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Two Days A Week Strength Training

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 my first year, I started I only trained twice a week for and had good results. After that year, I could deadlift 180kg easily and gained 12kg in body weight. I have since had several short, 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 wants to be in shape.

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 recovery issues.

People who have not been able to stick to a routine.

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 can then train

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

How did I set up my training?

There were two ways my assistance work.

Option 1

A – Squat – Bench press – Lower assistance exercises

B – Deadlift – Bench press – Upper body assistance exercises

Option 2

A – Squat – Bench press – 3/4 Assistance exercises

B – Deadlift – Overhead press – 3/4 Assistance exercises

You can use different main exercises. I sometimes used the trap bar deadlift, overhead press, and dips.

Main work progression

I would pick a rep range for each 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.

I do use other rep ranges as well such as 14-8 reps, 12-8 reps, 10-6,12-3 reps etc

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)

With the squat and deadlift you'll do 2-4 back off sets after the top set with 80% 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

160kg 3 x 9

Personally, I progress well without doing any back off sets, but some people need more volume.

With the bench press, overhead press, and dips (if used as one of the main movements) you'll take 90% of the top sets and do 2-4 back off sets for the same amount of reps as the top set.

So it would look like this

100kg x 12

90kg 3 x 12

Assistance exercises would be done for 2-5 sets of 8-15 reps. I would do 3 or 4 assistance exercises a workout. Rest periods would be kept fairly short and often done as supersets so the workout didn't take too long.

Another way I like to do assistance exercises is the 350 method I got from Paul Carter. With this method, you do 3 sets of as many reps as you can 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.

Upper body assistance exercises

Upper back work (chin-ups, pull up, machine row seal row, t-bar row, dumbbell row, lat pull down etc)


Close grip bench press

-Dumbbell bench press


Lower body assistance exercises

Squat variation

Glute ham raise

Romanian deadlift

Leg press

Core work (rollouts, side bends, hyperextensions etc)

Option 2 assistance exercises

Normally the assistance exercises would be

2 upper body pulling exercises

1 upper body pushing

1 lower body

What could a training week strength training week look like?

For option 1, it would like this,

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

170kg x 8

135kg x 3 x 9

Bench press

20kg x 10, 40kg x 5, 60kg x 5, 80kg x 5,

100kg x 8

90kg 3 x 8

85kg x 10

RDL – 350 method

Glute ham raise – 3 x 12

Wheel rollouts – 3 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 x 9

55kg x 4 x 9

Close grip bench press- 3 x 12

Seal row 6 x 15

Lat pull down 3 x 12

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 it would look like this.

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

135kg x 3 x 9

Bench press

20kg x 10, 40kg x 5, 60kg x 5, 80kg x 5,

100 x 8

90kg 4 x 8

Dips 4 x 12

Chin ups 4 x 10

Seal rows 4 x 10

Glute ham raise 4 sets

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 4 x 9

Romanian deadlift 4 x 10

Close grip bench press 4 x 10

Dumbbell row 4 x 12

Lat pull down 4 x 15

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 felt great doing this after doing this.

if strength and building muscle isn't your 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, 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 done before. I would rather they trained twice a week consistently for a long time, than four times a week and stop once life gets busy. Or just keep two days a week as a short term option for when life gets crazy.

You might surprise yourself with what you can achieve while doing so little. It' certainly much better than giving up and then having to start from scratch.

About Chris Adams


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