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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.
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.”
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:
Repeat cycle going forward, with Workout 3 done on the next Monday.
Repeat cycle going forward, with Workout 1 done on the next Monday.
Start every workout with the following circuit-based primer.
10 reps each of: