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4-Day a Week Split: #1 Training Article Database Training Splits 4-Day a week Training Splits 4-Day a Week Split: #1





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*These workouts can be performed any four days of the week, but a two-day on / one-day off, two-day on / two-day off program is recommended.

**Number of Sets are indicated first, followed by number for reps.

Example: 3*8 Upright row = 3 sets of 8 repetitions for the upright row.



3 * 8 Upright row
3 * 8 Military press
3 * 8 Arnie press
3 * 8 Cable lateral raise


Back / Triceps

3 * 8 Deadlifts
3 * 8 T - Bar rows
3 * 8 Bent over barbell rows
3 * 8 Cable Rows

3 * 8 Close grip bench press
3 * 8 V - Bar Triceps pull downs
3 * 8 Single arm dumbbell extenstions


Quads / Hamstrings

4 * 8 Squats
4 * 8 Leg presses
4 * 8 Leg extensions
4 * 8 Lying leg curls
4 * 8 Lunges


Chest / Biceps

4 * 8 Incline bench press
3 * 8 Incline dumbbell flys
3 * 8 Incline dumbbell press
3 * 8 Bench press

3 * 8 Seated curls
3 * 8 Standing barbell curl
3 * 8 Preacher curl

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This split is a very basic design and is good for a variety of athletes, regardless of experience level. There is ample room in the program to change up the order of exercises, amount of weight, number of reps or the number of sets. The main thing which needs to be held constant are the days in which the various muscle groups are exercised.

For example, you will notice the split starts on shoulders on day one. Say we are using a four day split and this is performed throughout the school/work week. In this particular case, shoulder day would be on Monday, following that would be back and triceps. We can see that after an intense day of working out shoulders, it is not difficult to immediately work out back and triceps the following day. Depending on the muscle groups involved, the training split should accomodate so that no overtraining takes place. Check out the example below:


Day 1 - Shoulders
Day 2 - Chest / Biceps

This can cause a problem because for many chest exercises, shoulders are a secondary muscle being used on certain lifts. Take for example, the bench press. For the bench press, chest is obviously the main muscle being developed and worked out. However, secondary help is required from both the triceps and the shoulders. As a result, if you place shoulder training on Monday, but chest day on Tuesday, your shoulders may not have the strength necessary to perform chest workouts at top level. That said, it is nice to spread out primary and secondary muscle groups so that the possibility of overtraining is reduced. Remember - it is just a possibility of overtraining, because in all likeliness, training shoulders and then training chest the next day will not lead to overtraining, and more importantly, you will know when you are overtraining or not (your body will let you know, believe me!).

After the first two days, we see that a day off is placed immediately in the middle. Bodybuilders should spread things out as best as possible, whether it be training days, food, water, or anything else, it is never ideal to do a lot at one point in time, followed by big lapses in the time that follows. It explains why six meals are better than three, and in the case of training, it's also better to spread things out. For example, four or five workouts in the week will be more welcomed by your body than longer workouts less frequently. Add even more on top of this, the day off from training is in the middle of the week, after two workouts are performed. Afterwards, another two workouts are performed. In this case, leg day is on Thursday (using our Monday - Friday example). With the previous two workouts being entirely upper body, there is not much possibility that your legs are too sore to train (unless they are sore from the previous week, in which case it is adviseable to wait until they are no longer sore before you train them.

This leads into workout number four. This workout is chest and biceps, and no doubt your shoulders (secondary muscle involved for many chest exercises) will be ready to take on the challenge of chest day. Your biceps (which are a secondary muscle involved in many back rowing-type exercises) should also be more than recovered to perform the requirements of biceps day. Depending on the type of back workouts you do and the intensity in which you perform them, you may find that you are working your biceps on both your back day and your biceps day! This will no doubt lead to additional growth if done correctly and with the required amount of time between.

No, we will get into the specifics of why the exercises chosen were chosen. Let's start with day one!


Military Press: This is a meat and potatoes mass builder for the shoulders. This is a very basic exercise, where you simply press the barbell overhead. It is excellent for developing the front head of your shoulders.

Arnold Press: The Arnold Press stresses the same areas of the shoulder as the dumbbell press, but more intensely due to the curling nature of the press. An example of what the press looks like can be found here. As a tip, if you are not used to the Arnold Press, start off with light weights until you are certain you can fully control the motion. Once you can, you will likely find that you will be able to use close to the same amount of weight as you can for the regular dumbbell military press. This is due to the curling nature of the exercise. The Arnold Press is also known as the "Arnold Curl".

Cable Lateral Raise: The cable lateral raise is a good exercise to include with the other ones because, as you can see, all the other exercises performed during this shoulder workout are performed using free weights. So should you use free weights or machines? Both have their advantages, and regardless of which are better, you can benefit vastly from incorporating both into your routine. In this particular case, cable lateral raises are good, because unlike dumbbell lateral raises, the cables will maintain pressure on the deltoid at all times throughout the movement, whereas gravity can help ease off some of this pressure when using dumbbells. Free weights recruit more muscle fiber, so it is good to make them become the majority of your workouts. However, the benefits of machines still exist, and since the remaining exercises from this workout are free weights, included one exercise with a machine will not take away from the quality of this workout.


Deadlifts: No exercise in existence works your back in quite the way deadlifts do! Deadlifts are perhaps the best bodybuilding exercise to indicate overall power. It is a very basic compound movement up there with bench presses and squats. Compound movements have been known to increase overall levels of growth hormone in the body, so aside from developing a big back, you may notice other muscles growing if you start incorporating deadlits into your routine. One word of caution before performing deadlifts: Use very strict form! Strict form should be used for all exercises, but if you fail to use strict form for deadlifts, you may find yourself experiencing back pain. Deadlifts will develop your lower back, but also your entire back. There have been so many good words spoken of the benefits of deadlifts, that I will not get into them here. But remember - good form is paramount to avoiding injury!

T-Bar Rows: For lat development and overall thickness to your middle back, t-bar rows may very well be one of the best there is. Although developing a muscular back is very important, muscle quality is also very important. If you are looking to add some freaky thickness to your back, t-bars may be for you.

Bent-Over Barbell Rows: Bent over rows, like the bench press, squat, and deadlift, is another meat and potatoes mass builder for the back. If your goal is develop wide, sweeping lats, this exercise is for you. Bent-over rows are also good at developing / strengthening your lower back.

Cable Rows: This is another great exercise for developing your lats. If you want a back so big you can see it from the front, you will want to include cable rows in your workout.


Close-Grip Bench Presses: Just as the regular grip bench press is a meat and potatoes mass builder for the chest, when you shorten the grip, you will find that close-grip bench presses increase overall mass as well as developing every head of the triceps. The one caution you will want to remember is to not use such a narrow grip that you experience any pain or discomfort in your wrists. It's worth it to have intense workouts to develop mass, but it should never have to take place at the cost of your joints.

V-Bar Triceps Pushdowns: This exercise is good for developing the outer head of the triceps. The range for this exercise is not as large as you might think.

Single Arm Dumbbell Extenstions: This exercise is also good at hitting more than one head of the triceps. It is a balanced mass builder and good to include.


Squats: Once again, speaking in terms of the basic compound movements, nothing is better than squats. Some say it is the best exercise of all time. Along with deadlifts, bench presses, and barbell rows, squats are great for adding overall mass. Since it is a compound movement, it will also increase levels of growth hormone in the body. Think about how many gym rats you see with big upper bodies and skinny legs. Now try to think of any who have big legs but small upper bodies. The number of bodybuilders like that are certainly not as high. Squats can develop big legs, and as a result, you may see that you are gaining faster in other areas of your body. Once again, form is important throughout the movement, and going to parallel or slightly lower is recommended. If you do not go to parallel or lower, you risk injuring your knees as you may be squating more weight than your legs can handle, and it will in turn be your knees which are experiencing the majority of the strain. A spotter or a safety bar may be helpful to ensure safety while performing squats.

Leg Presses: Leg presses are a very good mass builder for the thighs. Although they are normally not praises as much as squats, they can still help you build mass on your legs. Many of the safety tips for squats apply here, but since you are using a machine, the risk of failing without a spotter is non-existent. That said, it is an especially safe exercise to perform if you are alone.

Leg Extensions: Leg extensions are a pretty simply movement, and are great for lower thigh development.

Lying Leg Curls: Lying leg curls are great for adding overall mass to the hamstrings. If lying leg curls are not enough for you to effectively work your hamstrings, you may consider adding straight or stiff-legged deadlifts to your training.

Lunges: Lunges are a great exercise because they develop both the quadriceps and the hamstrings. Specifically, they develop the inner thighs.


As a note, the exercises in this workout are performed mostly on the incline. However, the same exercises can be performed on the flat bench of the decline bench if preferred.

Incline Bench Press: The incline bench press does for the upper pecs what the bench press does for overall mass. It is a mass builder and develops the upper portion of the chest. The upper portion is generally considered the most appealling, and emphasizing that area with upper chest workouts is important if you are trying to develop a balanced physique. Sometimes, bodybuilders neglect the upper chest and just opt to perform bench presses. Both flat and incline bench presses are very important overall mass builders for the chest.

Incline Dumbbell Flies: Flies performed on the inclined are another great way to develop mass for the upper chest. The range of motion is very unique for flies and you will thereby recruit additional muscle fibers which you will not recruit performing other exercises.

Incline Dumbbell Press: Incline dumbbell presses are performed with the same range of motion as incline barbell bench presses, but dumbbells act to recruit muscle fibers as the exercise requires more stabilization. Where barbell presses add mass, dumbbell presses are excellent for gaining mass as well as strength, and good to incorporate in any workout.

Bench Press: This is the ultimate chest developer. It is great for both mass and strength and where you place it in your chest workout depends on what you want to emphasize. It has a very simple range of motion and packs mass on the outer portions of the chest very well.


Seated Curls: Seated curls are great for many reasons. They are good because they do not allow you to cheat during the range of motion. When you are firmly seated in the chair, it is not possible for your back to take over and perform the curl for you! That said, your biceps will be worked and not any other muscle.

Standing Barbell Curls: The standing barbell curl is for biceps what bench press is for chest and what squats are for quads. It is a basic mass builder. As a tip, try to perform this exercise against a wall if possible, or while facing a 90 degree angle from the mirror to ensure you perform this exercise with good form. It is extremely easy to perform this exercise with poor form if you are not watching for it. Cheat curls are a good shocking technique, but are normally recommended only on the last few reps of the last set of an exercise. You should never perform a cheat curl as a normal curl. Save them for the end of the workout for a good finisher.

Preacher Curls: Preacher curls are great for lengthening the biceps and adding lower thickness. That said, if your arms are naturally well peaked but lacking in length, then preacher curls are definitely the exercise for you! If you want to mix things up a little, try preacher curls with dumbbells. With dumbbells, the exercise is self-spotting and you will be able to get that extra rep or two in by spotting yourself. As usual, barbells are best for mass, but dumbbells work effectively as well and are better when no spotter is available.


Now that you've read the whole article, you will have to consider if this routine is good for you. Everything considered, it provides a variety of exercises to gain both mass and strength, as well as providing enough rest and recuperation in between so that your muscles develop to their full potential. Keep reading and researching, and if you decide on this workout, let me know how it goes!

Take care,

Matt Canning

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