Possible to Make Strength Gains Working Out Twice Weekly?

Discussion in 'Bodyweight' started by Jak Nieuwenhuis, Oct 13, 2017.

  1. Jak Nieuwenhuis

    Jak Nieuwenhuis Helping Make Others Stronger

    Hello All.

    I've been doing daily training for a while now and find it hard to believe that I could make strength and conditioning gains from doing 2 weekly workouts, each lasting about 20 minutes.

    However, upon buying Steve Maxwell's Garage Gorilla, that is exactly what he is proposing.

    Back when I did Stuart McRobert Routines (abbreviated routines twice a week) I felt really weak and those most certainly did not work for me.

    Then again, the intensity for these 2 Garage Gorilla workouts is much higher than that of the McRobert routines.

    I suppose what I am asking, is would it be possible to make respectable gains on a program of 2 super abbreviated, super intense workouts per week? Has anyone experienced significant progress on a routine of less than 3 days per week?

    Of course I would do some light mobility work pretty much daily, and stretching a few times a week as well, for recovery / prehab purposes..

    anyone's thoughts on twice weekly workouts would be appreciated, although it doesn't seem to be most people's preference on this forum

    not looking for a "will this routine work for me" answer, just looking for the pros and cons of twice weekly training, based on your experience

    thanks everybody
  2. pet'

    pet' Strong, Powerful, Explosively Athletic Member of the Forum


    @Jak Nieuwenhuis
    To be honest, I do not think this is possible to really get stronger with only 2 * 20 minutes a week, unless you start from scratch.

    25 / 30 minutes 4 to 6 times a week (for instance S&S) work because this is short...but high frequency. 2 * 20 is short but low frequency. Each time I went for a 2-3 times a week training, the training lasted 1h or so, with proper intensity.

    However, maybe something like bench/squat + DL/press, done on alternate days can be enough, even if the session remains short (20 / 25 minutes)

    Kind regards,

  3. Jak Nieuwenhuis

    Jak Nieuwenhuis Helping Make Others Stronger

    I wonder what his rationale behind training twice weekly with these workouts could be then..

    Maybe it is meant to be used as a supplement to someone who is training martial arts at least 3 times a week.
  4. pet'

    pet' Strong, Powerful, Explosively Athletic Member of the Forum


    I think this is "enough" or let say a good "introduction" if you start from zero (never train before) or are in rehab. Otherwise, maybe it can not be enough to keep progressing if you are already used to train.

    What is important is: goal, constraint, and then work with consistency.

    Kind regards,

  5. Hasbro

    Hasbro Triple-Digit Post Count

    About 3 years ago I did Wendler 5/3/1 for a year and a half. I developed some shoulder issues after about 6 months that kept me from continuing with the bench and overhead press but for the last year I did nothing but backsquat and deadlift once a week each. 3 warmup sets and 3 work sets would take 20-25 minutes. The other 5 days of the week I pretty much did nothing but eat and sleep. I became stronger than I had ever been in my life at 57 years of age with a 2x+ bw DL and a 1.5 bw backsquat.

    So you can definitely get strong that way but like Pet said I was a newbie starting from scratch with zero barbell experience so my gains came frequent with new PR’s at least once a month. Of course the longer you go at it the slower and harder the gains come. I think I could have continued to make progress but once my backsquat got over 300 and my DL over 400 it was hard to stay motivated and it seemed to take its toll on my CNS. Then one morning I woke up and said “why am I doing this?” and I couldn’t come up with a good answer.

    I guess it all depends on what kind of strength you’re looking for and what your goals are. I’m much happier these days doing nothing but S&S 5 or 6 days a week. I know I couldn’t put up those kind of DL/BS numbers today but I still feel strong and for me it’s a more functional strength at this point in my life.
  6. Kettlebelephant

    Kettlebelephant Strong, Powerful Member of the Forum

    Here in Germany we have 5-6 popular fitness programs from "low-tier"-celebrities which are very similar. All of them are just 15-20min 3x per week sessions only using very basic bodyweight exercises like lunges, burpees, mountain climbers etc.
    They also come with a nutrition plan.
    People who stick to the program indeed come out leaner and stronger, but most of them have never trained before and it's exactly this clientele that these programs are made for.

    I indeed think that 2x 20min can actually yield results though. Even for a non-beginner. If the intensity is right it can work.
    That a look at KB Muscle. Yes it's 3x per week, but depending on the week you only get 35-45min of exposure per week and yet it works like a charm.
    Marc, Jak Nieuwenhuis and Harald Motz like this.
  7. Antti

    Antti Strong, Powerful, Explosively Athletic Member of the Forum

    I think two times a week is enough to progress. I don't find it ideal for me, but it would work per se.

    Two times a week with twenty minutes of training each time is another issue. It depends on the goals and level, of course. If all you wanted to do was deadlift, I suppose it could work. Still, it would be far from ideal.

    But somehow I'm just inclined to say no.

    In the end, I think this question is far too loaded to really get a meaningful answer. What exactly is allowed to go into the 20 minutes? What is allowed to happen outside the 20 minutes? Is the 2*20 minutes all of the exercise a week for the person. Etc.
    Jak Nieuwenhuis likes this.
  8. North Coast Miller

    North Coast Miller Strong, Powerful Member of the Forum

    I don't know about "significant progress", but certainly noticeable progress. I believe most of the gains will be conditioning/muscular endurance, tho 1RM will improve a bit too.

    In my experience/opinion you get better gains from 3x a week. Intensity has to be very high to lock in 2x/week gains.
    Jak Nieuwenhuis likes this.
  9. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Forum Administrator Staff Member Senior Instructor

    The more demanding a training session is, the less frequently one can do it, and the more results will tilt towards hypertrophy if the resistance is heavy enough, the diet and rest good, etc. More frequent training can result, with mindful training, in improved skill at a lift more than a lower frequency approach.
    Yes, and it must also avoid overtraining and injury.

    Carl and q.Hung like this.
  10. Ivan Merl

    Ivan Merl Double-Digit Post Count

    After four years of cross-fit I needed something different and less demanding, I made great progress off of Dan John's "training for the busy guy." It is a 2.5 days a week program that always left me feeling fresh and I had loads of free time to focus on other aspects of my life. Its worth checking out.
    Jak Nieuwenhuis likes this.
  11. Jak Nieuwenhuis

    Jak Nieuwenhuis Helping Make Others Stronger

    Steve this is artfully put
    Steve Freides likes this.
  12. Jak Nieuwenhuis

    Jak Nieuwenhuis Helping Make Others Stronger

    This is very true. Context is everything.
  13. Jak Nieuwenhuis

    Jak Nieuwenhuis Helping Make Others Stronger

    I'd like to hear more about these low tier celebrity programs you speak of.
  14. Maine-ah KB

    Maine-ah KB Strong Member of the Forum

    while 2 days a week could defiantly work if the work done is intense enough, as Steve said. I personally favor an almost daily training (saturdays are off) usually S&S or some sorta Pull, Press, Hinge and Squat workout. I have done less frequent training before and i will say that i got bigger, and was more or less useless then next day.
    with more frequent training i get stronger and more or less avoid being sore the next day.
    Its really up to what you have time for and what you like to do. If you like full on intense crush every piece of iron/pull up bar you see go less frequently. hate being sore and like the daily ritual then more frequent.
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2017
    Jak Nieuwenhuis and Hasbro like this.
  15. LukeV

    LukeV Triple-Digit Post Count

    In terms of hypertrophy I've achieved my best gains with abbreviated training followed by two rest days (eg 3 workouts every 9 days) but the workouts have been more like 30-35 minutes. For strength you can get away with a shorter workout and you'll certainly benefit from twice per week but it would hardly be described as optimal. Three or, ideally, up to five as per PTTP should be your aim
  16. Carl

    Carl Double-Digit Post Count

    Twice a week definitely 'can' work, will it work well for you, your goals and training preferences is another question.

    Steve Maxwell has a proven track record but also talks to the fact that volume/high frequency and high intensity/low frequency both work for different reasons: The Official Steve Maxwell Website

    Pavel himself has spoke to the benefits of twice weekly training in Easy Strength. It may not be optimal depending on goals but it can certainly be effective.

    Personally, the foundation of my routines are 2x full body. Yes, I play around with GTG and some extras but 2x week is a rock solid foundation that I know I can make, even in busy weeks.

    Many ways work! ;)

    Oscar likes this.
  17. Stefan Olsson

    Stefan Olsson Helping Make Others Stronger

    Can work? Of course. I got to 1,8 x bw Squat, 2 x bw deadlift, 1,4 x bench and .85 x bw in press by doing each lift once per week. Could it have been higher with more volume? Probably. Is it strong enough? For me it was.
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2017
  18. IonRod

    IonRod Double-Digit Post Count

    This might be relevant and interesting here - Tim Ferris talks about his routine which probably also took him very little time (the training segement starts at 20 minute mark):

  19. Marc

    Marc Strong Member of the Forum

    I think 2x/week can indeed yield results!
    But you will only know if you try.
    Keep track of your progress. If you keep progressing over the long term, it works.
  20. william bad butt

    william bad butt Triple-Digit Post Count

    I suppose what I am asking, is would it be possible to make respectable gains on a program of 2 super abbreviated, super intense workouts per week? Has anyone experienced significant progress on a routine of less than 3 days per week?

    Absolutely! As a guy that has "recovery" issues, I love ultra-abbreviated training. Also, who wants to spend all their time training, I'd rather free up my time and live. Also, don't forget Pareto's Law.

    There are a lot of great abbreviated programs under "Articles" on the Strongfirst website. Also checkout the Brooks Kubik's work, he is really into abbreviated training (mostly barbell type stuff).

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