A relaxed and laid-back approach to life is usually highly desirable (hey there, reduced stress and fewer concerns). However, in the realm of fitness, a nonchalant attitude may not be very beneficial. Without a well-thought-out gym strategy, you may end up choosing exercises that don’t truly contribute to your goals, find yourself aimlessly wandering around the weight room, or ultimately finish a workout wondering what you actually achieved. So, if you’re determined to complete a few effective yet time-efficient strength-training workouts every week, you’ll want to implement a four-day workout split.
Here, a fitness expert breaks down the concept of a four-day workout split and highlights its notable advantages. Additionally, she shares an example of a four-day workout split that will assist you in making significant gains in strength and muscle.
What Is a 4-Day Workout Split?
Simply put, a workout split is a method for organizing your strength-training workouts and planning out which exercises you’ll be doing for the upcoming week, explains Erin Taylor, F.N.S., C.E.S., a NASM-certified personal trainer and strength coach. Workout splits are often based on the number of days you commit to training each week. Therefore, if you plan on consistently going to the gym four days a week, you’ll follow a four-day workout split specifically designed to help you achieve your fitness goals.
For instance, if you’re new to powerlifting and gradually getting into the sport, you might follow a four-day workout split that includes dedicated squat, bench, and deadlift days (the sport’s primary exercises), along with a hypertrophy (muscle growth) day, according to Taylor. If your aim is to build strength and muscle, your four-day workout split may revolve around push and pull movement patterns, with two days devoted to each type of movement. Alternatively, it can be divided into upper-body and lower-body days to ensure that you don’t work the same muscles consecutively, she adds.
The Benefits of 4-Day Workout Splits
Overall, creating a workout split before you embark on strength training – and actually sticking to it – ensures that each of your training sessions is efficient. You no longer have to wander around the gym trying to come up with exercises to do because you already know exactly which movements you need to complete in order to get closer to your goals, says Taylor. Besides these key advantages, four-day workout splits offer a couple of significant benefits.
Allow for Flexibility
While a five- or six-day workout split may seem like the best way to stay on track with your goals and keep your body in motion, actually adhering to it is not always feasible. Doctor appointments, family activities, and fatigue are likely to disrupt your plans to go to the gym nearly every day of the week. That’s why Taylor often advises clients considering these more rigorous splits to scale back to a four-day plan.
Quadruple-day exercise divisions provide you with three days of ‘flexibility,’ as I prefer to designate it,” she clarifies. “They simply grant you greater adaptability in your timetable to rearrange things when unexpected situations arise.” Suppose you neglect your workout unexpectedly to accompany your pet to the veterinarian. With a plan based on a four-day exercise division, you will still have an additional three days without training at your disposal to compensate for it.
Ensure Sufficient Rest
A four-day workout division will provide your body with ample time to repose and mend between training periods, says Taylor. In general, you’ll want to have two days of repose between workouts that focus on the same muscle group. If you complete a lower-body workout on Monday, for instance, you’d need to hold off on other lower-body movements until Thursday, she explains. Without this break, “you’re not necessarily going to injure yourself, but you might just find that you’re a little too fatigued to hoist the weight that you might want to hoist or progress from the week prior,” she says. A properly planned four-day workout division, however, builds in these repose days, ensuring you’re able to continue making strides toward meeting your fitness goals, says Taylor.
What to Include In a 4-Day Workout Division
It’s typical to structure your four-day workout divisions as either push-pull divisions (with two days of “pushing” and two days of “pulling” movements) or upper-lower divisions (with two days of upper-body and two days of lower-body work). However, to simplify your division, Taylor recommends alternating training sessions between upper-body days and lower-body days, then incorporating all of your primary movement patterns (including the push, pull, hinge, squat, lunge, brace, and carry) throughout the week, she says. This style of four-day workout division ensures you’re targeting all your major muscle groups while training them in a manner that enhances your practical fitness.
Regardless of whether you’re partaking in an upper or lower day, your workout should consist of two composite exercises (movements that utilize multiple joints), two to three adjunct exercises (multi-joint moves that complement and aid your progress on heavier composite lifts), and two to three isolation exercises (movements that involve just a single joint), Taylor suggests.
That being said, it’s important to note that there isn’t a singular superior four-day workout division, says Taylor. “Don’t become overwhelmed with selecting the perfect number or type of movements that you should be doing,” she adds. “Choose a program that’s enjoyable for you, that gets you in the door, and that you can be consistent with.” Don’t forget to listen to your body and modify your four-day workout division as necessary, either. “If you’re recuperating exceptionally well but not seeing progress, perhaps incorporate more volume, whether that entails more sets, more repetitions, or more movements,” says Taylor. “If you’re feeling absolutely terrible and not recuperating well, perhaps eliminate some movements.”
Typically, you’ll want to vary your workout division — whether it’s through different tempos, variations, stances, grips, or exercises — approximately every eight weeks to provide your body with a fresh stimulus, suggests Taylor. Changing it too frequently may hinder your body from adapting to the exercises and ultimately impede your progress. However, you can increase the weight you’re using once you notice improvements (think: you can effortlessly power through more repetitions or sets), a strategy involved in progressive overload training.
|Example 4-Day Workout Split to Enhance Strength|
|If undertaking a four-day workout split on your own seems extremely daunting, do not worry: Taylor is providing an instance split that centers around developing strength and achieving muscle gains. “You will observe reduced repetition ranges with your compound movements to concentrate on enhancing strength,” she clarifies. “With the accessory movements, you will employ a slightly higher repetition range and greater volume to focus on encouraging muscular adaptations and growth.”|
|If you happen to miss one of your workouts in the four-day split, do not be concerned. “If it is a one-time slip-up where you skip a day, I wouldn’t fret about merging movements — missing one workout one week in the grand scheme of things isn’t a major issue,” says Taylor. However, if you wish to maintain balance in your body, you can combine an upper-body and lower-body day into one workout, she suggests. In that case, select one compound exercise from a lower-body day and one compound exercise from an upper-body day, then choose a few of your favorite accessory and isolation exercises to ensure an equal mix of upper- and lower-body movements for your third and final workout. If you consistently find yourself skipping your fourth workout, though, you might want to consider scaling back to a three-day workout split, in which you will perform a full-body workout every training day, she says.|
|How it operates: Each day of the workout split, execute the listed exercises for the recommended number of repetitions and sets, taking rest breaks as necessary. For the supersets, perform the two exercises consecutively, without resting between sets.|
|What you will require: a barbell, a pair of dumbbells, a lat pull-down machine, a hamstring curl machine, and a Roman chair|
Day 1: Upper Body
Day 2: Lower Body
Day 3: Upper Body
- Barbell Chest Press: Perform 4 to 5 sets of 6 to 8 repetitions.
- Lat Pull-Down: Perform 3 to 4 sets of 8 to 10 repetitions.
- High-Incline Dumbbell Press: Perform 3 sets of 8 to 10 reps.
- Single-Arm Dumbbell Row: Perform 3 sets of 8 to 10 reps per side.
- Overhead Triceps Extension to Dumbbell Hammer Curl Superset: Perform 2 to 3 sets of 10 to 14 reps for each exercise.
Day 4: Lower Body
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