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Two a Day Training in the Weight Room Part 3

Ok, having spammed you the last two weeks with stuff about new book products I want to finally finish up the Two a Day Training in the Weight room series.  I’m not going to go over all of the potential benefits (or drawbacks) that I discussed in Part 1 but do want to summarize the guidelines I provided in Part 2 below.  Which is as much to remind myself of what I wrote as it to remind you.  In short:

  1.  Two-per-day training is training the same muscles/movements twice a day with an, ideally, 4-6 hour break
  2. Initially, individual workout duration should be kept at roughly 40-45 minutes.  Or you can do one full workout (60 minutes) and one supplemental workout
  3. The workouts should be divided into heavy and light where the following guidelines apply
  • For Growth Training
    Heavy Training is anything below 8 reps
    Light Training is anything higher than 8 reps (at an appropriate intensity)
  • For Strength Training:
    Heavy training is anything below 5 reps
    Light Training is anything that falls under repetition effort or dynamic effort methods

A Note About The Break Between Workouts

As usual I managed to not address a very obvious question that was asked in the comments section on Part 2.  Which is this: What if your schedule won’t allow exactly a 4-6 hour break between workouts?  Herp derp on me.  Of course this is a situation where idealism and reality crash together; as I’m fond of saying, this is never pretty.  Some people may be in a situation where they can only train morning and again at lunch.  Or lunch and right after work.  Or before and again after work.  Depending on your schedule this may or may not fall exactly at the 4-6 hour mark.

Don’t stress about this.  If you go 7 hours between workouts or only have 3.5 hours between that doesn’t make this approach magically not work.    As I mentioned, during my stay in SLC, I regularly had times when I trained on the ice and trained again 2 hours later.  It is what it is and do your best to have a sufficient break between workouts.  Don’t get hung up on the 4-6 hour break as being some absolute thing.   Ok moving on.

Heavy and Light or Light and Heavy

Above I mentioned that, unless you are superman (or Bulgarian, har har), you are going to want to do one heavy and one lighter workout for each muscle group on any given day (recall that in this approach you are training the same muscles in each of the two daily workouts).  So a question that comes up is whether or not to do heavy or light first in the day.  And the answer is that it depends.

A lot of what it depends on the individual. Some people are kicking and ready to go in the morning and can bust out a heavy workout without a problem.  Others are flat as hell, have no strength or pop and will benefit from doing the lighter workout in the morning (it acts as a warm-up/potentiating workout to make the afternoon workout go better).

Non-Bulgarian Olympic lifters frequently use a light/heavy approach where the morning workout is lighter/more explosive (and often different movement, power variations, pulls, squatting) to set them up for a monster workout in the afternoon of heavy competition lifts.  The same would apply to powerlifters or other strength athletes, a light priming workout in the morning may do more to set you up for the later workout where you can nuke yourself.

There are other considerations, if you have to train first thing in the morning, it’s often inadvisable to go super heavy.  It takes at least an hour to really warm-up after sleep, joints and connective tissues may not be ready for heavy loading, there is even a potential spinal issue as the disks fill with more fluid during sleep and aren’t as resistant to damage.  Going in and busting out heavy triples after rolling out of bed is probably not a good idea.  Certainly with extensive warm-ups (a hot shower, extra warmup in the weight room) this can be gotten around but not everybody has that kind of time.

But how do you know?  The simplest answer is to try both and see which works better but that’s not very helpful.  I actually have a method of knowing what’s best for someone but it’s currently still in development.  For now I would offer this: if you are really geared towards good strength/power production, and that usually means some amount of talent and ability in the weight room, it also often comes with big highs and lows in performance, you will most likely do better with a light workout in the morning and going heavy in the afternoon.

If you are more of a Hardgainer type (and yes I don’t like to use that word but everyone knows what it means) or would really be better in endurance sports (like me), you can probably bust out a heavy workout in the morning without a problem.  But since you likely suck at strength stuff in the first place, that’s ok.

For bodybuilding the above doesn’t really matter.  Since the low end of “heavy” for bodybuilders is sets of 5, it’s probably best to go heavy at the first workout and pump it up in the evening.  This won’t be universal, some folks who pursue bodybuilding are really frustrated strength athletes who want to look buff and might be better off doing lighter in the morning and heavier in the evening.  But since the rep ranges are higher for bodybuilding, a lot of issues that would apply to strength/power performance don’t apply.

In the following I will only indicate work sets, your warm-up approach is between you and your God.

Two-A-Day Training for Bodybuilders

Since this is the simplest to describe, let’s get this out of the way.  I’ve talked in detail about the requirements for muscle growth in a previous series and won’t detail it here.  But bodybuilders will basically have two types of workouts for this approach and all that will really change is exercise selection, etc.  Note that I’m only picking representative exercises below, I’m not telling you to do those exercises. Make intelligent substitutions to find movements that allow you to hit the target muscle, train progressively and not get hurt.

The first is the heavy workout which means, again, sets of 5-8.  How you approach this is up to you but for the heavy workout you’d be looking at something between 5X5 (25 total reps) to 4X6-8 (24-32) reps for a muscle group in the heavy workout.    The light workout would range somewhere from 3-4 sets of 10-15.  Yes this is on the high end of the 40-60 “optimal” repetition range but that’s fine.  So for a leg day you might see something like

AM: Heavy Legs
Squats or leg press: 5X5 or 4X6-8 with a 3′ rest.
RDL: 5X5 or 4X6-8 with a 3′ rest.
Weighted crunch: 2-3X5-8
Back Extension: 2-3X5-8

I wouldn’t recommend alternate supersetting on this as hamstrings are too important for squat performance.   Ab work goes here because why not.  You should also do calves here (check the comments). 5X5 or 4X6-8 heavy calf raise ala Training the Calves.

PM: Light Legs
Leg press or Leg extension: 3-4X10-15/90″ rest (Pump it up)
Leg curl: 3-4X10-15/90″ rest
More abs: 3-4X10-15
Back Extensions: 3-4X10-15

You can certainly alternate superset these with maybe 45″ between sets.  So do a set of leg extensions, rest 45″ and go to leg curls.  Alternate until sets are done.  If your gym is busy, just do straight sets.  The workout shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes tops and don’t fall into the trap of “just adding a few things” to make it longer.  Again, do high rep calves, either more straight legged work (3-4X12-15) or bent-leg work (same sets and reps).

Other workouts would look similarly.  For chest/back you might do:

AM: Heavy Chest/Back
Flat bench or Incline Bench: 5X5 or 4X6-8 with a 3′ rest.
Undergrip Cable Row: 5X5 or 4X6-8 with a 3′ rest.
And that would actually be it.

PM: Light Chest/Back
Flat or Incline Flyes: 3-4X10-15/90″ rest
Pulldowns or Cable/Machine Pullover: 3-4X10-15/90″ rest
You could throw in a few sets of pre-hab rotator cuff work here.

Delts/Arms would be a third potential day although weekly sequencing rapidly becomes a problem to fit everything in and still get a sufficient weekly frequency for each muscle group.  It would look like this:

AM: Heavy Delts/Arms
Overhead Press: 5X5 or 4X6-8 with a 3′ rest.
Rear Delt: 5X5 or 4X6-8 with a 3′ rest. (I prefer a well designed rear pec deck for this)
A Biceps Exercise: 5X5 or 4X6-8 with a 3′ rest.
Since triceps get hit hard with OHP you don’t really need a triceps exercise.

Alternately do
Lateral Raise: 5X5 or 4X6-8 with a 3′ rest.  I prefer a machine lateral raise to DB’s.
Rear Delt: 5X5 or 4X6-8 with a 3′ rest. (I prefer a well designed rear pec deck for this)
A Biceps Exercise: 5X5 or 4X6-8 with a 3′ rest.
A Triceps Exercise: 5X5 or 4X6-8 with a 3′ rest.

PM: Light Delts/Arms
Lateral Raise: 3-4X10-15/90″ rest.  I prefer a machine lateral raise to DB’s.
Rear Delt: 3-4X10-15/90″ rest (I prefer a well designed rear pec deck for this)
A Biceps Exercise: 3-4X10-15/90″ rest
A Triceps Exercise: 3-4X10-15/90″ rest

Since some people will ask, what about an Upper/Lower approach for this?   The lower body day wouldn’t really change from the leg day above since legs/abs is the approach for that.  But what about the upper day.

AM: Heavy Upper
Flat or Incline Bench: 5X5 or 4X6-8 with a 3′ rest.
Undergrip Cable Row: 5X5 or 4X6-8 with a 3′ rest.  OR Pulldown depending on if your emphasis is lats or midback (and you can alternate workout to workout)
Lateral Raise: 3X6-8/2′ rest (I prefer a well designed machine for this but DB’s are fine if you use good form)
Rear Delt: 3X6-8/2′ rest (I prefer a well designed rear pec deck for this)
A Biceps exercise: 2X6-8/2′ rest
A Triceps Exercise: 2X6-8/2′ rest

I haven’t had the time to write a full series on exercise selection but unless you have triceps from hell, you’re not getting far with overhead press on this day after heavy flat bench.  Hence the use of an isolation exercise even on “heavy” day.  The reduction in volume for delts and arms on this day is due to overlap: delts and arms are getting hit with the heavy bench/row

PM: Light Upper
Flat or Incline Flyes: 3-4X10-15/90″ rest
Pulldowns or Cable/Machine Pullover: 3-4X10-15/90″ rest
Lateral Raise: 2-3X10-15/60″ rest
Rear Delt: 2-3X10-15/60″ rest
A Biceps Exercise: 1-2X10-15/60″ rest
A Triceps Exercise: 1-2X10-15/60″ rest

If you are familiar with my Generic Bulking Routine this is basically just it split across two workouts for reasons previously discussed.  Again, paired exercises can be alternate supersetted for time efficiency but a crowded gym may preclude that.  Done as straight sets, this will probably push the limits of a 40 minute workout but that’s fine.  You could also rearrange this to legs/back/bis and chest/delts/tris but I’ll leave it to you to work that out.  Just apply the principles of volume and exercise selection outlined above and I have faith you can do it.

Of course after each of your bodybuilding workouts, you will want to make sure you eat.  We can certainly quibble/argue about the need for optimal pre/intra/post workout nutrition under most conditions but two-a-day training is a different animal and you’ll want to make sure that you’re sufficiently fueled after each workout to make sure you can not only get through the second workout but maintain an optimal growth mileu (man I love that word).

And while I really wanted to discuss powerlifting,etc. this is where I’ll cut it and I’ll finish next week (unless I have a new product to spam you with).  See you then!

Read Two a Day Training Part 4

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