Two Days A Week Strength Training

Mar 23


Christopher John Adams

Christopher John Adams

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Two Days a Week Strength Training Two days a week strength training 2 Days a Week Strength Program Training twice a week is something I've tried several times and always had success wi...


Training twice a week is something I've tried several times and always had success with it. Lots of people have an all or nothing attitude to training. Many people either stop training because they are busy and believe they have to spend loads of time in the gym to achieve any results. They would be better off doing two days consistently as everyone can get to the gym for two sessions a week if it's a priority for them.
In the first year I started strength training I only trained twice a week and had good results. I have since had several short,Two Days A Week Strength Training Articles but successful spells with twice a week training. I also have a few clients who only train twice a week, and they have all been making good progress.

Who could this be a good option for?

Someone with a busy schedule and struggles to make it to the gym more often.
Someone who simply don't want to go to the gym more often, but still wants to be stronger.
For people who play sports and have other training commitments that are their priority, and only strength train to help improve their performance in their sport, and so can't spend an excessive amount of time lifting weights.
Someone who has trouble recovering.
People who have not been able to stick to a routine and want to get into the habit of training
For a short time when life is crazy. The key to making progress is doing this consistently over a long period of time. No matter how busy life is I can always train two days a week and make progress.

I'm not writing this article expecting people to change their routine if they're able to do four times a week and are but this is a good option for some people.

How to Set up Your Training When Training Twice a Week
There were two ways my assistance work.

Option 1
Squat - bench press - Lower assistance exercises
Deadlift or trap bar deadlift- Overhead press - Upper body assistance exercises

Option 2
Squat - bench press - 3/4 Assistance exercises
Deadlift or trap bar deadlift- bench press or overhead press - 3/4 Assistance exercises

You can use different main exercises.

Main Exercise Progression

The main exercise is done with one top set and two back off sets.

The Top Set
Pick a rep range for each exercise such as 10-5 reps. Work up to a top set of 10. Every session you'll add weight until you can only do 5 good reps. You'll then start the cycle again with a weight you can do 8 reps with. This should be more weight than you used at the start of the last cycle.
You can use other rep ranges as well such as 14-8 reps, 12-8 reps, 10-6,12-3 8-3reps etc
If you're doing an exercise twice you would use two different rep ranges and have a heavy and light day.

An example of what it might look like
Week 1 100kg x 10
Week 2 102.5kg x 10
Week 3 105kg x 10
Week 4 107.5g x 9
Week 5 110kg x 8
Week 6 112.5kg x 8
Week 7 115kg x 8
Week 8 117.5 x 7
Week 9 120kg x 6
Week 10 122.5kg x 6
Week 11 125kg x 5
Week 12 110kg x 10 ( The start of a new cycle)

Back Off Sets

Personally, I progress well without doing any back off sets for the squat and deadlift, but some people need more volume.
With the squat and deadlift you'll do 2 back off sets after the top set with 85-90% of the weight you used for the top set and for the same amount of reps. These sets shouldn't be to the limit, and the bar speed should be fast for every rep.
So it could look like this
200kg x 9
180kg 2 x 9

With the bench press and overhead press, you'll take 90% of the top sets and do 2 back off sets for the same amount of reps as the top set.
So it would look like this.
100kg x 12
90kg 2 x 12
You could also use the 350 method for your back off sets. The 350 method is mentioned later in the assistance work part of the article.

Assistance Work

Assistance Exercises Used
Upper back/Lats work (chin-ups, pull up, machine row, seal row, t-bar row, dumbbell row, lat pull down etc)
Face pulls/ Band pull aparts
Close grip bench press
Dumbbell bench press
Squat variation
Glute ham raise
Romanian deadlift
Leg press
Core work (rollouts, side bends, hyperextensions etc)

Two Full Body Workout Option
Normally the assistance exercises for the full body workouts would be
2 upper body pulling exercises. 1 would be face pulls or band pull aparts)
1 upper body pushing exercise
1 lower body exercise
Upper and Lower Assistance Option
Upper day
1 push exercise
2 pull exercises
1 arm exercise
Lower body day
Squat variation
Hamstring dominate exercise (RDL, GHR etc)
Core exercise (wheel roll out)

Most of my assistance work was done as super sets, 350 method, rest pause, myo-reps and drop sets. As I was doing two main exercises a workout, there wasn't a lot of time for assistance work. These methods allowed me to get the most amount of work in a short time that I could.

Super sets or Giant Sets
Super sets are when two exercises are done back to back and rest is only taken after the second exercise.
Giant sets are just like super sets, but when 3 or more exercises are done. Again you only rest at the end of the last exercise.
Exercises will be done for 2-5 sets of 8-15 reps and would be done using the double progression method.

350 Method
Another way I like to do assistance exercises is the 350 method I got from Paul Carter. With this method, you do 3 sets to failure with 2 minutes rest in between. The aim is to get 50 reps over the 3 sets. Once you manage to get 50 reps you can add weight the next time.
100kg x 17
Rest 2 minutes
100kg x 13
Rest 2 minutes
100kg x 8
That gives me 38 reps, so I would keep the same weight until I got it to 50 reps in total. With the 350 method, you get a lot of work in a short time which makes it perfect for two days a week training program.

Rest-Pause Sets
Rest pause sets are where you go to failure on three sets with 15-30 seconds rest between each set.
1st set 17 reps
Rest 15 seconds
2nd set-10 reps
Rest 15 seconds
3rd set- 4 reps

Myo-Reps Sets
Myo-reps sets are a form of rest-pause.
Do a set of 10-15 where you reach failure or very close to it.
Rest 20 seconds then do a set of 3 to 5 reps, aiming for 5 reps.
Rest 20 seconds and repeat the set for the same amount of reps (3 to 5 reps)
Repeat this process (set of 3-5, rack, 20 seconds rest) until the first time you hit 1 rep less than the first set of 3-5.
An example,
14 reps
Rest 20 seconds
5 reps
Rest 20 seconds
5 reps
Rest 20 seconds
4 reps. stop here as you did one less rep than you did on the first mini set.

Drop sets
The drop set is a technique in which you perform an exercise until failure, then immediately reduce the weight load for an additional set, or sets. Normally I reduce the weight by 20% each drop. Don't rest between sets. Only take as long as it takes to change the weights.

What Could a Training Week Strength Training Week Look Like?

Option 1 - Lower/Upper assistance
Workout A (Squat, Bench Press and Lower Body Work)
20kg x 10, 60kg x 8, 80kgx 5, 100kg x 5, 120kg x 5, 140kg x 5
180kg x 8
155kg x 2 x 8
Bench press
20kg x 10, 40kg x 5, 60kg x 5, 80kg x 5,
100kg x 11
90kg 2 x 11
Paused squats- 4 x 6
Glute ham raise - 4 x 12 (Glute ham raise and wheel roll out are supersetted)
Wheel rollouts - 4 sets
Face pulls x 200 Done between sets of other exercises

Workout B (trap bar deadlift and press and upper body workout)
Trap bar deadlift (our trap bar weighs 32kg)
72kg x 10, 92kg x 5, 112kg x 5, 142kg x 5, 162kg x 3, 182kg x 3, 202kg x 1
212kg x 8
172kg x 2 x 8
20kg x 10, 30kg x 5, 40kg x 5, 50kg x 5,
65 x 8
60kg 2 x 8
Close grip bench press- 350 (super set with seal rows)
Seal row - 3 sets double progression
Lat pull down - 350 method
Curls - Rest pause set 3 sets with 15 seconds rest between sets
Face pulls x 200 done between sets of other exercises.

For option 2 - Full Body Workouts
Workout A (squat, bench press and assistance)
20kg x 10, 60kg x 8, 80kgx 5, 100kg x 5, 120kg x 5, 140kg x 5
170kg x 8
160kg 2 x 8
Bench press
20kg x 10, 40kg x 5, 60kg x 5, 80kg x 5,
100 x 8
90kg 2 x 8 (face pulls x 200 done in between sets)
Dips 350 method (super set with glute ham raises)
Glute ham raise 3 sets, Double progression.
Seal row - 4 sets. Double progression (seal rows and curls are super sets)
Curls - 4 sets. Double progression

Workout B (trap bar deadlift and press)
Trap bar deadlift (our trap bar weighs 32kg)
72kg x 10, 92kg x 5, 112kg x 5, 142kg x 5, 162kg x 3, 182kg x 3, 202kg x 1
212kg x 8
172kg x 2 x 8
20kg x 10, 30kg x 5, 40kg x 5, 50kg x 5,
65kg x 8
60kg x 9
55kg x 2 x 9
Romanian deadlift 3 x 10 (super set with close grip bench press)
Close grip bench press 3 x 10
Machine row (350)
Tricep pushdown (Drop sets)

While these workouts have 7 exercises each, which is more than I normally would do in a single workout, the supersets, 350, rest-pause, drop sets etc will save time so the workout shouldn't take much longer than an hour.

What were the benefits of twice a week training?
The main one was that fitting in the workouts into my life while I had a lot going on was very easy. I tried to keep the same training days that were spread out evenly (Sunday and Wednesday), but with only having two workouts to fit in I could be flexible without it causing any problems. It does take away the excuse of not having time to train as everyone can find the time for two sessions a week.

I found my motivation went up. I was looking forward to each workout and excited about training and that I would try and get a PR. I was itching to get into the gym and made training fun again. I haven't had a bad workout since I started training twice a week as I always feel recovered, fresh and excited about training when I start the workout.
If you're going through a stressful time, or not getting much sleep you are likely to find this easier to recover from than if you were training 4+times a week. My joints also felt great doing this after doing this.

If strength and building muscle isn't the main priority it can give you more time to do cardio and mobility work. I did more much-needed mobility work at home while watching TV as I had a little more spare time. Jim Wendler has a template in his books called 2x2x2. With this, you do two strength workouts, two mobility workouts and two conditioning/cardio workouts. This can be a well-balanced way for you to train.

What are the main negatives of just training twice a week?

There is only so much you can do in just two workouts. You can't spend as much time working on weak points and it can be hard to get a lot of volume in.
The workouts have to be really hard if you're going to progress, and I had to push close to failure a lot, and I had to cram so much into the sessions. Mentally this was tough.

One of the most frustrating things about being a personal trainer is seeing people throw all their hard work away by stopping training completely, or by taking large breaks so they end up just working to regain what they had achieved before. I would rather they trained twice a week when life is busy then stop.

You might surprise yourself with what you can achieve while doing so little.