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4 Day Power Muscle Burn Workout Split!

4 Day Power Muscle Burn Workout Split

Average: 4.4 (1030 votes)
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This building workout by Steve Shaw is designed to maximize Progression and muscle gains by hitting each muscle group with power sets, muscle sets and burn sets.

Workout Summary

Main Goal:
Build Muscle
Workout Type:
Split
Training Level:
Intermediate
Days Per Week:
4
Equipment Required:
Barbell, Cables, Dumbbells, EZ Bar, Machines
Target Gender:
Male & Female
Author:

Workout Description

Back in 1986 my mentor, Dr. Mike, taught me to train in multiple rep ranges. I was young, trusting and did what he said. After all, Dr. Mike was a big natural bodybuilder. And he was a professor. It just made sense to do what he said. Over the next 3 years I used his style of training and made amazing progress. I continued to use Dr Mike's training philosophies for nearly a decade, and they never let me down. This style of lifting made me big and strong. What more could you ask for?

This workout is based on the Dr. Mike system. I have tweaked it a bit over the years. I hope that you find some use for it, and if you do end up running it for 10+ years...well, feel free to make changes. No system is perfect unless you adapt it to your individual needs.

Dr. Mike was ahead of his time. He approached training routine design from a scientific standpoint in an era where everything was Weider Principles this and Weider Principles that. Simply stated, muscles tend to respond differently to different rep ranges. Dr. Mike believed that by training in all reasonable rep ranges, you could maximize muscle hypertrophy while boosting strength. This approach worked for me, and I hope it works for you.

For more information on the impact of rep ranges on hypertrophy, please read the article Hypertrophy and Muscle Growth.

For more information on the Power Muscle Burn training approach, please read:

The Power Muscle Burn System

My Power Muscle Burn training system will help you build muscle and strength by focusing on three different training approaches, all used in the same workout. You will be performing the following types of sets for each muscle group:

  1. Power. You will perform power sets to lead off the workout. Power sets are performed in the 3 to 5 rep range. Use the same weight for each of the sets. When you can perform 5 reps for all power sets, move up in weight. Major muscle groups will perform 2-4 power sets per workout, and minor muscle groups will perform 2 power sets per workout. Please note that for some minor muscle groups, power sets do not make sense, or they are not realistic. For example, it is difficult to perform extremely heavy resistance abdominal sets.
  2. Muscle. Muscle sets are performed in the 6 to 12 rep range. Use the same weight for each of the sets. When you hit the upper rep limit of 12 for all muscle sets, move up in weight. Major muscle groups will perform 4-6 total muscle sets in each workout, using 2 different exercises. Minor muscle groups will perform 2-4 total muscle sets in each workout, using 1 to 2 exercises. You can also perform a single exercise for 3 sets.
  3. Burn. You will perform 1-2 burn sets for each muscle group - generally using isolation movements. Pick a weight that allows you to hit 15 to 20 reps, and then perform 40 total reps. How? Do as many reps as possible, then take a slight rest and perform more reps. Rest only long enough to regain the energy and willpower to perform 1 to 3 more reps. Keep pushing yourself through the pain until you hit 40 total reps. When you can hit 25+ reps from the start without stopping, add weight. Major muscle groups will utilize 2 burn sets, minor muscle groups will use 1-2 burn sets.

Power Muscle Burn Notes

  • Failure - I do not recommend training to failure. Try to perform each set until you feel like you may fail on the next rep, then stop. It's ok if you occasionally fail on a set, but do not purposely try to train to failure on every set.
  • Progression - You must have the goal of progressing on every set of every workout. Sets performed with a half-hearted effort are wasted. If you lack energy or are pressed for time, it's better to perform fewer quality sets then it is to waste sets.
  • Splits - You can split this system numerous ways, but remember that training more then 4 days per week is generally not beneficial for natural bodybuilders. What is the best split? The one you will use and stick with.
  • Small Tweaks - What if I don't like training in the 6 to 12 rep range, and want to train in the 6 to 10 rep range? Then train in the 6 to 10 rep range. What if I don't like training in the 3 to 5 rep range? Then train in the 4 to 6 rep range. 40 burn reps are too difficult!? Then aim for 30 burn reps. Note: small tweaks are ok, as long as you are using the core mechanisms of this program. Don't obsess about the details - obsess about moving weight and getting bigger!
  • Alternating Exercises - It is not a bad idea to alternate exercises every other week. You can't possibly fit every exercise into every workout. For example: for muscle sets you could hit dumbbell bench presses one week and chest dips the next week.
  • Total Sets - It is better to start with the minimal amount of sets, and build in to this routine by adding sets if you find you need more work.
  • Calves - Please note that there are no power sets for calves. I am not convinced that calves respond effectively to lower rep training.
  • Quads - If you love pain, you can do a single 20 rep set of squats for your quad burn work.

4 Day Power Muscle Burn Split

The 4 Day Power Muscle Burn split:

Note: This is a sample template. Feel free to "swap" in any appropriate (and favorite) exercises.

Chest and Biceps
Chest
Exercise Sets Reps
Bench Press - Power 4 3 to 5
Incline Bench Press  - Muscle 2-3 6 to 12
Dumbbell Bench Press - Muscle 2-3 6 to 12
Dumbbell Flys - Burn 2 40
Biceps
Exercise Sets Reps
Pinwheel Curls - Power 2 3 to 5
Standing Barbell Curl  - Muscle 2-3 6 to 12
Cable Preacher Curl - Burn 1-2 40
Quads and Hamstrings
Quads
Exercise Sets Reps
Squat - Power 4 3 to 5
Leg Press  - Muscle 2-3 6 to 12
Front Squat - Muscle 2-3 6 to 12
Leg Press - Burn 2 40
Hamstrings
Exercise Sets Reps
Romanian Deadlift - Power 2-4 3 to 5
Romanian Deadlift or Leg Curl  - Muscle 2-3 6 to 12
Leg Curl - Burn 1 40
Shoulders and Triceps
Shoulders
Exercise Sets Reps
Seated Barbell Press - Power 4 3 to 5
Seated Arnold Press  - Muscle 2-3 6 to 12
Barbell Front Raise - Muscle 2-3 6 to 12
Dumbbell Lateral Raise - Burn 2 40
Triceps
Exercise Sets Reps
Closegrip Bench Press - Power 2 3 to 5
Seated French Press  - Muscle 2 6 to 12
EZ Bar Skullcrusher - Muscle 2 6 to 12
Cable Tricep Extension - Burn 1 40
Back, Calves and Abs
Back
Exercise Sets Reps
Deadlift - Power 2-4 3 to 5
Barbell Rows - Muscle 2-3 6 to 12
Lat Pull Down - Muscle 2-3 6 to 12
Seated Cable Row - Burn 2 40
Calves
Exercise Sets Reps
Seated Calf Raise - Muscle 2-3 10 to 15
45 Degree Calf Raise  - Burn 2 40
Abs
Exercise Sets Reps
**Perform Ab work of choice***    

 

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  • 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 (2,901)

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Michael
Posted Tue, 05/25/2010 - 15:13

I wanted to ask i'm a little concerned about the fact I dont seem to get sore much after my workouts anymore. I know someone has already mentioned it but I have been going the gym for around 5 months now and usually always get sore after my workouts, however I have read on websites maybe to change my routine, when I came accross this one I decided to give it a go and started it a week ago now and even with a change of routine i still don't seem to be gettin sore, especially on my shoulders, triceps and biceps. My chest aslways seems to get sore but after doing the chest workout on this routine it wasn't as sore as usuall. After searching on the internet I still see that there are alot of different opinions about getting sore, some people say it nothing to worry about but some say that it is because you are doing something wrong?

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Steve
Posted Wed, 05/26/2010 - 09:59

Are you pushing for more weight/reps on every set of every workout? And are you using primarily heavy compound exercises? Just trying to get an idea of what your approach looks like...

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Michael
Posted Fri, 05/28/2010 - 06:42

I push for more weight/reps every so often but sometimes i still wont feel sore the day after, and yeah I include deadlifts, bench press and squats in my routine.

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Steve
Posted Fri, 05/28/2010 - 07:06

If you are using these exercises and pushing yourself don't worry about soreness. Some workouts and exercises make me sore and others don't. Keep doing this and make sure you are eating enough.

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Alejandro Vasquez
Posted Tue, 05/25/2010 - 16:25

hey what different burn excercises can i do for chest?

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Steve's picture
Steve
Posted Wed, 05/26/2010 - 09:58

I would try a burn exercise that's not hard on teh triceps, like flyes or cable crossovers or pec dec.

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Alejandro Vasquez
Posted Tue, 05/25/2010 - 23:04

can i use frog squat as burn? what other excercises can i replace front squat with or leg press

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Steve
Posted Wed, 05/26/2010 - 09:29

You could use frog squats for a burn. For muscle sets, you could also do lunges or hack squats.

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Matt
Posted Wed, 05/26/2010 - 08:03

Hi there,

Great routine and I'm enjoying it so far. I have a question about the tricep session. When I do any exercises behind my head i.e seated French Press & EZ bar skull crusher my left elbow clicks making it uncomfortable, what could you recommend as a substitute? Dip machine or dip bar, kick backs etc?

Thanks

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Steve
Posted Wed, 05/26/2010 - 08:35

I would first say to try the exercise without taking the bar behind your hear. I lower my french presses to just about the top of my head, and lower the bar of skullcrushers towards my face. Try the exercises like this and see if it helps. Dips are a good substitute if you do need to make a change, but I'm not a big fan of dumbbell kickbacks. Have you ever tried two arm seated overhead dumbbell extension? Wondering if that bothers your elbow as well.

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dan
Posted Wed, 05/26/2010 - 09:33

how does this sound?

Mon- Chest,biceps
Tues- Quads, hamstrings, calves, abs
Wed- Shoulders
thurs-off
Friday-Back, Triceps,
Sat-Off
Sun- Start workout over

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Steve's picture
Steve
Posted Wed, 05/26/2010 - 09:43

That works!

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Dean
Posted Wed, 05/26/2010 - 12:49

Steve,
I'm 16 and have been informally working out for the past year and a half at my home. I have gotten a gym membership now, so I want to get a little bit more serioius about working out. I'm a three highschool sport athlete, and I'm in good shape so I feel like I can do this workout. Im currently playing baseball and I don't really like to workout on game days, so I'm afraid that I will probably only be able to workout every other day. What modifications can I make to this workout to make it more suitable?

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Steve
Posted Wed, 05/26/2010 - 14:31

Every other day would work well. I would simply try this:

* Day 1 - Chest and Biceps
* Day 2 - OFF
* Day 3 - Quads and Hamstrings
* Day 4 - OFF
* Day 5 - Shoulders and Triceps
* Day 6 - OFF
* Day 7 - Back, Calves and Abs
* Day 8 - OFF

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Dean
Posted Wed, 05/26/2010 - 16:51

Thanks a bunch

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Ryan
Posted Thu, 05/27/2010 - 08:30

hi the split looks great and im going to start it next week but after using the program for a while what would you do to cause muscle confusion? just switch up the days after a while, or even the exersices themselves, or also maybe the set and rep numbers? or should i just do all of those over a while?

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Steve's picture
Steve
Posted Thu, 05/27/2010 - 09:14

I believe that you should run a program as long as you are making gains. If you want to change things up, stick with the same core exercises but find different ways of doing them. The best way to keep a muscle confused is with a relentless pursuit of progression. If you keep adding weight to the bar on core lifts, your body will have a hard time adapting. But with that said we each need variety and change, and this change can also be good for the joints and connective tissue. If you want to move from this system in the future I would look at a system that has you doing most exercises in the 6 to 12 rep range. I slight break from very low rep sets is a good idea from time to time.

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Wayne
Posted Thu, 05/27/2010 - 21:16

Steve, Should I complete each excercises sets and reps before moving onto the next excercise? Also, do I complete all excercises for one muscle before moving to next? Example, complete chest before doing biceps.

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Steve
Posted Sun, 05/30/2010 - 11:11

You are correct. Do each exercise one by one, and only do one bodypart at a time, then move on to the next.

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Matt
Posted Fri, 05/28/2010 - 20:20

I was looking to switch up my workout I came across this and really like the layout just had a quick question before I start it. I was wondering what your take on using hang cleans as the power shoulder lift. I wasn't sure if you are against hang cleaning but I never done a workout where Hang Cleans were not one of the core lifts. Just looking for some feedback.

Thanks

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Steve
Posted Mon, 05/31/2010 - 09:44

I am not against hang cleans at all. I generally don't recommend Olympic lifts or variations because they take some skill to get a good grasp of form. But if you have the form down, by all means use hang cleans. I would still keep an overhead pressing movement in, and use both.

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Matt
Posted Mon, 05/31/2010 - 11:27

Ok, Thanks a lot steve appreciate it.

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Garrett
Posted Fri, 05/28/2010 - 23:21

Steve, I just started the routine this week (just finished shoulders and triceps tonight)and love it! I can barely lift my arms to type this lol. I showed this routine to a few guys at work who have been lifting for years and they are very excited to try this for themselves. I've been lifting for the past year and haven't been this sore in a while... LOVE IT!

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Steve
Posted Mon, 05/31/2010 - 09:46

Glad to hear it! Hope you get some great results!

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john
Posted Sat, 05/29/2010 - 15:12

I have been doin something pretty simmilar to this for awhile and it seems to be effective but, I have been doing chest and triceps on the same day and back and biceps on the same day but i like the format of this a little better... Anyways my question is, if i were to do shoulders and tris on monday and chest and biceps on thursday would that take away from the effectiveness of the workout?

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Steve
Posted Sun, 05/30/2010 - 11:10

No. That's a good split too. Either way is perfectly fine. The split isn't so much key as the progression and usage of varying rep ranges.

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Moe
Posted Sat, 05/29/2010 - 20:22

My question is when should I run on the treadmill before or after workout?
I need to get ride of my abdomin fat please let me know the routine for that.
Thanks!

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Steve
Posted Sun, 05/30/2010 - 08:29

If you do cardio, do it after lifting weights.

Losing fat is all about lowering your calories. You need to make sure you are eating enough daily protein, 30+ grams every 2.5 to 3 hours, and then lower your calories until you are losing 1.5 to 2 pounds per week.

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Moe
Posted Tue, 06/01/2010 - 10:54

Thanks for your prompt response.
My weight now is 190lb and my height is 5.75feet. Please let me know the ideal daily calories that should I gain and is there any nutrition program that I should follow? Thanks Much in advance

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Steve
Posted Tue, 06/01/2010 - 10:59

I would try eating around 2500 calories per day and see what the scale does each week. You want to eat at least 30 to 40 grams of protein every 2.5 to 3 hours, and fill the rest of your diet with nutritious, wholesome fruits, veggies and complex carbs.

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Alejandro
Posted Sun, 05/30/2010 - 00:30

I'm a little confused on why you keep the same weight throuhout your sets. I always believed scaling up in weight was the way to challenge your muscles.

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Steve
Posted Sun, 05/30/2010 - 08:16

Heavy weight challenges your muscles. I simply recommend keeping the same weight because it is convenient, and you only have to manage several numbers when it comes to progression. If you want to use different weights for every set, by all means do some. As long as you are pushing yourself on every set for more reps and weight.

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paul
Posted Sun, 05/30/2010 - 09:56

I have been training for a number of years now and am getting older & more "brittle." I am used to performing about 20 sets per bodypart. Will dropping to 12 sets hurt any performance?

Is 1 minute rest adequete between sets?

Thanks.

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Steve
Posted Sun, 05/30/2010 - 11:01

For muscle gains, you should be doing most of your sets between 6 to 12 reps. I would rest up to 2 minutes between sets, and longer for heavy exercises such as squats and deadlifts.

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marcos
Posted Sun, 05/30/2010 - 15:12

would it be ok if i worked out monday,tuesday,wednesday, and thursday? and then have friday,sturday,sunday as rest days?

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Steve
Posted Mon, 05/31/2010 - 10:10

Yes, that should be ok. As long as you getting plenty of rest on the weekends it should work fine.

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matt
Posted Sun, 05/30/2010 - 19:36

Hey Steve,
theres a few questions id like ur opinion on ... and sorry ill try not to make it sound confusing !!!

I work 4 days on and then i have 4 days off. The 4 days that im off i workout in the morning. I work 10 hour days, and dont drive yet so i bus to the gym. plus eatting dinner too not enough time in the evening for me .. just doesnt work out for me to work out when im done work, tho i have something on the side i do at night after work, monday to thursday MMA and jiu jitsu which is light working out but i sweat just as much and feel great after class... so say i work monday to thursday then i would have friday sat sun and mon off.. it always shifts up a day.. so the next week i would work tues wed thurs fri so on and so on.. so some days im working in the morning and then at night go to my MMA im not over training am i ? .. and my last question the 4 days i am off is it wrong of me to work out 4 days in a row ? then would have my 4 days off but having my MMA at night which is a bit of working out .. for instance:

mon - chest,bi's
tues - quads,hmastrings
wed - shoulders, tri's
thurs - back,calves,abds

i kno theres no rest in between but thats were i need your help on the muscle groups and how to situate this .. or is it OK ?? :S

Cardio i do in my MMA.. get back to me asap thank you for your time steve the workout looks great !! i cant wait to start doing it

sincerely, Matt

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Steve
Posted Mon, 05/31/2010 - 10:15

That split is fine. Just make sure to eat enough and get plenty of rest.

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Keith
Posted Sun, 05/30/2010 - 20:43

Hi Steve prob a stupid Question but I don't have a straight bar not on a rack/machine so have been using an ez bar for seated barbell press,barbellfront raise and french press an I missing out on anything by not having a straight bar.Great work out being doing it for 6 weeks can not do back though injury.I used to use a ramping routine over 4 weeks and find this just as quick with short 1 to 1 and a half min break between sets.Thanks mate.

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Steve
Posted Mon, 05/31/2010 - 10:19

As long as you are pushing yourself, the type of bar won't matter. Keep hard at it!

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Jordan Burns
Posted Mon, 05/31/2010 - 02:09

Steve,
What should we eat to help us gain the most mass during this workout?

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Steve
Posted Mon, 05/31/2010 - 10:21

Everything within arm's length! Seriously though, you want to eat at least 30 to 40 grams of protein every 2.5 to 3 hours, and make sure you are eating at least over 500 calories more then it takes to maintain your weight. Eat, eat and eat more! If you eat and are focused on progression of weight, you will make fast gains.

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Kris
Posted Mon, 05/31/2010 - 02:37

Hey mate how are you?
Me and a mate have just started training together at home. Using some advice in some earlier comments about what home exercises to switch in.

However my question is, will it badly effect the work out if I change it to
Chest - Triceps
Back - Biceps
Shoulders - Legs

??? Is there a specific reason you have it the way you do or will that be fine.?

Thanks !

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Steve
Posted Mon, 05/31/2010 - 10:23

That split looks good. Splits are generally arbitrary. I present different options just for the sake of variety.

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Alejandro Vasquez
Posted Mon, 05/31/2010 - 11:10

Is this split ok?
Day 1: Legs/calves/Shoulders
Day 2: Bi/Tri/Forearms
Day 3: off
Day 4: Back/Traps/calves
Day 5: Chest/Bicep/Tri forearms
day 6: off
Day 7 off

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Steve
Posted Mon, 05/31/2010 - 18:06

Sure, that would work. Just be careful not to overwork your arms.

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Jonathan
Posted Tue, 06/01/2010 - 14:08

I just started using this workout. Should I use 2 minutes between sets, except for burn sets, or some other time frame?

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Steve
Posted Tue, 06/01/2010 - 16:52

I generally stick to 90-120 seconds between sets for muscle sets. For power sets it's ok to rest up to 3 to 5 minutes between sets.

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Kris
Posted Wed, 06/02/2010 - 00:12

Hey Steve how are you man?
Me and a mate are about to start training with this routine however I have a few questions.
First of all we are doing it over 3 days.
Chest Triceps
Back Biceps
Shoulders Legs.

We are restricted in the sense that we are doing this at home. We have benches, barbell and dumbbells to work with.

I have our routine worked out pretty well but I am having trouble with the Back and Leg work outs.
First of all, I am having trouble finding some good excercises for back that don't require machinery I was wondering if you could recommend a few (especially for burn)? Also. You have said to use deadlifts yet from what I can see on muscle and strength deadlifts are primarily a leg workout and secondarily lower back. Is this still good as a back power workout?

My second question is in regards to legs. Since we have legs as one category rather than it being split I figred it would be squats for the power sets.
Then I planned to do two muscles sets. One that hits the Quads and one that hits the Hammy's. Can you recommend any good compound excercises for legs as the burn? Or should we do one burn for each muscle?

Thank you very much. Sorry for the long post.

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Steve
Posted Wed, 06/02/2010 - 09:35

Deadlifts are primarily a back workout. They also use the legs, lower back, hips, traps, glutes, hamstrings and more. But they are an amazing upper back builder. Imagine how hard your lats have to contract to hold 300 pounds in place...

Deadlifts are second only to squats in importance, and definitely a keeper.

I workout at home as well. For back exercises you could do:

Power: Deadlifts (or barbell rows)
Muscle: Barbell Rows, Dumbbell Rows, Reverse Grip Rows (Yates Rows), One arm T-bar rows, T-bar rows, bench supported rows, and pullups.
Burn: For burns I would stick with an exercise that doesn't tax your lower back like pullups, or a one arm row variation.

For legs...

Power: Squats, Front Squats
Muscle: Squats, Front Squats, Lunges, Dumbbell Squats, Barbell Hack Squats
Burn: Lunges or Dumbbell Squats

The best muscle set for hammies would be Romanian Deadlifts. A burn set for the hammies can be tough. I might recommend lunges for both quads and hamstrings, or wide stance squats.

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