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Steve's Density And Strength 4 Day Split

Average: 4.4 (216 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 (216 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 (570)

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Daniel
Posted Mon, 11/01/2010 - 10:46

Hey Steve,

I just wanted to thank you for this workout. I was a little hesitant when I started because I was going from lifting 6 days a week to 4. didn't seem like it would be enough. I actually found myself looking forward to my rest days because this program KICKS MY BUTT! I have stuck to this program to exactness for 6 weeks now and my major lifts have jumped significantly. My deadlift has gone from 385 to 435, bench from 265 to 295, and my squat from 315 to 385.

Anyone looking to break through a plateau you have to try this!

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Steve
Posted Mon, 11/01/2010 - 11:14

Thanks Daniel,

Glad to hear it's working for you. Very strong numbers!

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Michael
Posted Thu, 11/11/2010 - 13:13

Steve,

I just started your strength workout today and am really looking forward to the coming months as I continue it. I accomplished the density workout for my chest in 33 minutes. You mentioned additional work if this was the case. With the 2 minute rests for the strength workouts it would seem that you were referring to the density workouts. What complimentary exercises could I perform and what would the rep range, set range and rest ranges be? Thanks a lot, Steve. Your help to everyone on here is truly a blessing.

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Steve
Posted Fri, 11/12/2010 - 12:30

Hi Michael,

One of the things you could add are abs on 1-3 days per week. On back day you could add a density workout of traps. On bicep day you could add a density workout for forearms. And on chest and leg day you could add abs.

Keep the structure the same for trap and forearms, but for abs simply do whatever works best for you.

I recommend barbell shrugs for traps, and possibly static holds for max time for forearms.

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Daniel
Posted Tue, 11/16/2010 - 14:59

Wanted to start this program but I am confused over what the difference between the density and Strength days are. What should I be doing differently on those days? 8 sets of 3 reps is the same almost as 30 reps in 7 sets.

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Steve's picture
Steve
Posted Wed, 11/17/2010 - 08:46

Hi Daniel,

The major difference will be rest between sets. The Limited rest between density sets will limit the weight you can use. This rest-pause style of training will also create quite a bit of muscle soreness. Density sets use 2 minutes rest between sets, and will allow heavier weight.

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ken
Posted Wed, 11/17/2010 - 19:56

Hey just a quick question. I was curious as to what exactly density is? like could u explain it a bit more scientifically maybe?

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Steve
Posted Thu, 11/18/2010 - 09:08

Hi Ken,

Density training simply means that you are not allowing your muscle to fully recover, and hitting it more frequently with intense effort. As opposed to spreading reps out every 3 minutes, you are taking short rests and hitting a muscle frequently while it is still fatigued.

You are performing more sets in a 8-10 minute window - this is the density. Even though the sets have smaller rep totals, because they are performed with limited rest, they are more traumatic to the muscle group.

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khaled
Posted Fri, 11/26/2010 - 21:30

Hello Steve

My first qustion is what is the best nutiration for me ? I haven't take any befor.is capsuls (strength and musculs ) is ok ? my goles are to build huge and strong musculs.

There is nothing in this programe about fornarm , can i perform some ?

About the strength workout , what is the best way to choice the exircises ? I mean do have an advice about that ?

Thank you and best regards

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Steve
Posted Thu, 12/02/2010 - 14:51

Hi Khaled,

Here are some articles on diet that cab help:

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/your-go-to-guide-to-gaining-m...

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

The gripping work in this program will work your forearms hard. There is no need to add in direct work, but if it is an area of concern, you could add in a few sets with biceps.

As far as exercise choice, use the exercises provided.

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khaled
Posted Fri, 11/26/2010 - 21:42

anthor qustion
what is the best cardio routine ? i got some fat.
thnx

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Steve's picture
Steve
Posted Thu, 12/02/2010 - 14:55

Hi Khaled,

The best way to lose fat is via your diet:

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

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Tom Earp
Posted Mon, 12/06/2010 - 03:18

Hey Steve,

This might be a silly question, but I'm assuming I can use a Smith Machine for benching and squatting and still get results? I usually can't get my workouts in until late after work, and I have no one to spot me, so I use the Smith Machine for it's self -spotting. I guess I also use it for seated shoulder press. This would be ok for the program? Thanks.

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Steve
Posted Tue, 12/07/2010 - 14:14

Hi Tom,

Do you have access to a squat rack with adjustable pins? This would be the best method. I'm not a big fan of Smith machines but if it's your only option then I understand. You can still make great progress with them, but if you have a squat rack with adjustable pins I would bench and squat with the pins set at fail height.

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Brett
Posted Wed, 12/08/2010 - 19:41

For the exercises that use 3 sets of 6-10 or 6-12 how much rest time should be given? 2 minutes?

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Steve
Posted Fri, 12/17/2010 - 10:00

Hi Brett,

Rest about 90 to 120 seconds.

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keenan
Posted Thu, 12/09/2010 - 23:26

why does the workout day start on a Wednesday? could I start it on a Monday?

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Steve
Posted Fri, 12/17/2010 - 10:01

Hi Keenan,

You can start on Monday. Days of the week are arbitrary.

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lance kebaugh
Posted Thu, 12/16/2010 - 16:26

Hey, Is it wise to just do one element of the workout ,either density or strength?Thx. lance

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Steve
Posted Fri, 12/17/2010 - 10:03

Hi Lance,

I wouldn't recommend it unless I saw your complete workout approach. It's generally not a good idea to perform only strength work. You could mix both on the same workout day though.

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brandon
Posted Mon, 12/20/2010 - 18:23

steve, couple questions on your routine. im looking to build strength, so if i do this i complete the density first then the strenght. in the two weeks and am i done? next im looking to build streght in my chest, any ideas? i weight 170, 5 10 and am 17. thanks for the help

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Steve's picture
Steve
Posted Thu, 12/23/2010 - 12:47

Hi Brandon,

The cycle is:

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)

You keep performing these cycles over and over again.

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Luke
Posted Tue, 12/21/2010 - 05:23

Steve,

I've read through all the comments regarding this program and this one has yet to be raised: Am I doing the right thing by pyramiding the weights on strength days. As an example, today was my back day and dead lifts were the major exercise. My eight sets as follows (in kg):

1x120 (3)reps
1x130 (3)
1x140 (3)
1x150 (3)
1x160 (3)
1x170 (3)
1x180 (2)
1x190 (2) pb!

My other back exercises (row, lat pull downs etc) I stick with the one weight and aim for three sets of ten.

I also pyramid for squats and bench.

BTW, I started this program at the beginning of November after doing ad-hoc cable machine weights since the beginning of the year. I record all my sessions and hope to put it into an excel spreadsheet that I can post on this site - for extra motivation to improve! Visually I aim starting to see an improvement in back and shoulders - just need to start to move the extra around my middle ;(

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Steve
Posted Thu, 12/23/2010 - 12:48

Hi Luke,

You certainly can run the program like that. I've used that variation before myself. When you hit 3 reps on your heavy set, add weight the next time in the gym.

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Tom Earp
Posted Fri, 12/24/2010 - 03:52

Hi Steve,

Really starting to love this routine. I assume as long as my strength continues to improve, I can continue doing this workout nonstop? Otherwise, I also liked the 4 day power, muscle, burn routine. After 6 months should I automatically switch, or can I stay with this one, because so far I really like it! Thanks.

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Steve
Posted Wed, 01/05/2011 - 14:36

Hi Tom,

Yes you can run this routine as long as you'd like. Sometimes a switch is needed for a bit of variety, but as long as you feel comfortable running it, you can. The 4 day PMB is a great choice, so if you want some variety you could alternate every several months.

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Steve G
Posted Tue, 12/28/2010 - 20:23

Steve, I'm interested in starting this workout.My problem is i work approx 17- 18 hours a day I get home around midnight. Now my question to you is with my hours there are no 24 hour gyms in my area so i workout at home I have a bench with incline and i wokout mainly with dumbbells. With the equipment i have do you think it is possible to do this workout and if so What exercises would you reccommened. I'm 50 years old and my goal is to shut up all of my friends and some family members that i could never look like i looked when i was in my 20's. I also have use of a pull up bar.Please help an old man out. Also wht cardio exercises would you reccommened i do sprints. Thanks for your help

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Steve
Posted Tue, 01/11/2011 - 13:52

Hi Steve,

Sure, absolutely you can use dumbbells. I would simply use dumbbell alternatives for most of the lifts like bench press. For squats you will be better served doing things like lunges though. Check out or list of dumbbell exercises for some great ideas:

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/exercises/equip/dumbbells.html

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Gabriel
Posted Wed, 12/29/2010 - 22:19

in the density workout should i use a heavy weight to do bench press?
i dont know, usually i do 4x6 bench press with 143 pounds..what do you think? what weight should i use with your workout?

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Steve
Posted Tue, 01/11/2011 - 13:53

Hi Gabriel,

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

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Daniel
Posted Fri, 12/31/2010 - 09:59

Steve,

I've using the Density and Strength 4-day split for several months. I'm getting great comments from personal trainers, gym rats, secretaries at work, etc. The best was when I was in a sporting goods store and someone assumed I was a personal trainer. While I haven't hit the inevitable plateau, I'm beginning to wonder how to deal with that. Do you have another workout that would help break the plateau?

Daniel

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Steve's picture
Steve
Posted Thu, 01/13/2011 - 14:21

Hi Daniel,

Long term plateaus usually don't happen for a very long time (several years). Natural lifters can only gain so much muscle. Many mistake this slowly in the process for the need to dramatically revamp what they are doing. The truth is hard work is the best thing you can do. keep pushing hard, and it won't matter much which routine you use, you will be maximizing results.

Gains slow by about 1/2 each year, so you will feel like you are plateauing when in fact you are still making gains.

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TB
Posted Fri, 12/31/2010 - 16:01

For your Chest Strength workout are you suppose to incorporate 2 Chest exercises of choice for 3 sets each(6 sets total) or 2 Chest exercises of choice for 3 sets total.

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Steve
Posted Thu, 01/13/2011 - 14:22

Hi TB,

2 exercises for 3 sets each, for a total of 6 sets.

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peter mullen
Posted Mon, 01/03/2011 - 18:39

what weights do i start with????%%%%%??

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Steve
Posted Thu, 01/13/2011 - 14:25

Hi Peter,

For strength sets you will probably need to start around 80% of your 1RM or so. Density sets will probably be around 65-70% of so...

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Greg
Posted Wed, 01/05/2011 - 13:15

Hey Steve,

I've just recently began the program you have outlined. I had been following a different system but lately motivation has been a problem. After reading this program I seem to have new motivation,,I am looking forward to getting at it. I have a question that you may have answered previously,,I haven't taken the time to go through all the comments,,so I apologize if you are tired of answering this one,,here it goes,,,,Today during the "barbell bench press" where I was to get 30 reps over the 7 sets I only managed to push out 23. This seems substantially low to me,,,should I continue to try and hit 30,,or should I lower the weight?,,,,

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Steve
Posted Tue, 01/18/2011 - 13:15

Hi Greg,

I would lower the weight nest week by 5-10 pounds. It takes the body about 3-4 weeks to adapt to this limited rest style of a workout, so you are better served to use a weight that is around that 30 rep mark for your first week or two.

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jazz
Posted Sun, 01/16/2011 - 01:21

does this mean i do 30 reps eaach set??

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Steve
Posted Tue, 01/18/2011 - 13:16

Hi Jazz,

No. The 30 reps is a goal for 7 sets.

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Alex
Posted Mon, 01/17/2011 - 20:03

Steve,

I see that your routine says to add in calves and abs once to twice per week,if you feel the need. Does this also apply to traps? I dont see any trap work on here, and was wondering if it was acceptable to add in the trap workout from the 5 Day Power Muscle Burn Powerbuilding Split routine on M&S to the back days?

Thank you

Alex

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Steve
Posted Tue, 01/18/2011 - 13:16

Hi Alex,

Traps are listed as optional on back day.

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Alex
Posted Tue, 01/18/2011 - 13:49

Thank you for your quick response. I somehow overlooked that, and apologize for wasting your time.

Cheers,

Alex

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bear
Posted Tue, 01/18/2011 - 23:08

hey,
i'm benching 225 for a few reps, my deadlift form is good but probably not great... do you think i qualify as "not beginner" to attempt this routine?

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jeff
Posted Wed, 01/26/2011 - 16:30

just starting the program, looks like the weight stays the same for each set, do you recommend 1 or 2 warm up sets before each exercise?

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Chris
Posted Wed, 01/26/2011 - 20:42

Steve,

I have been out of the gym for quite a few years and I've recently gotten back down to a manageable weight to start to add bulk. (5'8" 150) I really like your routine and think it will be a great one to start off with and will probably last me for quite a while.

My main question is about supplements. Diabetes runs in my family and before I lost the weight I recently did I was flirting with that condition myself. So, I'm trying to be very conscious of my sugar intake. With that said, should I prefer and Isolate Whey protein or will that matter? Also, what other vitamins and supplements would you recommend for the best results? BCAA? Glucosamine? Nitric Oxide booster? If so, which ones? Thanks.

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Dan
Posted Tue, 02/01/2011 - 18:15

Say you workout on monday take off tuesday and then finish up on wednesday, thursday, and friday then take off on saturday and sunday.
Would that be ok?

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Travis Harlan
Posted Thu, 02/03/2011 - 23:31

im 18 and i play soccer, i was wondering if you had any soccer specific workouts, or a workout that can help me out as a soccer player? also i was wondering if you didnt, could you switch this workout up to monday, tuesday, thursday, friday? also i was wondering, im taking amplified mass XXX, and i was confused on when i should take it(b4 or after the workout) and how many times a day? thank you.

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jaime
Posted Mon, 02/07/2011 - 14:53

dude! iam taking protein.... can i take creatine mono hidrate?

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matt
Posted Tue, 02/08/2011 - 00:17

i have a question not strictly pertaining to this workout, but somewhat similar. im going for big muscle and strength and recently i've been doing your workout with the chest, only with 5 sets, 2-3 reps, and 4-5 days rest in between. i recently hit a plateau. is toning and getting density a necessity when passing a plateau? or can i continue to bulk up with a little change in my routine and pass the plateau?

thanks

matt

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