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This article outlines a training program with two workouts per week.
It suits you who are either new to strength training, or who are more experienced but may not have the time, desire, or opportunity to train more often at the moment.
Both workout will train almost all your major muscle groups, enough for me to call them full-body workouts.
Before we delve into more details, let’s take a look at the program!
The Training Program: Two Full-Body Workouts per Week
You will be training two different workouts per week: workout A and workout B.
Both are full-body workouts, and together they will provide a good coverage of different muscle groups and movements.
Here’s how the workouts look:
- Squat: 3 sets x 5–10 reps
- Bench Press: 3 sets x 5–10 reps
- Romanian Deadlift: 3 sets x 5–10 reps
- Barbell Row: 3 sets x 5–10 reps
- Deadlift: 3 sets x 5–10 reps
- Overhead Press: 3 sets x 5–10 reps
- Front Squat: 3 sets x 5–10 reps
- Lat Pulldown: 3 sets x 5–10 reps
The workouts are based on four different movements: a push, a pull, a squat and a hip hinge. In workout A you’ll be doing horizontal pushing and pulling, and in workout B you will be doing vertical pushing and pulling.
For shorter workouts, you might remove Romanian deadlifts from workout A, and front squats from workout B.
Rest for 2–3 minutes between sets. Up to five minutes between very demanding sets.
How Many Sets and Reps Should You Do?
Around 3 sets x 5–10 reps provides an even balance between strength gain and muscle growth. If you want to prioritize strength, you can stick to the lower range of five reps or less per set, but the total training volume might then become a bit low.
The program consists of three sets per exercise in its original form. This is suitable for the beginner, and I don’t recommend that you do more. For the intermediate or advanced trainee, however, three sets might help you maintain your strength and size, but in order to grow bigger and stronger you will likely need more training. Adding a set or two might benefit you in this case.
I recommend that you stop your sets one rep short of failure. As you progress in weight throughout the weeks, you can start taking some of the sets to failure in order to improve upon your past performance, but this is under the condition that you can do so in a safe manner.
What Weight Should You Use?
Start the program off with weights which you can comfortably manage all sets and reps with while lifting with a good technique. When you can do 3 sets x 10 reps, you increase the weight with 2.5 kg/5 lbs for the next workout and try to get 3 x 10 again. Stick with the same weight until you get 3 x 10, and then increase the weight again and repeat the process.
A month or two in, you are likely to hit a wall where you can no longer reach 3 sets x 10 reps. At this point, start aiming for 3 sets x 5 reps instead, and increase the weight by 2.5 kg/5 lbs every time you successfully complete all sets. That will give you a few easy weeks when you transition from doing 10’s to 5’s at just a slightly heavier weight. But as you progress in weights, so will the difficulty gradually increase again.
How to Prioritize an Exercise or Muscle Group
Even with only two training sessions per week, there are good opportunities for progress. Especially if you choose to prioritize an exercise or muscle group.
Is there a particular exercise or muscle group that you would like to prioritize? Do so by training that exercise or muscle group first in the workout. That is when you have the most energy and focus, and are best capable of training hard. You could also perform additional sets, about 1–3 sets more, of this exercise compared to the others.
- Squat priority: Move the front squat to the beginning of workout B, and decide whether to keep front squats or substitute them for more back squats. Add 1–3 sets of squatting (back or front) to each workout.
- Bench press priority: Move the bench press to the beginning of workout A. In workout B, substitute the overhead press with bench press or incline bench press and move it to the beginning of the workout. Add 1–3 sets of each bench pressing exercise.
- Deadlift priority: Substitute the Romanian deadlift in workout B for more deadlifts, and move them to the beginning of the workout. Add 1–3 sets of each deadlift exercise.
When you train one exercise twice a week as in these examples, it is a good idea to let one of the workouts be a light workout, and the other one a heavy workout. In the heavy workout, you try to take a step forward by increasing the weight or reps from last time. In the light workout, you’re just getting some more training volume in. For the light workout, you could use 90% of the weights but do the same amount of sets and reps as you did in the previous heavy workout.
Who Is This Training Program Suitable For?
This program is especially suitable for beginners since the training volume is quite low. Because the beginner isn’t yet using heavy weights in his or her training, the rest between sets doesn’t have to be very long; perhaps about two minutes, which will keep the workouts short. Note that we have another training program for the beginner on this site, which has three workouts per week.
The training volume in this program is a bit low for the intermediate or advanced lifter. Therefore, this program is more suitable for the intermediate or advanced lifters that is looking to maintain their strength during periods when they can’t or don’t want to train more. It is also suitable for an intermediate or advanced lifter who is coming back from a training break, and is looking to ease into strength training again.
After a few months on this program, it is probably time to increase your training volume if you want to keep progressing in strength and muscle size. Here are a few suggestions as to how you can do that:
1. Run the program 3x/week. Do the same workouts, but increase the frequency so that you are training three times per week instead of two. Keep going back and forth between the two workouts, so that one week you will be training A, B, A, and the next week you will be training B, A, B. Rest at least one day in between workouts, so that you train, for example, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
2. Increase the volume of the workouts. If you can’t or don’t want to increase the number of workouts per week, you can simply fit more training volume into the two workouts you’re already doing. Either by increasing the number of sets per exercise, adding exercises, or both.
3. Change program. There are many suitable programs to move on to available on this site. Here are some suggestions:
- Barbell Training Program for the Beginner. 3x/week. A great way to structure your training on three barbell workouts per week.
- StrengthLog’s Upper/Lower Body Program. 4x/week. One of our most popular programs. Four workouts per week, with an emphasis on getting stronger in the compound lifts. For both muscle growth and strength gain!
- StrengthLog’s Full-Body Hypertrophy. 3x/week. Maximize your hypertrophic potential with this free full-body training program. Three days per week to sweet gains!
- Powerlifting ABC – A Complete Training Program for Powerlifting! 3–4x/week. Powerlifting ABC is an 11-week long powerlifting program, divided into four weeks of preparatory training, four weeks of specialization, and three weeks of peaking – which culminates in a competition (or max attempts).
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I hope you enjoy the program, and wish you good luck with your training!