It was a dire situation, a nightmare of indescribable proportions that only Dante could relate to. Every salacious thought I've ever had and every misdeed I ever committed was paid back to me in spades.
I lost all the songs on my iPod.
Such an event was akin to Bill Gates losing every C-note that he's ever earned. (Well, that's how it felt to me anyway.) So I was forced to reclaim my music collection. But how in the hell could I find the time in my schedule to download more than 2200 songs?
Simple: I needed a plan – and a damn efficient one. I needed to figure out a way to do a lot of work in a little time. Two days each week, I set aside four, one-hour time slots to devote entirely to downloading the songs I lost. It turned out to be a much more efficient and effective way to get the results I wanted compared to the haphazard method I used to get the initial 2200 songs.
If you're wondering what this has to do with building more muscle, hang with me.
Two For Efficiency and Results
We all encounter situations in life that are similar to my iPod mishap. Sure, they might not be nearly as baneful to your existence (I'm kidding, of course), but we all get stuck in situations when we need to be as efficient as we can with our time. This couldn't be more true with building muscle.
I've talked with thousands of trainees from all walks of life. Some live to train and have virtually no time constraints or limitations; others might run a business, go to school, raise a family, or do all of those things at once. But I've found that even the busiest of the busy can usually devote two days per week to training. And that's where this workout plan comes in.
I've devised a system that can match the results of most of my programs with only two days of training per week. Interested?
A few years back I designed the Quattro Dynamo program. It's unlike most programs you read about because it consists of four total-body training sessions each week. At the time, many felt that such frequency was too much for any natural trainee to handle, but over the years it's become one of my most popular programs.
However, many people simply can't devote four days per week to training. Fair enough. I'm going to show you how you can make two days work. Sure, it might take a little ingenuity on your part, but I think you'll find the results to be jaw dropping!
Twice-per-day training worked for this guy, but can it work when used for only two days per week? Yes!
Waterbury The Chameleon
Being an effective trainer is dependent on adapting to each person's specific situation or limitations. I tell up-and-coming trainers that they must be like chameleons: they must adapt to their clients' surroundings.
The non-athletes I work with usually have the same limitation in common: lack of time. They might say, "Waterbury, I can only devote two days to training per week, but I need you to get me in the best shape I've ever been in. Is that even possible with two days per week?"
At that point it becomes evident to me what they're thinking: "If I've only got two days per week to train, then I can only do two workouts per week." And that's where they're wrong – very wrong.
With the proper balance and organization of volume, intensity, and exercise selection, anyone who's trained for more than two years with weights can perform four, total-body workouts in two days.
Enough with the rationale. How effective is such a plan?
This is where science can't help me. I can't reference any studies to support my claim, and I can't explain the exact recovery mechanisms that support my hypothesis, but I can say this: you'll recover easier from four total-body workouts with twice-daily sessions compared to four workouts spread over four days per week. In fact, with some people, I've found that they build more muscle if the four sessions are crammed into two days!
Maybe it's because they have more total days off per week. Maybe it's neural-based. Maybe it's a structural, muscle-related enhancement. Maybe it's hormonal. Or maybe it's because of a boost in protein synthesis that only occurs when two resistance training sessions are performed in a truncated time period? It could be one or any combination of those factors. Who knows? I don't, and neither does anyone else. But it works.
I know it works because I started experimenting with twice-daily, total-body sessions when I first started honing my High Frequency Training (HFT) philosophy. If my clients couldn't recover (if their performance wasn't consistently increasing) with four sessions spread over four days, I'd have them perform the four sessions in two days. Lo and behold, their performance increased!
From there, I'd add a fifth session. A few weeks after they conditioned themselves for the fifth session, I added a sixth session on the same day. If I added the sixth session on a different day, it sometimes proved too fatiguing. So there is indeed something special about twice-daily sessions in terms of recovery.
Making It Happen
Your first task is to find two days per week to devote to training. The only caveat is that the two days must be evenly spaced throughout the week. Most people favor one weekend day for training so a Wednesday-Saturday or Thursday-Sunday plan is common. (Yes, there's an uneven number of days between each workout, but that doesn't matter.)
Your second task is to religiously adhere to post-workout recovery nutrition between your first and second workouts. Sure, your nutritional plan throughout the entire week is important, but replenishing your muscles and neurons during the hours between your AM and PM workout sessions is paramount. If you skimp on this, you'll perform like a Nancy-boy in your evening workouts.
In fact, the actions you take between your twice-daily sessions are so important that I'm going to first lay out the recovery plan for twice-daily training.
Recovery Steps Between AM and PM Sessions
1) AM Pre-Workout – Consume a half serving of Surge 0-15 minutes before you pick up your first weight.
2) AM Post-Workout 1 – Consume 1 full serving of Surge mixed with 5 grams of micronized creatine.
3) AM Post-Workout 2 – Wait 45 minutes after your first post-workout drink and consume another full serving of Surge mixed in 5g of micronized creatine.
4) Stretch – Spend 15-20 minutes stretching your entire body some time after your second post-workout drink.
5) Nap – After you stretch, lay down and try to fall into a light sleep for 15-20 minutes. This is one of the best recovery boosters that you can add to your plan. The neural recovery that a nap induces is unmatched by anything else.
6) Meal 1 – 2-3 hours after your second post-workout drink, consume a meal that has a 50/30/20 caloric balance of carbs, protein, and fat. Take two Flameout capsules with the meal.
7) BCAAs – 2 hours after meal 1, consume 2 grams of BCAAs per 25 pounds of lean body mass.
8) PM Workout – 2 hours after you take BCAAs, start your PM workout and repeat steps 1-7.
Of course, you're not forced to do any of these steps. But I prefer to tell you what's optimal; the rest is in your hands. If you can only do three or four of the steps, that's better than nothing at all. But do your best to make this plan work (hey, it's only two days per week).
Note: The aforementioned recovery steps can be used after any workout, not just this plan.
2 x 4 Workouts
As mentioned, the 2 x 4 Muscle workouts revolve around four, total-body sessions each week. Two workouts on one day; two workouts three or four days later.
Here's your two-day per week ticket to more muscle!
Rest: 45 seconds between pairings (A1, rest 45s, A2, rest 45s, A1, rest 45s, etc.)
A1. Hack Squat
Note: Use a barbell or dumbbells
A2. Dips or Decline Dumbbell Bench Press
B1. Bentover Rows
Note: Use a shoulder-width, palms up grip.
B2. Standing Calf Raise
C1. Standing Dumbbell Military Press
C2. Standing Dumbbell Hammer Curl
Rest: 60s between pairings
A1. Romanian Deadlift
A2. Dumbbell Bench Press
B1. Decline Dumbbell Triceps Extension
Note: Keep your palms facing each other throughout movement.
B2. Chin-up or Lat Pulldown with palms up grip.
C1. Dumbbell External Rotation
Note: Don't rest between arms. Start with your weakest side first.
C2. Seated Calf Raise
3-4 Days Later
A1. Front Squat
A2. Standing Dumbbell Side Raise
B1. EZ-Bar Reverse Curl
B2. Dumbbell External Rotation
C1. Incline Dumbbell Bench Press
C2. Hang Clean
Note: The hang position starts with the barbell around knee level.
A1. Swiss Ball Push-ups
Note: Perform a push-up on the smallest Swiss ball that you can find. If it's too easy to do them with your feet on the floor, elevate them on a bench.
A2. Lying Leg Curl
B1. Good Morning
B.2 Overhead Triceps Extension
Note: Hold one dumbbell with both hands, or use an EZ-curl bar.
C1. Chest-Supported Row
Note: Use a neutral hand position. Lie face-down on an incline bench for this exercise.
C2. Standing Barbell Curl
D1. Standing Calf Raise
D2. Seated Calf Raise
Perform these workouts for one month. At the end of the month, read my How to Design Your Own HFT Program so you can venture into a higher-frequency training plan. If your schedule doesn't allow an increase in training frequency, you can repeat this program with different exercises. Switch each movement to a similar variation or simply switch from using a barbell to dumbbells, or vice versa.
Progression For 2x4 Muscle
AM Workout: The second week, add one rep to every other set (4, 5, 4, 5, 4, 5). The third week, perform 6 x 5. The fourth week, perform 5, 6, 5, 6, 5, 6. Use the same initial load for all workouts.
PM Workout: Add one rep to each set. So by the end of the program, you're performing 3 x 15 with your previous 14RM.
AM Workout: Increase the load in the smallest increment that your equipment allows. Ideally, it would be around 2%, but if you must increase more than that, and if it forces you to decrease your reps to 5 per set, that's fine. Stick with that load until you can perform 6 x 4 before increasing it again.
PM Workout: Decrease the rest periods by 5's. By the end of the program, you're performing the same sets, reps, and load with 45 second rests.
Don't get too concerned with the actual time between your AM and PM workouts. I generally recommend six to eight hours, but the time isn't nearly as important as getting as much rest and nutrition as possible before your second (PM) workout.
The exercises I outlined can be changed to a similar variation. You can adapt your available equipment to the workouts.
If you have big, strong calves, replace each calf exercise with an abdominal exercise.
Any type of energy systems training or cardio isn't recommended on your twice-daily workouts. Limit your energy systems work to your days off from weight training. I recommend uphill walking or HIIT for no more than 15 minutes.
That's it. Set aside two days each week for these four workouts and you'll gain plenty of new muscle mass!