How To Gain Muscle & Strength In Just 1-2 Workouts A Week

Jacked Cash
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A lifter will be cruising along, making gains and eating right, and then life will kick his butt. The demands of school or work intensify, or life changes happen and reduce the amount of free time available to workout.

Discouragement sets in. The result? Nine times out of ten these lifters take time away from the iron and end up killing their progress.

This cycle often repeats itself. Trainees somehow feel that if they can't workout three, four or even five times per week that there is no point in even heading to the gym.

I am here to tell you differently. This might sound counterintuitive, but you can make progress training only once or twice a week. Worst case scenario, during those periods in life when you can barely find the time to eat, minimalistic programs can serve to maintain your strength and muscle gains until you get your feet back under you.

A secret of success​

Here's a secret to reaching your goals that is rarely talked about: successful lifters generally don't take time away from the gym, even when life isn't perfect. They do what they can, when they can.

You must understand that perfection isn't obtainable. It's a fairy tale. If you wait for that perfect year to come along so you can finally focus and reach your goals, well...good luck. You might be waiting for a while.

Putting your gains in a holding pattern (at minimum) is a much better option that taking time away from the gym. All you will need to accomplish this mission is 1 to 2 hours per week. Turn off the TV, power down the Xbox, or prepare a few meals in advance so you can open up some free time.

Do whatever it takes to find that extra hour or two so you can train. That's what a successful lifter would do.

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The Programs - Time to Gain or Maintain​

I have included 4 programs in this article. Two are for those of you who want muscle, muscle and more muscle. The other two programs are powerbuilding programs. They focus on building or maintaining strength and muscle.

It is important to remember that you still need to eat properly during periods of minimal training. The body can grow and build strength on these programs, so don't skimp at the plate.

You should be able to complete each of these workouts in about one hour.

2 Day Muscle Building Workout​

You will want to rest at least 2 complete days in between each session. Here is a sample schedule:

  • Monday - Workout A
  • Thursday - Workout B
This program will utilize rest-pause work to help you build muscle. For every exercise other than squats and deadlift, you will rest 30 seconds between sets. To save time, you will also be using the same weight for each set of a given exercise.

Adding Weight. For rest-paused exercises, add weight (the next time you perform this movement) when you are able to perform 12+ reps during your first set. For squats and deadlifts, add weight when the sets feel manageable.

Leg presses you should add weight when you are able to perform 20+ reps on the first set. For leg curls, add weight when you can perform 15 reps on your first set.

Set Intensity. Make sure to push each set for as many reps as possible. Stop a set when you feel like you might fail on the next rep. The focus should be on progress and maximizing sets, not on failure.

Workout A
2 Day Muscle Building Workout
ExerciseSetsReps
Squats (3 minutes rest between sets)220
Barbell Rows or Seated Cable Rows55-12
Incline Dumbbell Bench Press55-12
Stiff Leg Deadlifts55-12
Military Press55-12
Skullcrushers55-12
Workout B
2 Day Muscle Building Workout
ExerciseSetsReps
Deadlift (2 minutes rest between sets)35
Leg Press510-20
Bench Press55-12
Leg Curls58-15
Seated Arnold Press55-12
Barbell Curls55-12

One Day Muscle Building Workout​

For those weeks in which you can only hit the gym once, use the following program. All non-squat exercises use rest-pause work, just as with the 2 day program above.

Workout
One Day Muscle Building Workout
ExerciseSetsReps
Squats (3 minutes rest between sets)220
Barbell Rows or Seated Cable Rows45-12
Bench Press45-12
Leg Curls48-15
Seated Arnold Press45-12
Dips4AMAP
Chin Ups or Barbell Curls (As many as possible if doing chins)45-12

2 Day Power Building Workout​

This program will focus on strength and muscle building. For the big lifts - presses, squats and deadlifts - you will perform a 6 set x 3 rep protocol, resting 90-120 seconds between sets. Add weight to these lifts when the 6 sets feel manageable (the last set not close to failure).

Additional exercises will utilize the rest-pause method detailed above in the muscle building workouts.

You will want to rest at least 2 complete days in between each session. Here is a sample schedule:

  • Monday - Workout A
  • Thursday - Workout B
Workout A
2 Day Power Building Workout
ExerciseSetsReps
Squats63
Bench Press63
Barbell Rows45-12
Seated Dumbbell Press45-12
Workout B
2 Day Power Building Workout
ExerciseSetsReps
Deadlift63
Military Press63
Leg Press410-20
Close Grip Bench Press45-12

One Day Power Building Workout​

This is a no nonsense program. It is intense but effective.

There is no rest-pause work in this routine. With that said, if you have a limited amount of time to lift, I wouldn't rest longer than 2 minutes between sets.

Add weight when you can for each exercise.

Workout
One Day Muscle Building Workout
ExerciseSetsReps
Deadlifts23-5
Squats35
Squats120
Bench Press45
Barbell Row35
Military Press35
Romanian Deadlift25-8
 
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