T Nation

Critique My Workout Routine Please...


BACKGROUND: Former college athlete working back into shape after 5 years behind a desk. I am trying to create a program that will help me get back into shape, increase strength and stamina. I am not wanting to get into any power lifting or olympic style lifts. I want to emphasize training my core, cardio endurance, and overall body composition/strength. My main constraint is time, as I train during my lunch hour. I have approx 30 minutes to train after driving two and from the gym, changing clothes, etc. Here is what my current routine consists of:

Monday - cardio -- 5min warmup, 30 seconds high intensity, 90 seconds steady pace -- 30 min total

Tues - Squats 7x7x7
Superset 1 Close-grip bench -- 2 sets of 8-10
Standing calf raise -- 2 sets 8-10
Superset 2 Dumbbell Woodchopper (low to high)-- 2 sets 8-10
Triceps Pressdown -- 2 sets 8-10
Superset 3 Romanian Deadlift -- 2 sets 8-10 ea side
Delt side raises -- 2 sets 8-10 ea side

Wed - cardio -- 5 min warmup, 1 min high intensity, 2 min steady pace -- 30 min

Thurs - cardio -- 5 min warmup, 10 sec high intensity, 50 sec steady pace -- 10 min
1 min high intensity, 2 min steady pace -- 10 min
30 sec high intensity, 90 sec steady pace -- 10 min

Fri - Deadlift 7x7x7
Superset 1 Bench press -- 2 sets of 8-10
Seated calf raise -- 2 sets 8-10
Superset 2 Bent over Barbell row -- 2 sets 8-10
Cable crunches (weighted) -- 2 sets 8-10
Superset 3 Cable Wood chopper (high to low) -- 2 sets 8-10 ea side
Hammer Curls alternating -- 2 sets 8-10 ea side

Sat - Outdoor activity approx 1 - 2 hours

I would appreciate any and all feedback. I am not a competitive bodybuilder/power lifter and do not aspire to be, just an average 31yr old joe trying to get back into decent condition.



Your workouts appear to be more cardio than strength training. There isn't much volume for each bodypart per workout, you are only doing 16-20 reps per bodypart. In my experience, this won't do much for growth.

Since you are doing cardio 3x a week as it is, you might be better off focusing on STRENGTH training during your workout days.

Since you have limited time, it would be better to do less. Maybe 3 exercises per session, but train intensely with heavy weights, doing 5x5 or something similar.

Here is something I would suggest:

Tuesday: Push Workout
Squat Variation (Squats from the bottom position, front squats, back squats)
Vertical Push (Overhead Press, Push Press, Weighted Dips)
Horizontal Push (Bench press, Dumbell Press, Floor Press, Pushups)

Thursday: Pull Workout
Deadlift Variation (conventional, sumo, from pins)
Horizontal Pull (Bent Barbell Rows, Dumbell Rows, Low Row Machine)
Vertical Pull (Pull up variations, Lat Pulldown Machine, Shrugs)

Switch exercises you do from week to week, especially for vertical pushes and pulls. One week do shrugs, the next do pull ups. For vertical pressing, one week do overhead pressing, the next do weighted dips. Also, do all vertical presses standing to build your core as well. Doing heavy squats and deadlifts along with standing presses WILL make your core grow, you may not get chiseled abs doing this, but you will get STRONG abs doing this.

Lastly, this should go without saying, but make sure you are eating properly, especially after working out. Working out during your lunch break makes me think that you may be skipping lunch. If this is so, make sure you start mixing shakes and drinking a nice solid post workout shake with a lot of calories. Not eating after working out is like shooting yourself in the foot, and will hinder any gains you may see.

Yours in Strength,


Thanks for the input, I lik eth push/pull split. I do have a post workout shake after every lifting session and eat 4 times during the day before eating a sensible meal with the family after work. Anyone else with an opinion?


"Superset 2 Dumbbell Woodchopper (low to high)-- 2 sets 8-10"

What kind of weight are you using? I used to do these way back, but including a little general conditioning in the form of axe, maul or sledge hammer work hits these muscles a lot more thoroughly. You could probably find something else to super-set.


Wrong site

For core, its called crunches, leg ups, side bends, etc. You know, abs and obliques.

Endurance, train for a marathon? Run hills?, Prowler? Pull a car?

For conditioning/strength, its called lifting weights. 3 set complexes would be a good start. EI: squat(3-5 reps), Jump squat(8-10 reps) and some leg plyo move(12-15 reps). 1 squat rack, 2 bars, 30 minutes tops and I guarantee (if done properly) you will be walking funny going out. Use a weight you can do 5-8 sets. once you reach 8 sets, add weight. BTW, this is an example, not written in stone.

or try Crossfit???


for the woodchoppers i use a 60lbs dumbbell held with both hands. its a move used quite a bit in baseball(my background). JFG sorry for soiling your site with my non-eliteist attempt........


cool. 60pound wood-choppers, forget what I said then.


I wouldn't even waste time doing calf raises given your goal and that you do running. I might even drop the direct arm work as well. If you're going for overall conditioning then compound lifts are the way to go.

Powerclean, clean and jerk, squat, deadlift, pull-ups, bench press, cgbp.

Maximize your time on the things above and don't worry about much else for now. Just pick 2 or 3 to do each time you work out and take a little more time so you can go heavier. I can't imagine doing Deadlifts 7 x 7 in addition to other things in a half hour workout. Yesterday I did 6 sets of Deadlifts (5, 5, 5, 5, 3, 2) and it took me a half hour on its own.


Calf raises are good for running and truth be told, to many people under-train the calves. Running will develop your calves a lot (esp high speed sprinting) but it's very lean muscle and some muscles are hit more intensely than others, you'll get a fuller calf development including the calf raises. Also, you'll run better, running at speed the calves tend to cramp up, many people end up with shin splints, it's just a smoother road.

being pressed for time you might want to drop them, but see if you can include them at the very end. that way if you have to drop them you can, but if not you can hit them hard. In the real world, moving at speed, for pretty much anything calf development is important.

plus a fully developed leg including the calf, conveys a look of power.


In my experience, crossfit is a waste of time if you only have 30 minutes 3x a week to devote to it and you haven't developed an awesome strength base to complete everything at. It's just not enough of any one type of training to make an impressive difference. For cardio, I got better results just completing different running workouts than I ever did from crossfit. The same goes for strength.

Other than that, this response is spot-on, great advice! You might want to try what I'm suggesting in my thread in this forum "Theory on Upping your Base Level" in addition to your 3 weekly workouts. It would allow you to just focus your three weekly workouts on size, strength, and power while not giving a second thought to cardio and bodyfat percentage.


it's not my site.

If you don't like the answer, don't ask the question.

Go lift and stop making excuses.