4 Day Power Muscle Burn Workout Split

4 Day Power Muscle Burn Workout Split
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

Build Muscle
12 weeks
60 minutes
Barbell, Cables, Dumbbells, EZ Bar, Machines
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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.

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
Exercise Sets Reps
Pinwheel Curls - Power 2 3 to 5
Standing Barbell Curl  - Muscle 2-3 6 to 12
Cable Preacher Curl - Burn 1-2 40
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
Exercise Sets Reps
Romanian Deadlift - Power 2-4 3 to 5
Romanian Deadlift or Leg Curl  - Muscle 2-3 6 to 12
Leg Curl - Burn 1 40
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
Exercise Sets Reps
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
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
Exercise Sets Reps
Seated Calf Raise - Muscle 2-3 10 to 15
45 Degree Calf Raise  - Burn 2 40
Exercise Sets Reps
**Perform Ab work of choice***    

3.1K Comments+ Post Comment

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Posted Sun, 01/11/2015 - 12:06
John Kirkham

I like the idea of power,muscle and burn! Thinking of doing calves with quads and hams and doing traps with shoulders and triceps with back! But will follow the basic principles of the routine I.e. Power muscle and burn

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Posted Thu, 01/08/2015 - 02:53

I only been lifting for 2 months that started with bill stars 5x5. I bench around 225 squat 260 deadlift 260 and press 136 is this program okay I weigh 120

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Posted Mon, 06/29/2015 - 19:58

How do you weight 120 and bench 225? Are you like 4 feet tall?

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Posted Sun, 01/04/2015 - 14:57
Ali G

Would it be okay to add an extra muscle exercise for each of the main muscle groups? So 3 muscle exercises for chest, legs, shoulders and back instead of 2? or would you advise against this?

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Posted Mon, 12/29/2014 - 07:52

If for any reason I could not have any leg exercises, then how should I divide this plan in 4 days?
can I put Biceps & Triceps in one day instead of Quads and Hamstrings.

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Posted Mon, 12/15/2014 - 19:48

Hey steve!
Would it be alright if I did this monday-thurday and do cardio and sleds on the weekend?

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Posted Fri, 12/12/2014 - 23:37

Steve, I am "test-driving" your 4-day split. I have a very weak left shoulder with rotator cuff issues. Doctor says no overhead/military-type presses. The only Compound shoulder exercise I can find to do is the Arnold Press, which for some reason doesn't bother me. Can you recommend one more Compound exercise to replace the Seated Barbell Press you list in your routine? Thanks!

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Posted Thu, 12/11/2014 - 14:22

Steve, I read the Hypertrophy and Muscle Growth article you referenced. Would appreciate your thoughts on this statement:
"So to achieve maximal hypertrophy I recommend you use 2-3 week long microcycles e.g.
•Week 1: Strength training, 4 day split.
•Week 2: Fatigue training, 5 day split.
•Week 3: Recovery, 2 day full body split."
I am a beginner (using machines & DBs for about 12 months). I was planning on doing your 4-day split for 6 months. Is that a mistake considering that statement?

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Posted Mon, 12/08/2014 - 06:24
Steve Koch

On power sets; if you can do more than five on the first or second set, should you? Or do you stop at 5 even if you could get 1 or 2 more?

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Posted Mon, 12/01/2014 - 16:49

Hi Steve,

I work 3 days in a row and then i have 3 days off. How would you recommend to split? If its not much possible than i can make one of the trainings before work in the morning on work day..

Thank you in advance..

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Posted Tue, 11/25/2014 - 04:09

Hey Steve,

Do you think I can swap the burning exercises with 1/2 body pump classes/week at the gym? Does it make sense? And if I do that should I simply erase those exercises from the other days or should I add muscle/strength load? Or maybe combine 3 groups of exercises in one day for the sake of time?

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Posted Wed, 11/19/2014 - 13:31

What if i did

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Posted Wed, 11/19/2014 - 12:18

44 year old girl...just really discovering my love of weights. Any suggestions to look toned/cut/built without hulking out?

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Posted Tue, 11/18/2014 - 20:45
Thilak Rao

I'm following this workout plan to the book, but I have a question Steve. I'm not a pro bodybuilder. My goal is to add muscle and cut fat. I'm currently at 12% body fat. Can i do 30 minutes of heavy cardio on the days off (for fat loss) or would I be overtraining?

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Posted Tue, 11/11/2014 - 22:55

Is there a printable log to go along with this workout?

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Posted Tue, 11/11/2014 - 15:29

Hi Steve and thanks for the great program. I'm just wondering if you wouldn't advise doing the four sessions four days in a row?

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Posted Tue, 11/11/2014 - 05:18

Nice its helpfull advices and a schedul

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Posted Mon, 11/03/2014 - 12:12

Hi Steve,

I started this schedule two weeks ago. I see improvements. My height is 5.9 weight is 60KGs. Whey protein Gold standard (Blend) or Serious Mass, which supplement do you suggest out of these two? If not for these two, which will be the best to gain weight?

Thank you!

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Posted Wed, 10/29/2014 - 21:54


Is it okay if I use this workout for cutting? There are 4 days in this workout and I'm planning on doing cardio on the off days.

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Posted Tue, 10/28/2014 - 14:41
Michael B

How does this look
• Day 1 - Chest and Biceps
• Day 2 - Legs
• Day 3 - OFF
• Day 4 - Shoulders and Triceps
• Day 5 - Back and abs
• Day 6 - OFF

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Posted Mon, 10/27/2014 - 20:45

What is the downfall of instead of taking day 7 off, starting up again

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Posted Mon, 10/20/2014 - 03:02

I'm having a hard time accepting the lack of chest volume/week. What's up with that?

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Posted Sun, 10/19/2014 - 05:22
Abdullah Karahan

Hi Steve

My question about the rep ranges.When we do this program up to 8 weeks or more,Can we change the rep ranges?For example after 4 weeks changing the some exercise's rep ranges.Do we need that or not?

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Posted Fri, 10/17/2014 - 23:41

Steve, I find it interesting that you did this for 10 years, good for you. Did you find a time in that span where you gained more muscle than other times, or did you maintain your frame over time? To be clear, do you believe in the art of plateauing. Did your body not adapt to this over time? If it did what did you change? Thanks, simply impressed to hear the length of time you committed to your method. Good stuff.

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Posted Thu, 10/16/2014 - 17:44

Could you throw an all body fat burner workout into this, or would that be over training? If so what would be the best way to work one in?

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Posted Mon, 10/06/2014 - 11:25
Stig Johnny Hansen

do i have do do each set after one another and continue to the next exercise after i've completed one exercise or do i have to try to do it in a cirkle???

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Posted Fri, 09/19/2014 - 12:36
elie salhany

can i do it from monday to thursday?

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Posted Fri, 09/19/2014 - 12:34
elie salhany

is it okay if i do my 4days in a row? from monday to thursday?

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Posted Fri, 09/26/2014 - 15:44

You probably could, but the program is laid out the way it is so that your muscles recover properly. Food and rest is half the battle!

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Posted Fri, 09/12/2014 - 11:52

Dear sir.
Me adnan from Pakistan and want to start this 4 days workout but tell me that how much continue thee duration I means that 3 months r four months..and tell tell me also that how a best proteins for me to continue these duration..

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Posted Tue, 09/02/2014 - 13:52
wahab amir

Do I have to repeat all my sets when im done once or is it enough if I complete it just once

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Posted Tue, 09/02/2014 - 11:48

Question for Steve or whomever can answer,
With this workout can I incorporate cardio during the rest times between sets. I.E. jumping jacks, mountain climbers, push-ups, pull-ups, burpees and lunges. There is a day set aside for abs, but could abs be done at each workout session.
For a warm-up I ride a s.bike for 5-10 mins and then do some knee/quad stretches.

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Posted Mon, 09/01/2014 - 10:41

is it possible to switch one of the back exercises with any pull ups? or would it make this program less effective? i have been trying to work on my pullup strength more so im trying to put in my workouts. thanks in advance

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Posted Fri, 08/22/2014 - 10:55

Hello Steve,
Thanks a lot for your great direction. I was just surfing the net & found an article(http://www.aworkoutroutine.com/optimal-workout-volume/) which says that big muscles(Chest, Back, Quad & Hams) should have between 60-120 max reps & rest small muscles must be between 30-60 reps per week, otherwise it would over burn. Please help me in determining what is best. I am in intermediate stage, wanna build Muscles & lose fat, stats (5.9, 196lbs with 20% fat). I customized the schedule as per my need as can't do Triceps on Monday or Friday.
Mon - Back & Biceps
Tue - Legs & Abs
Wed - Rest
Thu - Chest & Triceps
Fri - Shoulder & Traps [a little biceps]

I would really appreciate for your guidance on this... Thanks a lot & Take Care.

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Posted Tue, 08/19/2014 - 14:43

Hi Steve
How often should you change the exercise on this program

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Posted Mon, 08/18/2014 - 15:21

Hey Steve, quick question!
Is this workout routine and the 5 day split generally the same?!?!
Dont know which one to do.


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Posted Sun, 08/17/2014 - 17:31



Instead of one rest day in between workout days, I can work out 2 days in a row, twice with one rest day. With the following schedule,how would you reorder this awesome 4-day workout?

Day1 workout
Day2 workout
Day3 rest
Day4 workout
Day5 workout
Day6,7 rest


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Posted Tue, 08/05/2014 - 10:13
josh w

Currently I can only train mon-thurs how would you arrange the days to make up for that

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Posted Thu, 07/31/2014 - 14:29

Hi I've been doing this workout but I don't feel like i'm making progress.
Also what ab exercises would you recommend

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Posted Tue, 07/29/2014 - 08:06

I am traning 3day à week

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Posted Fri, 07/25/2014 - 11:35

Due to Lower back issues I try and stay away from dead lifts for the time being is there something else I might be able to substitute?

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Posted Fri, 07/18/2014 - 05:36

hii steve,

I need to workout my traps.....to which day can I add Traps to?

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Posted Wed, 07/09/2014 - 09:33

Could anyone tell me when would be the best day to add shrugs to the 4 day split version? Shoulder day? Back day? Thanks.

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Posted Fri, 07/04/2014 - 10:58

program power ligting

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Posted Thu, 07/03/2014 - 12:17

Would this workout work for ectomorphs?

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Posted Thu, 06/26/2014 - 01:33

Thank you Mr. Shaw,
i am a regular visitor to your pages. Reading and practicing your programs has given me immense gains in strenght and muscle quality/density.
Before this we had been training and it was futile, lost strength and as a result lost concentration and strength.
Thank you for your programs.

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Posted Wed, 06/18/2014 - 01:43

Quick question, can i pyramid the muscle sets in the routine to 12,10,8 or 10,8,6??
Or is it best to leave the program how it is laid out? Curious to know..
Regards Grant

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Posted Wed, 06/11/2014 - 21:00

This workout is great but I have one question: I work out at home and I don't have any sort of cable machine. For the burn sets I've been substituting 35 lbs kettlebell snatches and clean and press for the prescribed number of reps and sets and 50 lbs swings for the leg press. Is that ok?

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Posted Mon, 05/26/2014 - 01:15

Hey Steve I have a question, can you do all the sets only muscle system ?

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Posted Sat, 05/24/2014 - 07:31
Timothee Heller

Hi steve, just got a question. is this workout gonna build strengh like a powerlifting one would ? would appreciate if you could answer