Steve's Density And Strength 4 Day Split

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

Build Muscle
Split
Intermediate
4
Barbell, Bodyweight, Dumbbells, Machines
Male & Female

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.

Barbell Deadlifts

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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582 Comments+ Post Comment

Steven's picture
Posted Wed, 06/23/2010 - 10:01
Steven
Hi Ian, You can really perform abs on any day that's convenient. I would do them on the day you have the most energy, or even on off days.
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Posted Tue, 06/22/2010 - 20:15
pinkbear
2nd question on the very low rep exercies like 2-3 reps im gessing youll be doing alot of weight?
Steven's picture
Posted Wed, 06/23/2010 - 10:01
Steven
Hi Pinkbear, For muscle building and toning you always want to use as much weight as possible for each set without training to failure.
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Posted Wed, 06/23/2010 - 14:56
rpiazza
If you're looking to build mass and strength, which w/o is better - this one or the 4 day Power Muscle Burn w/o?
Steven's picture
Posted Wed, 06/23/2010 - 15:52
Steven
Either. I would use the approach that is more appealing to you. All my workouts are designed for both size and strength.
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Posted Thu, 06/24/2010 - 00:59
Samson
Hey Steve, Thanks for the great split. On top of this I also do 1hr of cardio everyday along with 100 push-ups, 40 pull-ups, and 340 sit-up variations every other day. I'm getting great results already and I've only be at it for 3 weeks. I'm definitely sticking to this. I do have a question, thought, my younger brother is starting to do it with me he has very little experience with lifting. I have showed him good form and he is trying very hard. What is your opinion on supervised newbies attempting this? Thanks in advance.
Steven's picture
Posted Mon, 06/28/2010 - 10:20
Steven
In general I don't think this is the perfect routine for beginners simply because he might be able to make faster progress on a more basic routine. But with that said, if his form is solid and he is making progress, have him stick with it.
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Posted Sat, 06/26/2010 - 00:03
Ian B.
Hey Steve, Just finished one cycle of this workout and I gotta say.... It's kickin my butt!! I'm sweatin more from these workouts in under an hour than I ever was workin out even an hour and a half in the gym before. Definitely a great "bang for your buck" if you will. This workout works a guy fast but very hard!!! I'm lovin it!! Thanks for the awesome workout Steve!
Steven's picture
Posted Mon, 06/28/2010 - 16:13
Steven
Glad you like it! It definitely keeps your heart rate up.
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Posted Tue, 06/29/2010 - 19:22
pinkbear
so just started this work out today. did chest density. when it came to the reps i did 5 4 4 4 4 4 5 for a total of 7 sets 30 rep. should i keep the reps the same like that or should i have more varaiton in reps? also on the strength days the reps have a wide amount of play 6-12 reps is a big gap so should i do the less reps more weight or less weight and more reps?
Steven's picture
Posted Wed, 06/30/2010 - 14:21
Steven
Hi Pinkbear, Don't worry so much about how many reps you can do per set. Just continue to do as many as you can, stopping each set when you think you might fail on the next rep. When you hit 30 total reps, add weight. On strength days, when you can perform 12 reps with a weight, add more weight. You will want to continually be working back up to 12 reps.
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Posted Thu, 07/01/2010 - 03:05
pinkbear
thanks great work out routine. did back 2 days ago still felling it.. hurts so good. thanks
Steven's picture
Posted Thu, 07/01/2010 - 11:15
Steven
You're welcome! Keep working hard!
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Posted Mon, 07/05/2010 - 17:24
Taran
Hey Steve i notice that you have the week starting of on a wednesday would it be possible to just start on Monday and have the following Split Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday. Another Question for Density Day i would start of with my 8 rep max and try to hit 30 reps within 7 sets correct. last Question For strength Days isnt it optimal to take atleast 3-5 rest between sets.
Steven's picture
Posted Mon, 07/05/2010 - 17:40
Steven
Hi Taran, You can start the workout series on Monday. For density sets, starting with your 8 rep max is good. In general, it is a good idea to take 3-5 minutes for big, heavy lifts. But for this program, you are using somewhat of a different approach to strength building, incorporating strength endurance.
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Posted Tue, 07/06/2010 - 18:16
Taran
Hey steve so i went and did the density chest workout man it was awesome. I just have one final question regarding the strength back workout with the dead lift do your 1 rep max for 10 minutes and when you hit 15 in one minute add weight.
Steven's picture
Posted Wed, 07/07/2010 - 12:56
Steven
Hi Taran, Yes, you are understanding the deadlift approach correctly. You won't be using your 1RM though. I would try about 70-75% of your 1RM.
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Posted Wed, 07/07/2010 - 22:13
Ryan
Steve, what kind of cardio do you recommend doing with this workout, how many times a week, etc?
Steven's picture
Posted Thu, 07/08/2010 - 09:32
Steven
Hi Ryan, If building muscle, cardio 3 times a week for 20 to 30 minutes is a good rate. You can perform cardio up to 5 times per week, but I wouldn't do any more than that. Give your body some time to rest. Cardio can be any form - use whatever you like. Perform cardio first thing in the morning, post-workout, or on off days.
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Posted Thu, 07/08/2010 - 14:39
Blake
I just finished the first 4 week cycle of this program and I must say that I'm very pleased with the results. One question about post-workout cardio: If it's taking me around an hour to finish my workout, and then I'm doing 20 to 30 minutes of cardio, would it be a good idea to drink some protein before I do cardio? Thanks, Steve.
Steven's picture
Posted Fri, 07/09/2010 - 11:31
Steven
Hi Blake, I think post-lifting whey would be a good idea.
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Posted Sun, 07/11/2010 - 06:25
Clyde
Hey Steve, I really love this workout. I used it for one month and gained about 8lbs of lean muscle. I also used N.O explode pre workout and Cellmass post workout a long with the Pro Whey protein. The results are crazy. Also stripped down to 10% body-fat using a 20 min cardio plan after the strength training days. After the density training days, I took a rest after because of how much work it is involved. Like I said before I really love this workout plan, I never got results like this before lol. Thanks for the workout Steve.
Steven's picture
Posted Mon, 07/12/2010 - 11:20
Steven
Awesome! So glad to hear about this. Keep working hard. Sounds like you're doing everything right.
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Posted Sun, 07/11/2010 - 14:59
Greg
Thanks for posting this, I am going to kick this off tomorrow and have a couple of questions, what supplements do you recommend? I walk into a GNC and get overwhelmed, I don't know what actually is beneficial and what is just a can of Caffiene with "weight Slayer 5000" slapped on the front of it. I am just taking 100% whey and XPAND Extreme Pump right now.
Steven's picture
Posted Mon, 07/12/2010 - 11:23
Steven
Hi Greg, Whey protein is great first thing in the morning and post workout. Casein protein is good in between major meals. I also recommend a quality multivitamin, and fish oil for general health. Once you are training hard, and have a solid muscle building diet, there are a few supplements you can add. Check out this article for more information: http://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/power-muscle-burn-bulking-diet-and-supplement-plan.html
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Posted Fri, 07/16/2010 - 22:01
Greg
Thanks Steve!!! Once again I need your help and advice since I am starting my body transformation. I love your workout, but i just dont feel like an hour is enough gym time, would 30-45 minutes of cardio post work out be detrimental to this plan? I am 74 in and 225lbs 25 y/o and would like to lean up a little but, don't want to sacrifice losing muscle mass. Should i just not worry about and wait until I get the gains I want then start a cutting routine? Also this is my current diet: 1 whey protein shake 250 kcal 40g 1 banana 100 kcal 1 glass orange juice 110 kcal 4 eggs 320 kcal 24g 1 slice cheese 60 kcal 3g 6 slices lean turkey breast 80kcal 8g 1 whey protein shake 220 kcal 40g 1 serving penut butter 190 kcal 7g 1/2 cup oatmeal 150 kcal Workout 1 whey protein shake 220 kcal 40g 1 peice grilled chicken 281 kcal 35g 1 baked potato 110 kcal 2g 1 slice cheese 60 kcal 3g 1 peice grilled chicken 281 kcal 35g instant rice 160 kcal 4g Broccoli 50 kcal 3g Daily Total 2642 kcal 254g protein My RMR said right at 3800, should i bulk up the calorie intake, or do you think i could still make gains with this amount of calories? Also do you think this diet is sufficient? Thankyou very much!!! Stay Motivated, Drink Water!!!
Steven's picture
Posted Mon, 07/19/2010 - 13:17
Steven
Hi Greg, I would keep cardio to 20 to 30 minutes post-workout. If you want to do cardio for longer, I would split it up into 2 sessions, and do one 20 minutes session of low intensity cardio first thing in the morning, and one high intensity cardio session post workout. Cardio won't impact this plan at all. The best way to hold muscle gains is to push yourself in the gym. Never waste a set, and always try for more reps and weight when possible. Your daily calories look good. I would try that for 2 weeks and see what happens. Make a goal to lose 2 pounds per week. This is an optimal rate for holding muscle while losing fat.
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Posted Mon, 07/19/2010 - 16:55
Greg
Thanks alot Steve!! Already seeing an increase in strength!! I benched 225 for 3 reps all 8 sets, squated 305 3 reps for all 8 sets, and dead lifted 365 2 reps for all 8 sets!!! that is more than i have ever done in my life!!! I'll keep you posted in a couple of months and let you know my gains, thanks again!!
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Posted Fri, 07/16/2010 - 07:41
Ivica
Hi Steve , i realy respect youre advices.I have one question, should i do density workouts and strength workouts with the max weight i can lift or just with the strength workouts? THANKS!
Steven's picture
Posted Fri, 07/16/2010 - 20:39
Steven
Hi Ivica, Yes, always use as much weight as possible for both workouts, and always push yourself for more on each set. This will help you maximize muscle gains.
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Posted Fri, 07/16/2010 - 19:16
pinkbear
Hello, just giving update. I am going onto week 4 of this workout and i absoulty love it.. leaves plenty of space for you to pick what you want to do. i never get board of it because its a 2 week cycle and you let us choose what i like to do. have seen my strength go up in all my lifts. get workout.Also i usaly stop getting sore after been doing the same workout week to week but this still makes me sore every time.(i like being sore makes me feel like i did something) Any1 who gets board with the same workout give this one a try you may like it. I also threw in a light cario, abs and calves on my mid rest day
Steven's picture
Posted Fri, 07/16/2010 - 20:42
Steven
Thanks for the update. Glad to hear it's going well for you!
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Posted Sun, 07/25/2010 - 16:29
Original Corn
What is the meaning of 'Reps'?
Steven's picture
Posted Mon, 07/26/2010 - 08:30
Steven
A rep is the act of lifting a weight or performing an exercise.
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Posted Tue, 07/27/2010 - 10:06
Original Corn
Thanks a lot Steve.
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Posted Sun, 07/25/2010 - 21:38
Eddy
Steve, Great workout routine! Quick question regarding the density reps. what is the best way to divide the 30 reps into 7 sets? 3 to 5 reps max per set or reps of 8, 8, 6, 6, 2, 2, 2… give or take a rep per set?
Steven's picture
Posted Mon, 07/26/2010 - 08:32
Steven
Hi Eddy, You perform as many reps as possible for each density set, stopping a set before failure - when you believe you might not be able to perform the next rep.
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Posted Wed, 07/28/2010 - 09:53
Eddy
But I need to make sure my total reps do not exceed 30 and they are performed in 7 sets… correct? So is it best to start the first set with small reps such as 4 or 5 until failure and push to maintain this level of reps throughout the other sets without changing the weight? Sorry if I’m being a little dense headed about the density routine... I want to make sure I’m doing it right!
Steven's picture
Posted Wed, 07/28/2010 - 14:42
Steven
Hi Eddy, It's ok to exceed 30 reps, but when you do so, you want to add weight the next time you train. Always do as many reps as you can per set at all times. Never hold back. Always give as much as possible on every set.
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Posted Fri, 07/30/2010 - 02:34
Graeme
Why did you decide to not do 7 sets of squats with the same style as the bench presses, military presses and other such exercises? The only thing I can think of is because of the risk of squatting to failure and getting stuck. What would your advice be to somebody who decides that they are going to break the mould a little bit and do 30 reps of squats over 7 sets?
Steven's picture
Posted Fri, 07/30/2010 - 14:25
Steven
Hi Graeme, Squats are very effective without limited rest. You could certainly try different training approaches with them, but simply squatting alone will work wonders for the legs and overall body strength. I wouldn't break the mold. I would just try to squat heavier and heavier. Rest pause can often tax your lower back long before your legs. Save your lower back the strains and pains.
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Posted Fri, 07/30/2010 - 02:37
Graeme
I forgot to ask this in my other post, but why is it that you alternate density/strength/density/strength instead of just rotating one week of each? I doubt this was for the sake of making things slightly more complicated, so what is the reason for this?
Steven's picture
Posted Fri, 07/30/2010 - 14:28
Steven
Hi Graeme, Primarily for variety. You certainly could do a strength week and a density week.
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Posted Fri, 07/30/2010 - 12:44
Maddy
Hello Steve, I am 70kgs, I can perform max of 120 pounds of Barbell bench press with 6-8 reps & 60 pounds of Barbell Curl with 8-10 reps. Few question as this is confusing me. 1.You have mentioned that one should be at least an 800 pound total for deadlift, where as in my Case I have never tried dead lift but I can perform 360 pound of 45 degree leg press with max 15 reps. Can I start with this programme? 2.Overall total no of reps should be 30 by the time you finish 7 set or Each set should be of 30 i.e. 1 set = 30 reps, 2 set = 30 reps & so on 2.Can you please advice how much weight I should be lifting for the 1st set and how much weight should be added as the sets progresses. 3. You have mentioned workouts shouldn't running longer then one hour. If we perform 7-8 sets it will take more than 1 hr I think so. Advice. 4. Can I perform 5 sets for Density workout & Strength workout. Your comments are very imp for me. Kindly response. Regards, Maddy.
Steven's picture
Posted Fri, 07/30/2010 - 14:30
Steven
Hi Maddy, The 800 pound total is for bench press, deadlift and squat combined. If you are currently not deadlifting, this program would not be the best and safest way for you to be introduced to the lift. Are you currently squatting?
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Posted Mon, 08/02/2010 - 21:49
Maddy
Hello Steve, Yes I do squat 3 sets of 12-15 reps. 1set - 90pounds, 2nd set - 130 pounds & 3set - 150 pounds. Total combined weight for 45 degress bench press, Squat & Chest bench press is 650 - 680 pounds. I am not a beginner & I have been hitting to gym last 1 year. I weight 70 Kgs. Could you please suggest me programme which will suit me to gain muscle & size. Regards, Mahadev Shah.
Steven's picture
Posted Tue, 08/03/2010 - 15:16
Steven
Hi Maddy, Since you are squatting, I would say give this a try.
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Posted Tue, 08/03/2010 - 22:10
Maddy
Hello Steve, Few question regarding workout sets as this is confusing me. 1.Overall total number of reps should be 30 by the time you finish 7 set or Each set should be of 30 i.e. 1 set = 30 reps, 2 set = 30 reps & so on 2.Can I perform 5 sets for Density workout & Strength workout. 3.Can you please advice for warm up what should I perform. Your comments are very imp for me. Kindly response. Regards, Maddy.
Steven's picture
Posted Wed, 08/04/2010 - 11:58
Steven
Hi Maddy, Your goal is to reach 30 total reps for 7 sets. Something like: 9-5-4-3-3-3-3 You certainly could try using 5 sets for density and strength. Regarding warmups, here is a sample for bench press (if your working weight is 200): Bar x 15 reps 95 x 5 reps 135 x 5 reps 185 x 1-2 reps
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Posted Tue, 08/03/2010 - 23:21
Maddy
Hello Steve, Can I perform 45 degree legpress instead of leg extension. Density workout is of lighter weight & Stength workout is of heavy weight. Correct me if I am wrong. Madhav.

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