For lots of dudes that sling the iron there will be times throughout life where getting into the gym 3-5 times a week may not be a possibility.
Even worse, there may be times where you can't get in very often, and are limited by time.
Lots of guys fear that they will lose strength and size if they can only get into the gym twice a week. But understanding your current level of development can help you design a program that will at least maintain what you have built, and that's better than regression.
For guys that have a lot of years under the bar, and a very solid base, often time they get stronger on less frequency. It's pretty common for guys to actually limit their progress by training too often. So it's not surprising to me when I hear of a guy that already has good strength numbers, to get stronger when he's forced to reduce his time in the gym for a while.
The other conundrum is when someone is forced to squeeze their training session down in regards to time spent in the gym.
For people that are running into these issues, here are some solutions I present.
Beginner to Intermediate Level Twice a week -
For the guy that is just finding his way, we're going to squat and press twice one week. The next week there will be a deadlift and "back" day, before squatting and pressing again.
Day 1 -
Squat - warm up, then 5 sets of 8 in less than 20 minutes.
Bench Press - warm up, then 5 sets of 8 in less than 20 minutes.
Day 2 -
Squat - same as day 1
Incline Press - 350 method
Week 2 -
Day 1 (to start the following week)
Deadlift - 5 sets of 3 work up to a "crisp" triple
Chin Ups - As many as you can do in 20 minutes (try to beat this total each time this workout rolls around)
Day 2 - start cycle over
Notes - For most guys that are in the novice to intermediate stages, it won't take long for them to reach a weight they can settle on for 5 sets of 8 in the squat and bench. I don't have a % for you here because the rate a beginner-novice gain strength at is fairly quickly, so setting an EDM can be tricky. Just work up to something you can do a moderately easy set of 8 with, and keep the rest times to a minimum.
All in all, these sessions should be doable in under an hour if you're really getting after it and not fucking around trying to spot the hot chick doing lateral raises. She doesn't need a spot. So just do your work, and get out of there.
Advanced Level Twice a week -
For the dude with a solid base of strength, he's probably smart enough to adjust his training to meet the "limited time/limited frequency" problem. However, if I were in such position here is what I would do...
Day 1 - Squat
Squat - Base Building Model III
Day 2 - Bench
Bench Press - Base Building Model III
Kroc Rows - 1x30
Week 2 -
Day 1 - Deadlifts
Front Squats - as a warm up, 3 x 5 light and explosive
Deadlifts - Base Building Model III
Day 2 - Incline
Incline Press - 350 method
Pulldowns - 350 method
Week 3 - start cycle over
Filling in the gaps -
Lifters of all levels will still need to "fill in the muscular gaps" as I like to say. In other words, you'll still need to do some movements outside of the big stuff to be a little well rounded in your musculature, and help to avoid injury.
A very easy way to do this is to purchase some dumbbells and do some dumbbell work at home between the big stuff. Along with that, some bodyweight movements will even things out.
Some movements you can do to put the icing on the cake...
Db side or bent laterals - 100 total reps
Db Curls - 100 total reps
Split Squats - 100 total reps
Db Leg Curls - 100 total reps
Db Skulls - 100 total reps
As you can see, there is a common theme here. That is, lots of dumbbell work.
Just pick one from the group and get the 100 reps in as fast as possible. This shouldn't take more than a few minutes unless you decided to go crazy heavy on the dumbbells, and that's not the idea here.
These are pretty straight forward and simple solutions for someone that is pressed for time in the gym, and can't get in there more than twice a week. Getting these sessions in will most likely keep you on track until your schedule clears so that more time or days of the week can be devoted to lifting. But don't be surprised if you actually get stronger. Lots of guys overestimate just how much time is needed to get stronger. So long as you're working hard and eating well, progress should not be halted because of a time constraint.