T Nation

Noob Looking for Direction


Hey, I had a question about a 2 day routine. Like most people I'm too busy to get into the gym 4-5 days a week so Im trying to focus on a two day routine that covers the basics. I have access to basic gym equipment, and a prowler. When searching I came across this thread that I liked, but I want to make sure I understand it.


My goal isn't mass, but strength and fat loss. If I planned it out like this am I doing ok or missing anything major?

Workout A - Pull ups, deadlift, bench, power clean.

Conditioning Day - Prowler, sled, sprints, something conditioning

Workout B - Snatch, Squat, Calve Raises

My life is a hectic mess of rotating work schedules, family, etc and I've got to find a way to still have effective workouts, but not live in the gym. I have never been a hardcore lifter, just a blue collar guy wanting to get in better shape, lose some fat and get my work capacity up.

I prefer compound movements and could really care less about getting bigger "guns". lol I would have 2 days of rest between each workout fyi.

After looking at the workout A, it seems that is too much for one workout unless I was a serious powerlifter or something. Maybe remove the powerclean and add military press? I'd appreciate the help.


If you believe this, then you have come to the wrong place.

If you want something, you get it done. Everyone has real life problems and duties, basically excuses. But you just have to get shit done if you want it.


Just to be a nice guy, from memory i think something like 5/3/1 may be in line with your goals. I think in the manual Wendler gives a 2 day option. Also you could just do the main lift and get out the gym pretty quick.


i know there is a lot more to your post but i have seen this a lot especially back when i was a trainer. it seems, thanks to all the bodybuilding mumbo jumbo, that you have to workout for 3-4 hours a day to get results. not true for many people. those bodybuilders that need that are so far advanced to the other 99.9% of the worlds population that is just does not apply to the rest of humanity. then there are some athletes that require that volume but they also do events that can last for hours. so if you are not part of those or similar groups then i would not worry about spending a lot of time working out.

intensity is conversely related to volume. so the more volume you have, several hours for example, prevents you from having much intensity. so keep it short and you will do fine, but you will need to be very intense to see progress. and i hope you are not going for mass and mass only as what stimulate the most mass is time under tension, or volume based workouts.

maybe read up on pavel tsatsouline and his RKC stuff. they preach very simple workouts with 2-3 exercises not just for the day but for everyday. like you could do the turkish getup and the swing and call it good. i have done a workout that was only deads and dips every workout when i was short on time. take you car to a big parking lot and push and pull it for 30 minutes. there are many more examples you can find online with a bit of google searching.

this may not be what you want, but it may be what you need.


I can't offer advice on that programme being : 1 a beginner as well and 2. Having not done that programme.

However here are a few thoughts :.

I also work a difficult work schedule (registered nurse) typically 12 hour shifts and have other interests that take up significant time.

I did at the start have the perception that i had to be in the gym for hours at a time to be getting anywhere (just like assoneying says) and for me to do that meant spending just about every non work day in the gym and not getting anything else done.

Som time ago when i was trying to work around this problem i came across an article (think it was Chris Shugart) who said something like.
Pogramme has to allow progression
Programme has to allow recovery
Programme has to work for your life

Clearly mine wasn/t working for my life but simply because i had the wrong perception.

What i have learned to do is how to have short effective workouts that allow me to get most of my training done in 30-40 minutes on a work day and then have 1 'luxury' day when i can catch up on stuff that i maight have missed out on.

My way of doing this is largely based on Dan John's writing (also inspired by pavel tatsouline) where the focus is on the main lift for that session but paired up with a second lift that is done in between sets of the main lift.
Todays workout for example (my log is in the over 35s ..carry on nurse) something like :
Deadlift warm up
Bench warm up

Deadlift set
Bench set

Repeated for as many sets as the programme demands with no real periods spent doing nothing.

Etc etc.
With some finishing work as time allows..and i usually use that time for a compound body weight exercise (today it was dips).

It is very focussed and does seem to be working out for me.

I do note, having read through their work that several coaches suggest that a 3 times a week programme is the target for a beginner and i try to keep to that.

I do plan my sessions now to get the 'big stuff' done as priority as early in a workout as feasible (big stuff as in big compound lifts).
I aim to match up a big lower body move (main lift) with a big upper body move or do a push vs pull as a pair.
This way of working seems to allow me to work maximally hard for the time that i am in the gym.




Good reply thank you. I will look up the RKC stuff.


With all due respect, you assumed too much and you know what happens when you assume. You took one quote out of that whole paragraph and ignored everything else. You don't know my situation, the stuff I'm dealing with, and you just assumed I'm just being lazy. The fact I'm here looking for advice, recommendations, etc should tell you I'm the opposite of lazy. I'm here because I want to make it work, I just need to figure out HOW. I'm not looking for an excuse, I'm looking for a solution to a problem; big difference. I cannot (and will not) just ignore work or my wife, my kids, my second job, etc. "Sorry babe, I cant spend time with the kids, I have to get "shit" done".

Your second reply was helpful so thank you for that. I had been reading Wendlers 5-3-1 ebook and it seems like it may be a good fit.


Great reply, thank you for taking the time to lay out your routine. I like how you really went back to the basics. I need to go back and reread it but I think that workout you outlined was an example Jim Wendler gave in his 5-3-1 book. I have only read a few of Dan Johns articles, but he is what brought me here (blame him everyone lol) He is very easy to read and makes things simple, which I need. I especially liked his 2 part series on 40 years of learning. After the suggestion initially about 5-3-1, your routine which seems to resemble that and what I've read so far I will give that a go. Thank you for your feedback.


i think he means he finds it hard to believe you cant find 30-40 minutes 4-5 times a week to go to gym
theres a lot of guys here in your situation(two jobs and family) that do fit it in with little interfernce.


Fair enough. I wont bore you with the details of my situation, but its not just a job and kids, its unfortunately much more complicated then that. Its not a sob story, its my reality and I'm trying to make it work like everyone is these days. With helpful posts and some reading, I'll make it work.


go with 5/3/1, you can tailor made it to your needs.


Will do man, thanks for the reply.




be prepared for it to take a long while for your body to not cripple you by DOMS. it would help if you could do some stuff when you can't get to the gym to help your recovery. foam roll. maybe even some bodyweight stuff (e.g., squats, push-ups etc).


30-40 minutes?

The session alone for me is 60 minutes. Add 20 of changing clothes, taking shake, shower, etc.
Then 40-50 minutes of travel. It takes me around 3 hours (less if I go after work) to do the entire thing.

"30-40 minutes".


hes not really into bodybuilding apparently so shorter sessions could work
plus i couldve sworn some big guys on here sometimes have had to do that (bad times, school, etc.) and progressed decently
its not ideal but better then going only two days a week
maybe im wrong, if so i appologize.


Just came back to this question after a marathon sleepathon post 4x12 hour shifts back to back and a couple of gym sessions !!.

Thoughts :
If a 2 day a week training routine is going to work for you then the principle (i would apply) would be to get the absolute best out of those 2 days.

In my original post i may have gone down the wrong track ie trying to outline how i use short workout time to maximal effect but try to stay with a 3 day routine. Now the reason why i go with a 3day routine is because 'coach says so' ie most coaches : Dan John, Jin wendler,Chris Thibs etc all reccomend 3 days for beginners. And i am very much a beginner.

I did notice in your post that you are talking about 2 days lifting and 1 day conditioning so it looks like you are going to the gym 3 days a week--if so then my first thoughts are :
1. Why not drop the conditioning day and just lift and/or add some conditioning work as part of a lifting day ?.

My reason for suggesting this is that most coaches seem to be thinking along the lines of building up power and strength as a priority and then attending to secondary goals.

If however a 2 day lifting and 1 day conditioning is something you have worked out as being best for your needs then it is the 2 day lifting that you need to work out how to get the best from.

If time in gym isn't a problem (unlike my situation) then you probably have the possibility of getting in 2 full body workouts.
I do agree that the big compound movements/lifts are the thing that the coaches are reccoemnding and is the way i am going.

I do like what Dan John says about making sure to get all the big movements covered in a working week and that is a principle that i work to now.

I do try to prioritise my lifts in such a way that i get maximum 'bang for buck' so make sure i get my deadlift/squat/bench done first (whichever one is priority that day) anything else is then a bonus.
My actual routine is very much based on Dan John rather then 531 mainly because i like the way that Dan John lays out his basic ideas and then says 'tweak as necasary' and that is somehing that works for me best in my situation.
So the way i work is that on a rolling 3 day out of 7 cycle i set (per session) :
Day 1. Main lift deadlift. secondary lift bench. finishing/bonus work bwe eg dips/chins
Day 2. Main lift Squat. secondary lift any row. finishing/bonus work bwe eg press up/chins,pull ups/dips
Day3 Main lift bench (bench is weakest) secondary lift any. Bonus work bwe and/or conditioning eg kb swings/sprints/tabata

Its more 'fluid' and intuitive then many set programmes but allows me to it the big stuff/address weaknesses and have a bit of creative fun as well.