I think you have asked an excellent question that many people grapple with, including myself. There is so much potential material that training eight-hours a day, seven days a week, would still require making some choices.
In my view, a workout schedule should be intimately linked with one’s goals for Taijiquan. Different goals or even different priorities for the same goals should require different approaches.
I find it helpful to think of training issues in terms of Yin and Yang and the principle of Taiji. For me, saying that Taiji is about balance is often a useful shorthand, but is often also quite misleading. For instance, as you form a Chinese character with an ink brush, you draw not only with the ink, but also with the white space in between the ink strokes. Spacing is an integral part of the character. It does not mean that any particular character needs to have equal amounts of ink and white space.
Quality vs. quantity, intensity vs. frequency, predetermined movement vs. spontaneity, enjoyment vs. diligence, maintaining old skills vs. learning new skills are perhaps some examples of Yin Yang pairs that apply to training. To me, they are best viewed as Taiji wholes when considering what training approach may be best.
One issue that I think may not get the attention it deserves is physical conditioning. Good physical condition requires a certain minimum of intensity, duration, and frequency. For example, I think leg and ankle strength are important for balance, wrist strength is important for weapon’s usage, and lower back strength can be important for some staff drills.
My practice routines change from time to time, depending on many factors. Recently, because of personal circumstances, I have been emphasizing intensity over frequency. My practices tend to be the same, except that I do one set of things for solo practice and another set for push hands. I also tend to alternate between saber and sword.
I would love to increase my frequency, but I think this would be difficult in my current circumstances, and the quality of my training would suffer substantially. I think intensity helps me deepen and explore understanding, while frequency helps maintain and consolidate proficiency. Sometimes, one is more important than the other.
I have chosen not to practice any special Qi Gong and so save some time in that way. My reasons for not doing Qi Gong make sense to me, but not might make sense for you. Basically, the things I would want from Qi Gong, I believe I get from the form or other exercises.
I also take the approach that Yang Chengfu’s form has a built-in warm-up and so use the long form as my warm up. At times, when I have really wanted to focus on the long form and general proficiency in body movement, I have tried to do the three recommended consecutive repetitions. At other times, I have tacked on the 49-Movement Form to the traditional long form when I have wanted more practice, but not so much practice as the three reps of the long form. Recently, I have usually kept to one rep, but always try to concentrate on some particular theme I want to preserve throughout the form. Examples would be feeling the subtle release (fajin) at the culmination of each posture, connecting the waist, or perhaps making sure that I really keep the speed even and smooth, even at difficult moments.
After doing the form, I do saber or sword. Sometimes, I try to incorporate whatever new learning I have had from the bare-hand form for that day. More often, I am struggling with some issue specific to weapon usage, such as how to release the jin appropriately in different movements or how to make sure my lower back is truly governing the movement. I usually precede the weapon form with some brief basic weapons training, but not always. After sword or saber, I do a staff drill to explore fajin and check on my postural alignment.
After the weapons, I do various non-Tai Chi exercises I enjoy and conclude with a few stretches.
My push hands sessions usually have various components that might include: circling, exploring/discussing some particular principle, some simple drills, applications of the eight energies, and free pushing. The typical sessions I have now last about two and half hours and occur once every one or two weeks.
The circling typically involves doing anywhere between five to ten patterns, including the transitions between them. We always start with single-hand horizontal circling and then go on to more complicated patterns. How many circles we do depends on time, interest, and goals for the session. We try to practice both right and left and clockwise and counterclockwise, when this makes sense for the pattern.
We usually explore or discuss principles as part of a theme that we will work on for that session or as something that comes out of analyzing places where we can improve in our circling. Sometimes we try to note when we are applying the principle or skill during the circling. Sometimes we try to correct each other when the skill is lacking. At other times we do simple drills that emphasize the principle or skill. Examples of principles we explore are empty vs. full, sticking, adhering, connecting, following, giving up the self, or how fully to employ circles.
Sometimes we use simple drills to test certain skills in a semi-competitive, but controlled environment. I find it easier to develop skills this way than in free-style pushing, where it is too easy to fall into bad habits.
Another component of a typical session is going over applications of the eight energies. This usually involves practicing, one by one, pre-determined applications out of one of the circling patterns and critiquing the results. We usually include some work on counters to the applications and occasionally even counters to the counters. We try to work on applications from both closed and open circles.
At the very end of the session, we sometimes do a little bit of free-style pushing just for some fun or maybe to test whether we can really apply any of the skills we have worked on for the day.