I know what you’re probably thinking: how can I get great results from only working out two days per week?
The simple answer: as long as you follow a good program (as provided in this article), work hard, and improve your performance consistently, you can get great results.
In fact, you may be surprised by how much you can achieve from strength training two days per week. After all, quality is more important than quantity.
But before we get to the two day per week strength training routine, let’s discuss . . .
Who Can Benefit from Strength Training Twice Per Week?
Anyone who’s busy. For those who are truly limited on time, two days per week is usually a great solution. You don’t spend much time going to, or in, the gym and you can still achieve great results. (See also The Busy Woman’s Guide to Strength Training.)
The trainee who is getting burned out from strength training. I go through periods when I don’t love strength training. When this happens, I know I need to scale back the frequency of my workouts, immediately. If you’re not enjoying strength training but keep forcing yourself, week after week, and month after month, to keep training at a high frequency, you risk burning yourself out.
I know, because it’s happened to me. All of a sudden I didn’t enjoy strength training; all because I never scaled back when I should have.
So if you’re not as enthusiastic about your workouts right now, try the two day per week program. Chances are you’ll start enjoying, and looking forward to, your workouts once again.
The person who’s active in other physical activities can benefit from strength training just two days per week. For people who participate in sports, running, or other physical activities, a two day per week routine can still allow them to get stronger without overdoing things. If you participate in other activities, you could give the two day per week program a try — it just may provide better results and improve your performance in your other activities.
When you’re under a lot of stress. If you’re in the middle of a huge project at work, studying for mid-terms, or there’s other real life stuff weighing you down, scale back your workouts. When you’re enduring a period of high stress, adding more frequent stress in the way of strength training workouts isn’t always a good idea.
But instead of abandoning a fitness regimen all together, you would do well to scale your training back to two days per week.
Two Day Per Week Strength Training Program
First things first. If you’re going to train twice per week, you absolutely must focus on the exercises that will produce the greatest results from your efforts. That means big, compound exercises. For this program, that means a heavy dose of barbell and dumbbell exercises. You can throw in a few accessory exercises to round things out, but spend your time on the basics.
I recommend having at least two days off between workouts, if possible. For example, perform Workout 1 on Monday and Workout 2 on Thursday. This way you have plenty of time to recover between workouts and you’ll still have a good frequency of training.
Let’s take a look at the workouts and then we’ll discuss the details.
- 1) Squat – 3×8-10 (3 sets, 8-10 reps)
- 2a) Low incline barbell bench press – 3×8-10
- 2b) One arm dumbbell row – 3×8-10
- 3) Back extension – 3×10-15
- 1) Deadlift – 3×5-7
- 2a) Standing barbell press – 3×8-10
- 2b) Neutral grip chin-up – 3×8-10
- 3) Walking lunges with dumbbells – 3×10-15 each leg
As you can see, each exercise has a set and rep range. A terrific way to begin the program would be to start at the low end of the provided rep range and stick with the same weight until you can perform the high end of the rep range. For example, Workout 1 calls for three sets of 8-10s reps (3×8-10) for the first three exercises. Use a challenging weight and start by performing 3×8.
Over the course of the next week or two, work up to performing 3×10 with the same weight. Once you reach the high end of the rep range, increase the weight a bit and start the process over again. This is a great way to keep making progress for months.
But what if you stall out and can no longer add weight or perform more reps?
No problem! To keep making progress you can:
- Use a different rep range to change things up. Instead of 3×8-10 you can try 4×6.
- Use different exercise variations and simply repeat the program.
Here’s the same two day per week program but with different exercise variations:
- 1) Goblet squat – 3×8-10 (3 sets, 8-10 reps)
- 2a) Push-up – 3×8-10
- 2b) Inverted row – 3×8-10
- 3) Single leg RDL – 3×10-15
- 1) Sumo deadlift – 3×5-7
- 2a) One arm dumbbell push press – 3×8-10
- 2b) Suspension trainer chin-up – 3×8-10
- 3) Rear foot elevated split squat – 3×10-15 each leg
Since you’d be using different exercise variations, you would simply repeat the program again. Remember to start at the low end of the provided rep range and stick with the same weight until you can perform all sets at the high end of the rep range. Then increase the weight a bit and start over.
Use these articles to help you have even great success with the two-day-per week strength training program:
- How to Squat
- How to Deadlift
- How to Perform the Bench Press and Standing Press
- How to Perform the Barbell Row
- Lift Like a Girl Dumbbell Workout Program
- What is the Best Type of Cardio for You?
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