T Nation

Good Four-Day Splits?

Just finished a half year strength phase that consisted largely of TBT and WS4SB, my numbers aren’t great but they’ve definitely improved a lot.

Now I’d like to go to a more “pure” bodybuilding routine. I will still go mostly with heavy (for me) compound movements for the first lift(s) of the day, but would also like to add more isolation work.

Due to my schedule, a Mon-Wed-Fri-Sat split would be best. The one I hear about most commonly is Back/Chest, Legs/Abs, Shoulders. Arms, but I don’t think I can still hit my chest sufficiently after training arms.

What are your experiences on 4-day splits and what would you recommend?

Monday: Chest/Biceps

Chest
? Dumbbell Presses: 4 Sets x 8 Reps
? Flat Bench Presses: 4 Sets x 8 Reps
? Flat Dumbbell Flyes: 3 Sets x 8 Reps
? Cable Crossovers: 2 Sets x 12 Reps

Biceps
? Barbell Curls: 3 Sets x 8 Reps
? Close EZ Bar Curls: 3 Sets x 8 Reps

Tuesday: Legs

? Leg Curls: 4 Sets x 10 Reps
? Leg Extensions: 4 Sets x 10 Reps
? Leg Presses: 4 Sets x 12 Reps
? Squats: 4 Sets x 12 Reps
? Stiff Legged Deadlifts: 4 Sets x 12 Reps

Wednesday: OFF

Thursday: Back/Calves

Back
? Barbell Shrugs: 3 Sets x 10 Reps
? High Pulls: 3 Sets x 10 Reps
? Rear Shrugs: 3 Sets x 10 Reps
? Reverse Barbell Rows: 3 Sets x 10 Reps
? T-Bar Rows: 3 Sets x 10 Reps
? Dumbbell Rows: 3 Sets x 10 Reps

Calves
? Standing Calf Raises: 4 Sets x 12 Reps
? Seated Calf Raises: 4 Sets x 12 Reps

Friday: OFF

Saturday: Shoulders/Triceps

Shoulders
? Machine Laterals: 3 Sets x 10 Reps
? Dumbbell Laterals: 3 Sets x 10 Reps
? Side Dumbbell Laterals: 3 Sets x 10 Reps

Triceps
? Dumbbell Presses: 3 Sets x 10 Reps
? Tricep Pressdowns: 3 Sets x 10 Reps
? Barbell Presses: 3 Sets x 10 Reps

Sunday: OFF

OR!

Monday: Chest/Biceps

Chest
? Bench Presses: 3 Warmup Sets
? Bench Presses: 3 Sets
? Incline Dumbbell Bench Presses: 3 Sets
? Incline Flyes: 3 Sets

Biceps:
? Barbell Curls: 3 Sets
? Dumbbell Curls: 3 Sets
? Concentration Curls: 3 Sets

Tuesday: Legs

? Stationary bike, 10 minutes, warm up

Hamstrings
? Seated Leg Curls: 3 Sets
? Stiff-Leg Deadlifts: 3 Sets
? One-Leg Leg Curls: 3 Sets

Quads: 9 Sets
? Squats: 3 Sets
? Leg Presses: 3 Sets
? Leg Extensions: 3 Sets

Wednesday: OFF

Thursday:

Back: 18 Sets
? Pullups: 3 Sets, Warmup
? Barbell Rows: 3 Sets
? Seated Rows: 3 Sets
? One-Arm Dumbbell Rows: 3 Sets
? Deadlifts: 3 Sets
? Barbell Shrugs: 3 Sets

Friday: OFF

Saturday:
Shoulders: 12 Sets
? Dumbbell Presses: 3 Sets, Warmup
? Dumbbell Presses: 3 Sets
? Front Barbell Presses: 3 Sets
? Bent-Over Dumbbell Laterals: 3 Sets

Triceps: 9 Sets
? Cable Pushdowns (“V” Bar): 3 Sets
? Close-Grip Bench Presses: 3 Sets
? Overhead Dumbbell Presses: 3 Sets

Sunday: OFF

You can probably figure out what split is best for your schedule by working it out on some scratch paper. My current split is:

Mon: Chest/bis
Tues: Quads
Wed: off
Thurs: Back/Hams
Fri: Shoulders/Tris

The back/hams day is brutal, but a good option if you prefer to include deadlifts in your back workout.

The Shut Up Program - A Simple and Effective Split

http://www.T-Nation.com/readTopic.do?id=1460447&pageNo=0

[quote]truthandlife wrote:
The Shut Up Program - A Simple and Effective Split

http://www.T-Nation.com/readTopic.do?id=1460447&pageNo=0[/quote]

Dorian’s 3-day split rotated over your 7-day schedule will be great:

Mon: Chest and Back
Tue: Off
Wed: Legs, Lower Back, and Abs
Thu: Off
Fri: Shoulders and Arms
Sat: Chest and Back
Sun: Off

Mon: Legs, Lower Back, and Abs
Tue: Off
Wed: Shoulders and Arms
Thu: Off
Fri: Chest and Back
Sat: Legs, Lower Back, and Abs
Sun: Off

etc.

This way, the workouts you do back-to-back on Fri & Sat are rotated too. You could perhaps make Friday your lower volume or intensity day, which will be different muscles every week. You would then go full-blast on Sat.

To me, any 4-day splits often wind-up overtraining some pivotal muscle like the delts or lower back, which get hit too many days. Remember: NO split is perfect — there’s always lots of cross/carryover.

Regards,
Scott

[quote]FightingScott wrote:
Monday: Chest/Biceps

Chest
? Dumbbell Presses: 4 Sets x 8 Reps
? Flat Bench Presses: 4 Sets x 8 Reps
? Flat Dumbbell Flyes: 3 Sets x 8 Reps
? Cable Crossovers: 2 Sets x 12 Reps

Biceps
? Barbell Curls: 3 Sets x 8 Reps
? Close EZ Bar Curls: 3 Sets x 8 Reps

Tuesday: Legs

? Leg Curls: 4 Sets x 10 Reps
? Leg Extensions: 4 Sets x 10 Reps
? Leg Presses: 4 Sets x 12 Reps
? Squats: 4 Sets x 12 Reps
? Stiff Legged Deadlifts: 4 Sets x 12 Reps

Wednesday: OFF

Thursday: Back/Calves

Back
? Barbell Shrugs: 3 Sets x 10 Reps
? High Pulls: 3 Sets x 10 Reps
? Rear Shrugs: 3 Sets x 10 Reps
? Reverse Barbell Rows: 3 Sets x 10 Reps
? T-Bar Rows: 3 Sets x 10 Reps
? Dumbbell Rows: 3 Sets x 10 Reps

Calves
? Standing Calf Raises: 4 Sets x 12 Reps
? Seated Calf Raises: 4 Sets x 12 Reps

Friday: OFF

Saturday: Shoulders/Triceps

Shoulders
? Machine Laterals: 3 Sets x 10 Reps
? Dumbbell Laterals: 3 Sets x 10 Reps
? Side Dumbbell Laterals: 3 Sets x 10 Reps

Triceps
? Dumbbell Presses: 3 Sets x 10 Reps
? Tricep Pressdowns: 3 Sets x 10 Reps
? Barbell Presses: 3 Sets x 10 Reps

Sunday: OFF

OR!

Monday: Chest/Biceps

Chest
? Bench Presses: 3 Warmup Sets
? Bench Presses: 3 Sets
? Incline Dumbbell Bench Presses: 3 Sets
? Incline Flyes: 3 Sets

Biceps:
? Barbell Curls: 3 Sets
? Dumbbell Curls: 3 Sets
? Concentration Curls: 3 Sets

Tuesday: Legs

? Stationary bike, 10 minutes, warm up

Hamstrings
? Seated Leg Curls: 3 Sets
? Stiff-Leg Deadlifts: 3 Sets
? One-Leg Leg Curls: 3 Sets

Quads: 9 Sets
? Squats: 3 Sets
? Leg Presses: 3 Sets
? Leg Extensions: 3 Sets

Wednesday: OFF

Thursday:

Back: 18 Sets
? Pullups: 3 Sets, Warmup
? Barbell Rows: 3 Sets
? Seated Rows: 3 Sets
? One-Arm Dumbbell Rows: 3 Sets
? Deadlifts: 3 Sets
? Barbell Shrugs: 3 Sets

Friday: OFF

Saturday:
Shoulders: 12 Sets
? Dumbbell Presses: 3 Sets, Warmup
? Dumbbell Presses: 3 Sets
? Front Barbell Presses: 3 Sets
? Bent-Over Dumbbell Laterals: 3 Sets

Triceps: 9 Sets
? Cable Pushdowns (“V” Bar): 3 Sets
? Close-Grip Bench Presses: 3 Sets
? Overhead Dumbbell Presses: 3 Sets

Sunday: OFF

[/quote]

wow the intensity levels are really low on that routine.

Thanks a lot for all the advice, I’m going with a “traditional” back/bis, chest/tris, legs and shoulders split.

I’ll try to avoid overtraining the smaller muscles, but I haven’t got much experience with my own programs or splits.

I’ll just eat a lot and experiment with this, and try to learn from my mistakes so that I can improve on it. I’m still young and I probably still have some newbie gains to make, so I think I’ll be fine.

If you’re coming off TBT you might like just training each muscle group once a week, but if you feel like you need to be hitting them twice (which you probably will at some point) why not try a simple upper/ lower split?

Here ya go man!!! When I’m not doing Max/Speed Routines (upper/lower) I do this. It’s a bodybuilding program with a strength template. Do it for 6 weeks total. You’ll love it!

Wk 1: 

Monday ? Chest/Back
A. Incline Press = 3 sets of 6
B. Pull Ups = 3 sets of 6
C. Dumbbell Bench = 3 sets of 8
D. T-Bar Wide = 3 sets of8
E. Incline Fly = 3 sets of 8
F. Close Grip Cable Pull Down = 3 sets of 8

Tuesday ? Shoulders / Arms
A. Push Press = 6 sets of 3
B. Lateral Raises = 5 sets of 5
C. Nose Breakers = 5 sets of 5
D. Spider Curls = 5 sets of 5
E. Triceps Push Downs = 4 sets of 10
F. Incline Dumbbell Curls = 4 sets of 10

Wed ? Off

Thursday - Legs
A. Box Squats = 6 sets of 3
B. Good Mornings = 5 sets of 5
C. Leg Press = 4 sets of 10
D. Split Squat = 5 sets of 15
E. Seated Calves = 4 sets of 15
F. Standing Calves = 4 sets of 6

Friday - Chest / Back
A1. Incline Dumbbell Bench = 3 sets of 10
A2. Pull Ups = 3 sets of 10
B3. Bench Press = 3 sets of 10
B4. T-Bar Close = 3 sets of 10
C5. Dumbbell Fly = 3 sets of 10
C6. Close Grip Seated Row = 3 sets of 10

Wk 2:
Monday ? Shoulders/Arms
A. Military Press = 3 sets of 6
B. Cable Lateral Raises = 3 sets of 8
C. Preacher Curls = 3 sets of 6
D. Decline Dumbbell Ex. = 3 sets 6
E. Reverse Curls = 3 sets of 8
F. Triceps Rope = 3 sets of 8

Tuesday ? Legs
A. Box Squats = 6 sets of 3
B. Good Mornings = 5 sets of 5
C. Leg Press = 4 sets of 10
D. Split Squat = 4 sets of 10
E. Seated Calves = 4 sets of 15
F. Standing Calves = 4 sets of 6

Wed. ? Off

Thursday - Chest/Back
A. Bench Press = 6 sets of 3
B. T-Bar Wide = 6 sets of 3
C. Decline Press = 5 sets of 5
D. Seated Row Close = 5 sets of 5
E. Incline Fly = 4 sets of 8
F. Pull Ups = 4 sets of 8

Friday - Shoulders/Arms
A1. Arnold Press = 3 sets of 10
A2. Breast Strokes = 3 sets of 10
B3. Dumbbell Ex. = 3 sets of 10
B4. Barbell Curls = 3 sets of 10
C5. One Arms Seated Ex. = 3 sets of 10
C6. Dumbbell Curls = 3 sets of 10

Wk 3:
Monday ? Legs
A. Zercher Squats = 3 sets of 6
B. Stiff Leg Deads = 3 sets of 6
C. Lunges = 3 sets of 16 steps
D. Hamstring Curls = 3 sets of 8
E. Standing Calves = 3 sets of 8

Tuesday ? Chest/Back
A. Bench Press = 6 sets of 3
B. T-Bar Wide = 6 sets of 3
C. Decline Press = 5 sets of 5
D. Seated Row Close = 5 sets of 5
E. Incline Fly = 4 sets of 8
F. Pull Ups = 4 sets of 8

Wed ? Off

Thursday ? Shoulders/Arms
A. Push Press = 6 sets of 3
B. Lateral Raises = 5 sets of 5
C. Nose Breakers = 5 sets of 5
D. Spider Curls = 5 sets of 5
E. Triceps Push Downs = 4 sets of 10
F. Incline Dumbbell Curls = 4 sets of 10

Friday ? Legs
A1. Zercher Squats = 3 sets of 10
A2. Stiff Leg Deads = 3 sets of 10
B3. Hack Squats = 3 sets of 10
B4. Hamstring Curls = 3 sets of 10
C5. Seated Calves = 3 sets of 25

[quote]EatSleepLift wrote:
If you’re coming off TBT you might like just training each muscle group once a week, but if you feel like you need to be hitting them twice (which you probably will at some point) why not try a simple upper/ lower split? [/quote]

I did 6 months of “strength” work. The first 3 were TBT, then I switched over to WS4SB, so I’m not really coming off TBT, but off an upper/lower split (added an extra leg day to WS4).

I’ve only done a pure split once before for about a month, but managed to gain about 8 pounds in that time without looking like my bodyfat increased.

However, after 6 months of “hypertrophy/bodybuilding” work I will highly likely return to an upper/lower split again.

Addendum: the “” are there because I believe that hypertrophy and strength are pretty strongly related, but you can focus on one more than the other.

[quote]tgatl wrote:
Here ya go man!!! When I’m not doing Max/Speed Routines (upper/lower) I do this. It’s a bodybuilding program with a strength template. Do it for 6 weeks total. You’ll love it!


[/quote]

Thanks a lot, but that looks like it might be too advanced for me, and I’d also have to substitute quite a few exercises do to lack of equipment or insufficient strength.

I’ll stick to something with a bit less volume and just try to go to failure and beyond and really bust my ass on that, I believe that will work pretty well for me.

There are a few options available for you with a four day per week schedule.

  1. Two different workouts, twice a week. Example: Upper/Lower split 2x/wk.

This allows each body part to be hit twice a week, with plenty of rest between workouts. To maximize time efficiency, try supersetting antagonist muscle pairs (e.g. superset seated cable rows with bench press).

With this type of split, since you can only do so many exercises per day, you want to focus on compound exercises rather than too many isolation exercises.

If you are dead set on doing three different types of bicep curls (which is probably two or three too many IMO), you’re going to have a hard time fitting it all in. One way to squeeze in a bigger variety of exercises is to change the exact type of exercise from the first “upper” day to the second.

For example, on Monday you do close-grip bench presses and incline dumbbell press, on Thursday you do flies and wide-grip flat bench.

  1. Three separate workouts, rotating.

This method gives you a few more exercises per muscle group and works each group about once every 4-5 days, still with ample rest between workouts.

  1. A four day split with four different workouts.

This workout lets you do numerous exercises per muscle group, but only hits each group once per week. I think this type of split would be best for a competition body builder with a solid core who needs to work on various isolation exercises.

General comments:
IMO, for most people, #1 or #2 are going to work best. It will all depend on your individual needs. Some people need more rest, some people need less.

For me personally, I did a #3 type split for a long time and found I would plateau quickly. I had much better results with a #2 type, and now am switching up to a #1.

I think the absolute most important thing in a workout program is variety, or periodization. Change things up every 4-8 weeks. Try #1 split for 6 weeks, take a week off and then try split #2. See which works best. Then if you want, you can even throw in 6 weeks of #3. Variety is the key.

[quote]Robert P. wrote:
tgatl wrote:
Here ya go man!!! When I’m not doing Max/Speed Routines (upper/lower) I do this. It’s a bodybuilding program with a strength template. Do it for 6 weeks total. You’ll love it!

Thanks a lot, but that looks like it might be too advanced for me, and I’d also have to substitute quite a few exercises do to lack of equipment or insufficient strength.

I’ll stick to something with a bit less volume and just try to go to failure and beyond and really bust my ass on that, I believe that will work pretty well for me.[/quote]

You look like your heading in the right direction. You can always switch the exercises out with others as long as you stick with the formula.

Example: I might like Bench Press and you might like Incline Press for your first chest movement. The formula calls for a chest movement to be first.

The recipe would be which chest exercise to use.

(For instance there is one formula for making choclate chip cookies, but 100 different recipes for each person and his/her liking. I like 6 chips and you like 4 in your cookies. As long as you stick to the formula the cookies will turn out fine.)

There is a formula for Westside, Linear, HIIT, Pendelum, Etc.

We all have our different recipes and they all work.

I hope this helps, TGATL