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Steve's Density And Strength 4 Day Split

Average: 4.4 (215 votes)
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This 4 day split by Steve Shaw is a powerbuilding system designed to propel intermediate lifters towards faster muscle mass and strength gains.

Workout Summary

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

Workout Description

This is not a routine for beginners. You must have decent form on your heavy compound lifts before engaging in any form of heavy strength training. If you have spotty form, or do not have at least an 800 pound total for deadlift, squat and bench press, I recommend sticking with a more basic beginner routine.

This routine focuses on density days utilizing rest-pause training, and strength days which utilize low rep sets. It's a routine I love, and is fairly close to what I have personally run for a good portion of 2009. I had great results with this program, and didn't stall all year. For the record, even the split is my split.

It's time to become a beast. By improving your strength and your hypertrophy, you will hit your goals and then some. Stick with this routine for at least 4-6 months, and if it's stick working - keep going!

The Density And Strength Workout Split

You will need 2 full weeks to finish a complete cycle of this workout. During these 2 weeks you will workout 8 times, performing 4 strength workouts and 4 density workouts. The split is as follows:

Week 1

  • Wednesday = Chest Day (Density)
  • Thursday = Back Day (Strength)
  • Saturday = Shoulder Day (Density)
  • Sunday = Leg Day (Strength)

Week 2

  • Wednesday = Chest Day (Strength)
  • Thursday = Back Day (Density)
  • Saturday = Shoulder Day (Strength)
  • Sunday = Leg Day (Density)

Do not add in more training days. Naturals do not need training overkill. This is a very taxing routine, and you need your rest. Make sure workouts aren't running longer then one hour. If you are finishing in well under an hour, and want to add in pertinent complimentary exercises, by all means do so.

Core Workout Principles

Progression. All of my workouts focus on progression. On every set of every workout, you must be trying for more reps. If you waste sets, there is no point in using this routine. Do as many reps as possible, training shy of failure on each set.

For Density Sets:

  1. Total Sets. Perform 7 sets per exercise.
  2. Rest Between Sets. Rest between each set is...30, 30, 60, 60, 90 and 120 seconds. The rest periods get longer as you go deeper into total sets. This allows for your strength to come back.
  3. Failure. Don't train to failure. Only do as many reps as you can.
  4. Progression. When you can do 30 reps in 7 sets, add weight to the bar. For some exercises, you may increase this number up to 35. I also prefer to do higher reps for certain leg exercises - such as leg extensions. You could aim as high as 40 to 50 reps for exercises such as this.

For Strength Sets:

  1. Total Sets. You will start by doing 8 sets of 2 reps, and will be pushing to get 8 sets of 3 reps.
  2. Rest Between Sets. Rest exactly 2 minutes between sets.
  3. Progression. When you can perform 8 sets of 3 reps, add weight to the bar.

Warm-up as needed. After about 3 to 4 weeks on this program, you will notice your strength endurance is improving, and you should start to progress on a consistent basis. For some of you, it may take more then a month for your body to adapt to limited reps. Also, I find that my joints tend to handle limited rest sets much better. This could be due to keeping the joints and muscles moving, instead of cooling them down with 3+ minute rests. Your mileage may vary.

Workout Schedule:

Wednesday - Chest and Triceps
Density Workout
Exercise Sets Reps
Barbell Bench Press 7 30 Total
Chest Dips or DB Bench Press or Incline Bench Press 7 30 Total
Close Grip Bench Press 7 30 Total
Strength Workout
Barbell Bench Press 8 2 to 3
2 Chest Exercises of Choice 3 6 to 10
1 to 2 Tricep Exercises of Choice 3 6 to 10
Thursday - Back
Density Workout
Exercise Sets Reps
Deadlift * Singles 10 minutes
Barbell Row or Yates Row or Seated Cable Row 7 30 Total
Pull Ups or Lat Pull Down or T Bar Row 7 30 Total
Strength Workout
Deadlift 8 2 to 3
2 to 3 Back Exercises of Choice 3 6 to 10
Optional: 1 Traps Exercise 3 6 to 12
Notes

* Do as many deadlift singles reps as you can in 10 minutes. When you hit 15 total reps for 10 minutes, add weight.

Friday - Rest Day

Saturday - Shoulders and Biceps
Density Workout
Exercise Sets Reps
Seated Press Behind The Neck or Military Press 7 30 Total
Seated Arnold Press or Upright Rows 7 30 Total
Barbell Curl or Standing Dumbbell Curl 7 30 Total
Strength Workout
Seated Press Behind The Neck 8 2 to 3
2 to 3 Shoulder Exercises of Choice 3 6 to 10
1 to 3 Biceps Exercises of Choice 3 6 to 10
Sunday - Legs
Density Workout
Exercise Sets Reps
Squat 3 to 4 6 to 10
Leg Extension 7 40 Total
Romanian Deadlifts 7 35 Total
Strength Workout
Squat 8 2 to 3
1 to 2 Quads Exercises of Choice 3 6 to 15
1 to 2 Hamstring Exercises of Choice 3 6 to 12
Notes

Note regarding ab training: Add in abs or calves once or twice per week if you wish - on any training day.

Monday and Tuesday - Rest Days

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    Average: 4.4 (215 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 (568)

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j150
Posted Sat, 05/08/2010 - 12:26

on the density sets am I supposed to do 30 reps in each set, seven times? or 30 total in 7 sets?

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Steve
Posted Sun, 05/09/2010 - 07:37

When you hit 30 reps total over the course of 7 sets then you add weight.

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kyle
Posted Wed, 05/26/2010 - 06:59

this is also realy confusing to me.. so 30 reps total over the course of 7 sets then you add weight, so this is what 4 reps per set? 7 sets of 4 reps would be around 30 reps? for density that seems way to low this is why im confused.. im interested int his work out so please explain and thanks btw

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Steve
Posted Wed, 05/26/2010 - 08:39

You do as many reps in each of the sets as possible. You go all out for all 7 sets. When you can perform 30 total reps for all 7 sets, you add weight the next time in the gym. You never limit yourself on how many reps you can do per set. Because of the limited rest between sets, the number of reps you can perform per set drops off rapidly.

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Joe
Posted Mon, 01/20/2014 - 22:35

So, If I do 3 sets at 10 reps each...do I stop that exercise for that day and add weight the next time I hit this exercise (in 2 weeks) or do I continue to finish the routine of all 7 sets maxing out with each set?

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Brian
Posted Thu, 01/23/2014 - 00:53

can you explain what you mean by 30 total reps for 7 sets. It is very unclear to me as to what you mean by this.
If i do 3 sets of 10 does that mean I stop that exercise or do i add more weight and try to hit 30 again?

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daniel arocho
Posted Sun, 05/13/2012 - 23:31

hey steve are you supposed to do both the density and the strength on the same day or do you alternate weekly

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Steve
Posted Wed, 05/23/2012 - 15:03

Alternate weekly.

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Mike
Posted Tue, 09/21/2010 - 22:06

what type of cardio is best with this workout and when should it be done

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Steve
Posted Wed, 09/22/2010 - 13:13

Hi Mike,

That depends on your goals. If you want to improve your overall conditioning, cardio 3 times per week post-workout is a solid choice.

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Mike
Posted Mon, 05/10/2010 - 18:32

What does the Density Deadlift mean by "singles for 10mins", thanks.

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Steve
Posted Tue, 05/11/2010 - 09:21

Do as many deadlift singles reps as you can in 10 minutes. When you hit 15 total reps for 10 minutes, add weight.

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Mike
Posted Tue, 05/11/2010 - 10:14

Sorry Steve, so you mean do sets of 1 for 10mins? I'm assuming you're doing a really slow, movement and heavy weight to only get 15 in 10mins, yes? Much appreciated.

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Steve
Posted Tue, 05/11/2010 - 12:53

You are performing single reps with breaks in between to regain your composure and reset your form. Normal rep speed.

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Mike
Posted Tue, 05/11/2010 - 14:21

Thanks Steve, awesome program - thanks for sharing.

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Jibran
Posted Mon, 02/18/2013 - 21:45

Still dot get the single reps for 10 min thing, can you explain as to someone who never lifted? How many you do in 10 mins all depends on how much rest you take between sets right? Do I lift and set the weight down and walk away or keep my grip and wait 10 seconds then lift again? Thanks

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STELIOS
Posted Wed, 05/12/2010 - 09:06

wow this workout is harcore im 16 and i manage doing this[except that i feel sore from intense training]i feel my muscles are growing but can i add a workout called the big arm routine once a week?[and three days of ab workouts]?

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Steve
Posted Wed, 05/12/2010 - 17:06

You could do the big arm routine instead of the arm work in this routine, but I wouldn't add it in as additional work. The best way to get bi arms is to move big weight on big lifts.

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STELIOS
Posted Thu, 05/13/2010 - 05:02

which of the two is best? your arm workout or the big arm routine[you know like does the one increase muscle mass and less strenght or the ιnverted?}also id like to know which whey protein i should use[reccomend one].also does heigth affect how big you arms will be?thank you really much youre the best!!! one think i havent seen in muscle and strenght is how to built big lats.[at least ive searched it and havent found it yet].i hope i havent dazed you :].

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Steve
Posted Thu, 05/13/2010 - 08:30

I've not tried the big arm routine. I would recommend sticking with this approach as a whole for a while so you can better stay focus on how your body is responding to it. Arms usually respond best (for most) to heavy compound lifts rather then too much direct, isolation style arm work.

Whey protein...I am a big fan of Muscle Gauge Whey isolate or blend...cinnamon bun or the chocolate flavors. But really, any name brand whey protein will do.

Height and bone size can both impact how big your arms get, but in general we're only talking about maybe 1/2 inch at most if you are small boned and on the short side.

And no problems at all with the questions...that's why we're here!

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STELIOS
Posted Thu, 05/13/2010 - 09:32

thank you so much steve but another question is how much i should lift im 16 years old 1,81 to height and i weight 82,1 kg im not an expert in lifting weight or bodybuilder but i can say im quite an athletic guy.by the way does cardio prevents you from bulking up?[like boxing because i have a punching bag and my cousin was training and taught me some things]A!for the deadlift how much weight should i use[and for the dumbells]godamn i talk to much but i really want to become stronger and have a better physique and the only one that is an expert is you[the other programs seem a little lazy this one seems to be much more professional]thank you again you reallly are generous and kind :]

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Steve
Posted Thu, 05/13/2010 - 14:36

You're welcome.

Cardio won't prevent you from bulking up if you're eating enough. I gained most of my muscle while also playing basketball for about an hour each day. Just eat plenty and you will be fine.

For the deadlift, if you have a solid grasp of form then I would start with about 75% of your one rep max for singles.

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Ray
Posted Sat, 07/03/2010 - 09:05

Hi Steve,

I am using your 4 day power, muscle and burn split at this time. I am interested in switching to this routine and I noticed you say for deadlift singles do 75% of max lift, I was wondering if you could possibly give me an idea of what my max would be if I can do 4 sets of 5 reps in your other workout at 345lbs? Also I really am having a hard time getting down the romainian deads, I only feel it in my hams when my legs are complete straight, otherwise I feel it mostly in lower back, is there something else I can do to replace them or is this the best hamstring workout?

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Steve
Posted Sat, 07/03/2010 - 09:57

Hi Ray,

Romanian deadlifts are actually performed with a slightly bent knee. Keep you weight on your heels - really focus on this, and don't try to sink too deeply. Sink to a comfortable depth.

Try it for a couple weeks my way, and then let me know. You could do wide stand good mornings to replace them, but that can be a tricky exercise to master without good instruction.

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Ray
Posted Sat, 07/03/2010 - 09:20

Hi Steve,

Sorry to bother, but I was also wondering for this workout on what you call strength lifts, what do you rec. a much higher weight closer to max then on density days? Also I saw you said 70% of max for density lifts like bench, so if im at a max bench of 355 approx, I should be looking to hit around 250 for the density sets is that correct, it seems like a big drop in weight i just want to benefit as much as possible? Also if you had to compare your two workouts pwer, muscle and brn to this which would you say is more effective? Thanks so much in advance, this website has got me more devoted then ever before!

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Steve
Posted Sat, 07/03/2010 - 09:53

Hi Ray,

That is merely a generic starting point. You will be aggressively trying for more reps, so if you undershoot the starting point and easily nail your reps, add more weight on the next workout.

The density sets, with limited rest, will make it hard to use incredibly heavy weight. They build quite a bit of strength endurance, which for me, carries over well on strength days.

As far as which workout is better...touch call...they are both hard and effective. I would recommend trying a week of both and using the workout you like better. Most of my workouts are variations on the same theme.

This workout keeps you engaged a bit more because you are always watching the clock.

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Ray
Posted Sat, 07/03/2010 - 13:41

Thanks alot steve, I really app. it, this website is a big help. I will try the rdl with only slight bend in knee and will be sure to experiment with weight. The schedule you have after week two, do you go back to follow week ones strength density rotation and just cycle week one and two?

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Steve
Posted Sun, 07/04/2010 - 11:01

Hi Ray,

You're welcome. Glad to help.

Regarding cycles, continue to alternate between workouts week after week.

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eric
Posted Thu, 05/13/2010 - 11:15

Hey steve big fan of your routine. I recently modified my chest days doing all incline movements for 2 consecutive weeks hitting density and strength. Then doing 2 consecutive weeks with all flat movements. What's your opinion ? Could I benefit or should I stick with what you have layed out?

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Steve
Posted Thu, 05/13/2010 - 14:30

I would rather see you alternate week to week from incline to flat. I don't like for a muscle to go more then a week without hitting important exercises like flat bench. This is not a scientifically-based opinion, but rather I find that the down time can sometimes lead to minor form flaws.

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Vanags
Posted Fri, 05/14/2010 - 08:06

For Density deadlift. F.E. i do deadlift with 100kg(max weght) then how many reps i need to do in one single and with what %?

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Steve
Posted Fri, 05/14/2010 - 09:06

For the deadlift, if you have a solid grasp of form then I would start with about 75% of your one rep max for singles.

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Vanags
Posted Sun, 05/16/2010 - 05:50

how many % for Density routine?

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Steve
Posted Sun, 05/16/2010 - 09:39

For density I would start around 70% of your 1RM.

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Vanags
Posted Sun, 05/16/2010 - 05:54

oooh one more question...
If in some week i havent time for 1 free day, can i do this routine 4 days in row? and then 2-3 days free?

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Steve
Posted Sun, 05/16/2010 - 09:38

You could. Just make sure you only hit each of the workouts once a week.

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Vanags
Posted Sun, 05/16/2010 - 14:28

hey what ll be effect if i try to do 7 sets and in each set 30 reps as density tree?

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Steve
Posted Sun, 05/16/2010 - 17:04

That's a solid approach. You might have to use a slightly lighter weight.

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Vanags
Posted Sun, 05/16/2010 - 17:49

yeaah i tried for chest today it was nuts.. but how about progress, mybe better ll be do 30 total?

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Steve
Posted Sun, 05/16/2010 - 17:54

Just continue to try and beat what you did last time, and when you hit 30 total, add weight.

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stephen
Posted Tue, 05/18/2010 - 10:50

So if its 30 reps in 7 sets how many reps per set?

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Steve
Posted Tue, 05/18/2010 - 13:21

When you hit 30 reps you increase the weight. You do as many reps as you can per set without going to failure.

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Gary
Posted Thu, 12/02/2010 - 18:15

Is it reasonable to say you start your first set with a weight you can do 8-10 reps?

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Steve
Posted Fri, 12/03/2010 - 11:50

Absolutely. That's a great place to start.

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Jake Saul
Posted Wed, 05/19/2010 - 07:33

Steve,

I am about to embark on this journey! I am 28, 6'1'' weighing in around 195. I have been working out pretty regular for about 4 years with a few 2-3 month breaks when life got in the way. My workouts have consisted primarily of supersetting opposing muscle groups i.e. push set,no rest, pull set, 1-2min rest, and doing 10-12 different excercies per workout. This workout has done wonders for shaping my body since it's an hour+ of cardio while im lifting, however I feel my strength is seriously lacking! SO im going to do your 4 day split, density & strenght workout. My question is regarding rest. I am self employed and work from home however I cant remember the last time I got 8 hours of good sleep (5-6 hrs of bad sleep is the norm) If I take an hour nap during the day after my workout will that offset some of my lack of rest? Rather will it speed recovery and work to build more muscle?

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Steve
Posted Wed, 05/19/2010 - 08:31

The more rest the better. I would definitely recommend getting a nap in during the day. And remember to always be pushing yourself for more strength.

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Jake Saul
Posted Wed, 05/19/2010 - 08:44

Thanks for you quick reply. Another question, If I find myself needing to do four days straight without a day of rest in the middle. Should I switch day 3 "shoulders/arms" with day 4 "legs" since my shoulders are getting more of a workout on day 1 and 2 and being smaller muscle group hypothetically will need to be worked less? That way I dont overwork them? I have had problems with a torn rotator cuff in the past and will sometimes get serious pain in my right shoulder. I generally work through the pain (never had surgery) cause i didnt want to be out of the gym for 6mos!! stupid? maybe, but i figured if i build up the muscles in my shoulder it will help to prevent further injury.

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Steve
Posted Wed, 05/19/2010 - 11:08

No, because you do not want to squat the day after deadlifting. Both exercises work the posterior chain, and heavily tax your central nervous system.

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Jake Saul
Posted Wed, 05/19/2010 - 12:03

Wise man! Again, thank you for your responsese and your input! You have been more than helpful!

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Steve
Posted Wed, 05/19/2010 - 14:15

Any time!

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