Muscle for life

How to Maintain Muscle and Strength with Minimal Exercise

How to Maintain Muscle and Strength with Minimal Exercise

How much training does it really take to maintain muscle and strength? What types of workouts are most effective? Read on to find out!


We all know how much persistence and consistency it takes to get a great physique.

While some of us learn to enjoy the process, nobody ever said it was easy. It takes intense, regular work.

Now, how do things change once you’ve achieved the type of body you desire? Do you have to work just as hard to keep a good physique as you do to build one?

If that question doesn’t matter so much to you–if you’re like me and you just enjoy the fitness lifestyle–then maybe this one will catch your interest:

How can you maintain muscle and strength when you’re not able to follow your regular exercise routine?

Although some of us would love to be able to hit the gym 5 times per week without any unplanned breaks, year-in, year-out…life will inevitably throw us curve balls.

Staying in shape while traveling can be tricky. The holidays are notorious for messing with schedules (and diets). Family and work often take precedence over personal time.

Are you simply doomed to losing muscle and strength in such situations? Or is there an easy way to avert such problems?

Well, as you’ll see in this article, it’s much easier than most people think to maintain muscle and strength, and even continue to make gains.

Let’s get to it.

How Much Exercise it Takes to Maintain Muscle and Strength

how to maintain muscle size

I have good news for you:

It’s much easier to maintain a good physique and level of conditioning than it is to get there.

How easy, you ask?

Well, consider a study conducted by the University of Alberta with competitive rowers. After 10 weeks of weightlifting 3 times per week, 18 varsity female rowers were split into two groups. Both groups then did 6 weeks of maintenance resistance training, with one group training once per week, and the other twice per week.

The results? Both groups improved their strength in two exercises they performed each week, and maintained strength in the four others in their routine.

Yes, that’s right–according to that research, you can maintain your strength training just once per week. And that’s not the only study demonstrating this.

The University of Alabama at Birmingham conducted a study wherein subjects lifted weights 3 times per week (9 sets per workout) for 5 months, and then were assigned to one of three groups for the next eight months:

  1. No exercise at all.
  2. One weightlifting workout per week that consisted of 9 total sets.
  3. One weightlifting workout per week that consisted of 3 total sets.

Over the course of the following 8 months, group 1 lost muscle (of course), but both groups 2 and 3 were able to maintain most of the muscle they had gained in the first part of the study, and even increase their strength.

So, what we can learn from these studies is this:

You can not only maintain muscle and strength training only 1-2 times per week, you can actually make gains.

Sure, you won’t be able to make the same kinds of gains as you can training 3-5 times per week, but you can do better than most people think.

The key takeaway here is that weekly workout volume is at least as important, if not more important than, workout frequency.

So, here’s the point that will come as a great relief to many:

Regardless of what’s going on in your life, if you can sneak away from the hustle and bustle for a couple hours per week, you can minimally keep your hard-earned gains.

Now, how do you best go about the training? What type of workouts will deliver the best results when you’re only training 1-2 times per week?

Use this workout and flexible dieting program to lose up to 10 pounds of fat and build muscle in just 30 days…without starving yourself or living in the gym.

The Perfect “Muscle Maintenance” Program

how to maintain muscle when not working out

When you can only train once or twice per week, what you do is very important.

If you’re in decent shape and simply hopped on some machines and got a pump, you certainly won’t make gains, and will almost certainly lose muscle over time.

The bottom line is when you reduce workout frequency, you have to increase volume and, most importantly, intensity (the amount of weight you’re lifting).

You also want to focus on exercises that recruit the maximum amount of muscle, which are the big compound lifts like Deadlifts, Squats, Bench Press, and Military Press.

I could delve into some more advanced physiology here to further explain the relationship between frequency, volume, intensity, and exercise choice, but let’s save that theory for another post and get to the practical.

Here’s how to get the most out of training twice per week.

Training Twice Per Week

When you can only train twice per week, I recommend you use one day to train your push and pull muscles, and another day to focus on your legs, with a little additional push.

The following workouts take about an hour to complete. Rest 2-3 minutes in between each set, and take at least one day of rest in between each (two days of rest between each is ideal, I think).

Day 1: Push/Pull

Deadlift: Warm up and 3 sets 4-6 reps (80-85% of 1RM)

Bench Press: Warm up and 3 sets of 4-6 reps (80-85% of 1RM)

Barbell Row: 3 sets of 4-6 reps (80-85% of 1RM)

Military Press: 3 sets of 4-6 reps (80-85% of 1RM)

Day 2: Legs & Additional Push

Bench Press: Warm up and 3 sets of 4-6 reps (80-85% of 1RM)

Squat: Warm up and 3 sets 4-6 reps (80-85% of 1RM)

Hack Squat (sled, not barbell) or Leg Press: 3 sets of 4-6 reps (80-85% of 1RM)

Romanian Deadlift: 3 sets of 4-6 reps (80-85% of 1RM)

This is a brutally simple and effective workout. With it, you should expect to make gains, not simply remain the same.

It trains every major and minor muscle group in your body, and the emphasis on the 4-6 rep range focuses on inducing myofibrillar growth, which is ultimately what creates the big, strong, dense muscle that we all want.

As with any program, the most important factor in terms of making gains is progressive overload. That is, you have to keep adding weight to the bar as time goes on.

To do this, simply add weight once you hit 6 reps in a set. Go up 10 lbs, whether by adding 5 lbs to each side of the barbell, or moving up 5 lbs on dumbbells.

Training Once Per Week

If you can only train once per week, don’t despair–you can not only maintain muscle, strength, and conditioning, but you too can make gains.

The following workout hits every major muscle group in the body, and takes about 1:15 to complete. Rest 2-3 minutes in between each set. It’s hard, but very effective.

Squat: Warm up and 3 sets 4-6 reps (80-85% of 1RM)

Deadlift: Warm up and 3 sets 4-6 reps (80-85% of 1RM)

Bench Press: Warm up and 3 sets of 4-6 reps (80-85% of 1RM)

Barbell Row: 3 sets of 4-6 reps (80-85% of 1RM)

Military Press: 3 sets of 4-6 reps (80-85% of 1RM)

Again, nothing fancy here–just heavy, compound lifting, hitting your entire body. Move up on your weights as described above.

So, if you’re short on time or just want to cruise for a bit and maintain your physique, I hope this article helps!

Do you have any other tips for maintaining muscle and strength? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!

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I'm Mike and I'm the creator of Muscle for Life and Legion Athletics, and I believe that EVERYONE can achieve the body of their dreams.

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Leave a Comment!
  • Ben Hunt

    Great article. Gives those that use the excuse that they don’t want to live in the gym the rest of their lives ammo to defeat that psychological gauntlet.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Ben. I agree.

  • mike

    thanks for the article!!! You mentioned at ghe beginning a study “One study conducted by The University of Queensland showed that subjects that trained a muscle group twice per week made about 70% of the gains of those training three times per week.”
    at the moment im training with your 5day split, so that every musclegroup is trained one time per week. Would you recommend to train specific musclegroups, which you want to improve, more than one time per week?

    thanks a lot


    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Mike!

      Good question.

      I’m going to talk more about frequency in my follow-up book to BLS, but it boils down to workout volume and intensity. The more reps you do in a workout, and the heavier those reps are, the less often you will be able to repeat the workout.

      Splits that have you train your entire body 2-3x per week DO work when they’re programmed correctly, but so do splits that have you training everything once per week. The big difference between the two is the latter workouts have you doing more in each workout.

      The last little tidbit is if you’re following BLS and want to improve a weak point, you can train it again. Train it per BLS, then wait 3-4 days and start your workout with a warm-up and 6 sets for the weak point, followed by your normal workout.

      Most people do this with chest. 🙂

      • Ben Hunt

        Thanks for that suggestion. I saw in another article you were doing that yourself. This explains how to do it.

        • Michael Matthews

          My pleasure. 🙂

      • JonGaxi

        When training a weak point for a second time in one week following BLS (heavy weights/4-6reps) does one use the same intensity/volume on both days?

        • Michael Matthews

          Good question! I prefer to go a little higher rep in my weak point training–6 to 8 or even 8 to 10.

  • Osher Barda

    Wow mike this once again is an amazing article so much knowledge!!! Lol no one that I know or heard of can put it like you do awesome! Ty!!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Osher!! 🙂

  • Matthieu Thompson

    you can also increase testosteron elevel to build muscles faster
    learn how to do it here:

  • Matt

    Mike, excellent info! No more having to fret over missed workouts due to schedule crunches (sorry, terrible pun).

    Do you recommend keeping the same weight on the bar for subsequent sets? Sometimes it can be difficult to achieve at least 4 reps on sets 2 and 3, especially when moving up in weight from the previous week.

    I think this is known as Reverse Pyramid Training, but your training protocol doesn’t specifically mention one way or the other about increasing/decreasing weight between the working sets. Any thoughts?

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Matt! Haha yup, exactly.

      Yes, keep the weight the same unless you drop to 2-3 reps. Then you can drop weight to stay in the 4-6 range.

      Reverse Pyramid is a bit different. I’ll be talking about this in more detail in my next book, but I don’t recommend periodization unless you have a solid foundation of muscle and strength. To put some numbers on that, until you’ve gained your first 30-35 pounds of muscle.

  • Mike

    I strength train 2-3 days a week. I feel and look better than I ever did training 5 days. Now if we could only follow our diets as flexible..haha:) great information Mike

    • Michael Matthews

      Awesome Mike, glad to hear it. Keep up the good work. And the key to proper dieting is creating and sticking to a proper meal plan…

  • Engin Burak Anil

    Exactly what I have been looking for since I cannot train 3-5 days a week these days. Now my question is how am I going to manage the food intake for training 1-2 days a week? I feel like in the 2 days after the workout I need more and not so much for the rest of the week. what do you think?

    • Michael Matthews

      Great, I’m glad you liked it!

      Personally I would eat 10% surplus on my training days and the day that follows them, and maintenance on my other days…

  • Jamie Young

    Hi Mike,
    I had gained 6lbs of muscle over 8 months by following your program. I work out hard but don’t have the appetite to eat as much as I should. I took the summer off and have lost all 8 lbs, a real bummer. I am getting ready to hit it again. I will be sure to file this info for later.

    • Michael Matthews

      Arg I’m sorry to hear that. The good news is you’ll have muscle memory on your side–you’ll gain the 6 pounds back fairly quickly.

      Let’s go for more this time though–let’s get your food intake up.

      What I like to do is focus on eating a bunch of calorie-dense foods. Here are my favorites:

      Red meat

      Grains like brown rice and quinoa

      Oils like coconut oil and olive oil


      Whole-fat dairy

      Multi-grain pasta and bread

      Almonds and almond butter


      White and sweet potatoes

      What do you think?

      • Jamie Young

        I like all of that stuff and will write this list down. I need to re read BLS also, I know there is good info in there. Thanks!!

        • Michael Matthews

          Awesome, let me know how it goes!

  • RPG3

    Mike – Great stuff as always. Training frequency is always a question with me. These studies training a muscle group 3x a week (say M, W & F) must be new to weightlifting wouldn’t you think? No way could I work any muscle group 3x a week as per BLS without overtraining. I agree with you that one hard workout per muscle group per week will you from losing what you worked so hard for.
    Appreciate you keeping us all focused and motivated!

    • Michael Matthews


      Yeah, they’re newbies, and the training isn’t very intense. Something to keep in mind when talking about splits like that.

      Keep up the good work!!

  • Toni

    Great valid points. Takes much more effort to initially get into shape than it does to maintain your fitness level.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Toni! Yup, that’s the truth.

  • Heather

    When would i do my cardio with the two workouts per week schedule? After the strength training sessions or on separate days?

    • Michael Matthews

      Either or would be fine. Separate would be best but you can do after if that’s not an option.

  • Artid

    Great post! Enjoyed the updates and scientific research. That’s the way every one should write about fitness and training!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks! I agree!

  • Matt

    This seems like something I want to follow when I reach my goal weight. My only question is, BLS makes you hit the arms quick but hard, it also has some specialization like training upper chest, abs, calves, lats, side delta, etc etc. If you build your physique with those exercises and then switch to mainly deadliest, squats, bench, military press, and rows, would you lose some of the aspects of your physique that program helped you build, such as your arms, upper chest, abs…

    • Michael Matthews

      Good question. In my experience you’ll more or less maintain those smaller muscle groups, but you can also add some isolation work back in if it becomes an issue.

  • kengerald

    Hi Mike, i suppose the 2day heavy compound lifting would give your nervous system a better chance to recover as for 3-5 days of Heavy lifting every week, the reason i am asking would be that i have be doing heavy lifting for more than 1year did saw gains but never took a week off for my nervous system too recover and got very sick not doing so, would you recommend doing the 2day Heavy compound lifting week 1 and then the following 2 weeks you do moderate hypertrophy lifting(moderate weight) and then Volume lifting(light weight) and would you still make the same gains prior to only doing HCL every week? or how else can i give my nervous system time to recover?

    • Michael Matthews

      Your CNS can recover just fine from lifting 5-6x per week so long as your workouts aren’t too long/intense.

      For instance, my BLS program has you lifting heavy weights 5 x per week and deloading every 2 months and people rarely have to change anything due to overtraining.

  • John

    Thanks Mike! Great article! I have been looking for a maintenance schedule and i found this post to be most useful than any other articles. I like the simple,cogent and scientific way of your explanation.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks John!

  • Oliver Lopez

    Do u think this program would be good for a aspiring mma fighter? Priority in training is striking, wrestling, and jujitsu. So I want to focus my training on those skills.

    • Michael Matthews

      Possibly although I’m really not familiar with the training that MMA fighters do. That said, I don’t see how more explosive power will hurt…

      • Oliver Lopez

        Exactly. I’m looking to keep and possibly increase my strength, but not having to dedicate too much time to lifting, but more time to training the techniques of mma

        • Michael Matthews

          Yeah that makes sense. I think 3 x per week heavy push pull legs would make sure. Focusing on compounds of course.

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  • Hey Mike,

    Why does a routine focused on only a few key compound exercises produce faster strength gains than a routine where you perform lots of exercises (compound movements included) for each muscle group?

    I’m interested in the science behind it and I’d really appreciate if you could give me a short answer and maybe link me to an article (or book) where I can read more about this.

    Thanks a lot! Keep killing it Mike!

    • Michael Matthews

      Good question. It really just boils down to total muscle fiber recruitment.

      The big, primary compound lifts like the Squat, Deadlift, Bench Press, and so forth not only fully stimulate the muscles being trained but allow for heavy weights to be safely lifted. This means more progressive of more muscles, which means more gains…

      • Thanks!

        • Michael Matthews


  • Arthur H

    Thank you for your constant dedication to helping humanity achieve their very best. You are a true hero and inspiration to everyone.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks a ton Arthur. 🙂 You rock.

  • Allen

    Will doing too much cardio, a la Crossfit, be a detriment to gains while you’re maintaining? I’d like to do some kind of sport or high-intensity training routine in the future, but I don’t want to risk losing all of my hard work.

  • kunal shrivastava

    Don’t forget nutrition is as important, if not more than strength training and cardio.don’t skip on your meal frequency and timing, as most people do when they’re off their exercise schedule. Maintain a protein intake of 1g /kg body weight through meats and whey protein shakes.this helps preserve muscle mass and invariably strength as the body doesn’t need to break down muscle to compensate for protein loss.have a high calorie shake like weight gainers immediately after waking up.this immediately stabilises your blood sugar and nitrogen levels to counteract muscle loss. Also if you have more muscle, creatine monohydrate keeps them hydrated and reasonably intact. Supplement/continue supplementation with whey protein and creatine monohydrate even if you’re not exercising for a while ! Focus on pushups and pullups if you don’t have time to hit the gym. These exercises target almost all muscle groups in your upper body.squats and cycling may be done for glutes/thighs.Pushups and squats can be done anywhere, try to make a setup for pullups for those times it’s impossible for you to hit the gym.variations of these 2 exercises alone can help maintain muscle, if done for just 15-20 minutes every other day, trust me.

  • Pat

    Hey Mike,
    Another GREAT article – a big focus for me currently in all areas of life is to be as time efficient as possible. Is it reasonable to consider using one of your workouts listed above while cutting, then return to the full BLS workout while bulking? From this article, this approach seems logical, unless you feel I would be risking too much muscle loss during cutting. Thanks!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks! Yeah totally. This plus cardio can get the job done!

  • Renier

    Hi mike, just a quick question, can you make gainz training 3 times per week?(with this i mean reach you maximum potential and keep advancing at the gym for both advance and intermediate)

    • Michael Matthews

      Yeah you can make gains but you will do better with 4 or 5 x per week.

      • Renier

        Thanks for the reply!.

        • Michael Matthews


  • Aditya Manocha

    hey mike i was bit confused to what workout pattern should i follow be it one muscle a day or the one with 2 muscles a day i’ve been working out six days a week and schedule is DAY 1-Chest and Back ,DAY 2-biceps and triceps, DAY 3-shoulder and legs and then repeat again
    now i feel in a single day i am not able to train any of the muscle properly with the intensity and the weights i am just not able to increase weights
    Please suggest a workout plan for me…:(

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  • melike

    Hey mike.

    As a female, I have never been afraid of heavy weights. I have always workes hard for damn muscle gainz.

    But recently, I decided, personally I dont want to add any size to my shoulders for the sake of preserving my femininity. Genetically I have crazy broad shoulders. what kind of workout routine should I follow to keep them just the way they are?

    Btw, I am cutting, losing fat, but my shoulders is getting wider anyway haha.

    Thanks !

    • Haha nice on the heavy lifting. 🙂

      Are you sure it’s the shoulders that are the issue and not the lats?

      • melike

        Naah. I dont think so, I think my lats look ok.

        My shoulder girdle is really broad. I guess thats the issue makes me look bigger when I make significant gainz on my upper body.

        • Haha okay.

          Well side raises are definitely out and military presses may be too. Maybe 3 sets per week just to maintain. That plus your chest work should be plenty for keeping what you have…

  • Bri

    This is exactly the article ive been searching for! With school i can only workout on the weekend 1 or 2 days a week. I havent been lifting for too long (and im a girl) so even if i eat a good amount of protein (at least 1g/lb), workout 2 days and do pylo type things (like jump squats) should i maintain all my muscle? how about if i increase my protein?

    • Bri

      and i mean pylo on days i dont lift*

    • Great! Yes you can definitely maintain muscle on 1-2 workouts per week and your protein can remain around 0.8 to 1 gram per pound. You don’t need more…

  • Carlos Arteaga

    Hey mike. What if I want to maintain a specific muscle group? (Legs, I’ve been blessed with good genetics I guess).

    • You would just dial back that training each week. Personally I would do 3 to 6 heavy sets of squats per week to just maintain.

  • Matt

    Hey Michael.

    If I am taking a break from weightlifting, do I still need to eat one gram of protein per pound of bodyweight to maintain? Is it possible to maintain without weightlifting?

    Also, I really like the total daily energy expenditure articles on this website, I think they should be included in your book!



    • If you’re not training at all, you will lose muscle.

      To best maintain muscle while not training, keep up your protein and eat at maintenance cals (TDEE).

      Glad you enjoy the articles. Good idea. 🙂

  • kevin

    Thanks for the article, mike!
    What if im not interesting in making any gains? just keeping it the same, the minimumest of the minimum. What would you recommend in that case?

    • No problem!

      You can stick to a couple lifting days a week and eating at maintenance cals. You should be able to maintain with that.

  • Al

    Nice article Mike!

    Like a comment below me, I’m a student so I can only workout on the weekend (usually only 1 day) when school is in session. However, I do a different sport every season for my school teams with the fall sport being cross country. I know that doing distance running like cross country will actually cause you to lose muscle, so how can I maintain and/or gain muscle with only 1 workout per week and 4-5 other days doing distance running that causes me to lose muscle?

    • Thanks!

      Great on what you’re doing. I would think one whole-body workout per week would be enough to maintain so long as it includes the big compounds…

  • Paloma S

    I know this article is mainly for men, but I would like to know if for women is the same? I weight train 4 times a week, one day upper one day lower and 2-3 days i do hiit in btw. with the Hiit i also train some muscles with body weight excercises. I see the gains and some people have told me i’m getting bulky… do i have to lower the weight? and also when i train with weights i do around 8-9 excersises for each body group is that too much? i would really appreciate if you could help me with this! thanks!

  • Maru Pablo

    Hi Mike! Very informative article.

    Just one question though, relative to the comment before this one. Your book TLS prescribes the 8-10 rep range working sets for women. So does this mean the once a week routine here should be done at that rep range if applied to women?

    • Thanks!

      If she’s new to weightlifting, yes. If she’s experienced, she can train heavier (I talk about this in TLS as well).

  • Jon

    Wouldn’t this be too much for your muscles to handle? If you trained your whole body hard in the 85% 1RM range, wouldn’t your body not be able to keep up with repairing all the damage to the muscles, so you would lose some? And also, how should we eat during these maintaining days? A bulking diet or maintaining diet? Thanks!

    – Jon

  • Albert

    Great article Mike!
    As a high school student, I don’t get much time to work out (usually 1-2 times a week max) and I have usually done lifting during vacation times such as March and the summer. I do, however, play on the school basketball team in the winter season and crew during the spring season. Will both of these sport workouts and the 1-2 workouts a week max be enough to gain muscle? Would I be losing muscle by only doing the basketball or crew workouts and omitting lifting? Thanks!


    • Thanks Albert!

      You can definitely build muscle with weightlifting 1-2 times a week. You’ll of course get faster results with a 3, 4 or 5-day BLS split, but you can make gains with 1-2 days a week. Just make sure you’re eating enough to keep up with your activity level.

      If you omitted weightlifting altogether, you’d lose muscle.

  • Tomas

    Hey Michael,
    Great article! But I have a more specific question, when you are not training because of injury, is it somehow possible not to lose muscle?
    I have a broken finger and my whole hand ist fixated, so I cannot do nearly any exercise (maybe squats, and some abdominal training without using hands), but it is really unucomfortable (and unhygienic) to get really sweaty with the permanent fixation on your hand. Do you have some advice what to do in such case? Are squats and core training, with medium intensity enough to maintain all muscle?


    • Thanks!

      I feel you. I fractured my wrist playing football years ago and was in a full-arm cast for about 6 weeks aaaannddd I lost muscle, haha.

      Don’t sweat it though. Whatever you lose will come back very quickly once you get training again.

  • Luc Masset

    HI Mike! Thank you so much for your fantastic content!
    Can I lift weights once per week to cut?
    Thank you for your time

  • Rob

    I am considering running a half marathon soon and this will require some high volume running. Is it possible to keep the gains I have already made – by lifting 2 times per week as long as I keep my protein and calories adequate? Will running actually “burn” my muscle?
    Thanks Mike

    • Yup, definitely.

      I’ve worked with quite a few people that run marathons and that’s what we do–taper down the lifting to the bare essentials and make sure they’re not in a calorie deficit as they ramp up the cardio.

      • Rob

        Wonderful! Thank you Mike. I will try this out and see how it goes! A half marathon I can handle, a full marathon is a totally different animal…

  • Ltm

    Hi Mke,

    Fab article and just what I’ve been needing to read! How much (numbe rof sessions per week) cardio do you reccommend with each of the above weight training plans?

  • Mark

    Hi, what’s the best way to de load?

  • Ltm

    Hi Mike, I’ve managed to injure my hamstring and wanted to know if you are able to suggest substitute exercises for the deadlifts and squats in the 2 day routine above?
    The thought of stopping training completely is not something I’m keen on!

  • martin

    As we are talking about minimal effort: most people can get to a 3-4 plate deadlift with 1×5 week. For example like this: warm-up: 135×5, 185×3, 225×2, 275×2, 315×1. Working-set: 345×5 (or amrap). Maybe you could add one back off stiff/romanian if you really want to burn your hamstrings. But be careful. A romanian deadlift isn’t an ego lift like the conventional, so start with the bar only 🙂

  • martin

    Great article. I think I would add weighted chin ups and maybe dips. So you would have decent lat/biceps and triceps/chest with the dips. Maybe superset it with the rows and the bench 😉

  • Viplove Dev

    Hi Mike, a big fan of your work and been following your instructions (to the most extent :)). Currently, I do a one day per body-part workout with no cardio at all. I have been hovering around 13-14% body fat for some 3 months now. My aim is to be bring that below 10%. I’m thinking of incorporating cardio. The problem is I cannot give more than 1 hour a day for exercise. Would you recommend I do a 1-day or 2-days or 3-days per week strength training + the rest of the days as cardio?

  • Leonard

    Thanks for the article, exactly what I am looking for. Under doctor orders not to do military presses or any other presses where you are pressing parallel or up. Any suggestion for replacement of military press.

    • YW!

      Hmm. Sounds like you’re just going to have to focus on front, side and rear delt raises until you’re able to press again.


  • Harald Kroiss

    Is the 1-Day Training Methode possible while on a cut? (around ~400kcal deficit), i want to do other 2 days running/cardio cause i want to attend a Half-Marathon in the end of Summer. And without running i will not get the necessary condition.

    Thx for any advice 😉

  • Phil

    Hi Mike,

    I’m getting closer to my ideal physique thanks to your advice and your articles :).So I’ve started making plans for maintenance. I was wondering, since these aren’t mentioned in the article:
    How many calories should I eat to maintain the physique I want? (I’m guessing around TDEE and if I gain too much fat then I’ll reduce my daily intake)
    How much protein should I eat a day? (Is it still about 2,2-3,0 g/kg, or can I reduce this to about 1,5-2,0 g/kg)
    Which supplements are essential for a healthy lifestyle (the less supplements I take the better, I really don’t like swallowing 15 pills a day like right now)?
    Should I take HMB to prevent muscle loss? Or is it only necessary when training fasted?

    There, those are my questions. I’d just like to thank you once more for writing all these articles and helping people for free. It’s a rare sight to see, especially on the internet.

    • That’s great man! Yup, you’ll be eating at TDEE with 1g/lb bodyweight.

      HMB is really only for fasted training. You can keep up multivitamin or fish oil supplementation though.

      YW! Happy to hear you’re getting so much out of the material.

  • Francisco Velasquez

    Can i maintain my muscle on cut using the bodyweight workout routine in your of your guides?

  • John

    Hey this would be a fantastic workout for me cause i do football training 2 days every week and on saturday. Could i instead of other equipment just use dumbells in this exercise and if so what weight would you recommend for a 16 year old who is relativly fit. Thanks!

    • Provided that you have heavy enough dumbbells, sure! For better results, try this out:


    • Jamie 456

      You are only 16 – you have a life time of working out to go. Read “starting strength” & “practical programming”. Why are you trying to mantain strength and muscle when you have none?Follow proper strength barbell programs such as “Stronglifts 5×5”, “The Texas Method”, and “Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1”.

      • John

        It says tho ill gain muscle soo

        • Jamie 456

          You will make very little progress following advice that is meant for maintaining your fitness levels. Everything works for a beginner – you can go up 5lbs in your bench once a month or twice a week.

          I highly recommend you look at Stronglifts.com

          Beginners can follow a proper strength program and recover enough while playing sports. If you want to play sport and bench over 225lbs then things start to get complicated.

          • John

            Im doing 6 sets instead and im not looking to get massivly bulked just like lean and a 6 pack. Should i just stop this exercise now and do a 5×5 or am i good?

          • Better off with the 5×5. As a newbie, you’ll see gains regardless, but you’ll get better mileage with the 5×5 since you”ll be able to push and overload your muscles more than 1-2x a week in this article.

          • Jamie 456

            I would learn the difference between strength training and muscle building if i was you. In the start there’s no difference – you need strength either way(even for endurance (i’ve heard professional marathoners Squat 200+lbs)).
            But eventually you have to decide to follow strength programs, muscle building programs, power, endurance, sports specific, etc.

            It takes years, not overnight – though you’ll probably gain 10+kg of muscle in about 6 months of following Stronglifts 5×5 – i did, but remember that amount of muscle is required to look good, not be massive.
            So, if you don’t want to get huge just stay away from training your main lifts (squat, bench, deadlift, press, row) in the 6-12 rep range (accessory exercises are fine though (pull ups, dips, front squats, dumbbell variations, etc.)

            I tend to ramble on sometimes, but it’s important stuff you need to know.

            Final note:
            *Get to a gym
            *Follow Stronglifts 5×5(or Starting Strength if you want more power in your legs i.e. ditch 5×5 rows for 6×3 power cleans)
            *Use dumbbells as accessory work only, which isn’t needed for a long time (5/3/1 Program)
            *Remember any exercise is better than none i.e. following 5×5 with dumbbells is better than watching tv (buy your results will suffer, especially since you won’t be squatting properly or heavy).

          • John

            sorry for bothering u heaps with this, but im following this workout is this good for gaining muscle? p.s its a fat trek for me to get to a gym from where i live. https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/dumbbell-only-home-or-gym-fullbody-workout.html

          • Jamie 456

            Personally, I don’t like that routine very much – i’ve gotten very small results with isolation exercises and the 6-12 rep range. BUT I know a lot of guys that have put on lots of muscle with similar routines (though they don’t seem to get much stronger).
            I would recommend you get a barbell and some weights (it shouldn’t cost too much) and follow Stronglifts with either light squats or pistol squats. If that is still not an option, then i would recommend the following Calisthenics Routine;
            Squats 3×5-30
            Deadlifts 1×5 (or as heavy as possible)
            Push Ups
            Pull Ups
            Dumbbell Presses 3×10-15

            Do all exercises in the 3×5-15 rep range unless otherwise stated.
            Train Monday, Wednesday & Friday.
            Rest 2-3mins

          • Not gonna see a lot of muscle with that. Here’s why:


  • Francisco Velasquez

    hi. Im at 8% bf, with a satisfactory amount of muscle for my goals. while i understand that a 5 day split with 9-12 sets total per day per body part is ideal, can i get away with a 2 day split while cutting to 7%? Once i hit 7% I intend to reverse diet into maintaince and later slow bulk. Also for a two day split is there a reason why chest and legs gets a little extra work? just curious. What if i made a two day split targetting every major muscle group at 6 sets /week per body part focusing on progressive overload? Or should i give the extra love simply to legs and chest?

  • disqus_FQqxFWKVb0

    HI Mike, thanks for your informative page. Can I ask your recommendation? I am looking to do maintenance workouts only for the time being. I have gotten in shape using programs like P90X and Body Beast, and I’d like to maintain the results I have gotten from those. However, I like the schedule of working out one or two muscle groups, and switching it up everyday, and working out everyday (the way those programs do). What do you recommend as the minimum I can do to maintain my results, but also keep to that schedule (working out almost every day, a couple of muscle groups at a time) as opposed to the twice per week, full body workouts you recommend above? Can I do the same schedule I’ve been doing, but cut the workouts in half? Or by 2/3rds? If so, should I do less reps with more weights (with fewer sets) or more reps with less weight (with more sets). Thanks for your insight, I know this is a lot. I just prefer to workout almost everyday and do a few muscle groups at a time, rather than twice a week and do full body.


  • Kacy

    Your articles are so helpful!! There is so much conflicting advice out there. What exercises would you recommend for just starting out? I’m increasing the weight in lifting a little bit but after reading your “skinny fat” article, I realize I fit right in with that and am pretty weak. What is 1RM? Thanks!

  • Chad Avalon

    What about biceps, lats, abs and calves? Are they covered enough in these compound lifts?

    • Chad Avalon


      • Hey Chad, all those body parts get worked from the compound lifts. You should be able to maintain your strength, but if you wind up losing size, you’ll need to increase volume. I hope this helps!

  • SolomonBicakcic

    Hey Mike, I am curently attending police academy and five days a week we are having very tough workouts that include mostly long runs and bodyweight exercises, and wednesday and friday even two workout per day. So, with that much exhausting workout I can only attend gym maybe 1 day a week. Will that 1 weightlifting session be enough to maintain my muscle size considering that we do insane amounts of cardio sessions?

    • Yes, you should be able to maintain it. Be sure you’re eating enough protein and calories!

  • Yusuf Karakaya

    Hey Mike,
    I have been lifting weights for three and a half years and I do not want more muscle. I only want to lose fat while maintaining my muscle mass. Is it possible me to maintain my muscle mass while losing fat by lifting once or twice per week with this program in a caloric deficit? And if it is, how much protein should I take daily? I think there should be difference between heavy lifting five times and once per week. Thank you so much!

  • Elijah Laughinghaus

    I’m going to be traveling for a period of about 3 months without much access to a gym. Could you recommend a body weight routine I could do without equipment strictly for maintenance, or would that not be enough?

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