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Rep Scheme for 2 Day a Week Routine

I’ve got a busy couple of months coming up, so I’m thinking of cutting my training sessions to 2 days a week. I’m still a relative beginner. Goals are to maintain the muscle mass I have, and increase strength over this period. Is this a reasonable goal if I’m only working out twice a week? And how would you program this? Right now, I’m thinking:

Workout A
Bench Press

Workout B
isolation circuit - bicep/tricep/abs

My initial thought was to do 5x5 for the big lifts. But would I be better off doing 3x5 plus 3x10 instead? And how could i work in some dips? They seem like a great bang for you buck exercise when you have to be selective.

For the record, I have seen Dan John’s article on the subject, but I just can’t wrap my mind around the extremely limited exercise selection he suggests. Anyone try his routine with good results?

I haven’t myself, but a) the guy sure as shit knows what he’s talking about an b) I’m sure there are plenty of people who have.

If you want, what you set out looks OK. What’s the progression? I’d probably go in three week waves, 3x8, 3x5, 3x3 and keep the 3x10 as a back off. Then add 5 lbs to everything and do it all again. Superset the chins with dips.

MarkKO - Thanks for the reply. For progression, I was thinking one of two things.

I like the periodization scheme Matt Kroc lays out here, which is very similar to what you describe. He’s got a lower rep scheme for deadlifts as well.

I was also thinking of doing something more linear, like 3x5, but with my last set being an AMRAP set. When I hit 7 on the last set, I add weight. I’d then follow that up with 3x10 on the same exercise at maybe 60% 1RM.

Again. People reinventing the wheel…

You can NEVER go wrong with anything from Dan John.

Don’t wrap your head around it, just do it.

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If I was planning on only working out twice a week, I’d definitely do more than 3 exercises in a session.

I’m a big fan of push/pull splits. If it were me, I would probably add in another exercise or two. I would squat both days for sure and I’m thinking one day focus on push related exercises and the other on pull. As far as rep counts, 5x5 would work but you could also consider something like 5x3 one week, 5x4 next week (use same weight as previous week), 5x5 the next (again, shoot for same weight as previous week if possible), then back to 5x3 with higher weight than you started. Good way to keep progressing forward.

Workout A
Squat, bench, overhead press, close grip bench, calves (to spread out the exercises).

Workout B
Squat, pullups, barbell rows, deadlifts, Romanian deadlifts

Anytime I was able to get in an extra workout I would probably hit some of the accessory things like curls, triceps extensions, flyes, face pulls, etc.

You could do DC on a 2 a week.

I actually do 2 a week during the school year (I teach) and have had good results. I do more then 3 exercises, but only two hard and heavy work sets per exercise.

I do a day focused on upper and a day focused on lower movements. I alternate between an upper workout focused on chest exercises or shoulders and back week to week.

On an upper day I start the workout with a 100 rep leg press looking to increase the weight 5 lbs a week. On a lower day I start with a two 50 rep sets (one is arm curls always and the other is either incline dumbbell press or a back movement). The choice of upper high rep sets is based on what I will not be focusing on in a given week.

I hope this is clear. This workout seems to work because I have a lot of extra recovery time during the week. My goal is to work with enough intensity that I feel the workouts one to the next.


Thanks for the replies everyone. There’s some good input here.

Also considering 5/3/1. I came across a 2-day template where you do squats/bench 1 day, and deadlift/press the other. Each lift is followed by 5 FSL sets. Seems like a solid base to start from.

I went back and reread some of Dan John’s stuff. In a couple articles, he makes a case for front squats in the strength portion of a workout followed by high rep back squats. He also goes into circuits to get extra work in.

There’s too much good info out there. To be honest, I’m overwhelmed with the options. I’m not sure what to do.

that’s the fun part! Just pick something and give it a try for a few months, then if you liked it and had good results you keep going, or if you didn’t you try something else

Jim’s R/P challenge is the program I used on returning to training after a brief layoff when my kid was born. It’s 2 days/week and the sessions can be done pretty quickly. I loved the program.

My DL before the layoff was at 475x5. Week 6 of the R/P challenge I pulled 460x8, which is a better set, and I was at least 10 lbs lighter. Squat did well on the program too. Can’t recommend it highly enough.