Sorry if that's a duplicate, but I was not able to find a good fit.

We want to optimize our weekly workouts for a given total amount of time. Currently we are doing interval/circle training (arm weights, pushups, lunges, squats, plank, etc.). Each round is about 7 minutes and we do 4.5 three times a week (the half one is the warm up, half the repetitions).

I was wondering if it would be better to 2 rounds (15 minutes) every day instead of 4.5 rounds (40 minutes) three days/week. The 4.5 are hard, take quite a bit of willpower and it does feel very long (and boring), so we skip more often than we should. Ideally we get the same results in less weekly time or better results in the same weekly time.


  • Couple in their 60s/50s. Generally fit, a little squishy in the midriff but not really overweight, age-typical wear and tear (mostly on the joints)
  • Main goal is fitness maintenance and preventing/slowing decay. A bit of weight loss doesn't harm either but it's secondary. Also: DO NO HARM.
  • No gym: time overhead is prohibitive, only stuff we can do at home. We have weights and a bike/rowing machine
  • Exact exercise sequence is biceps curls, squats, push-ups, lunges, lawnmower pull (both arms), overhead extension, plank, rear leg raises, hammer curls alternating, rest. It tries to alternate between legs, arms and core.

Specific questions:

  1. What's the "optimum" sequence of weekly workouts given a total max weekly time (say 1.5-2 hours total)
  2. We are doing mostly strength exercises and no dedicated cardio, although the heat rate sure goes up! Is there a better mix?
  3. Is our sequence "good"? Are there better options or any "don't do this" in there?
  4. Is it best to do the same sequence every time or should we mix it up? If yes, what is a good strategy for mixing it?
  5. We are currently doing between 12 and 20 reps of each. Should we shoot for lower reps and higher weights instead?

Bonus points:

  • Links to scientific studies that did "apples to apples" comparisons of different approaches
  • Any tips to make it less boring.


  • 1
    > biceps curls, squats, push-ups, lunges, lawnmower pull (both arms), overhead extension, plank, rear leg raises, hammer curls alternating, rest. Almost all of this is useless, except for the rest part. Start with compounds: squats, deadlifts, bench press, pull ups
    – user33409
    Commented Nov 27, 2021 at 15:42
  • 1
    To be clear, you're doing 2h of working out per week, right? That's 4.5 rounds at 7 minutes each = ~30 minutes per workout w/ 4 workouts? And you're looking at reducing that to 2 rounds, instead of 4.5 rounds.
    – C. Lange
    Commented Nov 27, 2021 at 18:50
  • @nz_21: thanks. Can provide a source for this statement please ?
    – Hilmar
    Commented Nov 28, 2021 at 13:08
  • @C.Lange. Yes. No more than two hours per week. I'll update the question to clarify
    – Hilmar
    Commented Nov 28, 2021 at 13:09
  • @Hilmar None of those are "useless", although compound exercises provide a better bang-for-the-buck. Squats, push-ups, lunges, and planks are definite keepers. Mixing it up is always better than not. I didn't notice anything pull-up-y, which I'd consider adding. I'd tend towards fewer rounds/more often but maybe have a "long" day to shake things up. I'm a big fan of rowing machine sprint intervals as a finisher. Commented Nov 28, 2021 at 13:26

3 Answers 3


Muscles need 48-72 hours of rest. So doing the same exercises every day would be a bad idea. enter image description here

Strength training twice a week should be sufficient.

It sounds like you are doing a lot of "stuff" with not so heavy weights. Most likely you get sweaty but your body does not adapt and get stronger. Since gaining muscle mass only gets more difficult as we age I think you should be a bit more ambitious now and try to build up a physiological reserve of strength and muscle mass. That way you will not become frail as you get older. Gaining and maintaining muscle mass burns a lot of calories so strength training is a good way to shed fat. Also heavy strength training increases bone density and increases tendon strength.

In order to achieve this I think you should do fewer exercises but with heavier weights, at least part of the time (more focus and intensity). Don't bother doing isolation exercises such as biceps curls. They are a waste of time since they involve little muscle mass. Instead do one exercise from each Fundamental Movement Pattern. You should aim for 5-10 reps (and 3-5 sets excluding warm up, except for the deadlift which is 1-2 sets). Further in order to get stronger you need to increase the resistance gradually but consistently. The legend of Milo of Croton illustrates this principle of progressive overload: gradually but consistently increasing the intensity allows the body to adapt over time.

This video: Mike Matthews on LIVE with Kelly and Ryan - Workout for Strength Training at Any Age shows a whole body workout using dumbells. Instead of bench press you may do push-ups. The core will be sufficiently trained indirectly by the deadlift, squat and push-ups. The arms will be sufficiently trained indirectly by the rows and the push-ups. Every week you should try to increase the weight used a little.

Ordinary strength training does not train the heart and lungs sufficiently. Twice a week you should do some sort of cardio to get your heart rate up repeatedly. Same thing applies here as for strength training (the heart is after all a muscle): slow but consistent and gradual increase of intensity is safe and provides results.


2 hours a week seems more than adequate in a week given the correct intensity. I typically do no more than three half hour sessions a week.

The easiest exercise I have found is just walking with weights in your hand. I currently go up a flight of stairs with two 5kg dumbells in my hand. 20 minutes of this and I find my lounges in my throat.

Maybe flights of stairs is a bit much depending on the state of your bones and joints but even just walking with a couple of pounds in your hand is great.

If the intensity of your workout is high then the time spent can decrease dramatically.


For maintenance, I don't think you need to change anything aside from maybe adding a bit of cardio into the mix. It really is underrated how good cardio is for your body within the fitness industry. I'd stick to steady-state cardio (I'm doing 150 minutes a week, which is also said to be the best amount of steady-state cardio per week), and it's doing wonders for me. You might not have enough time to do 150 minutes per week since that would add more than your current training duration, but maybe add 15-20 minutes into your two weekly workouts, and only after your workout.

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