Tuesday, October 19, 2021
The Best Muscle Workouts


The Weekend Warrior Workout – Great Gains in Just Two Workouts A Week – Fitness Volt

If you listen to a lot of the bros on social media, lack of time is NOT a legitimate excuse…

By admint10m , in Arms , at September 18, 2021

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If you listen to a lot of the bros on social media, lack of time is NOT a legitimate excuse for missing workouts. According to them (young, single, still live at home, etc.), you just need to get up a little earlier, go to bed a little later, or just quit whining and “shut up and train.”

While SOME people DO use lack of time as a weak excuse for not exercising, for others, it’s an unavoidable fact of life.

Working long hours, maybe having two jobs, balancing work with school, a young family, long commutes, and other non-negotiable time commitments can mean that working out is hard to fit into an already overcrowded schedule.

That said, very few people are overcommitted seven days a week, and most super-busy people get some free time during weekends. It’s those people that this program is for.

Two training days a week is not ideal, but it’s better than nothing. If you plan your weekend workouts right, you should still be able to make decent progress and get stronger and more muscular.

While training 4-5 days a week would be preferable, the Weekend Warrior Workout is designed to make the best of a less-than-ideal situation. It’s about what’s possible rather than what’s perfect.

So, if lack of weekday training time is your workout nemesis, try the Weekend Warrior Workout program.

Weekend Warrior Workout Overview

This workout program involves two back-to-back workouts; one lower body and one upper body. It focuses mainly on compound exercises, as they make the most of your already limited training time. The aim of the workout plan is to build muscle strength and size, making it a powerbuilding program.

With low training volume and frequency, you must hit both workouts HARD. That means you’ll be using a few training systems to increase workout intensity. Just because this workout has weekend in the name doesn’t mean it will be a walk in the park! You should expect some muscle soreness in the days that follow. The good news is that you’ve got the rest of the week to recover before doing it all over again.  

If you’ve got any extra time during the week, we also suggest supplementing your Weekend Warrior Workouts with a couple of 5 to 10-minute mini-workouts, details of which you’ll find below.

Make sure you support your workouts with plenty of healthy food and whatever supplements you like to take to boost performance and recovery.

Good choices include:

Finally, do your best to get 7-9 hours of sleep per night. After all, that’s when your body gets busy with muscle repair and growth. While this may not always be practical if you are really short of time, it’s something you should aspire to.

The Weekend Warrior Workouts

For this program, the weekend can mean any two days of the week. Most people will do this work out on Saturday and Sunday, but there is nothing wrong with doing it Friday and Saturday, or even Tuesday and Wednesday. Just slot it into your week wherever it fits best.

1. Workout One – Lower Body

Chris Bumstead Legs

Your first Weekend Warrior Workout is all about legs. Leg training is the cornerstone of effective bodybuilding and strength training. Working your legs first makes the most of your energy. After all, you’ve had a week away from the gym and should be raring to go! This is arguably the hardest workout of the weekend, which is another reason to train legs first.

Weekend Warrior Workout One – Lower Body

  Exercise Sets Reps Recovery
1 Paused squat pyramid 5 5 2-3 minutes
2 Deadlift/Romanian deadlift combo 3 8-10 90 seconds
3a Leg extension descending ladder 3 10, 8, 6, 4, 2 60 seconds
3b Leg curl descending ladder
4 Step-through lunge 3 8-10 per leg 60 seconds
5 Explosive calf raise 3 12-15 60 seconds
6 Tiptoe farmer’s walk 3 ALAP 60 seconds

Notes:

  • Exercises 3a and 3b are to be done as a back-to-back superset.
  • ALAP = As Long As Possible – continue until failure.

Exercise descriptions

Follow these instructions to get the most from each exercise:

1. Paused Squat Pyramid

Paused squat

For lower body size and strength, squats are hard to beat. For this workout, you are going to do pause squats, with the pauses getting shorter throughout your set. Pauses increase time under tension, resulting in greater hypertrophy, but you should still be able to use heavy weights to increase muscle strength.

How to do it:

  1. Rack and hold your barbell across your upper back. Stand with your feet between shoulder and hip-width apart. Brace your core, and look straight ahead.
  2. Push your hips back and squat down until your thighs are roughly parallel to the floor. Do not round your lower back.
  3. Without relaxing, stay in this position for five seconds.
  4. Stand up explosively and then descend again. This time remain in position for four seconds before standing up.
  5. Continue with your set pausing one less second per rep until you have done one rep with a one-second pause.
  6. Rest for the allotted time and then repeat.

2. Deadlift/Romanian Deadlift Combo

Deadlifts

While a little unconventional, there is nothing especially wrong with squatting and deadlifting on the same day. This exercise combines two types of deadlifts to completely hammer your hamstrings and glutes. Don’t go too heavy too soon; this combo is harder than it sounds!

How to do it:

  1. Place a barbell on the floor and stand with your feet about hip-width apart, toes under the bar. Reach down and grab the bar with an overhand or mixed grip, hands about shoulder-width apart.
  2. Brace your core, drop your hips so they’re lower than your shoulders, straighten your arms, and make sure your lumbar spine is slightly arched and not rounded.
  3. Drive your feet into the floor and stand up straight.
  4. Next, bend your knees SLIGHTLY, push your hips back, and hinge forward, lowering the bar down to just below knee height.
  5. Stand back up, and then lower the bar back down the floor. That’s one rep.
  6. Reset your core and repeat.

3a. Leg Extension Descending Ladder

Tom Platz Leg Extensions

Rep ladders are an excellent way to perform more reps than usual per set. They produce a wicked burn and pump and are a great way to finish off any muscle group. Load up the leg extension machine with a weight you can usually use for 12-15 reps.

How to do it:

  1. Sit on the leg extension machine with your knees in line with the machine’s pivot point and your back supported. Place the leg pad across your lower shins.
  2. Extend your legs fully, pause for a second, and then bend your legs again without letting the weight plates touch down.
  3. Do ten slow, smooth reps and then rest for 20 seconds.
  4. Next, do eight reps and then rest for 15 seconds.
  5. Do six reps and rest for ten seconds.
  6. Do four reps and rest for five seconds.
  7. Pump out your final two reps and then go straight to leg curls.

3b. Leg Curl Descending Ladder

Leg curls

Balance up your leg development by doing leg curls using the descending ladder method. You can do seated or prone leg curls as preferred. As before, select a weight you can use for 12-15 reps.

How to do it:

  1. Sit or lie on your leg curl machine, so your knees are in line with the machine’s pivot point. Adjust the leg pad, so it’s just below your calves.
  2. Bend your legs fully, pause for a second, and then extend your legs again without letting the weight plates touch down.
  3. Do ten slow, smooth reps and then rest for 20 seconds.
  4. Next, do eight reps and then rest for 15 seconds.
  5. Do six reps and rest for ten seconds.
  6. Do four reps and rest for five seconds.
  7. Pump out your final two reps and then rest for the allotted time before going back to leg extensions.
  8. Continue until you have done three complete supersets of both exercises.

4. Step-through lunge

This exercise is a combination of forward and backward lunges. It requires and develops good hip stability, so, as well as working your quads, glutes, and hamstrings, you’ll also feel this exercise in your gluteus minimus and medius, which are the muscles on the lateral aspect of your hips.

How to do it:

  1. Stand with your feet together and your arms by your sides.
  2. Take a large step forward, bend your legs, and lower your rear knee down to just above the floor.
  3. Push off your front leg and straight back into a rear lunge. Again, bend your legs and lower your rear knee down to just above the floor.
  4. Push off your rear leg and step forward into another lunge.
  5. Continue alternating forward and backward lunges for the prescribed number of reps, and then change legs.
  6. Make this exercise harder by holding dumbbells.

5. Explosive Calf Raise

This calf raise variation allows you to use more weight than usual, overloading the eccentric portion of the movement. If this exercise doesn’t kick your calves into a growth spurt, nothing will! While this exercise is often done using just a barbell, we recommend using a calf raise machine, which is probably a little safer.

How to do it:

  1. Put your shoulders under the pads and the balls of your feet on the edge of the footrest. Straighten your legs and brace your core.
  2. Slowly lower your heels down below the level of your toes and get a good calf stretch.
  3. Next, bend your knees and then “jump” back up onto your tiptoes and simultaneously straighten your legs.
  4. Lower your heels down again and repeat.

6. Tiptoe Farmer’s Walk

Farmer’s walks are generally seen as a forearm or metabolic conditioning exercise, but this variation is an excellent way to finish off your calves. Go heavy as this is a) your last exercise and b) your calves will be working isometrically, which is the strongest type of muscle contraction.

How to do it:

  1. Holding a dumbbell in each hand, rise up onto your tiptoes.
  2. Without lowering your heels, take a walk around your training area.
  3. Continue for as long as possible (ALAP), and then rest.

2. Workout Two – Upper Body

Upper Body Workout

This workout is all about training your chest, upper back, shoulders, and arms. That’s a lot of muscle groups to cram into one workout, but that’s the nature of the beast when your training time is limited to two main workouts per week.

Just work as hard as you can, and even this limited amount of training volume will be productive.

Weekend Warrior Workout Two – Upper Body

  Exercise Sets Reps Recovery
1 Paused bench press pyramid 5 5 2-3 minutes
2a Cable crossover 3 10-12 60 seconds
2b Plyo/regular/kneeling push-up combo      AMRAP
3 Weighted chin-up 3 6-8 90 seconds
4a Chest supported dumbbell row   3 8-10 60 seconds
4b Dumbbell pullover 12-15
5 Cuban press 3 10-12 60 seconds
6a Barbell curl descending ladder 3 10/8/6/4/2 60 seconds
6b Triceps pushdown descending ladder

Notes:

  • Exercises 2a and 2b, 4a and 4b, and 6a and 6b are to be done as back-to-back supersets.
  • AMRAP = As Many Reps As Possible – continue until failure.

Exercise descriptions

Follow these instructions to get the most from each exercise:

1. Paused Bench Press Pyramid

Paused Bench Press
Paused Bench Press

Just as you did for squats back in yesterday’s leg workout, for bench presses, you are going to do a series of progressively shorter pauses at the bottom of each rep. This makes bench presses much more challenging, so use a little less weight than you’re used to, and have a spotter on hand in case you are unable to complete a rep.

How to do it:

  1. Lie on the bench with your eyes directly under the bar. Plant your feet firmly on the floor, hold the bar using an overhand, shoulder-width grip, and pull your shoulders down and back. Brace your abs. Unrack the bar and hold it over your chest.
  2. Bend your arms and lower the bar, so it lightly touches your sternum. Without relaxing, stay in this position for five seconds.
  3. Push the bar explosively off your chest to lockout, and then lower it again. This time remain in position for four seconds before pressing the weight back up.
  4. Continue with your set pausing one less second per rep until you have done one rep with a one-second pause.
  5. Rest for the allotted time and then repeat.

2a. Cable Crossover

Exercise Machine Cable Crossover

Cable crossovers are a great exercise for isolating your chest. Really focus on squeezing your pecs as hard as you can at the midpoint of each rep, which is a Weider training technique called peak contraction.

How to do it:

  1. Attach two D-shaped handles to the top pulleys on a cable crossover machine. Hold one handle in each hand and stand in the middle of the weight stacks, arms outstretched and about shoulder height. Brace your abs and adopt a split stance for balance. Lean forward slightly from your hips. Your elbows should be a little bent but rigid.
  2. Without bending your elbows further, draw your arms forward and down, so they meet in front of your hips.
  3. Return to the starting position and repeat for the allotted number of reps.
  4. On completion, immediately move to the next exercise.

2b. Plyo/Regular/Kneeling Push-up Combo

Kneeling Push-up Combo

Push-ups are an effective, if sometimes undervalued, chest exercise. For this part of your workout, you’re going to do three different types of push-up to failure in a mechanical drop set.

How to do it:

  1. Squat down and place your hands on the floor, fingers pointing forward and a little more than shoulder-width apart. Walk your feet back, so your body is straight. Brace your abs.
  2. Bend your arms and lower your chest down to within an inch of the floor.
  3. Straighten your arms explosively and drive yourself up, so your hands leave the floor.
  4. Land on slightly bent elbows and repeat. Continue to failure.
  5. Without pausing, switch from plyo push-ups to regular push-ups. Just lower your chest to the floor and then push back up. Do as many reps as you can.
  6. On reaching failure again, bend your legs and lower your knees to the floor. Pump out another set of reps to failure.
  7. Rest a moment and then repeat the pairing to make three complete supersets.

3. Weighted Chin-up

Weighted Chin Up

Chin-ups and pull-ups are largely interchangeable and are both excellent upper back builders. For this workout, you’re going to do chin-ups as most people find they’re a little easier because they put your biceps in a more favorable position.

How to do it:

  1. Using a weighted vest or pull-up/dip belt, hang from your chin-up bar using a shoulder-width, underhand grip. Pull your shoulders down and back and lift your chest toward the bar.
  2. Bend your arms and pull your chin up and over the bar. Do not kick or swing your body.
  3. Descend smoothly and under control, and then repeat.

4a. Chest Supported Dumbbell Row 

Where chin-ups are good for building upper back width, rows are better for back thickness. Your lower back is probably tired after yesterday’s leg workout, so this exercise is very lower-back friendly, leaving you free to work your lats as hard as you can.

How to do it:

  1. Set your exercise bench to 30-45 degrees and, with a dumbbell in each hand, lie face down with your arms hanging vertically. Pull your shoulders down and back.
  2. Focusing on leading with your elbows and with straight wrists, bend your elbows and row the weights up to your lower ribs.
  3. Extend your arms and repeat.
  4. On completion, immediately move to the next exercise.

4b. Dumbbell Pullover

Dumbbell pullovers are a single joint exercise that works your pecs and lats. This makes it the ideal movement for the Weekend Warrior Workout, as it delivers a lot of muscle-building bang for your buck. While you CAN do this exercise across a bench, it’s much safer if you do it lying along a bench instead.

How to do it:

  1. Holding a dumbbell in each hand, lie on your back on a flat exercise bench. Your arms should be vertical, and the dumbbells pressed together, palms facing inward. Bend your elbows slightly, but keep them rigid.
  2. Lower your weights back and down behind your head until your biceps brush your ears.
  3. Pull the weights back up and over your chest, and then repeat.
  4. Rest a moment and then repeat the pairing to make three complete supersets.

5. Cuban Press

The Cuban press works all three deltoid heads and your upper traps simultaneously. It’s also a good exercise for your rotator cuff and general shoulder health. It’s the only direct shoulder exercise in the Weekend Warrior Workout plan, so make sure you give it your all.

How to do it:

  1. Hold a barbell in front of your hips using an overhand, slightly wider than shoulder-width grip. Stand with your feet about hip-width apart, knees slightly bent, core braced, and shoulders pulled down and back.
  2. Bend your elbows and upright row the barbell up to your sternum/lower chest. Your upper arms should be roughly parallel to the floor, elbows bent to 90-degrees.
  3. Without lowering your upper arms, externally rotate your shoulders and raise the bar up so it’s just above your head.
  4. Press the bar up to arms’ length.
  5. You can also do Cuban presses with dumbbells if preferred.

6a. Barbell Curl Descending Ladder

Barbell Curl

When it comes to building bigger biceps, the basic barbell curl is hard to beat. You can use an EZ bar if you prefer, but in terms of biceps engagement, a standard barbell is arguably the best choice, as it puts your wrists in a fully supinated position. Forearm supination is one of the functions of your biceps. Use a weight you can typically curl for 12-15 reps.

How to do it:

  1. Hold the barbell with an underhand, hip-width grip. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent, and core braced. Pull your shoulders down and back.
  2. Without using your legs or back for assistance, bend your arms and curl the weight up to your shoulders.
  3. Extend your arms and repeat.
  4. Do ten slow, smooth reps and then rest for 20 seconds.
  5. Next, do eight reps and then rest for 15 seconds.
  6. Do six reps and rest for ten seconds.
  7. Do four reps and rest for five seconds.
  8. Pump out your final two reps and then go straight to triceps pushdowns.

6b. Triceps Pushdown Descending Ladder

Bodybuilder Workout Triceps Pushdown

Pushdowns are probably one of the most popular triceps exercises around, and that’s because they work. Select a weight you can usually use for 12-15 reps.

How to do it:

  1. Attach a straight handle, V-handle, or rope handle to an overhead pulley. Grip the handle with an overhand grip and pull your upper arms down and into your ribs. Brace your abs to stabilize your spine.
  2. Extend your arms and push your hands down to your thighs. Raise your elbows and repeat while keeping your upper arms stationary.
  3. Do ten slow, smooth reps and then rest for 20 seconds.
  4. Next, do eight reps and then rest for 15 seconds.
  5. Do six reps and rest for ten seconds.
  6. Do four reps and rest for five seconds.
  7. Pump out your final two reps and then for the allotted time.
  8. Go back to barbell curls and continue until you have done three complete supersets of both exercises.

Chris Bumstead Workout
Chris Bumstead (Image via @cbum)

Even if you are so short of time you can’t make it to the gym from Monday to Friday, you should still be able to find 5-10 minutes for a couple of mini workouts.

While not compulsory, adding mini workouts to your training will help ward off muscle soreness by getting your body moving, improve your general fitness, and maintain your gains between weekend workouts. It’s also the ideal time to squeeze in some core training.

Here are the two mini workouts we’d like you to do between Weekend Warrior Workouts, e.g., Tuesday and Friday. All you need is a jump rope and an exercise mat or folded towel.

1. Tabata Jump Rope and Five-minute Abs

After 2-3 minutes of easy jump rope, set a timer for 20 seconds of work and ten seconds rest. Jump rope as fast as you can for 20 seconds, rest for ten, and repeat eight times to total four minutes.

After a short rest, choose 3-5 different abs exercises and then do 10 reps/30 seconds of each one in turn non-stop for five minutes, e.g.:

  1. Bicycle crunch
  2. Plank
  3. Russian twist
  4. Butt up

Related: Simple Guide to Tabata (High-Intensity Interval Training)

2. 30/30 Jump Rope Intervals and Tabata Planks

After 2-3 minutes of easy jump rope, set a timer for 30 seconds of work and 30 seconds rest. Jump rope as fast as you can for 30 seconds, rest for 30, and repeat five times to total five minutes.

After a short rest, set a timer for 20 seconds work and ten seconds rest and do the following:

  1. Left side plank 20 seconds
  2. Rest 10 seconds
  3. Front plank 20 seconds
  4. Rest 10 seconds
  5. Right side plank 20 seconds
  6. Rest 10 seconds
  7. Front plank 20 seconds
  8. Rest 10 seconds
  9. Left side plank 20 seconds
  10. Rest 10 seconds
  11. Front plank 20 seconds
  12. Rest 10 seconds
  13. Right side plank 20 seconds
  14. Rest 10 seconds
  15. Front plank 20 seconds

Contract your abs as hard as you can Russian Kettlebell Challenge (RKC) style, so your abs are fatigued within the specified time frame. If you feel you could have gone for longer, you weren’t contracting your abs hard enough!

Wrapping Up

Training only on weekends is not ideal and probably not an effective long-term training plan. But, if that’s all the time you’ve got, it’ll have to do, and working out just two days a week will always be better than not training at all.

While you should endeavor to find more time for exercise, it’s one of life’s harsh realities that this is not always possible. Commitments can make it hard to find the time necessary to hit the gym 4-5 times a week.

Rather than bemoan your lack of time and get fat, weak, and unfit, use the time you DO have constructively. The Weekend Warrior Workout is the ideal solution for those times when you simply cannot get to the gym more than twice a week.  

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