The Best Workouts For Busy Men Over 35 (It's NOT HIIT) - Dean McMenamin

The Best Workouts For Busy Men Over 35 (It’s NOT HIIT)

One of the biggest mistakes I see guys making when trying to lose belly fat, is doing too much cardio or HIIT.

In fact, the single biggest mistake you can make, is exercise being the main focus of your quest to burn away unwanted body fat and get lean.

It’s largely going to come down to your nutrition and total food intake.

Exercise should be viewed as a means to get fitter, stronger, faster, improve your life quality and confidence.

But for the sake of this article, we’re going to focus on the impacts certain exercise methods have on your fat levels, and how you look naked.

I do get why so many guys turn to cardio or HIIT, though. These workouts ‘feel’ hard. And, you’re normally sweating buckets. So, it’s gotta be working something, right?

Yup. Your cardiovascular fitness.

And that’s great for your general fitness, health, and longevity.

Side-note: True HIIT is very taxing on your central nervous system, and to be able to recover well enough from lots of it requires your sleep, stress levels, and nutrition to be extremely dialled in.

But that’s not what’s gonna make you ‘look’ like a guy who works out when you’re at the swimming pools with the kids, or even in a t-shirt…

Getting stronger does.


When you lose fat your body loses weight from both fat AND muscle stores, unless it has a good reason to hold onto it’s muscle.

Pushing hard with progressive strength training is telling your body ‘I need this. Keep it’.

You’ll also gain some you didn’t have before, if you’re doing things right.

If all you do is cardio and HIIT, you’ll just get smaller (and weaker).

This why so many guys lose weight successfully, but end up with a body like Skelator’s nut sack.  

With less muscle your metabolism slows. So to keep losing fat, you need to keep eating less and less. (have fun with that, man).

But when you gain muscle, you need more food to sustain your muscle mass.

So you can lose fat whilst eating more. Plus, look great while you’re at it.

No brainer, right?

Though, lot’s of guy’s don’t start strength training because…

  • It takes effort to learn new exercises.
  • They don’t have time, or feel comfortable in a gym.
  • They don’t have any equipment at home.
  • They struggle to find time.

Here’s the thing, bromigo, if you’ve avoided taking strength training seriously for one reason or another, and if you’re unhappy with what’s looking back in the mirror, you have to ask yourself…

am I willing to waste another few months, or years, doing the same things, for the same results, just to stay within my zone of comfort?

If you’re still reading, I think the answer to that is, no!
Here’s the good news…

  • You can get great results whether you train at home or in a gym (most of my clients train at home).
  • You can start with nothing but a suspension trainer, resistance bands, and your bodyweight.
  • It takes less than 2% of your total time each week to get in epic shape (just 2-3 hours, this is less than the average man’s daily screen time).

So how, exactly, can you get started?

Here’s My 3-Step Workout Building Template For Helping Busy Dads Over 35 Gain Strength, Muscle, & Improve Mobility

Step 1: Mobility Training (This is Your Warm Up)

As the saying goes: “Don’t use it, you lose it.”

A lot of great things come from traditional exercise. Unfortunately it also causes problems when it’s all you do. 

We tend to box ourselves into the same movement patterns whilst neglecting all the other ways your body was meant to move and function. 

That often shows up as aches, pains, stiffness, and repetitive injuries that stop you from ever making progress. 

If you don’t train your mobility, you’ll run into problems. But when you have a lot more important responsibilities than your own fitness, it’s hard to make time for every exercise modality under the sun. 

So use the first 10 minutes as a block of mobility training, which also serves as a good full-body warm up.

You can choose mobility movements that are relevant to any areas you need to improve on, but here’s 4 general moves that cover a lot of common stiff problem areas: (click on the names to view demo videos)

1: Deep Lunge & Rotation x 10 reps.

2: 90/90 Progressions x 10 reps each side.

3: Hump & Dump (Spinal Segmentation)  x 10 reps

4: Prone Y Handcuff to Cobra  x 10 reps

Step 2: Full Body Push, Pull, Legs.

You’re busy. Sometimes you’ll only get 2 workouts, or even 1 workout done in a week. 

Full body routines mean 1-3 good workouts per week where every muscle is getting stronger.

Focus on the fundamental human movement patterns that use multiple muscle groups at once. Push, pull, squat, hinge. 

Here’s some great examples: 

Upper Body Push 

  • All press up variations.
  • All dumbbell bench press variations. 
  • All dumbbell, kettlebell overhead press variations. 

Upper Body Pull

  • All bodyweight row variations. 
  • All dumbbell/kettlebell row variations. 
  • All pull-up variations. 
  • Lat pull-downs. 


  • All bodyweight squat variations. 
  • All dumbbell/kettlebell/barbell squat variations. 
  • All single leg (lunge/split squat) variations. 


  • All deadlift dumbbell/kettlebell/barbell variations (I prefer Romanian deadlifts for most).
  • All weighted or bodyweight hip thrust variations.
  • All bodyweight bridge variations. 

Here’s how to put it together… 

Pick an upper body push, upper body pull, and a lower body compound exercises. 

Example gym session: 

2a) Dumbbell bench press 3 sets x 6-12  reps x 60-90 sec rest. (Push)

2b) Single arm dumbbell row 3 sets x 6-12 reps  x 60-90 sec rest. (Pull)

2c) Dumbbell Goblet Pause Squat 3 sets x 8-15 Reps x 60-90 sec rest. (Legs)

Example bodyweight session:

2a) Press up progressions 60-90 sec rest 3 x 8-15x 60-90 sec rest

2b) Inverted rows sec rest 3 x 8-12 x 60-90 sec rest 

3b) Satan Squats 3 x 6-12 x 60-90 

You can do 1 set of each exercise back-to-back, in sequence, resting 60-90 seconds between each exercise. 

Or you can do straight sets of each exercise before moving onto the next exercise.

Important to rest between sets: very short rest periods (60 seconds or less) can lower the muscle-building potential of an exercise from not letting the muscles recover enough, so your performance will greatly lower on each proceeding set. So rest at least 60-120 seconds. If you can afford the 120 sec rest time, you’ll get stronger than with 60-90 seconds. 

The ‘One Set’ Tactic When Short On Time or Motivation 

If you’re really strapped for time or just struggling for motivation, just do 1 hard set. Get your warm up done, then do your ‘ramp up/warm up’ sets of your exercises, and just go hard on 1 set of each exercise, instead of 2 or 3. 

Just getting stronger 2-3 times per week with these kinds of workouts will transform your strength and physique over 12 months and beyond, along with better eating, recovery, and mindset practices. 

But if you have the luxury of time, you can add in some accessory work…

Step 3: ‘Optional’ Accessory Work

If you have more time after finishing your main strength block, you can make your workout a little more ‘complete’ by adding in some accessory work, like arms, hamstring curls, core exercises, or a weighted carry, etc …

  • Arms:  bicep curls & triceps extensions 2 x 8-12 reps of each. 
  • Swiss ball hamstring curls 2 x 10-20 reps. (or if in a gym, the machine leg curls for 6-12 reps). 
  • Dumbbell farmers carry, suitcase carry, or bear crawl for total body and core strength.
  • Or 2 sets of an ab exercise of your choice.

But if you don’t have time, don’t worry. Consistency with steps 1 & 2 will take you a long way over time in building a stronger, fitter, healthier body. 

The Law of Progressive Overload 

The important thing here is PROGRESSIVE OVERLOAD over time. 

What does that mean?

First, exceptional form and control of the movements. 

Second, whatever numbers you’re lifting on week one, you want to be lifting WAY MORE 6 months later and beyond. 

So each workout, push for 1 more rep than last time.

When you reach the top of a prescribed rep range, increase the weight and drop the reps back to the lowest number. Rinse and repeat.

Of course, your nutrition, sleep quality, and stress management will reflect the results you get from any workout program.

Hope this helps!

Any questions at all, let me know.

If you know any friends of family you think this article might help, I’d massively appreciate it if you send it their way.


About the Author Dean McMenamin

Dean McMenamin is an Army veteran, father, dog-lover and body transformation coach to every day men all over the UK & Ireland. He's also a big eater of ice-cream.

follow me on: