Training Muscles Twice Per Week Guide: Gym Meal's Best Routines

Posted by Brent Redpath on
How many times you train a muscle group per week is often a highly debated topic. Traditionally, especially in bodybuilding circles, it's believed that training a muscle group once a week is the best approach to growing muscle. This is mainly due to the belief that if you train a muscle more than once in a given week, it can lead to 'overtraining' and doesn't allow adequate time for your muscles to grow. 

Although there is limited research on the topic, one summary of research showed that training muscle groups twice per week led to more growth than training them that once per week. This is supported by anecdotal evidence from bodybuilders from the Golden era such as Arnold Schwartzenegger, arguably the greatest bodybuilder of all time, who trained muscle groups multiple times per week. So if the science isn't enough to convince you, then maybe the Oak can. 

So, if you are looking to switch from 'chest Monday' and 'Legs Day' approach, here is how to get started. 


The Common Problems 


The common problem people make when they try to switch from training muscles once per week, to twice, is they just double the volume. This leads to debilitating delayed onset muscles soreness (DOMS) and leads to one burning out quickly. The trick is to split the volume up over the week, not double it. For example, if you normally do six exercises for chest on Monday - do three on Monday, three on Thursday. The amount of work you end up doing is the same; you are just hitting the muscle twice in the same week. 

Another problem is the soreness. When first making the switch to training twice per week, it is often accompanied by severe DOMS during the first two to three weeks. The trick is to work through this stage, and eventually, your body will adapt to the frequency. You will find yourself being less sore than before and getting more gains.

Here are some examples of the best and most well-known ways of structuring your training to train muscle groups twice a week.


Push, Pull, Legs  


Push, Pull, Legs is one of the most common ways to hit multiple muscle group's per week and ideal for those just being introduced to this frequency. To be fair, it has you training muscle groups every eight days, not seven. But the extra day gives provides a good transition. There are many ways to structure this, but here is how it is most commonly done:

  • Day one - Push #A
  • Day two - Pull #A
  • Day three - Legs #A
  • Day four - OFF
  • Day five - Push #B
  • Day six - Pull #B
  • Day seven - Legs #B
  • Day eight - OFF 
  • Repeat


If you notice each day has an #A or #B next to it. This is because during the eight days, two different push, pull, legs workouts are cycled through. This is done to allow some variety in the way you are hitting each muscle group and for better programming. Here is a simple example of how to structure the program. Please note, this is just an example and can be tailored based on exercise preference and volume can be added. 

PUSH #A

Barbell bench: 4 sets, 8-10 reps
Incline dumbbell Press:  4 sets, 8-10 reps 
Incline dumbbell flyes: 3: sets, 8-10 reps
Triceps pushdowns: 4 sets, 8-10 reps
Dumbbell lateral raises: 4 sets, 8-10 reps 

PULL #A


Barbell deadlifts: 4 sets, 4-6 reps 
Chinups/assisted pullups: 4 sets, 10 reps
Seated rows: 4 sets, 8-10 reps
Close grip pull downs: 3 sets, 8-10 reps
Dumbbell hammer curls: 4 sets, 8-10 reps

LEGS #A

Front squats: 4 sets, 6-8 reps

Leg press: 4 sets: 8-10 reps
Seated hamstring curls: 3 sets, 8-12 reps 
Seated leg extensions: 3 sets, 8-12 reps
Seated calve raises: 4 sets, 8-12 reps 

PUSH #B

Overhead press: 4 sets, 8-10 reps
Flat dumbbell press: 4 sets. 8-10 reps
Flat dumbbell flyes: 3 sets, 8-12 reps
Skull crushers:  4 sets, 8-12 reps
Cable lateral raises, 3 sets, 8-12reps

PULL #B

Barbell rows: 4 sets, 8-10 reps 
Close grip pull downs: 4 sets, 8-10 reps 
Seated rows: 3 sets, 8-10 reps 
Barbell/Ezy bar curls: 4 sets, 10-12 reps
Face pulls: 3 sets, 8-10 reps 

LEGS #B

Barbell squats: 4 sets, 6-8 reps
Hack Squats:  3 sets, 8-10 reps
lying hamstring curls: 3 sets, 8-10 reps
Seated Leg extensions: 3 sets, 8-10reps
Ab roller rolls: 4 sets. 8-10 reps


Power Hypertrophy Adaptive Training (PHAT) 


PHAT is a way of structuring your training widely popularised by powerlifter, PHD and natural bodybuilder Dr Layne Norton. The idea behind this routine is it allows you train muscle groups twice in the same week. Earlier in the week, you train heavy focusing on lower reps, longer rest periods and moving more weight. Then, later in the week, you train more traditional bodybuilding style with higher rep ranges and shorter rest periods. The benefit of this is, not only do you target muscle groups twice per week; you do so with different rep ranges. It also allows you make good strength gains while gaining muscle. 

Here is an example of how would structure the week: 

  • Monday - Max Effort Upper Body 
  • Tuesday - Max Effort Lower Body
  • Wednesday - OFF
  • Thursday - Chest And Arms Hypertrophy 
  • Friday - Legs Hypertrophy
  • Saturday - Back And Shoulders Hypertrophy 
  • Sunday - OFF


As you can see, Monday and Tuesday are designed to be full upper, and lower body workouts focused on heavy compound movements and the rest of the week is structured around higher rep ranges and getting a pump. Here is an example of a routine - this is a little higher volume, so as I said before, you can change volume depending on age and exercises based on preference. 

Monday: Upper Power

Barbell Bench Press: 5 sets, 4-6 reps
Incline Bench press: 3 sets, 4-6 reps

Barbell Rows: 5 sets, 5 reps
Military Press: 3 sets, 5 reps

Barbell Curls: 3 sets, 6-8 reps
Weighted dips 3 sets, 6-8 reps

Tuesday: Lower Power

Barbell Squats: 5 sets, 4-6 reps
Deadlifts: 5 sets, 4-6 reps
Calve Raises: 3 sets, 6-8 reps
Hamstring Curls: 2 sets, 6-8 reps
Leg Extensions: 2 sets, 6-8 reps

Wednesday: OFF


Thursday: Chest Arms Hypertrophy

Incline Barbell Press: 3 sets, 8-12 reps
Flat Dumbbell Press: 3 sets, 8-12 reps
Decline Barbell Press: 3 sets, 8-12 reps
Machine Flyes: 3 sets, 12-15 reps
Preacher Curls: 3 sets: 8-15 reps
Dumbbell Curls: 3 sets, 8-15 reps
Cable Curls: 3 sets, 8-15 reps
Over Head Dumbbell Extensions: 3 sets, 8-15 reps
Dips: 3 sets, 8-15 reps
Rope Press Downs: 3 sets, 8-15 reps

Friday: Legs

Hack Squat Machine: 3 sets, 8-12 reps
Leg Press: 3 sets, 8-12 reps
Dumbbell Lunges: 3 sets, 8-12 reps
Glute Ham Raises: 3 sets, 8-12 reps
Lying Leg Curls: 3 sets, 12-15 reps
Leg Extensions: 3 sets, 12-15 reps
Standing Calf Raises: 3 sets, 10-12 reps
Seated Calf Raises: 3 sets, 12-15 reps

Saturday: Back/Shoulders

Lat Pulldowns: 3 sets, 8-12 reps
Straight Arm Pulldowns: 3 sets, 8-12 reps
T-Bar Rows: 3 sets, 8-12 reps
Cable Rows: 2 sets, 8-12 reps
Dumbell Shoulder Press: 3 sets, 8-12 reps
Dumbell Lateral Raises: 3 sets, 8-15 reps
Rear Delt Machine: 3 sets, 8-15 reps

Sunday: OFF

Conclusion


So here are just two examples of the many ways you can structure your training to train muscle groups twice per week. As I mentioned before these are just examples and the training can be tailored many different ways depending on goal or years training. If you are looking for more, the internet is laden with alternate examples and discussions surrounding these routines. 

Enjoy! 

-Gym Meals




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