T Nation

BIG 4 Routine

I’d like to hear some opinions on a new routine I’m trying out…

Ill start by saying that I’m addicted to squats, so much that I’ve neglected my upperbody for a few month now. I use to bench 170 nd now I’m building back up from 135… not happy with that at all although I’m happy with the lower body progress I’ve made. I’ve been looking for a routine that would allow me to stay well rounded but other than a two day split( upperbody/lowerbody ) I’m not happy with the frequency in which I get to train either muscle groups.

That being said, I’m starting a new routine:

Monday, Wednesday & Friday

Deadlift 3x5
High-Bar ATG Squats 5x5 (alternate 4x8)
Bench Press 5x5 (alternate 4x8)
Bent-Over Barbell Rows 3x5 (or 5x5)

Throw in some curls or a focus area nd that’s it.

I tried it out today, doing some curls afterwards nd it felt great, any thoughts?

Also, I’m 5’11 160 nd I’m looking to reach 185 ATLEAST

I typed up a nice long response to this, and then my computer froze and I lost all of it haha. SO, i’m going to say what I said again, but much shorter. So forgive me if I sound abrupt.

Basically, this program isn’t the MOST terrible thing in the world. I’m assuming you are a beginner, and being a beginner, you could probably make some pretty good gains on this for a while. But there are a few problems with it in my eyes.

  1. you are still neglecting bench by putting it after squats and deads every day. You will be tired out by the time you get to it, and not make gains like you should. If something is important, you put it first in your training session.

  2. going heavy on all those compound lifts, every single session, is going to get very mentally and physically difficult as you get stronger, so this program is not very good long term

  3. you talk about how an upper/lower split doesn’t have enough frequency for you, yet you are only planning on training 3 days a week. I think you NEED an upper lower split in order to properly attack your bench issues, and if you want more frequency you should just train more often.

  4. no strict pressing in this routine. Strict press will help your bench immensely.

So, I would suggest you train more like this

day 1: squat heavy, deadlift, assistance
day 2: bench heavy, strict press, pulling/assistance
day 3 rest
day 4: Deadlift heavy, squat, assistance
Day 5: Strict press heavy, bench, pulling /assistance
Day 6: Whatever
Day 7 rest.

If you feel you need more frequency on bench, OR you just want to squat more (you said you love it), do that on saturday. With this program, you will be prioritizind upper body on certain days, and you will only be doing 2 big, heavy compound movements a day (the second of which should be lighter for reps), so you won;t be as physically and mentally tired out over time.

OR, if you NEED to only train 3 times a week, I would a) shuffle the order of your exercises around, and b) plan to do some heavy, some lighter every day. For example

Monday: Deadlift heavy, Squat moderate, Bench light, assistance

Wednesday: Bench Heavy, Deadlift moderate, squat light, assistamce (strict press)

Friday: Squat heavy, bench moderate, deadlift light, assistance

That way, you still prioritize bench at least once a week, you hit a variety of rep ranges, you don’t destroy yourself every session, and you get to practice every lift 3 times a week.

Anyways, that’s some advice. Best of luck, and keep at it.

Thanks N.K.
That was my main concern, burning out down the road.

I like what you said about shuffling the order nd intensity,
I think that would help me get the most out the routine in the long run.

I’ve never heard of a strict press but I’m going to look into it right now…
I do want to train the big lifts 3 times a week, but I might alternate the routine with a split as you suggested just to mix things up.

For now I’m going to start by prioritizing the big lifts 3 times a week
& doing some assistance on my off days. Sound better?

I appreciate the advice, well see how it plays out.

NVM I do strict presses all the time, never heard it called a strict press tho… ha

Quick Question:
Since I’m thinking of shuffling the intensity of my lifts,
are there any benefits to benching/ squatting/ deadlifting / rowing light weight?

Should I be maxing out on reps for hypertrophy?

because I train other people I tend to guinie pig myself quite a bit, but I always seem to fall back to old faithfull when it comes to really training myself. I use a torso-appendage two day split, training one day on one day off, doing curls between squats just seems logical to me, I also enjoy supersetting bench and row, and incline and pullups, this means each movement(or bodypart) gets hit every four days. I end every training day with 4-5 sets of some form of latteral, my shoulders don’t like presses so this keeps them healthy and growing. This routine is basic and doable with a busy life, other than the latterals I don’t do more than four exercises a workout, or two supersets, once your used to the rowing it dosn’t neg. affect your bench, it seems to help, and it,s a great pump, training every other day keeps me fresh, and this routine might be able to be adapted to what your looking for with out over complicating things. 2cents

I didn’t see the powerlifting heading till after I posted, please don’t ream me to bad, thks

There are a bunch of benefits to using lighter weights. First of all, you can build some great strength lifting weights that aren’t even close to maximal. Doing 5 sets of 8 or 10 can be great for strength gains. Also, doing higher volume sets can be really good for hypertrophy, as you said. Furthermore, moving light weight can help your technique a lot (doing tons of lighter reps = doing tons of reps with perfect form). AND moving lighter weights can help you develop speed and explosiveness. For example, on a “light squat” day, I would probably just do 5 x 10 or 8 to work on technique and build muscle. But on a light deadlift day, I would probably do speed work - 10 sets of 1 rep at around 60% or my 1 rep max or so, to help teach you to move the weight as fast as possible, with perfect form.