I hear it all the time: I would lift weights if only I could fit it into my busy schedule. Well, that’s no longer an excuse. Here’s a training routine that requires you to work out only two times a week. And you know what? It’ll be damn effective too.
This program works because it meets all the requirements for building strength and power’in only two workouts. Let’s start by reviewing some of the basics that a routine must incorporate if you want to optimize strength and muscle growth. Whether you train twice a week or five times, you can’t stray too far from these basics.
‘Train frequently enough to stimulate gains.
This rule is the hardest to adhere to when you’re using a two-day schedule, but it’s not a problem when you do a whole-body workout. Most lifters make the mistake of using a split routine when they’re training only twice a week. The result is that they don’t get in enough work for each bodypart’a problem in itself’and then they compound that by taking too long off before training the bodypart again. A host of good things happen to you hormonally after you train a bodypart, and the only way to take proper advantage of that is by training all your bodyparts at least twice a week. On this program you do a whole-body workout twice a week.
If you want to be at least as strong as you look, you must incorporate some explosive-rep training into your regimen. And if you want to be stronger than you look, speed-rep training is an absolute must.
And I mean heavy. Most bodybuilders think that six to eight reps is heavy, but if you’re after maximum gains in strength, six to eight reps is going to be your light stuff. You need to do very-low-rep work of one to three per set every week in order to keep making progress. When you’re after mass as well as strength, you do your higher-rep work after your low-rep stuff.
‘Change your program frequently.
A lot of lifters find it hard to inject enough variety into their training when they’re doing whole-body workouts. That’s because they frequently do too much work’that is, too much volume’at each session, wanting to do multiple exercises for every bodypart. The routine outlined here avoids that problem: You change exercises every week.
‘Keep your sessions relatively short.
It’s the problem most advanced lifters have with twice-a-week training: How do you do enough work for each bodypart and still limit your workouts to around an hour or an hour and a half max? I think that most lifters, especially strength athletes, simply take too long between sets. On this program you keep rest periods to a minimum. ALL Those are the basics; now for the workouts. Since you do only two workouts a week, you want to take at least two days off after the first session and three days off after the second. Most lifters like to train on Monday and Thursday. Just make sure your schedule fits the following model:
Day 1: Workout 1
Day 2: Off
Day 3: Off
Day 4: Workout 2
Day 5: Off
Day 6: Off
Day 7: Off
Day 8: Cycle begins again.
Workout 1: Explosive Day
Speed squats 10 x 2
Always start your whole-body workouts with leg work, preferably squats. Some people like to save the leg work until the end of the session, but I think that’s a big mistake. For one thing, when you save the squats for last, you also’without thinking about it’save a lot of your strength as well. When you do the hardest work at the beginning of your session, however, you don’t try to save anything. For me it makes the rest of the session a breeze when I know that I’ve already knocked out the hard stuff. Once I get through the squats, there’s nothing I can’t do.
Go as low as possible on the speed squats, almost to rock bottom. Lower fast but under control, and explode out of the hole as quickly as possible. Use a medium stance and place the bar fairly high to optimize the quadriceps; powerlifters may want to use a low placement and wide stance for more power. Take no more than a minute’s rest between sets.
Speed benches 9 x 3
As with the squats, you lower quickly but under control. Pause on your chest for no more than one second and explode to lockout as quickly as possible. Do these with three different hand placements. On the first three sets use a close grip, with your hands touching the smooth part of the bar. Move the next three sets out a few inches, and for the last three sets use a grip that’s just inside the power rings.
Power cleans 5 x 3
Do five progressively heavier triples, working up to your maximum weight on the final set. The nature of this exercise makes it an explosive movement.
Incline dumbbell presses, parallel-bar dips or close-grip decline presses 3 x 6-8
These are among my favorite assistance exercises for the bench press, and each has its benefits. Rotate them on a weekly basis. Work all three sets to failure.
Straight-arm dumbbell pullovers or bent-arm barbell pullovers 2 x 8-15 These are really great upper-body movements. Alternate them from week to week. George Turner likes to call the pullover the upper-body squat. Pullovers work your back, triceps, rib cage, chest and shoulders. Rotate your repetitions on both movements as well, using a different rep range within the broader range (8-10, 10-12 or 12-15) every week.
Barbell curls, dumbbell curls or preacher curls 3 x 6-20
Once again, rotate the exercises and the rep range on a weekly basis. These exercises are among my favorite biceps movements, though there are other good ones. Just don’t leave out the barbell curls. There isn’t a better biceps builder out there.
Ab work 3 x 20-30
I’m not too picky about abdominal exercises. As long as you train your abs hard, use whatever you like. Pick an exercise that makes it very tough to get 20 to 30 reps. Weighted incline crunches, hanging leg raises and hanging kneeups are all good choices.
Workout 2: Maximal Day
Squats, bottom-position squats or sumo deadlifts 5-8 x 1-3
These movements are good for building your leg muscles and are all equally good for boosting your numbers on the squat and deadlift. The first two are quadriceps-dominant exercises, and the sumo deadlift is a hamstring-dominant one, so you should get good all-around development.
Rotate these exercises, preferably from week to week, although the less advanced you are, the less often you need to switch. Rotate the reps as well. For example, the first time you perform the squats, work up to a max single over five to eight progressively heavier sets. At the next squat session work up to a max triple over the same number of sets. How strong you are will determine how many sets to use. Someone who squats 500 pounds will need all eight sets, while s 250-pound squatter will only need five, possibly fewer.
Bench presses, incline-bench presses or flat-bench dumbbell presses 5-8 x 1-5
For me these are the best chest exercises you can use. If you prefer another, feel free to add it to the rotation. As with the leg work, rotate exercises from week to week and rotate the reps as well, working up over five to eight sets to a one-, three- or five-rep maximum.
Wide-grip chins, bent-over rows or T-bar rows 4 x 5-8
Rotate the exercises from week to week. Perform four work sets of five to eight reps.
Barbell curls, dumbbell curls or preacher curls 3 x 8-20
Skull crushers, seated pin presses or lying pullover and presses 3 x 8-20
Once again you rotate the exercises and the rep range. For arm work you also alternate within the workout, doing a set for biceps and a set for triceps’essentially a slow form of supersetting. These are the best triceps exercises bar none, and close-grip benches are fine too, if your chest development doesn’t already exceed your arm development. To perform pin presses, simply sit on a bench and do front presses in the power rack with the barbell set at about eye level.
Ab work 3 x 20-30
Putting It Together
There you have it: a fantastic routine that builds plenty of strength, power and muscle mass on only two workouts a week. So you no longer have an excuse for not building the body you’ve been wanting’and the strength to go with it. You can build that body, and you will if you put this routine to work for you. IM