T Nation

Advice on Training Once a Week?


My wife just had twins and I only have time for 1 trip to the gym each week. Would it be possible to carry the underlining core principles and still make the workout effective?

If it is, what would be the best way to go about doing it?

Thanks a ton for the advice!


I can't really give you advice as I haven't had kids and don't know what it's like time wise, but regarding the effectiveness, I don't think it would be that effective. If you could get to the gym 2 days/week, that would definitely be better, but idk what your schedule is....it might just be better to take a break, do bodyweight exercises at home, and then get back to the gym soon.


What do you mean by the underlying core principles?

I definitley think that once a week is better than nothing, and if you do some bodyweight exercises and conditioning work you may be able to maintain or even improve in some aspects.
You are likely going to lose in some areas though so you really need to prioritise your time in the gym. I would be doing just one or two big compound exercises for legs, chest, back and shoulders and going quite heavy 3-5 rep range.
Hopfully this is only a short term solution and you can find a way to train more regularly.

ps a lot will depend on you level of experience as to whether you are able to make some progress or lose a lot.

pps with this low frequency you are probably going to be sore all week lol


I feel that the best, single, full-body movement is the barbell clean and press. I would dedicate my one day at the gym to this lift.

Buy a good set of resistance bands and do full body workouts at home as time permits.

Good luck..


LOL at "improving" only training once a week.

The average person who ONLY trains once a week sure as hell won't have much of a problem skipping that one day should something else come up.

In other words, don't expect much or any progress if you can't put the time in.


Plus you'll be in pain for 3 days after ur training day. Which will then make you hate working out and more likely to skip the week after


I don't see how you can successfully bodybuild while training only once a week. Sorry chap. Try guitar instead.


ha,coming from a guy who's been playing guitar for almost 10 years and who is really close to having a music degree, practicing once a week isnt going to be enough to accomplish anything musically either.


True it will be difficult and you may well lose size, strength, etc but training once a week will maintain more than not training at all. Believer423 is right about the clean & press featuring heavily in your training for maximum time economy, also things like snatch, squats, deadlift; superset everything with pull ups, etc to keep time down.

Then do some bodyweight exercises an time you can, real quick sessions to avoid it interfering with eveything else you've got to do, there are plenty of good b/w exercises so just use your imagination and you won't be nearly as limited as you think.

By the way, I speak from experience- my daughter was born a year ago tuesday and I found a similar thing so on days I couldn't get to the gym I did little circuits of bulgarian split squats, glute-ham raises, pull ups on a tree and handstand push ups; I also pushed and pulled my car, amazing exercise! Good luck buddy.


...ok...so we aren't discussing making any gains as far as bodybuilding...but simply "staying in shape"?

I think some people get lost.

I think my idea of "training" is different than others.


True it's far from ideal, but I'm just saying what I would do if that was the situation. What's your advice- if you can only train once a week...erm...you need to train more than once a week


Some people definitely got lost.

I feel like I'm repeating myself here, but this is the "bodybuilding" forum. Go to the "staying in shape" forum if that is what your goal is.

I've played guitar for around 13 years (lucky 13!) and had a wonderful recording and touring career over the past 5 years due to my skill and passion for the instrument without having a degree (I later got a degree during a much needed break). I was being sarcastic when I told the OP to try guitar instead, because arguably the time you would have to spend on mastering the instrument is similar to the amount of time you would need to be able to spend on your training routine/meal planning/overall lifestyle change.

In short, the dude seems like a perfect poster boy for "cookie-cutter" average/mediocre.

When it comes to bodybuilding, its about progress.

What is this mundane shit? Next we're gonna have someone come in saying they can get as jacked as Lee Haney within a year while training once a month...


try jerking off once a week, it makes wonders for getting excited with any stimulation at all.


Obviously training once a week is not ideal but it's better than not going at all.

It is also very possible to make minimal gains by going to the gym once a week. It depends on how much time you have and your diet.

I mean guys work out 1 body part a week all the time and make gains from it, why wouldn't the same principle apply?

I would recommend about 2 hours in the gym. You do a compound and an isolation on the big muscle groups and you do one isolation on biceps and triceps.

It has been done before with success. I would also recommend you do a little something at the house.

Chest - Flies and incline DB press
Triceps - Push downs
Back - Seated rows lat pulldowns
Biceps - Preacher curls
Legs - leg press, leg extensions and leg curls

If time permits do shoulder presses after incline DB press.

Go to failure on all exercises with the exception of leg press and flies...Done !.. you'll be home in time to see your wife breast feed.


lmao give this guy a break, having kids is one of the few legit excuses a person can have imo.

OP I am going to assume you are a beginner because if you weren't you would know what you needed to do to maintain. If you are developed I would recommend getting some dumbbells in the garage/basement and do whatever you can with the limited time you have(you will lose a lot but its better than everything). If you are just starting out I honestly wouldn't even bother, just wait a couple months till your kids are old because your not going to have the time and energy that goes into this at the beginning as ppl pointed out.


Personally if I could only train one day a week I would use this routine which is 6 lifts. Probably would modify the set/rep scheme to whatever I felt like doing. Olympic lifts are good too but I don't do those



Exactly, maintain as much as possible until you can get back to a more normal schedule. OP, trust me, that does happen, the harder you work with setting routines, and stuff early on the easier it is later; I've seen people with kids who didn't invest in this early on and they're learning the error of their ways the hard way. When I could only train once or twice a week I did something like this:

a1) snatch variation
a2) b/w pull ups
3-5 x 3-5, ramping weight and starting b1) with heaviest weight used for a1)

b1) power clean


People that care about making progress will *find time to go to the gym. Enough said.



I guess what I mean to say is that many regimens from various trainers, bodybuilders and enthusiasts are centered around a few core principles that if followed to the letter, would still produce results, albeit seemingly marginal.

I just learned about T-Nation and am I no expert on the subject but one of the core principles is using the Explosive Rep(as apposed to partials, or static holds, or negative reps, etc). Another is using enough weight to still allow the explosive movement WITHOUT going to failure. Mixing rep types and going to failure are just some examples that some bodybuilders and trainers would say are necessary for growth but i'm not attempting to bring up what is right and what is wrong, or what's good and what's bad.

I just wanted to know that if there were some fundamental principles that I absolutely had to adhere to from the T-Nation team, what would they be, and how would I apply them in a single workout per week.

edit. thanks sufiandy for that link, good info there, i'll try to apply that.


Thanks for the encouragement Gym Savvy. It's really good to hear it. If one thing will totally wipe out a life's routine, it's having children.