This building workout is designed to maximize progression and muscle gains by hitting each muscle group with power sets, muscle sets and burn sets.
Workout Summary

Workout Description

Back in 1986 my mentor, Dr. Mike, taught me to train in multiple rep ranges. I was young, trusting and did what he said. After all, Dr. Mike was a big natural bodybuilder. And he was a professor. It just made sense to do what he said. Over the next 3 years I used his style of training and made amazing progress. I continued to use Dr Mike's training philosophies for nearly a decade, and they never let me down. This style of lifting made me big and strong. What more could you ask for?

This workout is based on the Dr. Mike system. I have tweaked it a bit over the years. I hope that you find some use for it, and if you do end up running it for 10+ years...well, feel free to make changes. No system is perfect unless you adapt it to your individual needs.

Dr. Mike was ahead of his time. He approached training routine design from a scientific standpoint in an era where everything was Weider Principles this and Weider Principles that. Simply stated, muscles tend to respond differently to different rep ranges. Dr. Mike believed that by training in all reasonable rep ranges, you could maximize muscle hypertrophy while boosting strength. This approach worked for me, and I hope it works for you.

For more information on the impact of rep ranges on hypertrophy, please read the article Hypertrophy and Muscle Growth.

For more information on the Power Muscle Burn training approach, please read:

The Power Muscle Burn System

My Power Muscle Burn training system will help you build muscle and strength by focusing on three different training approaches, all used in the same workout. You will be performing the following types of sets for each muscle group:

  1. Power. You will perform power sets to lead off the workout. Power sets are performed in the 3 to 5 rep range. Use the same weight for each of the sets. When you can perform 5 reps for all power sets, move up in weight. Major muscle groups will perform 2-4 power sets per workout, and minor muscle groups will perform 2 power sets per workout. Please note that for some minor muscle groups, power sets do not make sense, or they are not realistic. For example, it is difficult to perform extremely heavy resistance abdominal sets.
  2. Muscle. Muscle sets are performed in the 6 to 12 rep range. Use the same weight for each of the sets. When you hit the upper rep limit of 12 for all muscle sets, move up in weight. Major muscle groups will perform 4-6 total muscle sets in each workout, using 2 different exercises. Minor muscle groups will perform 2-4 total muscle sets in each workout, using 1 to 2 exercises. You can also perform a single exercise for 3 sets.
  3. Burn. You will perform 1-2 burn sets for each muscle group - generally using isolation movements. Pick a weight that allows you to hit 15 to 20 reps, and then perform 40 total reps. How? Do as many reps as possible, then take a slight rest and perform more reps. Rest only long enough to regain the energy and willpower to perform 1 to 3 more reps. Keep pushing yourself through the pain until you hit 40 total reps. When you can hit 25+ reps from the start without stopping, add weight. Major muscle groups will utilize 2 burn sets, minor muscle groups will use 1-2 burn sets.

Power Muscle Burn Notes

  • Failure - I do not recommend training to failure. Try to perform each set until you feel like you may fail on the next rep, then stop. It's ok if you occasionally fail on a set, but do not purposely try to train to failure on every set.
  • Progression - You must have the goal of progressing on every set of every workout. Sets performed with a half-hearted effort are wasted. If you lack energy or are pressed for time, it's better to perform fewer quality sets then it is to waste sets.
  • Splits - You can split this system numerous ways, but remember that training more then 4 days per week is generally not beneficial for natural bodybuilders. What is the best split? The one you will use and stick with.
  • Small Tweaks - What if I don't like training in the 6 to 12 rep range, and want to train in the 6 to 10 rep range? Then train in the 6 to 10 rep range. What if I don't like training in the 3 to 5 rep range? Then train in the 4 to 6 rep range. 40 burn reps are too difficult!? Then aim for 30 burn reps. Note: small tweaks are ok, as long as you are using the core mechanisms of this program. Don't obsess about the details - obsess about moving weight and getting bigger!
  • Alternating Exercises - It is not a bad idea to alternate exercises every other week. You can't possibly fit every exercise into every workout. For example: for muscle sets you could hit dumbbell bench presses one week and chest dips the next week.
  • Total Sets - It is better to start with the minimal amount of sets, and build in to this routine by adding sets if you find you need more work.
  • Calves - Please note that there are no power sets for calves. I am not convinced that calves respond effectively to lower rep training.
  • Quads - If you love pain, you can do a single 20 rep set of squats for your quad burn work.

4 Day Power Muscle Burn Split

The 4 Day Power Muscle Burn split:

Note: This is a sample template. Feel free to "swap" in any appropriate (and favorite) exercises.

Day 1 - Chest and Biceps

Exercise Sets Reps
Bench Press - Power 4 3 to 5
Incline Bench Press  - Muscle 2-3 6 to 12
Dumbbell Bench Press - Muscle 2-3 6 to 12
Dumbbell Flys - Burn 2 40
Pinwheel Curls - Power 2 3 to 5
Standing Barbell Curl  - Muscle 2-3 6 to 12
Cable Preacher Curl - Burn 1-2 40

Day 3 - Quads and Hamstrings

Exercise Sets Reps
Squat - Power 4 3 to 5
Leg Press  - Muscle 2-3 6 to 12
Front Squat - Muscle 2-3 6 to 12
Leg Press - Burn 2 40
Romanian Deadlift - Power 2-4 3 to 5
Romanian Deadlift or Leg Curl  - Muscle 2-3 6 to 12
Leg Curl - Burn 1 40

Day 4 - Shoulders and Triceps

Exercise Sets Reps
Seated Barbell Press - Power 4 3 to 5
Seated Arnold Press  - Muscle 2-3 6 to 12
Barbell Front Raise - Muscle 2-3 6 to 12
Dumbbell Lateral Raise - Burn 2 40
Closegrip Bench Press - Power 2 3 to 5
Seated French Press  - Muscle 2 6 to 12
EZ Bar Skullcrusher - Muscle 2 6 to 12
Cable Tricep Extension - Burn 1 40

Day 6 - Back, Calves, and Abs

Exercise Sets Reps
Deadlift - Power 2-4 3 to 5
Barbell Rows - Muscle 2-3 6 to 12
Lat Pull Down - Muscle 2-3 6 to 12
Seated Cable Row - Burn 2 40
Seated Calf Raise - Muscle 2-3 10 to 15
45 Degree Calf Raise  - Burn 2 40
**Perform Ab work of choice***    

 

3.2K Comments
Akreyi
Posted on: Fri, 06/25/2021 - 07:57

Can I keep doing this program for more than 12 weeks? I feel if you can progressively overload and maybe change up a few exercises, sets, or periodize every few months, you can stay on this for a few years until you become advanced.

M&S Team Badge
Abigail
Posted on: Mon, 06/28/2021 - 09:08

Hey Akreyi - yes, you can definitely do this program for longer than 12 weeks!

Bencp
Posted on: Wed, 06/09/2021 - 22:58

Can I get away with hitting all four days in a row then three days off? Work commitments only enable me to work out 4 days in a row.

M&S Team Badge
Abigail
Posted on: Fri, 06/11/2021 - 09:42

Hey Bencp - yes, you can do that.

David
Posted on: Mon, 05/31/2021 - 21:51

So I just have got cleared to start lifting again after I damaged my L4 in my back but squats and deadlifts at off limits for me what are some alternatives to these work outs?

M&S Team Badge
Abigail
Posted on: Tue, 06/01/2021 - 09:48

Hey David - are all variations of squats and deadlifts off limits?

David
Posted on: Tue, 06/01/2021 - 10:58

No for the squats it’s more of the traditional where the weight it’s is pressing down on my back. Deadlifts on the other hand are a no unless you have any ideas on different variations and I can pitch them to the doctors.

Amanda
Posted on: Mon, 05/31/2021 - 03:13

Hi, you say do 2-3 sets on some exercises. How do I know how many sets to do. Wanting strength and toned up.

M&S Team Badge
Abigail
Posted on: Tue, 06/01/2021 - 09:47

Hey Amanda - the set and rep ranges allow you to change up the routine each week. For example, on the deadlift, you could do 3 sets of 3 reps using a heavy weight, the next week, you can use a lighter weight for 3 sets of 5 reps.

João Coimbra
Posted on: Sun, 05/16/2021 - 07:27

Hi, what exercises can I do to replace leg press and the seated cable row? My gym doesnt have these machines and I do not own resistance bands

Chris
Posted on: Tue, 05/25/2021 - 11:16

Hey Joāo,
For the leg press you could substitute with air squats or lunges since it's a burn set. For the seated rows, most gyms have a multi-purpose machine. On that machine, you can attach a small bar, change the level as needed, and move a bench there to perform the seated row. If not, sub it for barbell rows.

James Oliver
Posted on: Mon, 05/03/2021 - 16:30

Can I burn fat and build muscle on calorie deficit with this workout

M&S Team Badge
Abigail
Posted on: Wed, 05/05/2021 - 11:47

Hey James - it's challenging to burn fat and build muscle simultaneously as losing weight requires a calorific deficit and building muscle requires a caloric surplus. If you eat at a maintenance level, it is possible to achieve that.

Derek Tomasino
Posted on: Tue, 04/27/2021 - 20:45

Is this enough volume for arms? Seems very low. I love the format of the workout though

Chris
Posted on: Tue, 05/25/2021 - 11:19

Your arms are smaller muscles and don't require as much isolated attention as your bigger muscles. Keep in mind too that when you do most chest exercises you're also hitting your shoulders and triceps. When you do most back exercises, you also hit your biceps and rear deltoids, so your arms should be getting plenty of attention.

Javier
Posted on: Mon, 04/05/2021 - 11:38

I'm looking for a 4 day strenght routine. Is this one good? Not focused in strenght but I found out in the strenght section...

M&S Team Badge
Abigail
Posted on: Tue, 04/06/2021 - 10:01

Hey Javier - yes, this workout can help you increase strength.

Caleb Rost
Posted on: Tue, 03/30/2021 - 16:31

Can I do more than one Ab exercise per week? Or is that not advisable with this program?

M&S Team Badge
Abigail
Posted on: Wed, 03/31/2021 - 10:23

Hey Caleb - yes you can.

Rares
Posted on: Thu, 03/18/2021 - 21:33

After 6-8 weeks another program will be? Can you please send me another program routine?

M&S Team Badge
Abigail
Posted on: Fri, 03/19/2021 - 09:39

Hey Rares - what are you looking for in a program? How many days per week? What're your goals?

SS
Posted on: Fri, 03/12/2021 - 17:07

Is there any pre-made sheet to track progress for this program?

M&S Team Badge
Abigail
Posted on: Tue, 03/16/2021 - 09:42

Hey SS - unfortunately, we don't offer one.

Adam Lane
Posted on: Fri, 03/12/2021 - 07:30

My son and I will be wrapping this program up at the end of next week, and we are looking for something to follow it up with. Any suggestions?

M&S Team Badge
Abigail
Posted on: Tue, 03/16/2021 - 09:40

Hey Adam - what're your goals? How many days per week do you want to work out?

Adam Lane
Posted on: Tue, 03/16/2021 - 09:50

4-5 days. It has to be something that I can do with my 12 year old son. He plays baseball from Feb-August, Football from August to November, and he wrestles from November to February. I need to cut, and he needs to stay healthy and strong.

M&S Team Badge
Abigail
Posted on: Tue, 03/16/2021 - 11:48

If you're enjoying this program, you can repeat it once you're finished. You can also check out this one: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/upper-lower-4-day-gym-bodybui...

Chris
Posted on: Tue, 05/25/2021 - 11:21

You can always add more weight and switch up the muscle groups that you workout together so your body isn't getting used to the same thing.

Sean Morris
Posted on: Sat, 02/20/2021 - 10:49

I've been trying to put on more weight for the last few years from 185 to 195. I currently work as a labourer in excavation so some days are pretty vigorous while also going 6 times a week. I've been working out for 10 years as well. Would this be a more recommended approach?

M&S Team Badge
Abigail
Posted on: Mon, 02/22/2021 - 11:18

Hey Sean - have you used our BMR calculator to determine your daily caloric needs? https://www.muscleandstrength.com/tools/bmr-calculator

Bipin Joseph
Posted on: Thu, 02/11/2021 - 13:12

How much would be the rest time between burnout sets..?

M&S Team Badge
Abigail
Posted on: Fri, 02/12/2021 - 10:13

Hey Bipin - rest can be 30-60 seconds.

Paul Maclean
Posted on: Wed, 01/13/2021 - 20:23

With the rep ranges, do I start with the lowest number for all sets and over the 12 weeks be aiming to complete the highest number of reps per set? Using the same weight?

M&S Team Badge
Abigail
Posted on: Thu, 01/14/2021 - 10:00

Hey Paul - great question! You can start with the low rep number. Each week, you'll try to add one or two reps with that same weight. Once you reach the upper level of the rep range, you'll increase weight and start back at the lower rep number.

Jay Kitchens
Posted on: Sun, 12/27/2020 - 02:36

Any subs for the cable movements? My garage gym doesn't have cables yet. Thanks!

M&S Team Badge
Abigail
Posted on: Mon, 12/28/2020 - 09:22

Hey Jay - if you have resistance bands, you can use those.

Neil McInnes
Posted on: Thu, 12/10/2020 - 03:36

The muscle burn part is it 2 sets of 40 or 40 reps over a total of 2 sets?

M&S Team Badge
Abigail
Posted on: Thu, 12/10/2020 - 09:29

Hey Neil - 2 sets of 40

Chris
Posted on: Wed, 12/02/2020 - 10:39

Would it be ok to do day 1 and 3 after each other, have one rest day then do day 4 and 6 after each other? For example; day 1 on Monday, day 3 on Tuesday, rest Wednesday then day 4 on Thursday, day 6 on Friday then rest Saturday and Sunday then start over on Monday?

M&S Team Badge
Abigail
Posted on: Thu, 12/03/2020 - 09:01

Hey Chris - yes you can do that

Marcos
Posted on: Tue, 11/03/2020 - 15:20

how much should I rest between series, is it just 1:30, and can I work according to this plan if I'm 16 years?

M&S Team Badge
Abigail
Posted on: Thu, 11/05/2020 - 09:45

Hey Marcos - Rest between power sets will be 1-3 minutes. Rest between muscle sets will be 30-60 seconds.

Riley
Posted on: Tue, 10/20/2020 - 12:21

When choosing a starting weight should I be able to the maximum reps for the first set or should I start at a weight where I can only do the minimum reps for each set?

M&S Team Badge
Abigail
Posted on: Wed, 10/21/2020 - 09:43

Hey Riley - you should be aiming for a number in the middle of the rep range.

Zak
Posted on: Thu, 10/15/2020 - 07:26

It is efficient to train each muscle once a week?

M&S Team Badge
Abigail
Posted on: Thu, 10/15/2020 - 09:33

Hey Zak - Yes. This workout uses a lot of compound movements which targets more than one muscle group

Alberto
Posted on: Mon, 10/05/2020 - 08:18

Hi, I am skinny fat (186cm 85 kg) and I struggle to get muscle gains...Would this workout be suitable for me or should I follow another one? There are several and I am not sure which one is best for me? Thank you!

M&S Team Badge
Abigail
Posted on: Mon, 10/05/2020 - 09:14

Hey Alberto - are you new to the gym or have you been working out for awhile?

Alberto
Posted on: Sat, 10/10/2020 - 11:57

Hi! Just one last question: taking into account that I am skinny fat, should I be eating deficit of calories or surplus while I'm following this workout? Thank you!

M&S Team Badge
Abigail
Posted on: Mon, 10/12/2020 - 11:46

Hey Alberto - Use our BMR calculator to figure out your daily caloric needs: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/tools/bmr-calculator

Free Workouts & Expert Advice

Get a weekly email with the latest workouts, tools, expert guides and deals from M&S.