How To Still Get Results By Doing Weekend Only Workouts

May 1st 2019

This is how you can make progress by doing weekend workouts only. It requires a balance of dedication and creativity. However, it is usually not recommended to do a weekend workout if you have more time to spread out your strength workouts throughout the week. Many strength training programs have lifters at the gym 3-4x a week. This is a moderate balance between rest and exercise. However, what if you are an extremely busy person? Nursing student? A new parent? What can you do? So, here are some great workouts you can do in order to still maintain progress through weekend workouts only.

Lifting weights on weekends only

Lifting weights only on the weekends is generally not recommended but it is better than nothing. It is vital to decide what training goals you have before picking a program in order to best figure out a good training plan.

You must decide on your goals

If you are reading this article, I have assumed that you are interested in lifting weights. However, there are still a lot of different goals that many lifters may have. Are you looking to lose weight? Are you trying to gain strength? Are you trying to gain size? Are you doing a couple of goals at once? Accurately pinpointing what your goal is specifically will help you understand what you need to do for your weekend workouts.

Strength oriented goals

Only working out on Saturdays and Sundays

If you only have two days a week at your disposal, you can train your big four on both days - squats, bench presses, deadlifts, and overhead presses. Accessories will be determined by your own preferences and weaknesses. This can be done by a beginner lifter.



Squats, 3 sets of 5 reps (heavy)

Bench press, 3 sets of 8-12 reps (light)

Deadlift, 1 set of 5 reps (heavy)

Overhead press 3 sets of 8-12 reps (light)

Accessory lift 1 (Barbell rows) - 3 sets of 8-12 reps

Accessory lift 2  (Dips) - 3 sets of 8-12 reps


Squats, 3 sets of 8-12 reps (light)

Bench press, 3 sets of 5 reps (heavy)

Deadlift, 1 set of 8-12 reps (light)

Overhead press, 3 sets of 5 reps (heavy)

Accessory lift 1 (Pull ups) - 3 sets of 8-12 reps

Accessory lift 2  (Close grip bench press) - 3 sets of 8-12 reps


If you are a little more advanced and experienced, you may need to incorporate an upper body and lower body day. Because your body needs more time to recover from a workout, it does not make sense to do consecutive workouts that will burn you out.


Saturday (Lower body day)

Squats, 3 sets of 5 reps (heavy)

Deadlift, 1 set of 5 reps (heavy)

Accessory lift 1 (Front squats) - 3 sets of 8-12 reps

Accessory lift 2  (Deficit deadlifts) - 3 sets of 8-12 reps

Sunday (Upper body day)

Bench press, 3 sets of 5 reps (heavy)

Overhead press, 3 sets of 5 reps (heavy)

Accessory lift 1 (Barbell rows) - 3 sets of 8-12 reps

Accessory lift 2  (Close grip bench press) - 3 sets of 8-12 reps


By the end of the second day, with either approach, you will hit all the core exercises needed to keep on building your strength. One of the most important things to keep track of is your improvement - try to improve every week and push yourself.

Bodybuilding oriented goals

Only working out on Saturdays and Sundays

If you are trying to get bigger, you may want to focus on different exercises other than the big 4. I have done some research on certain bodybuilding programs that can be effective during the weekend. What I found was that there are plenty of options for you:

Pull/pull & leg split

In a traditional push/pull/legs routine, you will typically run a 3 day split. Some programs have extended it to 4 or 5 days but in general, it is normally a 3 day split.

In this modification, on one day, you can run a push and pull routine. Push routines usually incorporate all “pushing” upper body movements. In your pull routine, you will include all your “pulling” movements. Because there is a time constraint, you will only run both push and pull on one day.

On the next day, you will do only your leg movements. This should work out fine as you will be training all your body parts once a week.

Training principles for weekend only lifters

You must understand how strength programs are designed and why they work. I will go over several strength training principles that you must follow in order to continue developing your strength and physique despite not having enough time during the weekdays.

  • Frequency -  The amount of time you are able to go to the gym
  • Intensity - How close you are to your one rep max
  • Volume - How many set and reps you are doing

All strength training programs aim to balance these three training parameters in order to progress. Ideally, lifters would train at high frequencies, intensities and volumes in order to make the most progress. Since our recovery is a limiting factor, typically one of these training parameters are varied throughout training programs. For instance, in Greyskull LP, you will find that volume and frequency are kept constant. It is intensity that is the only variable that we are manipulating. Frequency is moderate while volume slowly increasing as intensity increases.

We can apply these concepts in weekend training for busy people. If you have frequency low, we need to make sure that the other two training variables being compensated. One option is to have a moderate volume with high intensity or moderate intensity with high volume. For instance, if your squat max is 315lbs, here are two variations you can implement:

Moderate volume, high intensity

High volume, moderate intensity

265lbs (85% of 1 RM), 3x5

185lbs (60% of 1RM), 5x5

3,975lbs total squat volume

4,625lbs total squat volume

You will notice that with a high volume, moderate intensity approach, this will yield a greater squat volume per week than say a moderate volume, high intensity approach. With that said, it would probably be more efficient to train your strength using a high volume, moderate intensity approach. At the same time, if you need to practice your maximal squat attempt, practicing high intensity squats will prepare your better than moderate intensity squats. You need to actively work what you do not use if you still want to keep that skill.

Final Thoughts

When life gets busy, some people chose to deprioritize their training. As a result, many people are not able to get the results they want from their training. So, for several months or years, their lives are filled with “unreachable” goals. However, a part of training and improving your body come with awareness. You need to make sure you know what you want before selecting a program.

There are a ton of resources available online that will spew out “the best” weekend only programs. However, what they do not focus on is your individual goals. You need to make sure that you are training for something you want. It is much better to plan and be tactical about how you can reach your goal. Anybody can hope and dream about wanting a certain body or level of strength. But to plan and execute on it consistently? This will take time, hard work and dedication.

Similar Articles

How to stop getting injured?


How to stop getting injured?

Always getting injured each year? Wished you could be healthy all year round? Find out several ways to prevent injuries from taking over your life!