Company_Man—Avocado had a good post. Lots of good advice here, I’ll just add my own 2 cents.
Free weights are far superior to machines in terms of calories burned and in terms of muscle growth. However, with only 30-45 minutes to train you need a very small learning curve because spending 30 minutes a day for 4 weeks learning how to properly deadlift and squat will wreak havoc on your overall volume of training.
I am assuming you will have to learn how to do those things on your own and from articles, with no one qualified to give you advice in person. In person it can be done easier, but it is very often confusing for beginners, even intelligent ones, to try and take written instructions and go from them.
You NEED back exercises–I didn’t see them listed at all. The back is more important for your physique.
Think of it this way–your goal is to burn fat and add muscle, correct? Then you should concentrate the most on the largest muscle groups and the least on the smallest. The largest muscle groups are your legs and back. They are most responsible for burning calories and fat. The bigger the muscle, the more energy it takes to run the damn thing, so the more calories it uses.
These, incidentally, also are responsible for posture and health in most otherwise sedentary individuals. The smallest are biceps and triceps. Use these facts to your advantage.
btw, I appreciate you reading the articles here and taking initiative on your own. We get a lot of people who ask all the questions but never get down and do something, or even try to read the articles on their own. Even if it isn’t ideal, it’s still SOMETHING, and something is better than nothing. Besides, educating yourself is the surest way to succeed at what you try, along with actually going out and doing it and persevering at it.
Also btw, it’s late and i’m sleep deprived so this post will be long, rambly, and maybe confusing. I’ll try to keep it sensical, or at least readable.
You have 5 days a week-- use most of them for lifting and 1 or 2 for cardio. Serious weightlifting is the fastest way to change your physique: it burns calories and adds muscle at the same time. Running does only one of those. Of course, in order to accomplish this, you HAVE TO LIFT AT A HARD LEVEL.
Doesn’t mean maxing out or anything, simply that you can’t “mail it in” and expect results. Remember that always. Doing 3 sets of 20 reps is going to do next to nothing. Not saying you are making this mistake, just a friendly reminder that you have to bust ass to get those benefits.
Avocado has a plan for you to lift MWF whole body (meaning legs, chest, and back each day), and do cardio on the other two days. I like this plan a lot. It has a lot to recommend it, and if you choose it I think you will see results. Training the whole body at once has the handy benefit of an increased amount of calories burned over training only 1 or 2 body parts, because the stress on your system is not localized to only 1 or 2 parts. The more muscles you can work at one time, the more calories you burn.
Avocado’s plan is simple, direct, and effective. Body part splits can work really really well too, so if you prefer that route or are more comfy with it we can help you there as well. There’s more than one way to solve your problem. However, I think you should give it a shot his way.
The only thing I will say is that you should not do Interval cardio at his same level. It would kill you, as you have mentioned. Interval cardio is hard and really stressful, so you have the right idea about starting with 5 minutes and going up from there. Don’t sweat it.
As far as leg days, if you don’t have any knee problems you can squat that much, but I would be careful with it. Not because the squat is an intrinsically dangerous or unhealthy lift, but because your level of experience may lead you to make bad technique mistakes, and you are not used to squatting that often. I say you should squat one day of the week, and do lunges 2 times a week, OR maybe deadlift or rack pull one time a week…
So we have lunge, squat, lunge… or squat, deadlift, lunge.
Don’t do ONLY leg work on these days, do 1 leg movement, 1 chest movement, 1 back movement, then one leg isolation movement (leg press, leg curl, whatever), then if you have time do another push/pull exercise pair (can be chest/back, or shoulders/back).
Pick different exercises for each of the 3 days. Example:
Mon— lunge, barbell bench press, seated row, leg curls
Wed—squat, incline press, pull-ups (bodywt. or assisted), leg press
Fri-----deadlift/rack pull, decline press, row variation, hack squat machine.
If you have time Mon, add shoulder press and chin ups/lat pulldowns. Or dumbell bench/another row variation. Pair horizontal with horizontal, and vertical with vertical.
You can alternate exercises to make them go quicker–chest, rest, back, rest, chest, etc.
Tues/Thurs cardio and abs/calves if you want. Again, you have the right idea about going slow on the interval training. Start slow, work up the time period. You could even warm up with a “regular” jog or biking period, do your interval training, and then cool down with a slow/easy jog time. 5 minute warm up, 5 minutes intervals, 10 minutes easy cool down = 20 minutes cardio.
Or 5 min warm up, 5 min interval, 10 min easy cool down, 5 min intervals, 5-10 minutes relaxing cool down = 25-30 minutes.
Hope all that made sense.