Strength Training in 2 Hours a Week

Day 1

  • Deadlifts (and variations)
    • 5 sets of 2 to 3 – work up to a final heavy with your goal reps. 
      • Determining your starting weight:
        • Determine your goal weight for the final set.
          • This should be a weight that you can lift for about 3 reps more than your goal
            • If you your goal is 2 reps then use your 5 rep max
        • Working up to your weight:
          • You know your goal weight and how many sets it’s going to take to get there.  So now it’s time for a little math.  We’ll make even jumps between sets until we get to the goal.  For me I start at the goal and work backwards by decreasing the weight by 10% each set until I have all sets determined.
          • For example the goal is a set of 2 reps with 315lb on my final “work set”
            • 315 x 2 preceding set should be 10% less…
            • 285 x 2 preceding set should be 10% less…
            • 255 x 2 preceding set should be 10% less…
            • 230 x 2 preceding set should be 10% less…
            • 205 x 2 – weight for my first set
  • Overhead Press (and variations)
    • 4 sets of 10 – work up to a final set of as many reps as possible (AMRAP) that gets you between 8 and 12 reps. 
    • Determining your starting weight – as above but now you’re going to try to pick a weight you can do about 12 to 15 times
    • Working up to your weight – as above but this time you only use 4 sets total
      • For example à goal is a set of AMRAP with 100lb on my final “work set”
        • 100 x AMRAP preceding set should be 10% less…
        • 90 x 10 preceding set should be 10% less…
        • 80 x 10 preceding set should be 10% less…
        • 70 x 10 – weight for my first set
        • Accessory work – these should be exercises that are specifically chosen to address weaknesses and/or for your sport of choice.  The intensity level on these lifts is typically less (always leave a few reps in the tank) and the rep ranges a little higher.
          • Good examples – chin up/pull ups, pushups, dips, barbell rows and direct work for the abs, neck, triceps and biceps
            • Invest in a pair of resistance bands, kettlebells and/or dumbbells.  These are all great tools for accessory work and allow you to do a lot of variations with minimal space and equipment.
  • Basic rules of thumb –
    • No more than 3 accessory movements
    • Limit sets and reps so that the total number of reps is between 15 and 25
      • Example – 2 sets of 12, 3 sets of 8 or 2 sets of 10
    • Do not take these to failure.  Save that energy for your main lift(s)
    • Super-setting accessory work is a good way to conserve time


Day 2

  • Squats (and variations)
    • As Overhead Press
  • Bench Press (and variations)
    • As Overhead Press
  • Accessory work – as above, the accessory work can be the same as you did earlier in the week but with different reps ranges and/or sets, you can take this chance to change it up completely or you can do the exact same thing again.

 Final thoughts:

  • Be conservative with your weights.  When in doubt start low and work your way up over time.
  • For progression of weight:
    • If you get the goal reps then increase next time by 5lb to 10lb.  If you don’t get the goal reps then try one more time when it’s time to do that lift again.  If you still don’t get the goal reps then decrease by 10% and start over.
    • Warm-up as needed before getting into your sets.
    • Take at least 1 to 2 days between sessions.  This is a twice a week plan, divide it the best you can to allow for your schedule and recovery.
    • When in doubt keep the accessory work to a minimum.  The accessory work is a supplement to the main lifts.
      • It would be perfectly reasonable to skip the accessory work in favor of conditioning work.  Complexes would fit into this schedule very well. 
      • Do what fits your goals the best.
      • Rest breaks between sets for all lifts should be reasonable.  No more than a few minutes (3 at most) on main lifts and 1 or 2 minutes on accessory stuff.
      • This set up assumes you have a life and/or other things to do.  So do them J

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