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All. I am a busy male engineer and father in my mid 20s. I try to ensure that I get 1.5 hours in every day for working out. I've been consistent for almost a year now, and I've had good results. I've worked out with off and on consistency during college. But I don't know that much about what I'm doing. I worry that I'm missing certain muscle groups or key areas for overall health. I've looked around online, but I haven't found evidence-backed advice on how to optimally fill my allotted workout time that meets my goals. Here are my goals:

  • Increase longevity and quality of life, mentally and physically
  • Increase my physical attractiveness

I am not trying to be extremely strong, and I'm not trying to be a model. I just want to be fit and have a good appearance, and use that time as effectively as I can. So here's what I'm doing right now:

  • Even Days
    • Pull Ups (5 sets)
    • Rows (5 sets, first three sets increase weight, last two decrease)
    • Bench Press (5 sets, first three sets increase weight, last two decrease)
    • Military Press (5 sets, first three sets increase weight, last two decrease)
    • Bicep Curls (3 sets, first two increase, last one decrease)
    • Tricep extensions (3 sets, first two increase, last one decrease)
    • 20 minutes of Yoga and stretching.
    • 1-2 miles of running if possible
  • Odd Days
    • Free-body Squats (3 sets)
    • Front leg curls (3 sets)
    • Back leg curls (3 sets)
    • Inductor/abductor extensions (3 sets)
    • Butt raises (3 sets)
    • Back exercises (bend forward 3 sets, once with weight)
    • Two types of ab exercises (switch it up sometimes)
    • Run 1-2 miles if I have time
    • 20 minutes of Yoga and stretching.
  • Sometimes I'll trade working out for biking to work and back (24 miles total)

I just do the same thing over and over, and I want to make sure that I'm not missing something important, and that I'm balancing exercises appropriately. Any advice is appreciated. Thanks!

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One possible difficulty I see is overtraining, a physical condition where your body - either as a whole or specific muscle groups - is been put under too much or too frequent stress for an optimal growth path.

Too many reps, too low intensity

If I were you, I would start training much less and in turn increase intensity as described here by Jeff Cavaliere. The reason is the following: If you're doing 5 sets a 8 (?) repetitions of any exercise, you put too much stress in terms of duration and too little stress in terms of intensity on the muscle. If you can do 5 sets of 8 pull-ups, for example, you would be much better off, doing 1-2 sets of 6-8 weighted pull-ups (say, 5-10kg). The additional training time you put in does not help, it may even harm your gains.

Too few rest days

The second aspect is rest time. As I understand, you switch exercises every other day. This is very good in the beginning but as you get more experienced and since you already have been training consistently for a year, your muscles will need more time to adapt. I cannot say whether that stage is reached for you but it is something you should definitely keep in mind should you see that your gains slow down considerably.

Running

My last point is about your running training. You write that you run 1-2 miles every other day. This is okay as long as you are having fun with it but it is not clear whether it achieves anything. Endurance-wise it would be more effective to just go running once a week but then for at least 40-50 minutes. (It is the same too many reps, too low intensity-principle here.) If you are running only 1-2 miles because you want to increase your speed, it would be better if you did one interval (say, half a mile fast for 5 times with breaks of slow running between) training session per week rather than 7 1-2 mile sessions. But here it's really about your goals/motivation for the running sessions.

  • 5 sets of 8 is definitely not 'too much' – Gunge Feb 20 '17 at 8:06
  • Your sources? I cited mine. You will not be able to hit maximum weights by doing that many repetitions. – eigenvector Feb 20 '17 at 8:40
  • 1 person does not a source make. This review paper recommends a frequency of 2-3 sessions per muscle group a week for novice to moderately trained individuals. This review suggests strength gains in beginners are optimized by training three times a week. As one gains more experience and ability, a two-day split (like push/pull or upper/lower) is suggested as the optimal set-up. – Gunge Feb 20 '17 at 8:55
  • I appreciate your sources but they only relate to the number of trainings per week. Where is the source that recommends doing 5 sets of 8 in a single in a single day? – eigenvector Feb 20 '17 at 9:09
  • I could point you to a large number of programmes but I'll stick to one: German Volume Training. For more information on the muscular growth response of different rep ranges please read this article by well respected Powerlifter Greg Nuckols – Gunge Feb 20 '17 at 9:55

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