Workout Routines

How to Blow Up Your Size and Strength With 2-Move Workouts

Keep your workouts simple to experience advanced results.

Clapping Pushup
Per Bernal / M+F Magazine
Per Bernal / M+F Magazine
Duration 2 weeks
Exercises 21
Equipment Yes

If you're the guy who likes to keep it super simple when you’re at the gym and hates to waste time, good news: It doesn’t take a laundry list of exercises and an hour-plus to get in a great workout and build appreciable muscle size and 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 greater 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 a more full-body stimulus. You should be able to easily bang out each workout in under 30 minutes.

The exercise menu includes familiar meat-and-potatoes strength moves—squats, lunges, cleans, presses, deads, pullups, pushups, rows, a loaded carry—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. 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.”

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 Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Weekends should be spent in active recovery with recreational activities or stuff with the kids.” If you follow Even-Esh’s recommendations, two weeks’ worth of two-move workouts could look like this:

4 Days Per Week

Week 1

Monday - Workout 1
Tuesday - Workout 2
Wednesday - Off
Thursday - Workout 3
Friday - Workout 4
Saturday & Sunday - Off

Week 2

Monday - Workout 5
Tuesday - Workout 6
Wednesday - Off
Thursday - Workout 1
Friday - Workout 2
Saturday & Sunday - Off

NOTE: 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 & Sunday - Off

Week 2

Monday - Workout 4
Tuesday - Off
Wednesday - Workout 5
Thursday - Workout 6
Friday - Off
Saturday & Sunday - Off

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

Warmup Start every workout with this circuit-based primer.

Exercise 1

Jumping Jacks You'll need: No Equipment How to
Jumping Jacks thumbnail
-- sets
10 reps
-- rest

Exercise 2

Bodyweight Walking Lunge You'll need: No Equipment How to
Walking Lunge thumbnail
-- sets
10* reps
-- rest
*Per side.

Exercise 3

Band Pull-Apart
Band Pull-Apart thumbnail
-- sets
10 reps
-- rest

Exercise 4

Hanging Knee Raise You'll need: Pullup Bar How to
Hanging Knee Raise thumbnail
-- sets
10 reps
-- rest

Exercise 5

Bodyweight Squat You'll need: No Equipment How to
Squat thumbnail
-- sets
10 reps
-- rest

Workout 1 Upper-body Push + Upper-body Pull

Exercise 1A

Feet-Elevated Pushup How to
Feet Elevated Pushup thumbnail
5 sets
10,8,6,4,2 reps
-- rest

Exercise 1B

Inverted Row You'll need: Barbell, Squat Rack How to
Inverted Row thumbnail
5 sets
10,8,6,4,2 reps
-- rest

Exercise Optional

Jump Squat
Jump Squat  thumbnail
5 sets
10,8,6,4,2 reps
-- rest

Workout 2 Legs + Core

Exercise 1A

Dumbbell Farmer's Walk You'll need: Dumbbells How to
Dumbbell Farmer's Walk thumbnail
4 sets
150 ft reps
-- rest

Exercise 1B

Bulgarian Split Squat
Bulgarian Split Squat thumbnail
4 sets
10* reps
-- rest
*Do 10 reps per side. Perform with bodyweight only and a 3-second eccentric.

Workout 3 Upper-body Push + Upper-body Pull

Exercise 1A

Dive Bomber Pushup How to
Dive Bomber Pushup thumbnail
5 sets
30 sec reps
-- rest

Exercise 1B

General Pullup You'll need: Pullup Bar How to
Pullup thumbnail
5 sets
90% max* reps
-- rest
*1-2 reps short of failure. Switch hand positions every set.

Workout 4 Legs + Core

Exercise 1

Barbell Clean and Press You'll need: Barbell How to
Barbell Clean and Press thumbnail
9 sets
2-10* reps
30 sec rest
*Perform reps as 2, 4, 6, 8,10,8, 6, 4, 2. Rest 30 sec between sets.

Exercise 2

Bodyweight Walking Lunge You'll need: No Equipment How to
Walking Lunge thumbnail
1 sets
50* reps
-- rest
*Per side (100 total).

Workout 5 Legs + Upper-body Push

Exercise 1A

Pause Squat
exercise image placeholder
5 sets
5 reps
-- rest

Exercise 1B

Clapping Pushup You'll need: No Equipment How to
Clapping Pushup thumbnail
5 sets
5 reps
-- rest

Exercise Optional

Jump Rope You'll need: Jump Rope How to
Jump Rope thumbnail
1 sets
5 min* reps
-- rest
*40 sec on/20 sec off.

Workout 6 Legs + Upper-body Pull

Exercise 1A

Sumo Deadlift You'll need: Barbell How to
Sumo Deadlift thumbnail
5 sets
3 reps
-- rest

Exercise 1B

Barbell Upright Row You'll need: Barbell How to
Barbell Upright Row thumbnail
5 sets
6 reps
-- rest
Use a reverse grip.

Exercise Optional

Barbell Biceps Curl You'll need: Barbell How to
bicep curl thumbnail
3 sets
21* reps
-- rest
*Do 7 top-half ROM, 7 bottom-half ROM, 7 reps full ROM.
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