Training twice a week, covering all 4 lifts Training twice a week, covering all 4 lifts

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Thread: Training twice a week, covering all 4 lifts

  1. #1
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    Nov 2020
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    Default Training twice a week, covering all 4 lifts

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    Hi everyone,

    Recently, due to time constraints and life in general, I've been doing just 2 training sessions per week. I cover all 4 of the main lifts (squat, DL, bench, OHP), include chin-ups/pull-ups as assistance exercises (both weighted and unweighted), and alternate between Intensity and Volume versions of each lift. Therefore, while all 4 lifts are trained in a single week, it takes 2 full weeks to run through both the Intensity and Volume versions of all the lifts...which obviously means that progress will be slower. However, slower progress is better than no progress, and I definitely have seen progress. I consider this a modified version of the "1 lift per day" Intermediate style (described in PP:ST), except the schedule has been "condensed" into 2 days, instead of 3 days.

    The details are below:

    Week A looks like:

    Monday..............................Thursday..................................Saturday
    Squat (Volume, 5x5)...........Bench (Intensity, 5RM)..............Weighted chinups
    Press (Intensity, 5RM)...........Deadlift (Volume, 5x2)......................................
    Chinups..............................Pullups...... .................................................. ....

    Week B looks like:

    Monday..............................Thursday..................................Saturday
    Squat (Intensity, 5RM)..........Bench (Volume, 5x5)..............Weighted pullups
    Press (Volume, 5x5)............Deadlift (Intensity, 5RM)......................................
    Chinups..............................Pullups...... .................................................. ....

    Any thoughts on this type of programming? Has anyone else tried something similar? Any suggestions on how to make this work better?

    Thanks!

    -skypig

  2. #2
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    Sep 2020
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    I'm by no means an expert, but if I were forced to train only two days per week I would cycle these movements each workout:

    A: Squat, Press, Deadlift
    B: Squat, Bench, Chins

    I don't think squatting only once per week is ideal. Also, doing deadlifts and pullups back to back isn't something I'd do either. Chinups/pullups 3 times per week seems excessive too.

    Is Saturday a home workout because you don't have time to go to the gym?

  3. #3
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    Thanks for the feedback, Cody! I realize squatting once per week isn't ideal - I also realize training twice per week isn't ideal . That's why this was posted in the "programming modifications" forum - it's obviously not "doing the program," and definitely less optimal than a full/normal training schedule.

    That being said, perhaps I can consider re-structuring my training sessions to include the squat on both days, as you suggested - I know the squat is one of the more critical lifts for driving strength gains, and I'm probably leaving something on the table, by only squatting once per week.

  4. #4
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    Also, one more question for Cody: why wouldn't you advise doing deadlifts and pullups on the same day? Note that I treat pullups/chinups as assistance exercises, so I do them after my main workout, with at least 1.5 hours of rest between the final DL set and the first pullup/chinup set. I don't think pullups/chinups stress the back to nearly the same level as DL's, so I wouldn't think there'd be issues with including them, as long as they're done as assistance exercises at the end of the main workout...but has your experience shown otherwise?

    Thanks again!

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by skypig View Post
    Also, one more question for Cody: why wouldn't you advise doing deadlifts and pullups on the same day? Note that I treat pullups/chinups as assistance exercises, so I do them after my main workout, with at least 1.5 hours of rest between the final DL set and the first pullup/chinup set. I don't think pullups/chinups stress the back to nearly the same level as DL's, so I wouldn't think there'd be issues with including them, as long as they're done as assistance exercises at the end of the main workout...but has your experience shown otherwise?

    Thanks again!

    I assumed you were doing them immediately after DL's. If they don't stress your back too much and you're seeing progress, I guess leave them as is. Still, I think you ought to ask yourself if it is both necessary and optimal to perform an assistance exercise 3 times a week when the main lifts are being performed 1 time per week. If you just like pullups and enjoy doing them that frequently, have at it.

  6. #6
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    I've been doing something similar to this since COVID started and have had great results. I do 531 two days a week and exclude the second and fourth week. I think it's called Karls method. I will occasionally do back off sets if i feel like i need them. I have had a home gym for years now but this COVID has increased our work load. I work 7 days a week, literally, and this programming allows me to recover and still make progress without interfering with my work schedule.

  7. #7
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    Apr 2016
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    Hi, I'm not a coach and don't know what your numbers are, but if you can make progress with the program you're currently running, everything is fine. If you can afford more intra-workout time, you could probably shift to something like this and still make weekly progress (based on what worked for me):

    Monday
    Light Squat 3x5 ~85% of 4x5)
    Bench top set 1x3 + back-offs 4x5 @~85% of 1x3
    Deadlift 1x5 + 2x8 (SLDL or DL)
    Chins or pullups

    Thursday
    Heavy Squat 1x3 + 4x5@~85% of 1x3
    Press 2x3 + 3x5
    Dips (weighted if possible) 3 x 6-infinite

    Saturday
    Weighted Chins

    This shouldn't change your template too much and it keeps an intensity set approach. I agree with Cody that a light squat session would be welcome, also I would fill the lacking pressing volume with Dips or maybe CGBP. I think if you perform weighted Chins on a separate day, unweighted chins after a deadlift workout shouldn't be a problem.

  8. #8
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    The fatigue from squatting on Monday will have much greater ramifications on your press than vice versa. I would press first, especially on the press intensity day.

  9. #9
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    Cody: you make a good point. The reason I do assistance exercises 3 times a week is because they're all I can fit in. I only need 20 minutes to do 3 x AMAP unweighted chinups/pullups (or 3 x 5 weighted). I need around 45 minutes to go through a 5RM intensity "main lift," and probably around an hour to do a 5x5 volume session. With my life as busy as it is, it's much more difficult for me to fit in an extra "main lift," than it is to fit in an assistance workout...and I'd rather do an assistance workout, than do nothing. Not ideal, not optimal, I know...but I'm trying to make the best of the situation. That being said, you are absolutely correct that I should be prioritizing the main lifts over any sort of assistance work, so I will keep this in mind going forward, and try to adapt accordingly if my schedule opens up.

    plumber:
    I'm sorry you're working 7 days a week. I can't imagine doing that. However, I'm happy to hear that you're seeing results, when using a similar program. Probably really helps to manage the stress of that killer work schedule. I also have a home gym, and am really thankful for it. Keep it up!

    StanMoi: thanks for the sample workout. 2 days of training per week, with some extra lifts thrown in...I will save this thread for future reference.

    zft: thanks for the tip...but weirdly, my personal experience has shown me the exact opposite of what you said. I have a much easier time squatting before my press, than pressing before my squat. In fact, every time I remember pressing before my squat, my squat felt really "tired" and I would fail the squat. Also, virtually every workout in the blue book (SS:BBT) and the gray book (SS:PP) shows the squat being done before the press/bench press, and I'm sure there's some reason for this. Perhaps the squat "warms up" the body for the other lifts? And/or the squat requires the most energy + uses the most muscle mass, and therefore should be prioritized over the other lifts?

    Thanks everyone for the advice!

  10. #10
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    Mar 2019
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    starting strength coach development program
    Quote Originally Posted by skypig View Post
    Also, virtually every workout in the blue book (SS:BBT) and the gray book (SS:PP) shows the squat being done before the press/bench press, and I'm sure there's some reason for this. Perhaps the squat "warms up" the body for the other lifts?
    Here's my understanding: (As a novice), you want to add as much muscle mass as possible; the squat is the most effective exercise for doing this and so it's the focus. Also, most variations of the novice program includes two lower body lifts per day--having the press or bench in-between gives you some time to recover from the fatigue of the squat before deadlifting or cleaning. Programs like the TM split avoid the issue entirely; you don't squat and press (or bench) on the same day! I suspect the reasons for squatting first in the traditional TM is largely the same as that in the novice program.

    At any rate, the fatigue you experience from a 1x5 intensity press is less than a 5x5 squat at a weight that's sufficiently heavy to drive adaptation. A 5x5 squat is pretty draining (and often constitutes over an hour of squatting) and is always more fatiguing than, say, a 5x5 press because it's a larger ROM using more muscle mass.

    Quote Originally Posted by skypig View Post
    And/or the squat requires the most energy + uses the most muscle mass, and therefore should be prioritized over the other lifts?
    I'd argue that this is exactly why you should press first--squatting is inherently more fatiguing! (Ask yourself why you deadlift after you squat.) The press is also very technically sensitive and, hence, sensitive to fatigue. This is especially relevant on the 1x5 day where you're setting a new 5RM.

    But if squatting first works better for you, go for it. I'm sure in practice the actual outcome between the two schemes isn't (particularly) significant and you'll reap the rewards of your work regardless of the order in which that work is performed. The ordering here also of course reflects your training focus (squatting first is favoring the squat).

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