T Nation

Training Two Days A Week?

Ultimately, it’s not just what you do in the Gym that will help you gain mass. What you do out of the Gym is of at least equal importance. When I read about someone grappling three days per week I wonder exactly how long and intense these grappling sessions are. How much energy is expended relative to caloric output.

If the question is “can someone gain mass training only twice per week.” The answer has to be yes…but…

Some helpful thoughts.

  1. What sort of body the trainee brings to the situation. Are they ectomorphs, endomorphs, mesomorphs? I used to work at a bar with a guy who played basketball 5 times per week worked two jobs and still gained muscle! Rare I bet.

  2. What other activities are you doing outside of your weight training? You stated grappling. Are there any others?

  3. What sort of “stress” do you have in your life? Married with kids? Single going to school with a huge study load?
    Stress manifests itself in many negative ways…not good for muscle growth, nope.

  4. What sort of caloric intake do you have per day? Eat on the fly a lot, or are you “eating clean?”

  5. How is your protein intake? Are you slinging down about one gram per pound of body weight daily? That is not easy to do without a quality protein supplement like Grow!

  6. Are you sleeping at least 8 to 9 hours per night? I have noticed (and I think there have been a few studies) that you can be on the perfect diet and program, but if the quality of sleep is low you don’t gain. Funny how it all works together huh?

Under the right conditions you can indeed add muscle mass with only two sessions per week. Although I doubt if it is ever the ideal.

I wanted to share a routine that I have used for years and have taught to others to use with great results. The reverse push-pull routine is not so much a routine as it is a template of a routine, which can be tailored to meet the needs of the individual. The basic objective of this template is to combine compound movements with assistance/isolation movements in a full body workout.

The templates are as follows:

Day “A” 1st part of workout: Compound Pushing Movements, Presses, Dips, Squats, etc

2nd part of workout: Assistance/Isolation Movements for Back, Biceps and Hamstrings

calves, abs, & stretching

Day “B” 1st part of workout: Compound Pulling Movements, Rows, Cleans, Deadlifts, Chins

2nd part of workout: Assistance/Isolation Movements for Chest, Shoulders, Triceps & Quads

calves, abs, & stretching

On the compound movements, do straight sets to positive failure or until targeted reps are achieved. Keep written records of every set and rep and strive to increase weight and reps whenever possible. Select any exercises you like as long as they are compound movements. On the “A” day, I prefer incline presses, narrow grip bench presses, overhead presses, full squats & front squats. If I want some variety, I can substitute JM presses for the narrow grip presses or I can do the narrow grip presses from the bottom position in the power rack. On the “B” day, I prefer bent over rows, high pulls, deadlifts, power shrugs, hyperextensions and hammer curls.

You can put these movements in any order you desire or can rotate them on a regular basis. I have found that if I do my presses first, I still have plenty of energy to do my squats, but if I squat first, then my overall energy and strength is greatly diminished and my presses suffer as a result.

On the assistance/isolation movements you select a couple of exercises and perform them in more of a “bodybuilding fashion” which can include supersets, drop sets, pre-exhaust, etc. You can also use compound movements combined with isolation movements such as performing strict lateral raises followed immediately by overhead presses to failure or leg extensions followed by non-lock front squats. An aspiring powerlifter can use the assistance/isolation time to strengthen their sticking points, perform power rack exercises, grip work and targeted tricep and lat work.

The workouts are performed in a sequential fashion, meaning you perform the “A” session, rest as needed, then perform “B”, rest as needed and repeat. I have always believed in having flexibility in your rest and recovery times. Just because 72 hours have passed, does not necessarily mean you have fully recovered from your last workout. You have to factor in the quality of your food intake, your rest, stress levels ( ie Christmas holidays!) You can also use this plan for very abbreviated workouts as well by selecting two compound movements for 2 sets each followed by one assistance movement for 2 sets.

Keith Wassung

You need to use " most bang for your buck " exercises, that is, exercises that recruit the highest amount of motor units. The exercises which provide the highest return for your time invested tend to be full range compound exercises utilizing free weights such as squats and chin-ups.

  1. Not all exercises for a given body part are created equal. This is why Lat Pulldowns will never replace chins for upper back development.Therefore, squats,deadlifts, chins, dips,rows and presses are in order while kickbacks,flyes and leg extensions are out of the question.

  2. You should alternate between a squat and a deadlift day. Those exercises have been shown to elicit the highest anabolic hormones output. Regarding the deadlift, for bodybuilding purposes, I prefer the pronated (palms down grip) than the mixed grip favored by powerlifters (one hand pronated, one supinated) has led to many torn biceps. The powerlifter uses the mixed grip because he is well aware that his grip strength in the pronated position is no match for his back strength. Even though he knows the mixed grip is more dangerous, he is willing to risk injury as powerlifting federations do not allow the use of liftings straps in competition.

  3. Upper body work should center around presses, dips and chins. In my experience, if you strive at increases in poundages for those lifts, you can go without direct arm work for extended periods of time.

Here is how I would train on a limited time schedule:

DAY ONE: MONDAY

Set 1
Back Squats heels elevated | 1 x 10-12 | 4010 tempo | rest 90 seconds

Set 2
Lying Leg curls turned inward | 1 x 6-8 | 4010 tempo | rest 90 seconds

Set 3
Back Squats wide stance | 1 x 8-10 | 4010 tempo | rest 90 seconds

Set 4
Lying Leg curls turned inward | 1 x 6-8 | 4010 tempo | rest 90 seconds

Set 5
Back Squats heels elevated | 1 x 6-8 | 4010 tempo | rest 90 seconds

Set 6
Lying Leg curls turned inward | 1 x 6-8 | 4010 tempo | rest 90 seconds

Set 7
Supinated Chin-ups | 1 x 6-8 | 4010 tempo | rest 75 seconds

Set 8
Parallel or V bar dips | 1 x 6-8 | 4010 tempo | rest 75 seconds

Set 9
Supinated Chin-ups | 1 x 6-8 | 4010 tempo | rest 75 seconds

Set 10
Parallel or V bar dips | 1 x 6-8 | 4010 tempo | rest 75 seconds

Set 11
Supinated Chin-ups | 1 x 6-8 | 4010 tempo | rest 75 seconds

Set 12
Parallel or V bar dips | 1 x 6-8 | 4010 tempo | rest 75 seconds

DAY TWO: THURSDAY

Set 1
Barbell Bent Knee Deadlifts | 1 x 8-10 | 4010 tempo | rest 90 seconds

Set 2
Lying Leg curls feet turned outward | 1 x 6-8 | 4010 tempo | rest 90 seconds

Set 3
Barbell Bent Knee Deadlifts | 1 x 8-10 | 4010 tempo | rest 90 seconds

Set 4
Lying Leg curls turned outward | 1 x 6-8 | 4010 tempo | rest 90 seconds

Set 5
Dumbbell Deadlifts | 1 x 15-20 | 2010 tempo | rest 90 seconds

This a great leg routine finisher which was popularized by Dr. Ken Leistner. Hold the dumbbells with a semi-supinated, be sure to pause the dumbbells on the floor for a fraction of a second after completing each eccentric contraction.

Set 6
Lying Leg curls turned outward | 1 x 6-8 | 4010 tempo | rest 90 seconds

Set 7
Incline dumbbell presses | 8-12 reps | 4010 tempo | rest 75 seconds

Set 8
EZ bar Bent-Over Rows | 8-12 reps | 3012 tempo | rest 75 seconds

Set 9
Incline dumbbell presses 8-12 reps | 4010 tempo | rest 75 seconds

Set 10
EZ bar Bent-Over Rows | 8-12 reps | 3012 tempo | rest 75 seconds

Set 11
Incline dumbbell presses 8-12 reps | 4010 tempo | rest 75 seconds

Set 12
EZ bar Bent-Over Rows | 8-12 reps | 3012 tempo | rest 75 seconds to go down tempo | rest 75 seconds