The Twice-A-Week Plan For When Life Hits

It’s great to post things on social media about having no excuses and never missing a day in the gym, but sooner or later, whether you like it or not, life will usually find you.

I don’t mean this to be a bad thing, either. Maybe you have a new kid, a demanding project, or a professional opportunity that you can’t—and shouldn’t—take lightly. These things sometimes have to take precedence over the gym, and to pretend they don’t would be silly.

But the question remains: What do you do on those days? To start, don’t set unrealistic expectations for yourself. Training two days a week, while much better than nothing, probably isn’t going to get you into the proverbial “best shape of your life.” There’s just no way around that. However, it’s definitely enough to maintain strength and keep anyone from asking “What happened to you?”

Here are two complete plans, for two situations. Keep them filed away, and when you need them, make good use of them!

The Weekender and the Twice-a-Weeker

When it comes down to training twice a week you have plenty of split options, depending on your situation and how those days are spaced. Here are the two I prefer:

  • If your training days are back-to-back or close to it, like weekends, I recommend an upper/lower split so that the two days don’t interfere much with each other.
  • If you can separate your sessions by at least a couple of days, (such as Wednesday and Saturday, or something similar) I prefer two full-body training sessions: one full-body push, the other full-body pull.

Either option is fine, and it comes down to your situation and personal preference. Both are also compatible with the home gym setup I laid out in my article “Get Maximum Results from Minimal Equipment.”

Just remember that, since you only have two days to train, you want to focus on getting the most bang for your buck. Unfortunately, that means there won’t be a whole lot of isolation work in there. Therefore, you’ll want to start with a foundation built of heavy, compound lifts:

  • Squat variations
  • Deadlifts
  • Explosive pulls, like snatch high pulls and barbell cleans
  • Bench presses and overhead-press variations
  • Pull-ups and rows

Supersets and paired sets are also your friends here. I can hear some of you already thinking, “That’s no different than any training program”, and you’d be right.

The difference is that with a normal program of 4-5 days per week, there is more room to dabble. With only two days you don’t have that luxury, so these lifts will have much more focus placed on them. That’s not to say you can’t do some curls—you will—but acknowledge on the front end that you’re not going to be getting a full arm session in.

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The Weekender: Two Consecutive Training Days

Day 1: Lower Body 1

Snatch Pull (from the floor)

6 sets of 4 reps, rest 90 sec.
Snatch Pull Snatch Pull


Front Squat (pause at bottom)

5 sets of 8 reps at 70% of 1RM, rest 90 sec.
Front Squat (Bodybuilder) Front Squat (Bodybuilder)


Romanian Deadlift

4 sets of 8-10 reps, rest 90 sec.
Romanian Deadlift Romanian Deadlift


Barbell Reverse Lunge

4 sets of 10 reps, rest 90 sec.
Barbell Reverse Lunge Barbell Reverse Lunge

Superset 4 sets, rest 60 sec. between rounds


Leg Extensions

4 sets of 10-12 reps
Leg Extensions Leg Extensions

Lying Leg Curls

4 sets of 10-12 reps
Lying Leg Curls Lying Leg Curls

Ab circuit: 4 rounds, resting as little as possible


Ab Roller

10 reps
Ab Roller Ab Roller

Oblique Crunches

20 reps per side
Oblique Crunches Oblique Crunches

Reverse Crunch

20 reps
Reverse Crunch Reverse Crunch

Christopher Smith, CSCS

Christopher Smith, CSCS

Chris Smith is a strength coach from New York City and the founder of Train Better Fitness.

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