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Feedback on 4 Day Program + Strategy

Posting this is the beginner’s forum despite the fact that I’ve been working out very consistently for a few years. I’m somewhat pleased with my results, but have made tons of mistakes along the way (overtraining, lack of consistency, switching programs too quickly, etc) and want to map out a strict gameplan for the next three months to maximize results. Thank you in advance for taking the time to read and provide feedback, constructive criticism, or advice.


  • 5-11
  • 42 years old
  • 205 lbs – 17% bodyfat (currently)
  • Enhanced last 18 months of training (but nothing too crazy / test only)
  • Goals – Build Mass (next three months)

Key points I have learned:

  • Assuming hard work in the gym, diet is critical to building mass
  • Too much protein from supplements can limit muscle growth
  • Recovery is key, I’m likely to get better results from 4 days that 5-6 day per week
  • To see muscle growth past the beginner stage, I need to increase the weight I am lifting


  • Measure / weigh absolutely everything
  • 500 kcals over maintenance per day
  • 200+ grams of protein, with a preference for real food sources
  • Quality carbs (brown rice, sweet potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, etc)
  • Focus on good fats (nuts, advocados, etc), limit bad fats

Considering my schedule and the number of days I believe will deliver the best results (4), I have built out the following workout program. I will be using to JEFIT app to stay on track and record my lifts, stats, etc. My plan is to stay on the routine, keeping all variables the same (exercises, sets, reps) except for the weight, which I will make sure to increase incrementally.

In the past, my problem was not getting to the gym, but rather jumping around from program to program. One week I would be doing Push/pull/ legs, then I would read an article about german volume training and try that for a week, then I would be doing bro splits, etc etc. Over time, I discovered that I had seriously plateaued, and very few of my lifts were increasing.

(Assume 3 sets of 8 unless otherwise specified)


Barbell Bench Press
Barbell Incline Bench
Dumbbell Incline Fly
Cable Mid Chest Crossovers

Cable Rope Triceps Pushdown
EZ Bar Decline Close Grip Skull


Barbell Bent Over Row
Wide Grip Lat Pulldown
Cable Seated Row

Barbell Curl
Barbell Close Grip Preacher Curl (2 sets)
Dumbbell Incline Curl (2 sets)
Dumbbell Hammer Curl


Barbell Standing Military Press
Dumbbell Lateral Raise
Dumbbell Shoulder Press
Barbell Front Raise (2 sets)
Machine Reverse Flyes (2 sets)

Barbell Shrug
Dumbbell Shoulder Shrug


Barbell Squat
Leg Press
Barbell Deadlift
Leg Extensions
Seated Leg Curl

dude why do you keep editing your post back and forth?

There’s zero reason for it to be in Beginners. You’ve been training for years and you’re on a cycle.

The thread is most appropriate here in Over-35 or in Bigger, Stronger, Leaner. You’ll get solid advice in either.

What? No. That’s not how it works. That’s almost the opposite of how it works.

If lifting the heaviest weights build the most muscle, competitive powerlifters would always be more muscular than competitive bodybuilders. If anything, to build muscle without beating up your joints when over-40, learning how to build muscle with lighter weights is much more important.

Use more variety. It’s pretty much always better than only ever using one rep range. Different exercises and techniques also lend themselves better to different programming. For example, not sticking to 3x8 lets you use slower tempos, pause reps, high-rep burnout sets, etc.

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Got it.

Thanks and apologies for all the confusion.

your strength level is what at the moment?

Mostly on point. Some suggested changes that are a bit more than merely subjective nitpicking:

The 3x8 set/rep scheme is great for the compound movements, though working the 6-10 rep range is better — and I’d open up the rep range on leg training as 20 rep sets on leg presses &/or squats from time to time is generally very beneficial.

I suggest not locking into that rep range for the isolation/secondary movements. Expand the rep range on those into 8-15 & use those movements to really emphasize TUT (time under tension) & your mind-muscle connection.

On Chest:
Lead with the Barbell Incline Bench, follow with flat Bench Press but with dumbbells not barbell. The barbell bench press is terrific as an upper body strength movement; it is so-so to poor as a pec developer beyond the beginner stage. Take a cue from the vast majority of pros (using term ‘pro’ broadly to mean those whose career is predicated on results) and use dumbbells for a better ROM, contraction – & (bonus) it’s a lot easier on the shoulders.
Likewise, leading with an incline barbell press for the chest is another pro pref/tip. As Mike O’hearn aptly stated, “I’ve never seen an overdeveloped upper chest.”

On Shoulders:
Flip the order on Dumbbell Lateral Raises & Dumbbell Shoulder Presses. Compound-Compound-Isolation-Isolation-Isolation

On Traps:
One shrug movement in a workout is good; two is a waste. Swap out one of the Shrug movements with some TOT & mind-muscle focused sets of Face-pulls (you’ll hit rear delts, upper & middle traps, help innoculate your shoulders from injury, & improve posture)

On Legs:
Deadlifts after Squats & Leg Press is 1) overkill & 2) a recipe for injury. Either alternate Squat & Deadlift as the lead movement on different weeks; or, better yet, move the Deadlift to the more appropriate lead movement on Back day.

Good luck!

Well, that’s the embarrassing thing. Despite being in the gym the last 3-4 years virtually everyday, and generally being in good shape (ran a marathon in Feb), my lifts are pretty low:

Deadlift - 225 lbs
Squat - 205 lbs
Bench - 185 lbs

I’m assuming that I’m way below my potential for the amount of years I have been lifting.

Why not do a 5/3/1 version or something? The entire point is slow, steady progression.

Day 1: Squat, followed by high rep leg presses and some hamstring work
Day 2: Bench, supersetted with DB rows, and followed by some DB bench work and high rep band pushdowns
Day 3: Deadlift, followed by GHR’s or back extensions, and maybe a shrug or some bicep work
Day 4: Press, supersetted with chinups, and followed by some ab work and more rear delt work…high rep facepulls or something

That’s just an example. It’s just that on your back & biceps day, you have 4 different curls, all done for sets of 8…if you’re going to do curls, I’d pick just one or two version and wouldn’t ever really do them for less than 10 reps at once. Focus on feeling the muscle and keeping your elbows healthy.

And if you’re going to bench and press, then there’s really not a huge need to do front raises, and also do each movement with dumbbells as well as barbells. I’d do all your shoulder work, except less, with your chest and triceps.

And for legs, you’ve got 3 “quad” focused movements, and 2 “hamstring” focused movements, except deadlifts are rarely on feeling your hamstrings and more just on picking the damn weight up, and leg curls neglect the hip extension function of the hamstrings…hench doing something like GHR’s, or RDL’s or good mornings. Doing heavy squats and high rep leg presses/extensions is fine, but you’ll want to keep your knees healthy with some hamstring work.

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Point taken, and I do want to find that balance between performance and health. I’ll explore that concept in my research.

I’ve always kind of known this… that you have to vary exercises and training type so your body doesn’t get used to the same thing. I guess I got kind of fixated on this whole “controlling all variables” thing with the objective of increasing my lifts. But as you pointed out, I’m interested in mass, not exclusively strength. Thank you!

Depends …

actually its less

not judging

Thank you very much for responding! Isn’t 5/3/1 a powerlifting / strength focused program though? I hear you on the slow and steady, but I turn 43 in a couple of months, and kinda feel like I have a finite amount of time to get the “jacked” look before my body starts to not cooperate.

Excellent feedback, thank you.

Thank you very much - based on these insights, I’ll make the following changes:

  • Move Incline Press to first exercise on chest day (great insights)
  • Swap out dumbbells for barbell on majority of chest exercises
  • Move dumbbell shoulder press to second exercise on shoulder day (makes sense)
  • Replace second shrug exercise with face pulls
  • Move deadlifts to back day, first exercise
  • Redesign bicep exercises with a focus on quality over quantity

Sound good?

There’s a reason “bencher’s chest” is a thing.

… This is objectively false. Simple biomechanics. Muscle tension at the top, bringing the dumbbells slightly in for a contraction, as well as a greater range (within comfort) on the descent allow a dramatically fuller range of motion. If one mistakenly goes entirely too heavy on the dumbbells (training the movement rather than the muscle) and artificially restricts the ROM to facilitate that weight, sure… but then there’s a lot more issues at play than simply optimal exercise choice.

Sounds good :+1::muscle:t3:
I expect you’ll like the benefits that accrue from those changes.

Thanks very much to you and all who made suggestions.

I’m hoping that these nuances are the difference between decent and excellent results. Since I’ve always worked out alone, and have never really had a mentor or guru to correct me or give me feedback. Very thankful that I have access to much more experienced bros via this forum.


No for the amount of test you have been taking … you failed to mention the amount.

Currently on my 4th cycle:

  1. 400 mg EW test-e
  2. 500 mg EW test-c
  3. 500 mg EW test-c w/Dbol kickstart 20 mg ED
  4. 400 mg EW test-c w/Anadrol kickstart 50 mg ED (only one week into this cycle)