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6 Two-Move Workouts to Save You Time and Get You Shredded

Keep your workouts simple and experience the power of advanced “training economics.”

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6 Two-Move Workouts to Save You Time and Get You Shredded
Ian Spanier
6 Two-Move Workouts to Save You Time and Get You Shredded
Ian Spanier

We’ve got some great news: It doesn’t take a laundry list of exercises and an hour-plus to tone your body and build strength. Not when your program is intelligently designed, that is.

In this case, it takes only two moves, thanks to the programming chops of renowned trainer Zach Even-Esh, the founder of the Underground Strength Gym, the head strength and conditioning coach of the Rutgers University wrestling team, and the author of the best-selling book The Encyclopedia of Underground Strength & Conditioning.

The two-exercise concept is a shining example of quality over quantity. “This is called training economics,” Even-Esh says. “We take the exercises that deliver a high return of results on a short investment of time. This type of approach will always deliver results.”

Even-Esh has designed six, two-move workouts. The first four sessions alternate between upper-body (Workouts 1 and 3) and lower-body (Workouts 2 and 4) training, and each of the last two (Workouts 5 and 6) incorporates one upper and one lower for more full-body stimulus. And each move for a workout should last only 30 minutes.

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The exercise menu includes familiar moves—squats, lunges, presses, cleans, pullups, deadlifts, pushups, and rows—done with high set counts and relatively heavy weights. Isolation moves are nonexistent, except for a few optional moves that can be tacked on for those who have an extra five minutes or so to spare.

There’s no fat in this program. It has all been trimmed. “These workouts focus on getting more work done in less time,” Even-Esh says. “By working larger muscle groups, you’ll add functional muscle, which helps you build a body that can perform both in the gym and in your home life—playing with the kids, doing yard work, and having generally high energy.

Longer workouts and more exercises are not always better. Better is better, and that’s exactly what these workouts do. In fact, these short workouts are often implemented for our sport athletes in-season and allow them to continue making gains in overall athletic performance.”

THE TWO-MOVE SCHEDULE

Even-Esh offers six separate two-move workouts, but the intent is not to do them all in one week, let alone on six consecutive days. Rather, he recommends doing four workouts per week, training on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday.

“This allows you to schedule weekends off for family activities and Wednesday off for downtime,” Even-Esh says. “And if you’re really short on time or bandwidth, you can do three days per week, training on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday, taking off Tuesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Weekends should be spent in active recovery with recreational activities or stuff with friends or family.”

If you follow Even-Esh’s recommendations, two weeks’ worth of two-move workouts could look like this:

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4 DAYS PER WEEK

WEEK 1

  • Monday: Workout 1
  • Tuesday: Workout 2
  • Wednesday: Off
  • Thursday: Workout 3
  • Friday: Workout 4
  • Saturday: Off
  • Sunday: Off

WEEK 2

  • Monday: Workout 5
  • Tuesday: Workout 6
  • Wednesday: Off
  • Thursday: Workout 1
  • Friday: Workout 2
  • Saturday: Off
  • Sunday: Off

Repeat cycle going forward, with Workout 3 done on the next Monday.

3 DAYS PER WEEK

WEEK 1

  • Monday: Workout 1
  • Tuesday: Off 
  • Wednesday: Workout 2
  • Thursday: Workout 3
  • Friday: Off
  • Saturday: Off
  • Sunday: Off

WEEK 2

  • Monday: Workout 4
  • Tuesday: Off
  • Wednesday: Workout 5
  • Thursday: Workout 6
  • Friday: Off
  • Saturday: Off
  • Sunday: Off

Repeat cycle going forward, with Workout 1 done on the next Monday.

THE WARMUP 

Start every workout with the following circuit-based primer.

10 reps each of:

  • Jumping jacks
  • Alternating forward lunges
  • Band pull-aparts
  • Hanging knee raises
  • Body-weight squats
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Routine

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Workout 1: Upper-Body Push + Upper-Body Pull

Superset exercises 1 and 2.

Exercise
Equipment
Sets
Reps
Rest
Exercise 2 of 2

Inverted Row

Equipment
Barbell, Squat Rack
Sets
5
Reps
10, 8, 6, 4, 2
Rest
--

Workout 2: Legs + Core

Superset exercises 1 and 2.

Exercise
Equipment
Sets
Reps
Rest
Exercise 5 of 2

Bulgarian Split Squat

Equipment
Sets
4
Reps
10
Rest
--
*Three-second eccentric

Workout 3: Upper-Body Push + Upper-Body Pull

Superset exercises 1 and 2.

Exercise
Equipment
Sets
Reps
Rest
Exercise 6 of 2

Dive Bomber Pushup

Equipment
Sets
5
Reps
30 sec.
Rest
--
Exercise 7 of 2

General Pullup

Equipment
Pullup Bar
Sets
5
Reps
90% of max*
Rest
--
*In other words, 1 to 2 reps short of failure; also, switch hand positions every set.

Workout 4: Legs + Core

Exercise
Equipment
Sets
Reps
Rest
Equipment
Barbell
Sets
9
Reps
2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2*
Rest
--
How to
*Use the same weight on every set; rest 30 seconds between sets.
Equipment
No Equipment
Sets
1
Reps
50 per side
Rest
--

Workout 5: Legs + Upper-Body Push

Superset exercises 1 and 2.

Exercise
Equipment
Sets
Reps
Rest
Exercise 10 of 2

Back Squat

Equipment
Barbell
Sets
5
Reps
5
Rest
--
With a pause at the bottom.
Exercise 11 of 2

Clapping Pushup

Equipment
No Equipment
Sets
5
Reps
5
Rest
--
Exercise 12 of 2

Jump Rope

Equipment
Jump Rope
Sets
5
Reps
40 sec.
Rest
20 sec.

Workout 6: Legs + Upper-Body Pull

Superset exercises 1 and 2.

Exercise
Equipment
Sets
Reps
Rest
Exercise 13 of 2

Sumo Deadlift

Equipment
Barbell
Sets
5
Reps
3
Rest
--
Equipment
Barbell
Sets
5
Reps
6
Rest
--
Exercise 15 of 2

Triceps Pushdown

Equipment
Elastic Band
Sets
3
Reps
33
Rest
--
Exercise 16 of 2

Barbell Curl

Equipment
Barbell
Sets
3
Reps
21*
Rest
--
*Do 7 top-half range of motion (ROM), 7 bottom-half ROM, 7 reps full ROM.
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