I am a CS student and hence spend long hours sitting on my desk. I am trying to establish a routine targeted towards cardio (since I have had asthma in the past) and building muscle mass(since my upper body is rather skinny).

My current routine is basically :

  • Cardio

    • Mild Stretching
    • Walking 1.5 km, 15 min
    • Jogging, started with a 5 minute jog covering around 950m. Add 15-20 seconds every few days, with proportional increments in distance.
    • Walking, around >1km, dependent on jogging distance
  • Muscle

    • Crunches, sets of 10, adding a set every few days. Currently at 5 sets.
    • Sit-ups, sets of 10, adding a set every few days. Currently at 3 sets.
    • Push-ups, sets of 10. Currently at 2 sets.

I usually do cardio and muscle on alternate days. Sometimes, if I am up to it, I do them together as well. I tend to stay out of gyms, and for now, there is no gym nearby.

What should I add to either routine to make them more effective? Total duration including warm-up and cool-down should ideally be ~1 hour.

  • There should be cardio before every muscle strengthening session.
    – Freakyuser
    Jul 6, 2013 at 3:25
  • Its really hard to say what to add or remove from your current plan, as you haven't really stated your goals. What is "more effective" for you? Where do you want your fitness level to be in 6, 12, 24 months?
    – user2861
    Jul 6, 2013 at 5:49
  • @LegoStormtroopr As far as jogging is concerned, my current target is to be able to cover around 2 km in 15 min in the next 2 months. I am not sure how to quantify the getting stronger and building muscle mass goal.
    – asheeshr
    Jul 6, 2013 at 6:14
  • 2 thoughts: consider warming up before stretching Jul 6, 2013 at 6:45
  • 1
    3 thoughts: 1. Consider warming up before stretching or doing dynamic warm ups. 2. Consider abdominal exercises rather than crunches/sit-ups. 3. Because you work long hours at a desk, check out this postural exercise question. Jul 6, 2013 at 6:55

2 Answers 2


The question was to how to make your routines more effecive.

Since you are working long hours at the desk, you should make sure that you move a bit every hour, see this research that says that the drawbacks of sitting for longer period of times can't be nullified by exercise at the end of the day. So perhaps this would be the biggest improvement for getting effect from your work-out routine.

Regarding your cardio, for variation and maybe as a core workout (core in the sense of being the highest priority), you should look at high intensity workouts, see this research from Norway. Basically, it says that you improve your VO2max etc with only 4 minutes of exercise 2-3 times per week. If you want to improve your running, the 15s run - 15s rest protocol is great (both my own experience and also mentioned in the research article)

Regarding your muscle workouts, you are working too small muscle groups with your exercises. Aim for exercises that engage your posterior chain. If your are outside of a gym, you could go for burpees. Instead of situps, which can be bad for your back, go for variants of the plank exercise.

  • 1
    For muscle days, I have incorporated body weight squats (24), body weight lunges(12x2), planks(1x60sec), single leg planks(2x30sec) and burpees(5-10reps) and stopped with sit-ups and crunches. For my running days, I am sticking to my current routine (for now).
    – asheeshr
    Jul 9, 2013 at 3:17

This won't build muscle or improve cardio, but you may want to consider asking your advisor for a standing or adjustable desk (good luck!) or rigging one yourself. I try to work standing up at least for an hour a day, I just put my laptop on a bookcase. If I am just reading something I will also try to do it standing up. Man (and woman and child) was not meant to sit in a chair for 8+ hours day after day.

  • I put my laptop on a pile of books and work off it for sometime daily. I do a bit of reading while standing as well.
    – asheeshr
    Jul 10, 2013 at 2:28

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