Want a 4 day workout split that really works? You’re in luck. Why? We have one and we’re sharing. We give you all the details you need to have success with a four-day workout split.
There’s nothing worse than spending four days a week in the gym and not making great gains.
Having the right weekly split routine and workouts could be what’s holding you back from greatness. There’s plenty of misinformation out there. Don’t fall into the traps and keep spinning your wheels for nothing. This split has the perfect balance between muscle groups so you can stop surviving and start thriving.
This Is The 4 day workout split
Over the course of the week, you’ll train hard in the gym four days and recover three days. There are a few popular ways to break up the week. Many people advocate for splitting the week into a chest and tri workout, back/biceps, shoulder/traps, and legs/abs breakdown.
On the surface, this seems fine, but consider what the biggest influences on building muscle are: Exercise stimulus, recovery, nutrition, and hormones. That split gives plenty of recovery and a fair amount of stimulus, but it leaves serious room for hormonal improvement. That’s why you’ll break down lower body workout bodybuilding into two days and train it twice a week.
Anabolic hormones likes testosterone, IGF-1 and growth hormone will significantly increase from using the biggest muscles in your body twice a week. This split breaks up the body into its four biggest quadrants and movements. Each day will be serious work that will pay more dividends than Microsoft. Here’s what you’ll do each week:
- Day 1: Upper Body Pull (Back and Biceps)
- Day 2: Lower Body Push (Quadriceps dominant)
- Day 3: Upper Body Push (Chest, Shoulders and Triceps)
- Day 4: Lower Body Pull (Hamstring and Glute dominant)
Day 1: Upper Body Pull (Back And Biceps)
Day one focuses on the back and biceps by doing vertical and horizontal pulling movements like rows and pull-ups. It finishes off with isolating the rear deltoids and biceps.
Day 2: Lower Body Push (Quadriceps Dominant)
Day two hones in on the big movers of the body: The mighty quads. You’ll focus on the quads by doing exercises like squats, lunges and leg presses. This day also includes calf and core work.
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Day 3: Upper Body Push (Chest, Shoulders, And Triceps)
On the third day, the exercises will focus on horizontal and vertical pressing movements. Chest presses and overhead presses make up the bulk of the workout before you finish off with triceps, deltoids and core exercises.
Day 4: Lower Body Pull (Hamstring And Glute Dominant)
The final day goes back to the lower body for pull dominant movements like deadlifts. At the end, your calves and core will get another blast of attention to finish off the split.
This Is What Your Week Can Look Like
It’s important that you keep the days in order as they’re strategically designed to maximize recovery and performance. How you space out the workouts is up to you, but there are a couple of preferred breakdowns. The optimal breakdown goes no more than two days in a row without resting. That could look like this:
Monday: Day 1: Upper Body Pull (Back And Biceps)
Tuesday: Day 2: Lower Body Push (Quadriceps Dominant)
Thursday: Day 3: Upper Body Push (Chest, Shoulders And Triceps)
Friday: Day 4: Lower Body Pull (Hamstring And Glute Dominant)
This Will Boost Your Anabolic Hormones
Just about everyone knows the benefits of high testosterone.
What are they?
Improved sex life, better body composition, higher amounts of muscle mass, the pros go on and on. Other anabolic hormones like IGF-1 and growth hormone play huge roles in protein synthesis as well with testosterone foods.
We know we want higher levels of these hormones, but how do we do it?
There are some obvious artificial choices, but for someone who is more health conscious, there’s a few things you can implement in your lifestyle. Sleep, proper nutrition, and specific training programs are the best places to start.
The good news is the program is designed to make the most of the body’s natural abilities. This all comes down to the specific sets and reps for certain exercises.
You’ll notice that each day kicks off with a higher volume (number of sets) of high-intensity low rep sets. Working at a high percentage of your one rep max has been proven to boost natural levels of testosterone. It’s important you stick with the big compound exercises for this.
Since you’re using the largest muscles and getting the best leverage on the first two exercises of each day, you’ll be able to lift the most weight. Lifting a lot of weight while stimulating the nervous system to fire up large muscles signals the body to produce more testosterone.
After you power through those exercises the reps will increase. Increasing the rep range while decreasing the rest is the perfect pump plan. The repeated contractions will force blood to pool in the muscles causing transient hypertrophy, also known as a tape measure splitting pump.
Every guy loves getting a pump. After all, it makes you look ripped and gives you a preview of what you’ll look like in the future. It’s not just for looks, though. Transient hypertrophy, although temporary, has lasting effects. This type of training boosts growth hormone and other anabolic hormones. Whether your goal is to put on as much mass as you can or to make lean gains, you need these hormones on your side.
How Long Should You Rest?
Not all sets are created equal. What that means is it doesn’t matter how hard a set feels or how ready you are to tackle the next set. Even if you can run through the sets or you feel you’re losing strength by not resting enough, trust the rest period.
Low rep sets (less than six reps) train strength, use lots of ATP (stored energy in muscles) and tax the nervous system the most. To lift the most amount of weight possible, you’ll need to rest at least two to three minutes between these sets. This will give your body the chance to regenerate as much ATP as it can, vital to lifting max weight.
If your strength is dropping off a lot between sets it’s usually a sign of too little rest. If you don’t feel like you need the rest, buckle up and add some weight. These sets need to feel heavy!
On the other hand, high rep (more than eight reps) lighter weight sets train hypertrophy, muscular endurance and use less ATP. The goal with these sets is to be unrelenting on the muscles by not allowing them to fully recover. How? Be very strict on the rest period.
To maximize hypertrophy you need to rest 60 to 90 seconds at most between sets. Most of your ATP will regenerate in that time, giving you enough gusto to keep pumping the iron and work on your pump. Don’t forget: You shouldn’t wait till you feel fully recovered. There should be a small but natural drop off in your strength, but never more than 15%.
The key points for rest periods is this:
Under 6 reps, rest 2-3 minutes
Over 8 reps, rest 60-90 seconds
Stick to that through thick and thin to get greater gains.
Why Your Gains Are Not Made In The Gym
To have success with any program you need to respect recovery. Training four days a week is a happy medium between training volume and time to recover. Make an effort on your off days to follow the split’s suggestion and take it easy. If you can’t bear the thought of letting your body sit still, there are things you can do to promote recovery and come back to the next workout stronger.
What can you do?
Try stretching, yoga and foam rolling.
If relaxing on your off days and watching sports sounds great, you’re somewhat in luck. Well, just a bit. Shutting off your TV and electronics and committing to seven hours of quality sleep is the make or break in your progress. Not getting enough quality sleep is just like getting an oil change, but not changing all of the oil. You’ll never be optimal and it’s going to catch up with you.
This Is Optimizing Your Nutrition
Don’t forget about the other important factor in making gains: Nutrition. You can’t build a house without bricks and you can’t build a body without proper nutrition. As you put the time in with the iron, you need to make sure your fridge has what you need.
The most important factor in making gains is an adequate protein intake. Without enough protein, your body literally has nothing to build muscle with. Your muscles will be holding up a sign saying “I’m hungry, feed me protein!” The problem is that you won’t be able to see the sign. As a result, you’ll just stay the same way you are. Active weightlifting adults should aim to consume a gram of protein per pound of bodyweight.
Protein is the base, but there are many more factors. The next biggest one is simple: Eating a caloric surplus. A small caloric surplus will make it possible for you to gain weight in the form of muscle.
If you’re not sure how many calories to consume, here’s how to calculate a good starting point: Take your bodyweight (in pounds) and multiply by 15. For example, an 180-pound male would start by eating around 2,700 calories per day. If you start gaining too much fat, then eat less. If you’re not gaining weight, then eat more. Avoid making huge changes in calories too quickly – 100 to 200 calories is plenty.
These Are 4 day workout split Workouts
Day 1 Upper Body Pull (Back and Biceps):
|1. Weighted Pull-up||4||5|
|2. Dumbbell Row||4||6-8|
|3. Barbell Row||3||12|
|4. Close Grip Pulldown||3||12|
|5a. Bent Over Rear Delt Raise||3||12-15|
|5b. Alternating Hammer Curl||3||10|
|6a. Cable Lat Pressdown||3||12|
|6b. Barbell Preacher Curl||3||12|
Day 2: Lower Body Push (Quad Dominant):
|1. Box Squat||4||5|
|2. Leg Press||4||8|
|3. Walking Lunge||3||12|
|4. Single Leg Press||3||15 each|
|5a. Lateral Lunge||3||12 each|
|5b. Standing Calf Raise||3||12|
|6a. Standing Single Leg Calf Raise||3||15 each|
|6b. Exercise Ball Pike||3||8|
Day 3: Upper Body Push (Chest, Shoulders, And Triceps)
|1. Bench Press||4||5|
|2. Military Press||4||6-8|
|3. Alternating Dumbbell Chest Press||3||10
|4a. Arnold Press||3||12
|4b. Incline Dumbbell Flye||3||12
|5b. Triceps Pullover||3||12|
Day 4: Lower Body Pull (Glute And Hamstring Dominant)
|1. Sumo Deadlift||4||5|
|2. Barbell Hip Thrust||4||6-8|
|3. Stiff Leg Deadlift||3||10|
|4a. Lying Hamstring Curl||3||12
|4b. Hanging Leg Raise||3||12
|5a. Seated Calve Raise||3||15|
|5b. Weighted Sit-up||3||12|
This Is What You Do On Off Days
The key on off days is to relax, recover and regenerate. Ensure your body is getting enough protein, calories, and sleep so it can make the most of the off time. It’s also highly beneficial to work on mobility through stretching, foam rolling or yoga. It will improve your range of motion on exercises to get maximal muscle activation and helps keep you injury free.
Do a quick self-assessment on yourself by taking baseline measurements. A good place to start is progress pictures, weight, body fat and recording your five-rep max on key exercises.
Once you know your starting point, give yourself a light week in the gym then go through the split the first time leaving a little bit in the tank each workout. This’ll give your body the chance to start adapting without getting overexerted. You’ll also have a much better idea of the weights you’ll use. Mark up your calendar, crack open a new workout log and get to the gains!
By Raphael Konforti MS, CPT