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Steve's Density And Strength 4 Day Split

Average: 4.4 (214 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

Related Workouts View all Muscle Building Workouts

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    Average: 4.4 (214 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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pinkbear
Posted Tue, 06/22/2010 - 20:15

2nd question on the very low rep exercies like 2-3 reps im gessing youll be doing alot of weight?

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Steve
Posted Wed, 06/23/2010 - 10:01

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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rpiazza
Posted Wed, 06/23/2010 - 14:56

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?

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Steve
Posted Wed, 06/23/2010 - 15:52

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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Samson
Posted Thu, 06/24/2010 - 00:59

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.

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Steve
Posted Mon, 06/28/2010 - 10:20

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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Ian B.
Posted Sat, 06/26/2010 - 00:03

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!

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Steve
Posted Mon, 06/28/2010 - 16:13

Glad you like it! It definitely keeps your heart rate up.

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pinkbear
Posted Tue, 06/29/2010 - 19:22

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?

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Steve's picture
Steve
Posted Wed, 06/30/2010 - 14:21

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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pinkbear
Posted Thu, 07/01/2010 - 03:05

thanks great work out routine.
did back 2 days ago still felling it.. hurts so good. thanks

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Steve's picture
Steve
Posted Thu, 07/01/2010 - 11:15

You're welcome! Keep working hard!

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Taran
Posted Mon, 07/05/2010 - 17:24

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.

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Steve
Posted Mon, 07/05/2010 - 17:40

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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Taran
Posted Tue, 07/06/2010 - 18:16

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.

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Steve
Posted Wed, 07/07/2010 - 12:56

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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Ryan
Posted Wed, 07/07/2010 - 22:13

Steve, what kind of cardio do you recommend doing with this workout, how many times a week, etc?

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Steve
Posted Thu, 07/08/2010 - 09:32

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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Blake
Posted Thu, 07/08/2010 - 14:39

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.

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Steve's picture
Steve
Posted Fri, 07/09/2010 - 11:31

Hi Blake,

I think post-lifting whey would be a good idea.

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Clyde
Posted Sun, 07/11/2010 - 06:25

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.

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Steve
Posted Mon, 07/12/2010 - 11:20

Awesome! So glad to hear about this.

Keep working hard. Sounds like you're doing everything right.

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Greg
Posted Sun, 07/11/2010 - 14:59

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.

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Steve
Posted Mon, 07/12/2010 - 11:23

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...

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Greg
Posted Fri, 07/16/2010 - 22:01

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!!!

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Steve
Posted Mon, 07/19/2010 - 13:17

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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Greg
Posted Mon, 07/19/2010 - 16:55

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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Ivica
Posted Fri, 07/16/2010 - 07:41

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!

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Steve
Posted Fri, 07/16/2010 - 20:39

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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pinkbear
Posted Fri, 07/16/2010 - 19:16

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

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Steve
Posted Fri, 07/16/2010 - 20:42

Thanks for the update. Glad to hear it's going well for you!

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Original Corn
Posted Sun, 07/25/2010 - 16:29

What is the meaning of 'Reps'?

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Steve
Posted Mon, 07/26/2010 - 08:30

A rep is the act of lifting a weight or performing an exercise.

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Original Corn
Posted Tue, 07/27/2010 - 10:06

Thanks a lot Steve.

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Eddy
Posted Sun, 07/25/2010 - 21:38

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?

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Steve
Posted Mon, 07/26/2010 - 08:32

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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Eddy
Posted Wed, 07/28/2010 - 09:53

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!

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Steve
Posted Wed, 07/28/2010 - 14:42

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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Graeme
Posted Fri, 07/30/2010 - 02:34

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?

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Steve
Posted Fri, 07/30/2010 - 14:25

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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Graeme
Posted Fri, 07/30/2010 - 02:37

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?

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Steve
Posted Fri, 07/30/2010 - 14:28

Hi Graeme,

Primarily for variety. You certainly could do a strength week and a density week.

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Maddy
Posted Fri, 07/30/2010 - 12:44

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.

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Steve
Posted Fri, 07/30/2010 - 14:30

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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Maddy
Posted Mon, 08/02/2010 - 21:49

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.

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Steve
Posted Tue, 08/03/2010 - 15:16

Hi Maddy,

Since you are squatting, I would say give this a try.

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Maddy
Posted Tue, 08/03/2010 - 22:10

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.

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Steve
Posted Wed, 08/04/2010 - 11:58

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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Maddy
Posted Tue, 08/03/2010 - 23:21

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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Steve
Posted Wed, 08/04/2010 - 11:55

Hi Maddy,

You are correct. Density is relatively lighter work.

You can definitely use leg presses.

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