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The Savage 4x4: Strength/Hypertrophy Hybrid Workout

Average: 4.1 (38 votes)
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This powerbuilding routine may just turn your life around, and unleash something beastly! Workouts cycle between hypertrophy training and strength training.

It’s time to get insane! Your current workout is boring, and you’re hungry for a change.  You want something that isn’t the same old, same old grind? Well, here you go brothers and sisters of iron. Lock and load, it’s time to rock.

The Savage 4x4 is a strength and hypertrophy workout system. You will get strong and big. It will turn weak hardgainers into powerful, muscle gaining machines.

And no, this isn’t hype. This program works.

Savage 4x4 Core Principles

Savage 4x4 Strength Hypertrophy WorkoutTo gain strength and muscle on the Savage 4x4, here are the core principles that MUST be followed:

More Reps!

You must, must, must push for more reps on every set. You must live and breathe extra reps. The desire for extra reps should consume your life. You should become a single-minded, extra-rep zombie. You must always train for more, more, more reps!

More Food!

So you’re a hardgainer, huh? Time to talk about food then. Bud, if you’re not making gains, you need to eat more. If you’ve been shoveling 4,000 calories per day into your gullet, and you not gaining weight – eat 4,500 calories each day. And, if that doesn’t work, try 5,000 per day. Do you get the picture?

This is no time for excuses.

If you have a hard time eating that many calories, buy a weight gaining supplement, and go gonzo in the supermarket. Purchase healthy, high calorie foods like whole milk, and nuts and seeds. And start shoveling that fork. Scoop, insert, repeat!

More Savage!

The Savage 4x4 is much more then a workout. It’s a take no prisoners lifestyle. You need to get savage; you need to feel completely drunk on the desire to get strong and big. You need to alert your girlfriend, employer and mother. Put them on notice that things are going to change. It’s time to become a beast; a creature that lives for food and training. Get Savage!

Motivated yet? I thought so! Let’s get moving.

Savage Nuts and Bolts

Here’s how it works…the Savage 4x4 is made up of 4 workouts per week: Back, Chest, Legs and Shoulders. On each of these days, you will alternate between 2 workouts: the Savage 4x4 strength workout, and the hypertrophy workout. Here is how each workout breaks down:

Savage 4x4 Strength Workout.

On this day, you will be performing 4 sets of each major exercise. The goal is to perform MORE then 3 reps on ALL sets. When you can do that, (hitting 4 or more reps on all 4 sets) you will add 5 pounds to the bar the next time you work the same exercises in the Savage 4x4 style.

So, let’s say two weeks ago, your Savage 4x4 bench press looked like:

And today, you hammered out the following:

Because you hit a minimum of 4 reps on every Savage set, you will use 215 pounds on the bench press the next time you hit the gym and get savage.

You will also be performing rep work on Savage 4x4 days. Rep work consists of 3 sets by 6 reps for non-major exercises. When you can perform a minimum of 6 reps for these exercises, go up in weight on your next rep work workout day.

Savage 4x4 Workout is Intense

Hypertrophy Workout.

Though you will be pushing for more weight on hypertrophy days, the approach is much different. A hypertrophy day set will have you performing 4 sets of each exercise, but with slow, 4 second negatives, and only 30 seconds of rest between sets.

Sets will be mentally tough, intense, and gut-busting. You may just cry out for your momma to help you. The intensity of hypertrophy days will create strength endurance, forcing muscles to strain for a longer time under tension (TUT).

On hypertrophy days, you goal is to hit a minimum of 6 reps for all 4 sets. This will be insanely tough, and picking the right starting weight is paramount. You will not be able to use heavy weights on these days. I recommend starting with 60% of your one rep max. You may have to tweak this weight, depending on how well your body “enjoys” hypertrophy day.

So, to recap, on hypertrophy days you will:

  • Perform 4 sets of each exercise
  • Every rep will be performed with a slow, 4 second controlled negative
  • Rest 30 seconds between each set of the same exercise (rest-pause)
  • Rest 3-5 minutes between different exercises
  • When you can perform a minimum of 6 reps for all four sets, increase the weight for that exercise by 5 pounds

Savage Split

You will be working out 4 days a week, alternative each workout between the Savage 4x4, and the hypertrophy workout. It will take 2 weeks to complete a full savage cycle of 4x4 strength and hypertrophy. Here is the split:

Day 1: Back – Savage 4x4

Day 2: OFF

Day 3: Chest - Hypertrophy

Day 4: OFF

Day 5: Legs – Savage 4x4

Day 6: Shoulders – Hypertrophy

Day 7: OFF

Day 8: Back - Hypertrophy

Day 9: OFF

Day 10: Chest – Savage 4x4

Day 11: OFF

Day 12: Legs – Hypertrophy

Day 13: Shoulders – Savage 4x4

Day 14: Off 

Notes on the Savage 4x4

When possible, don’t train to positive failure. If failure occasionally occurs, don’t sweat it. You can continue this cycle as long as you’d like. It’s best to keep pushing forward as long as something is working. So if the Savage 4x4 if working for you, keep plugging forward.

There are no miracle routines. With that said, the Savage 4x4 is one heck of a ball-busting, mass-inducing workout. If you work it, it will work for you. And don’t forget to eat!

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    Average: 4.1 (38 votes)
  • About The Author
    Steve is a powerlifter who has also spent 20 years training in bodybuilding. He is a national level competitor training for an all-time over 50 raw world record.
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Comments (57)

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joe
Posted Thu, 12/17/2009 - 11:25

hey i am interested in this routine but it confuses me at one point...

"You will also be performing rep work on Savage 4x4 days. Rep work consists of 3 sets by 6 reps for non-major exercises. When you can perform a minimum of 6 reps for these exercises, go up in weight on your next rep work workout day."

does this mean i will keep working to get 3 sets of 6? so 6,5,4....6,6,5....6,6,6? and then add weight.
OR 6,5,4...then 7,6,5....then 8,7,6 and then add weight?
thanks, joe

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Steve
Posted Thu, 12/17/2009 - 11:56

On rep working, you focus on training hard, but not to failure. Just perform as many reps as you can with a given weight. Don't worry about the 556, 566, training approach.

Let's say you are performing Barbell Rows as rep work. Load up a weight, and perform 3 sets. When you can do 3 sets of 6 reps, add 5 pounds to the bar. The nest time you workout, you might only hit 4,4 and 6 reps. Always strive for 6 reps on every set of every workout. You will fall short, but always strive for 6.

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joe
Posted Thu, 12/17/2009 - 14:46

you say...
"The nest time you workout, you might only hit 4,4 and 6 reps"
i would figure i would get the 6 reps for the first set, and then less reps the next set because of the fatigue. so i might do 6,4,4. but ill work up to 6 for each set.
also, ive gained about 15 pounds since the spring of this year(150-165)...which is an alright gain considering im a hardgainer. but i have been plateauing, so ive started daves vif program. but would i be better off using this routine? thanks

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Steve
Posted Thu, 12/17/2009 - 15:43

15 is a great gain.

Regarding workouts...program design and split are merely tools to utilize the same primary heavy compound lifts in a differently manner to assist in pushing past barriers.

Regardless of the split and approach, a hardgainer should be focusing on primary lifts. Plateaus happen. You must keep pushing. If you plateau on squat, you need to keep squatting...maybe with a different rep range approach. The key is to find what works for you through trial and error when you plateau.

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David
Posted Wed, 03/17/2010 - 22:35

Lets say I do this for about 8 weeks. And then I start focusing on the more volume workouts like Doug's 4 Day Split. Would it be okay to come back to this or would I have to use another 5x5 strength/hypertrophy workout? Thanks!

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David
Posted Wed, 03/17/2010 - 22:39

Sorry I worded my question wrong. Would this be okay?

8 weeks : savage
6 weeks : D4DS
8 weeks : savage
6 weeks : German Volume training
8 weeks : savage

And just keep rotating between savage and some volume workout? THanks!

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Steve
Posted Wed, 03/17/2010 - 23:57

David...rotating programs is fine as long as you're using most of the same heavy compound lifts and focusing on progression. As long as you're doing that, you'll be successful.

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Dave
Posted Tue, 05/18/2010 - 19:09

Hey Steve, Should I be starting with weight at , 60%of my 1 rep max for the strength workout portion as well?

thanks

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Steve
Posted Wed, 05/19/2010 - 08:35

I would start around 75% of your 1RM for strength movements.

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Dave
Posted Fri, 05/21/2010 - 18:44

ok cool thanks

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Austin
Posted Fri, 05/28/2010 - 16:15

I started this workout but I moved biceps to back day and abs to shoulder day. What ab exercises would you recommend for this program? Also, should I do 3x6 on abs ever week or try 4x4 or what would you suggest?

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Steve
Posted Sun, 05/30/2010 - 14:59

I prefer challenging moves for abs. My favorite is weighted situps. I would stick withing the 10 to 25 rep range for abs.

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DaveG1987
Posted Thu, 07/01/2010 - 20:29

Quick Question- On the savage days with Rep Work, should we be doing the 4 sec negatives (30 secs bewteen sets) for the rep work portion?
thanks

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Steve
Posted Sat, 07/03/2010 - 10:09

Good question Dave,

No, do not perform slow negatives on the rep work sets.

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dylan
Posted Mon, 11/15/2010 - 10:18

this workout program looks cool, i was just wondering if this would help out my deadlift, my squat, and most importantly my bench press max out? just wondering thanks,

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Steve
Posted Mon, 11/15/2010 - 13:25

Hi Dylan,

Absolutely. This workout focuses on adding reps/weight when possible.

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dylan
Posted Wed, 12/01/2010 - 08:49

im currently doing steves 5 day power muscle burn split, i was wondering if this would be a good program to do next, i would really like to gain strength but muscle would be nice too,
thanks

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Steve
Posted Thu, 12/02/2010 - 13:21

Hi Dylan,

This program would be a great choice.

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dylan
Posted Sat, 12/04/2010 - 17:55

hey could you please explain pin presses to me? thanks

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Steve
Posted Tue, 12/07/2010 - 13:32

Hi Dylan,

Pin presses are bench presses performed in a rack, or off pins. The bar is placed at varying heights away from the chest. With pin presses you start the lift from the bottom position.

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dylan
Posted Mon, 12/20/2010 - 23:30

hey what could i substitute for low pulley or t bar rows?
thanks

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Steve
Posted Thu, 12/23/2010 - 12:20

Hi Dylan,

You could use pullups or rack chins.

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dylan
Posted Thu, 12/23/2010 - 15:53

what are rack chins?

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Steve
Posted Wed, 01/05/2011 - 14:11

Hi Dylan,

You place a bar at about squat height in a rack, place your feet on a bench, and perform a pull up style movement.

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dylan
Posted Thu, 01/20/2011 - 10:13

hey sorry for asking so many questions, ive been doin this program for a while, i like it, i was just wondering, after i finish the program, could i continue and and do eight weeks of just the savage part of the workout? thanks,

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Eric
Posted Fri, 07/29/2011 - 07:31

Hello,

I was wonering what the recommended rest periods are for the savage portion of the workouts for both the srength training sets and the repwork sets. Also how much rest between the exercises themselves. Thanks.

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Steve
Posted Thu, 08/04/2011 - 16:25

Hi Eric,

In general I recommend 2-3 minutes between 4x4 sets, or a bit longer if need be.

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Colin
Posted Tue, 09/20/2011 - 09:45

Hi Steve,
Can you recommend some cardio that will compliment this program, getting a little round.

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Steve
Posted Mon, 10/03/2011 - 17:14

Hi Colin,

Fat loss is almost all about diet. You want to focus on two things to maximize results:

1) Pushing yourself in the gym. Using good form, always push yourself on every set. When you can perform the recommended number of reps for a set, add weight.

2) Eating to maximize muscle retention while cutting fat. Here are two articles that can help:

http://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/your-go-to-guide-for-cutting-f...

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/how-to-create-a-bodybuilding-...

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Trushal
Posted Sat, 10/29/2011 - 17:34

Would you recommend this for a teen? Specifically 16?
I have been working out for two years now, squat 275, dead lift 305
and bench press 185. I think I am capable but I'd like your opinion.

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Steve
Posted Mon, 10/31/2011 - 14:37

With our lifting experience this would probably serve you well. How confident are you with exercise form on the big lifts?

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Trushal
Posted Mon, 10/31/2011 - 23:00

What are you referring to by big lifts? I have good form when performing, bench press, squats, barbel rows and deadlifts (to me those are the big 3). Other than that, I have experience in performing the snatch and clean. As of right now I try to incorporate kettlebell work, it's a good experience.

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Steve
Posted Tue, 11/01/2011 - 15:35

Squats, bench and deadlift.

Since your form is solid, you could use this program.

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rudi
Posted Sat, 11/19/2011 - 05:00

Great workout! but, what about bi and triceps?

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Steve
Posted Thu, 12/08/2011 - 14:59

It is included int eh workout, on chest and shoulder days.

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Amine
Posted Wed, 12/14/2011 - 10:52

Would it be possible to do both the Savage and Hypertrophy workout in the same day?
For example doing the Savage 4x4 Back workout in the mourning and doing the hypertrophy workout in the evening?
Are the rest days mandatory or would you just be able to go to the next workout so one cycle would only take you 8 days?

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Steve
Posted Wed, 12/21/2011 - 13:33

I don't recommend that. Rest is just as important as hard training.

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Amine
Posted Fri, 12/16/2011 - 23:01

I've worked out before in the past, but nothing serious. I wish to gain strength and mass and have about 18 months to achieve this goal. Would I be able to do this workout or should I focus more on Starting Strength for a bit?

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Steve
Posted Wed, 12/21/2011 - 13:34

I would use Starting Strength for at least 6 months first.

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Jeremy
Posted Thu, 02/02/2012 - 17:52

Would it be possible to include pushups somewhere in the 14-day cycle? If so, how many days/sets/reps would you recommend? Many thanks!

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Nick
Posted Sat, 02/04/2012 - 14:42

Do you add any cardio to this program or is it not necessary?

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Cam
Posted Tue, 03/20/2012 - 20:23

Hi Steve,

When performing the Deadlift on SAVAGE day, would you recommend one working set with 3 sets working up to that weight? Or warm up then do 4 working sets?

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Will
Posted Mon, 05/14/2012 - 17:11

I have a hard time (read impossible) getting my workout partner to the gym on weekends. Can I do this as a wook-work-rest-work-work-rest-rest schedule?

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Steve
Posted Thu, 05/24/2012 - 14:45

That should work.

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Zane
Posted Sun, 07/29/2012 - 18:12

would it be possible to combine two days together into one, for example - chest hypertrophy and back savage? if you dont have as much time for the gym as before.

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Zach
Posted Sat, 08/11/2012 - 14:10

Hi, I have couple of questions about this routine. First, what is the difference between rep work and regular strength workout, I mean, how does the rep work affect the muscles? Second, you say: "So, let’s say two weeks ago, your Savage 4x4 bench press looked like:
Bench Press, 210 x 5, 210 x 4, 210 x 3, 210 x 3..."
I assume that means you don't increase the weight with every successive set. Does the same apply to hypertrophy workout?

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karni
Posted Sun, 09/09/2012 - 08:58

for how long should i rest between sets when doing the savage workout?

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Jordan
Posted Sun, 10/21/2012 - 20:44

Hey,

I was wondering what day olympic lifts such as cleans & snatches could be put in?

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Ben
Posted Mon, 11/12/2012 - 01:04

Hi Steve,

One thing I noticed (for the 4x4 days) is no inclusion for warm-up sets?

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Reece
Posted Sun, 11/25/2012 - 07:03

Hi steve been following this program for the last week or so and noticed that the hypertrophy workouts are very short as in they only take like 25 minutes in total, is this right? Thanks

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