4 Day Maximum Mass Workout

A mass building routine that features a great combination of effective compound and isolation movements along with intense, high impact five minute burn sets.

Workout Summary

Build Muscle
Split
Intermediate
8 weeks
4
45-60 minutes
Barbell, Bodyweight, Dumbbells, Machines
Male & Female
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Workout Description

This is an intermediate muscle building workout for lifters who:

  1. Have experienced beginner gains and are confident they know how to build muscle.
  2. Have a solid grasp of exercise form on the major compound movements.
  3. Know how to set up an effective muscle building eating plan.

Overload. Overload is critical to the muscle building process. Push each set for the maximum number of reps, stopping that set either when you feel your form is slipping, or if you feel like you may fail on the next rep. Do not train to failure. The point is to stimulate growth, not annihilate your body and central nervous system.

Add weight to each exercise as frequently as possible, when it makes sense. I recommend using the same weight for every set of a given exercise, and when you are able to perform a comfortable number of reps on each set, add weight.

Rep Ranges. Rep ranges are simply a guideline. It's is ok to go over them, or a hair under at times. Again, the magic is overload. Rep ranges are simply a tool.

5 Minute Burn Periods. For each body part you will perform a 5 minute burn out period. These sets are brutal. Pick a weight that allows you to perform about 12-15 reps. Over a 5 minute period you perform as many reps as possible with that weight, starting and stopping sets as needed. Rest only long enough to catch your bearings and breathe, and then start knowing out more reps.

5 minute burn out periods are not about sets and reps. They are about finishing off an already fatigued muscle. Don't obsess (or even count)  over how many total sets you do. Instead, try to do as many reps as possible in 5 minutes using whatever rest periods you need to survive.

4 Day Maximum Mass Workout Split

Day 1
Back and Biceps
Exercise Sets Reps
Deadlift 2 5
One Arm Dumbbell Row 3 8-12
Wide Grip Pull Up or Lat Pull Down 3 10-12
Barbell Row 3 8-12
Seated Cable Row or Machine Row 5 Minutes Burn
EZ Bar Preacher Curl 3 10-12
Concentration Curl 3 10-12
Seated Dumbbell Curl 5 Minutes Burn
Day 2
Chest and Triceps
Exercise Sets Reps
Bench Press 3 6-10
Incline Dumbbell Bench Press 3 8-12
Chest Dip 3 AMAP*
Cable Crossover or Pec Dec 3 12-15
Machine Press or Dumbbell Bench Press 5 Minutes Burn
EZ Bar Skullcrusher 3 8-12
Two Arm Seated Dumbbell Extension 3 8-12
Cable Tricep Extension 5 Minutes Burn
Day 4
Quads, Hamstrings and Calves
Exercise Sets Reps
Squat 3 6-10
Leg Press 3 15-20
Hack Squat or Dumbbell Lunge 3 8-12
Leg Extension 5 Minutes Burn
Stiff Leg Deadlift 3 8-12
Leg Curl 5 Minutes Burn
Standing Calf Raise 3 10-15
Seated Calf Raise 5 Minutes Burn
Day 5
Shoulders, Traps and Forearms
Exercise Sets Reps
Seated Barbell Press 3 6-10
Seated Arnold Press 3 8-12
Dumbbell Lateral Raise 3 10-15
Hammer Strength Press or Smith Press 5 Minutes Burn
Upright Row 3 8-12
Barbell Shrug or Dumbbell Shrug 5 Minutes Burn
Seated Barbell Wrist Curl 3 12-15
Barbell Static Hold 5 Minutes Burn

*AMAP = As many as possible.

Barbell Static Holds. Instead of performing reps you simply hold the bar as long as possible.

655 Comments+ Post Comment

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Posted Sat, 05/19/2018 - 10:42
Shawn

Hey Steve, my son and I have been doing your workout program above for about 6 weeks now and it's great! My son just turned 14 (6-4 185) and I am 48 (6'7 245), looking to put on a little more size. You recommended to someone looking to transition to another Mass program one that focuses more on less reps, and the burns are removed from the program. Do you think it would be okay to progress to this program for our age, or should we stick with the program above. Thank you so much, Shawn

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Posted Sat, 05/05/2018 - 06:20
David jessup

Should you rest between each set on a particular workout. And if so how long. Should you rest between each exercise and if so joe long.

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Posted Tue, 04/24/2018 - 22:18
Adam Warsing

Are you supposed to increase weight for the burn sets?? And if so how do I know I should increase weight??

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Posted Thu, 04/19/2018 - 01:37
Shah

Almost 2 months On. I have gain 8 pound of muscle and offcourse 2 pounds of fat on calories surplus. Gain strength and shirts getting tight on chest and biceps.
By far this is the best workout for busy professionals which cover all the sides from strength to burn.

Many thanks to Steve Shaw for a great free workout plan.

Here is another question, shall i continue same workout in my upcoming cutting cycle or would you recommend me a different workout?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Thu, 04/19/2018 - 10:45
JoshEngland

Hi Shah,

Yes, you can continue on with the same program - just be sure to alter your calorie amount during your cutting cycle.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Wed, 03/28/2018 - 23:34
Shah

This is a perfect plan for my needs being a busy professional. One month on and i love it.
My question, how important is to train abs as this program doesn't have abs workout

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Thu, 03/29/2018 - 09:12
JoshEngland

Hi Shah,

Abs are worked indirectly through all of the compound movements. If you wish to add in additional ab isolation work, feel free to do so.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Tue, 03/27/2018 - 15:41
David

Where would Cardio fit in, if it's necessary? I mean certainly I wound't do cardio after that massive leg day but what would you recommend?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Wed, 03/28/2018 - 09:32
JoshEngland

Hi David,

I always recommend folks perform some form of cardio consistently during the week. I'd recommend picking a variation you enjoy performing and slotting it in wherever you can feasibly do it.

Personally, I walk my dog a couple of miles each day. Bam - cardio taken care of!

Hope this helps!

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Posted Thu, 03/01/2018 - 22:39
ShaheedJD

Hey, I just finished the first week of this program and I am loving it so far! I have a question concerning rest days though. Since I'm typically busy during the weekends I decided to workout Monday-Thursday with no rest in between to complete the 4 days. Considering I have a body type that puts on fat easily, should I squeeze in a cardio day on Friday? Perhaps doing some intermittent fasting on the off days? Thanks!

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Fri, 03/02/2018 - 09:41
JoshEngland

Hi Shaheed,

Yes, you could certainly perform cardio on Fridays. I always try to remain lightly active on my off days. Doing so helps with weight maintenance and increases your body's ability to recover.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Mon, 02/19/2018 - 09:20
Ismail

Hello first thanks you its a great 4 Day Maximum Mass Workout but now i finishe it in 8 week so what must i do after that i will repat the same program or what i dont know can you help me please

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 02/19/2018 - 09:25
JoshEngland

Hi Ismail,

You can repeat or move on to a new workout. You may enjoy this one next: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/10-week-mass-building-program...

Hope this helps!

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Posted Tue, 03/13/2018 - 18:37
jesse j vasquez

can you post another one for men and women?

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Posted Mon, 02/19/2018 - 10:29
Terry

Ismail. Keep doing his split routine. Anymore your over training your muscles. Do research from people other then a certified trainer’s. Talk to people who have speciality degrees in this area and you will realize how easy it is to over train. It takes days for muscles to heal . Diet, rest and train hard. You will get results!

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Posted Wed, 02/14/2018 - 19:08
Dan

I have just finished a upper lower body beginner split, is this good for growing the muscles bigger and taking it to the next level?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Thu, 02/15/2018 - 08:34
JoshEngland

Hi Dan,

It's definitely a good routine. However, for lifters looking to maximize muscle growth, I always recommend stimulating the muscle multiple times per week (as you would in an upper/lower routine). Personally, I'd look to make your upper/lower more challenging if muscle growth is your main goal.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Wed, 02/14/2018 - 06:21
Diego

How should I do the barbell static hold?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Wed, 02/14/2018 - 11:13
JoshEngland

Hi Diego,

Load up a barbell and hold on for dear life for the prescribed amount of time.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Mon, 11/27/2017 - 10:42
Niek

I just finished a 4 day split with a duration of 8 weeks. Is this a good split to begin with? Also why are there no abdominal workouts?

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Posted Sat, 11/18/2017 - 14:42
Phil

Duration 8 weeks , fine 2 months , then what you propose after we completed this one ?
Thx for this awesome routine !

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 11/20/2017 - 09:01
JoshEngland

Hi Phil,

Our 10 week mass is a very popular program and a decent progression program from this one.

You can check it out here: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/10-week-mass-building-program...

Hope this helps!

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Posted Thu, 11/02/2017 - 01:01
anup

i go thrice a week and twice each day(morning and evening with a time gap of 7 hrs) for gym. please suggest me a good routine

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Posted Sat, 10/28/2017 - 18:29
Andrew

Ive completed about 3 different workout routines off this website but this one is awesome. You can defiantly feel you have smashed your muscles groups after this one. After a few weeks into this routine and less rest between reps the 5 minute burn tests you big time.
Love this workout!

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Posted Mon, 01/15/2018 - 11:11
jp

hi there,
just wondering about 3 different workout routines you did from this website.. did they actually work ?
if you don't mind telling me which ones you used if they worked
thanks

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Posted Sat, 10/21/2017 - 10:57
DAVE

Hi Josh, in my gym.i got all the equipment to get through the program but not machine for the leg curl.Any suggestions for an alternate exercise ?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 10/30/2017 - 09:22
JoshEngland

Hi Dave,

Go with a Romanian deadlift or straight leg deadlift variation. You could also perform a Nordic hamstring curl or exercise ball leg curl, both of which are bodyweight versions of this exercise.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Wed, 10/11/2017 - 20:05
Kaleb

Hi Steve,I know you said in a different comment that this is a template and can be altered to suit the individuals wants and needs; but i was curious about the shoulder routine. Why do you start with the seated barbell press but also finish with the same thing for the burnout? This just wasn't the trend in any other muscle group so i was curious, would it be better to do a different exercise to better spread how much each head of the shoulder is being worked?

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Posted Sat, 09/23/2017 - 15:58
Milly

Hey Steve,

I'm currently just finishing a 28 day, fat burning 4 day split superset routine on a defecit diet. I'm looking for a new program that I can still shed some fat but start to pack on a bit of muscle as well. I'm curious if you'd advise against this program when Im on a defecit or if I should be able to accomplish both goals using this program, maybe add a little lose a little?

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Posted Thu, 09/07/2017 - 15:34
Chris

Been doing this program for 3 weeks and it definitely kicks your a$$. I've been following it as written and have been feeling soreness since week one. I have been doing cardio on Day 3 and take Days 6 and 7 off. For the burnout sets I use a weight that lets me rep out the first minute, and then take 15-20 sec breaks between burnout sets (to catch my breath and gain a little more strength to continue). For the rest of it, I've been following a progressive overload scheme and have seen some weights increase already.

Lester, I would say try the program as is for a week and then ask if you feel the need for more sets. This workout takes roughly 60 minutes. I do a couple of warmup sets for bench, squats, shoulder press, and deadlifts to get things started.

So, this 57 yr old body is getting a good workout with this program. Be honest and use a timer for the burnouts and minimize breaks. Keep your rest periods between sets on everything else at around one minute or so. Oh yeah, I also added some ab work on Days 1, 2, and 5.

Have fun!!

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Posted Wed, 09/06/2017 - 05:35
Lester

Very excited to start this program next week! Quick question -- Thinking of bumping up most of the sets to 4, instead of just 3 (or just 2 for the deadlifts). Is that okay?

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Posted Sat, 09/02/2017 - 03:54
Mike

Is the order of any great importance or can i change one exercise with the other so i dont have to change rooms on my gym from one to the next?

Thanks and greetings from germany

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Tue, 09/05/2017 - 09:32
JoshEngland

Hi Mike,

This program is simply a template. You're more than welcome to alter it to better fit your needs and your goals.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Wed, 08/30/2017 - 20:42
Pat

What position should you hold the bar for the static hold on day 5?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Thu, 08/31/2017 - 08:53
JoshEngland

Hi Pat,

I'd go with a shrug set up and holding it either in front or behind your body. Personally I'd go with in front of your body. You can make it even more challenging if you have a thick bar or pair of fat grips.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Mon, 08/28/2017 - 20:38
Jon

I noticed that there aren't any ab workouts on here, my abs are kind of weak, when should I add in ab workouts? Also I did the first day's workout and I really wish I owned a pair of straps because my grip gave out so many times.

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Tue, 08/29/2017 - 13:51
JoshEngland

Hi Jon,

You're abs are indirectly targeted through compound movements. If you feel the need to isolate your abs, you can always check out our ab workouts database:

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/abs

Developing grip strength can take some time. Below is an excellent article to help out

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/build-better-grip-strength

Also, you certainly could use straps. We have a fairly inexpensive pair you could purchase:

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/store/muscle-and-strength-padded-lifti...

Hope this helps!

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Posted Wed, 08/23/2017 - 09:21
Ollie

Hi how long shall i rest between each set roughly

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Thu, 08/24/2017 - 10:15
JoshEngland

Hi Ollie,

Rest periods should be between 30-60 seconds.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Mon, 08/07/2017 - 20:02
John

My wife is overweight. We're both starting g at the same time. Would this be good for her to build fat and tighten loose skin?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Tue, 08/08/2017 - 09:02
JoshEngland

Hi John,

This is more of an intermediate based workout program. Some beginners might be able to perform it if they've been exposed to weight training before. If you guys are brand new to the weight room, I'd highly recommend working together with a trainer for a couple of workouts so they can introduce you to all the lifts as well as an appropriate program suitable for your goals.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Mon, 08/07/2017 - 09:57
Danny

Hey josh,

for each compound movement, would it be alright if i reduced the rep range to a lower range? like for flat bench press, doing 2 mid range reps and the last set to 4-6 reps.
and another question, can i apply what i i just said above to the barbell shoulder press and changing that compound to a standing military? thanks!

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 08/07/2017 - 10:15
JoshEngland

Hi Danny,

Yes, depending on your goal that should be fine.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Tue, 07/18/2017 - 03:05
Rz

Hey Josh!

I been on this program for two weeks. I tend to do the higher end of reps for the compound movements that leaves me gassed towards the isolation exercises. Also, I did start the program as a beginner. Would you advise switching the program at this stage or persist with the plan following the lower end of reps. Cheers.

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Tue, 07/18/2017 - 09:14
JoshEngland

Hi RZ,

That's awesome ! Congrats on your success so far!

You can do either or. If you're enjoying this program, I'd recommend sticking with it and trying to make it harder by either switching up the rep ranges or increasing the weight you're using (or both). If it's becoming stale you could look for a new program to try out.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Thu, 07/13/2017 - 05:31
Andrei

Do we have to do the exercises in this specific order?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Thu, 07/13/2017 - 10:04
JoshEngland

Hi Andrei,

No you don't. But it's generally a good idea to do compound exercises (big lifts - squats, bench, deadlift) at the beginning of your workout. Then, you can do more isolated exercises (chest fly, bicep curl) towards the end.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Sun, 07/02/2017 - 11:07
Kim

How about the warm ups? is there any specific warm ups i should do before the workouts? or should i just use lighter weight before the actual workout and follow the sets and reps after my usual warm ups

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Wed, 07/05/2017 - 09:23
JoshEngland

Hi Kim,

This article is a great starting point: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/warming-up-for-dummies

Hope this helps!

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Posted Sun, 07/02/2017 - 06:58
sherif

Many thanks for the great workout routine.. could we add cardio to this mass building program