My goal with weight training is:

  • increase testosterone production (I am in my 40s) => heavy compund exercises
  • strengthen posterior chain (I sit at a desk all day long)
  • spend as little time as possible

At the moment I am training twice a week with the same program both days:

  • Deadlift
  • Pulldowns
  • Benchpress
  • Stability exercise

I want to add squat to my program. One specific reason for this is that I have had meniscus operation on one knee and the doctor specifically mentioned that strengthening the muscles around the knee would be good. (Shoulder press seemes to be mentioned as one of "the big four" compound exercises which seem to indicate that it is important. So maybe I should add that as well?) However I do not have the mental concentration to do squat on the same day as deadlift. How can I create a simple program that solves this?

I considered training three times a week with two different programs. However then I would do each exercise only 1.5 times a week. Is not this too little? At the time I am only doing 3 sets. If I increased this to 4 sets the total number of sets would be the same. Not sure if this is the same though.

Training 4 times a week with two different programs would solve this.

However 4 times a week is a lot. Then I think my program should also involve some high intensity interval cardio.

I would like to run on a threadmill + use a row machine as interval training. I guess running on the threadmill the same day as the squat would be difficult?
On the other hand rowing conflicts with the back exercises.

How can I best solve this?

  • 1
    i would suggest looking at Starting Strength program or (similar) 5x5 Stronglifts. These are standard novice programs that can help you get to 300lbs squat in ~6 months. No need to design your own program. After that take a look at "intermediate" programs, such as 5/3/1 Jan 25, 2018 at 17:29

2 Answers 2


Please consider the Starting Strength Program, which aligns well with your goals of strengthening your posterior chain and maximizing training-time efficiency:

The Starting Strength Program is the best program for a Novice to develop the strength that will serve as the basis for all future training as well as increase performance in life and sports.

The initial Starting Strength Novice Program alternates the two following schemes across workout sessions separated by 48 to 72 hours:

  • Workout A

    • Squat 3x5
    • Press 3x5
    • Deadlift 1x5
  • Workout B

    • Squat 3x5
    • Bench Press 3x5
    • Deadlift 1x5

The squat and deadlift, especially, provide the stimulus to strengthen your posterior chain.

I recommend completing your Novice strength training progression before adding conditioning (for example, interval training), because strength development is more important. Conditioning does conflict somewhat with strength training in that they share recovery resources.

You can eliminate your stability exercise. Lifting progressively-heavier weights while maintaining balance — as in the squat, press, and deadlift — will suffice to improve your stability.

You can progress by lifting twice weekly; however, thrice-weekly lifting would support more-rapid and efficient strength development during your Novice progression. Regardless, you can expect to spend 45 to 75 minutes on each workout/lifting session during your Novice progression, with workouts lengthening as you become stronger and need more inter-set rest.

Once you have built your strength base as a Novice (that is, with week-long training cycles) and have progressed to Intermediate strength training (that is, with week-long training cycles), interval training will become more appropriate and easier to fit into your training schedule. Pushing a weighted sled is a popular and effective option for conditioning/interval-training.

I feel quite pleasantly surprised that your doctor recommended strengthening the muscles around your knee(s). That is indeed sound advice, and the squat is indeed the best way to do so.

You mentioned lacking the concentration to both squat and deadlift during a single workout. If you begin your strength training journey with appropriate starting weights ("doses") for those exercises then you almost certainly will be able to complete both of them during the same workout. (If you are uncertain about what starting weight to use, then simply use just the empty barbell for your first squats and deadlifts, and progress from there.) As you lift progressively-heavier weights over successive workouts — assuming you devote sufficient resources to recovery! — your concentration and mental fortitude will increase, too.

  • Thank you Christian for a thorough answer! I notice that there is only one set of deadlift. I understand that this is because deadlift is taxing on the central nervous system? My impression is that deadlift works the lower not upper back. Does the press work the upper back? The squats here are deep squats? The benefit of deep squat is more use of glutes and hamstrings? This would be good since I might have a slight case of anterior pelvic tilt (sore lower back sometimes, sits a lot).
    – Andy
    Jan 26, 2018 at 11:18
  • You're welcome, @Andy! Yes, only one set of DLs, because they are taxing/hard. All of the "big four" barbell movements work the entire back (from sacrum to scapulae, anyway). By "squat", I mean low-bar back squats, performed to the depth at which the acetabulum goes just below the top of the patella; these squats use more hamstrings than the other major squat variants. Jan 26, 2018 at 14:18
  • IANA doctor, but, to my knowledge, anterior pelvic tilt does not matter, at least with respect to back pain. ;-) Jan 26, 2018 at 14:27
  • I think it's the actual opposite, the stronger you get the faster your workouts should be and the less rest time you need. I find that if you rest more than 1 minute between each set you are incredibly week in my book. If you stay more than 1 hour in the gym it's either because you are doing 10 sets of 10 on all exercises or you are wasting your time looking at the phone instead of training
    – Ekaen
    Apr 3, 2018 at 22:04
  • I never heard of heavy strength training making stability training worthless, There's a reason if one legged squat variations and other stuff exist... this response is so dogmatic on so many aspects. Also 45-75 minutes to do 3 sets of 5 reps for 2 exercises and 1 set for one exercise is beyond ridicule, someone like this has a really low level of fitness
    – Ekaen
    Apr 3, 2018 at 22:41

Your workout goals are good and I think you can easily pursue them if you give around 45 minutes to an hour daily. Being a doctor I would advise you to consult with an orthopedician or a physical therapist before doing any leg workout, considering your meniscus issue. For upper body, the workout you are doing right now seems perfect though. You could also try doing kettle workout, and floor exercises for your upper body. But do train with a certified trainer only, to avoid any workout injuries.

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