality of my life, and frankly, I just wasn’t willing to make those sacrifices. I have no regrets.

I had my first child in 2003 and of course, that changed everything. Since I went back to teaching in 2004, I’ve played maybe a dozen times. I do miss it, but I’d rather hang out with both of my kids (I had a son in 2006).

My daughter has shown little interest in golf, but my son has, and so we go hit balls, chip and putt, have some ice cream, and talk about everything. I suspect I will get him on the golf course this year, and then all bets are off if he likes it. I can easily see us playing 2-3 times per week.

So my love for the game never went away, it just dropped on my list of priorities. I still have fun if I shoot ninety, and once in a while I’ll break eighty, but I still love it.

I suspect your enjoyment of body building will be similar. And, I suspect that with the base you have, you can maintain your level of fitness without spending hours in the gym. Of course, when mini Brick arrives, you can get your cardio in with a good quality stroller, body weight plus kid squats, kid curls and OHP’s, etcetera.

You’re a pretty reflective dude, so I know you’ll get it figured out. I frequently get up at 3:30 AM so I can lift before school (my first class is at 7:21). That way, I can be home with my kids at 3:00 PM. Of course, I hit the rack early, but my wife is home by then and she gets to have her time with them.

I bet you can maintain on three days a week for an hour, and a few half hour LISS sessions. You’ll find your groove.

It will work out, and it will all be worth it.

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@BrickHead How old are you exactly?

@bulldog9899 37 years old.

My neighbors father is 52 and he lifts twice a week and hikes every Saturday. He’s jacked and lean for an older person (no disrespect to anyone older out there).

I think lifting twice a week and some sort of conditioning 1-2x a week plus eating generally well can go a long way. I know once my first kid comes into the picture I’m gonna have to drop down to lifting twice a week for sure.

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Great topic BrickHead.

I have not long ago retired from football which is something I have done forever and have kept me in decent shape. Retiring from the sport has made me think about my priorities and where how I want to manage my health and fitness. The minimal approach is something that interests me

Im still experimenting, but I have reduced my gym session to 2-3 times a week, in which I do a strength movement (about 5 sets) followed by a superset of accessory movements (3 sets). I play around with body-weight movements for my warm-ups, including handstands against the wall and animal crawls, along with some push-ups and squats which are more so for mobility and “health”.

For “cardio”, once a week I get on my bike and do sprint repeats up hills.

For my diet, I have adopted more of a low carb approach as I am no longer running 15-20 km’s a week. At the moment Im doing less than 100 grams most days, with 2-3 carb refreed meals a week. Although this is all an ongoing experiment.

Ill be interested to see what you come up with.


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I can speak to this a little bit, having just had a kid myself and having to “work around” that a little bit.

Wendler has some 2-day-a-week programs and states the people on them he knows do quite well. I know you were talking about avoiding those kinds of lifts, but the point stands that you can progress, or certainly maintain, on a minimal amount of exercise. Dr. Mario DiPasquale used to lift on the weekends only and he set records I believe.

When I dabbled with some full body stuff, that I liked more in some aspects that standard BBing training, it was very inspired by Waterbury… Some kind of push/pull/leg exercise in every session and then vary the rep ranges and training style. It lends itself well to an unpredictable schedule where you might have to go 2-3 days without getting the gym, in which case you just do the Next workout. For example:

Workout 1: 10x3 of Squats, overhead press, weighted pull ups (done it a circuit usually) - 10 minutes HIIT

Workout 2 : 2x12-24 of push ups, lunges, inverted rows - 10 minutes HIIT

Workout 3 : 8x3 (“explosive” style reps) jumps, med ball throws, Oly lifts medley (pick 3-5 exercises that are explosive and go through a circuit 8-10 times), or a workout of complexes

Workout 4: 3x8 of Dips, pull ups, trap bar deads - 10 minutes HIIT

Obviously you’d have to modify that for your equipment and goals, but it basically hits everything in every session and its only 3 lifts per, so its very doable time wise. If you have the luxury of doing it in a circuit fashion its quite a good “cardio” workout as well. Doing this kind of training kept me much more athletic, lean, and mobile than the standard once-a-week BBing stuff.

Honestly there are so many good 3 day a week options Waterbury has on this site you could run them for years. Waterbury Method and the Waterbury Summer Project would be a good place to start to get some inspiration.

The Paul Carter full body split looks good too… Just don’t get carried away with the number of exercises per session. If you are like me, moderating your effort will be very difficult, so the route I took was to moderate my exercise selection and volume. I’m not real good at “taking it easy” so I just pick 3 lifts a day and have at it for the predetermined rep scheme for the day. I would pick something more like Ben Bruno’s Power of 3 program and adjust it to your needs.

Speaking a little more to your situation: Having a kid doesn’t have to be the end of the game. Yes, it should cause you to take stock of your priorities and you shouldn’t neglect your child to lift weights, but really three 60 minute sessions is very doable. Infants nap a lot, thats exactly when I sneak away and go train. I’m sure you and Stu have talked about it as well.

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Corey Everson used to mention that she was able to keep a very impressive physique (didn’t look like she had lost much muscle if any at the time) simply by hitting the gym 3x a week. Now I don’t know if any PEDs were involved, as she wasn’t a young woman when she was saying this, but I think most people have managed to at least maintain quite well on more infrequent approaches.

I remember when I was juggling my full time teaching requirements with what turned out to be pretty much full time (albeit “freelance” in name) animation work. I was barely getting to the gym 3 times each week, often times with 2 of those sessions being on weekends. In hindsight I don’t think I really lost any ground at all. For someone who is already at a respectable level, switching over to a “real life” gym split certainly shouldn’t be the end of the world.


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I would think push/pull/legs with a couple of days steady state cardio would be ideal.

That’s how I always imagine my training’ll eventually evolve

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[quote=“BrickHead, post:1, topic:227354”]
I just plan on maintaining some muscle mass, perhaps even losing some[/quote]
At our age, I’m not sure intentionally losing muscle is a good idea at all. Too many overall benefits to strength, health, and metabolism. If it’s in order to walk around at a lighter bodyweight, I’d make one last (??) push to drop a little bodyfat (without resorting to intense cutting, of course) before being okay with muscle loss.

Other than that, sounds like all solid approaches suggested so far. I’d settle on 2-3 days of whatever split kept my attention - avoiding muscular failure and making joint-conscious exercise choices, and have a few days of 30-60 minutes of non-stop movement (playing with a kettlebell, treadmill, bike, neighborhood jog, tennis, handball, whatever). Basically Berardi’s general idea of “5 hours of exercise per week”. Add a handful of specific-to-you mobility drills on a regular basis and you’re pretty well-covered.

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Not sure if I should comment given that I’m 23, but I saw the best results of my life after switching to 2-3 days of lifting a week and throwing in.conditioning where I have time. I move quick in my sessions and superset everything really with the exception of deads since theyre my primary focus. Before I started training this way, I could pull 405 for a few, and after awhile I was pulling 405 for 12 after volume sets and maxed at 540. I then tore a tendon in my wrist, fucked up my knee due to too much lower volume mixed with a labor job, and pulled my low back. This put me out for three months of heavy anything, but I went back a couple of weeks ago and still pulled 405 for 6 after 225x2x12 and 315x2x10, and proceeded to hack squat (or behind the back deadlift) 520 a day later. TL;DR switching my training to 2-3 days a week has changed my life and the way I look at training. I eat what I want, break PRs all the time, and look better than ever. Do it mane


I think conditioning is the missing ingredient to everyone’s training. Ever since I’ve added in conditioning 2-3x a week my PRs started jumping.

I think 3 days lifting, 2 days hard conditioning, 1 day hiking/outdoor activity, and 1 day yoga/recovery is the perfect mix for anyone.

And indeed ‘longevity’ itself being correlated with LBM levels.

I’m 51 and I am a Waterbury convert.

I feel lost when I don’t go to the gym m but I also don’t want to spend 6 days a week there.

Good post.

I think SOME muscle mass lends to good health, but I don’t think the more muscle one gains that health improves along with it. For example, I don’t think some guy who packed on 25 pounds of muscle is healthier than some guy who packed on ten pounds of muscles.

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I think the idea would be that you could afford to lose more of it as you got older. If you only have 10 “extra” pounds of LBM to lose as you age then losing 10 could debilitate you, but if you have an extra 25 you are still okay, just not in as great of shape as you were 10 years ago.

These are problems for 80-100 year olds though


This is pretty much my current program. I’m 36 with 2 young sons, full time job etc. I also have the advantage (like many of you here) of over 20 years of a training base, so it doesn’t take much to maintain a good level of shape.

I basically do Arnold’s Big Six program 2-3 times per week, and run 2 times. Keeps me healthy, happy and looking good - pretty much the extent of my training goals right now. I know, not very ‘hardcore’, but it fits in perfectly with the rest of my family, work and general life responsibilities.

Kind of interesting, because while I also ponder this from time to time (only being a few years younger than you, but expecting kids soon and thinking “What will I do if I can only train 20-30 minutes daily, 3-5 days per week?”) but have arrived at a vastly different answer than…

…my answer would be:

2 days per week: deadlift, maybe half a dozen singles between 315-405
2 days per week: easy run, 20-30 minutes (convert to walk at older age)
1 day per week: yoga class
Every day: as much ambient activity (walking) as possible
Play around with my kettlebells when possible