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
Harsha
Posted on: Sat, 08/21/2010 - 10:41

Hey Steve. does this schedule look okay?
Monday-chest & biceps
Tuesday-rest
Wednesday-back
Thursday-rest
Friday-shoulders and triceps
Saturday and Sunday-cardio
For cardio, i heard about this plan. Can you tell me your opinion?
2 mins-4 miles/hour
3 mins-8 miles/hour
2 mins-4 miles/hour
3 mins-10 miles/hour

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Steven
Posted on: Mon, 08/23/2010 - 12:22

Hi Harsha,

Sounds like a very solid approach.

basem
Posted on: Thu, 08/19/2010 - 06:27

how long should i wait before changing the execise for each muscle??

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Steven
Posted on: Thu, 08/19/2010 - 10:53

Hi Basem,

There is no real need to change exercises as long as you are pushing yourself for more reps and weight according to method stated in the workout.

basem
Posted on: Thu, 08/19/2010 - 12:29

Hi Steve
thx for your care & reply
i read before that i have to change the exercises every 3 months what do you think ?
for the chest as example there is no Barbell Pullover no decline press , do u think no need for such exercises or what do you think?

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Steven
Posted on: Fri, 08/20/2010 - 10:32

Hi Basem,

Adaptation is often a misunderstood principle. My best advice is to always remember that a muscle can't adapt to progressively heavier loads, so as long as you are making progress, there is no need to swap exercises.

william
Posted on: Thu, 08/19/2010 - 01:08

Hey steve

can i add exercises to the workout?

eg. Right now you have 4 exercises for the chest. Can i add in 2 more like the chest cross over?

cheers
william

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Steven
Posted on: Thu, 08/19/2010 - 10:47

Hi William,

I wouldn't recommend adding exercises to this workout. It will provide you with plenty of muscle growth as structured. Train hard, eat and rest!

Mike
Posted on: Wed, 08/18/2010 - 18:09

Hey Steve, I'm doing great with the workout, love it. I was wondering if there's a good whey protein power drink that's natural and doesn't send me into debt!!! I've looked around there's many mixed feelings on the shakes. Right now I've been using body fortress's super advance.....after workouts and in the mornings.

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Steven
Posted on: Thu, 08/19/2010 - 10:46

Hi Mike,

I use Scivation Whey. The 5 pound jugs are pretty cost effective as whey protein goes, and the quality and taste are top notch. At 3 scoops per day, a 5 pounder will run about a dollar per day.

Also, watch for special deals on the Deal of the Day:

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/store/deal.html

Harsha
Posted on: Wed, 08/18/2010 - 08:59

Thanks. And one more question, whats the difference between working out with low weight, high reps and high weight, low reps?

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Steven
Posted on: Wed, 08/18/2010 - 14:52

Hi Harsha,

They are merely 2 different methods that stress a muscle in different ways. This article might help explain it:

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/hypertrophy-and-muscle-growth...

James
Posted on: Tue, 08/17/2010 - 21:53

Many comments pose the same question in slightly different ways, small tweaks and I think you're very patient in replying - so thats why I'm asking mine!

I have tried a few full body workouts and tried splits, am just starting this one, but like another poster, have three days that work well. I do ...

Mon - Chest / Biceps
Tue - Cardio (maybe!)
Wed - Quads / Hams / Calves / Shoulders
Thu- Cardio (maybe!)
Fri - Back / Traps / Triceps

Substituting one or two exercises for favoured ones but hey what do I know!

I have one other question but its more suited to eating / diet one so am going there now!

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Steven
Posted on: Wed, 08/18/2010 - 14:48

Hi James,

That looks like a solid approach. If leg day becomes too taxing, I might suggest moving calves to chest or back day.

Harsha
Posted on: Tue, 08/17/2010 - 10:07

Hey man, does changing the time for rest periods have a great impact on our workout? I read an article about this on a site, but don't remember the details exactly. It said something like high rest periods result in bulky muscle mass and low rest periods result in muscle endurance.I really don't understand. What does it mean?

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Steven
Posted on: Tue, 08/17/2010 - 12:09

Hi Harsha,

The shorter you rest between sets, the less weight you can lift. Limited rest periods help with strength endurance, but still help build general strength and muscle. Longer rest periods are better for raw strength gains while building muscle.

Quite frankly, both will get you big and strong when you are a intermediate lifter.

tom
Posted on: Tue, 08/17/2010 - 04:50

heya steve.

ive been doing this workout for about 8 weeks now and don't plan on changing for atleast another month. but when that comes do you is their any other workouts you recommend ive seen a few but miss out on deadlift which is my favorite lift. cheers

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Steven
Posted on: Tue, 08/17/2010 - 12:07

Hi Tom,

Here is another workout I created that you might enjoy:

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/steves-density-and-strength-4...

roy
Posted on: Mon, 08/16/2010 - 21:36

hey steve, am i wrong to be doing a split like this:

monday: chest, biceps, and back
tuesday: shoulders, tri's and all legs
wednesday off
thursday same as monday and friday same as tuesday
weekends off

iv been doing this for a while, i dont feel like im having negative results, i do about 4 set of 8 to 10 on all exercises and i do 3 to 5 exercises per muscle group..

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Steven
Posted on: Tue, 08/17/2010 - 12:02

Hi Roy,

I would rather see you take a rest day between chest and shoulders/tris, since chest works your triceps hard. I think if you alternated days on and off, and gave your triceps a bit more rest, it might be beneficial.

james
Posted on: Sun, 08/15/2010 - 22:55

Hi Steve,

I am in the process of building muscle mass at the gym. However it is quite visible that my left arm is smaller than my right.

Is it better to use barbells to get to the mass i need then start using dumbells to even out or just start working out with dumbells?

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Steven
Posted on: Mon, 08/16/2010 - 11:25

Hi James,

This is a fairly common problem. My right arm has been bigger than my left for over 20 years. My best advice is simply to keep training hard using a good mix of barbell and dumbbell lefts. All you can really do is strengthen both arms. As your arms grow, the slight difference won't be noticeable.

Daf
Posted on: Sun, 08/15/2010 - 19:08

Top workout. I've been trying various routines over the last year or so, with no great results, probably due to my limitation to one rep range (usually 10-12reps). I hadn't considered using a variety of rep ranges before, but it seems to be working really well for me so far. Why aren't more people using these principals in their workouts?

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Steven
Posted on: Mon, 08/16/2010 - 11:35

Hi Daf,

I'm not sure. There was a bodybuilding book in the 80's or 90's written by Dr. Squat, Fred Hatfield, that recommend a style and approach very close to this.

I think many users tend to use a style of training that is prominent in bodybuilding magazines, which isn't always best fro naturals.

derek
Posted on: Sun, 08/15/2010 - 16:56

can i substitute the lat pull down with pull-ups?

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Steven
Posted on: Mon, 08/16/2010 - 11:22

Hi Derek,

You bet!

alex
Posted on: Sat, 08/14/2010 - 13:36

Could i swap seated barbell pres for military press and setead arnold press 4 seated dumbell press

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Steven
Posted on: Mon, 08/16/2010 - 11:20

Absolutely!

Adam
Posted on: Fri, 08/13/2010 - 11:50

Hey Steve,

I've been using this workout for the past 3 months, rotating in your chest and shoulder blaster every other week as well, and i've had some success with them. Right now, i'm looking to bulk up and was wondering if substituting in another power exercise in place of a muscle would be productive or counter-productive. I was also wondering if there may be another workout better suited for bulking up on this site, because from reading all your replies and workouts, you're the go to guy. Currently weighing in at 225, i'm 6'4 and around 20-25% body fat. I'm also taking ultimate nutrition's "iso mass". Was wondering if there may be something better to be taking for bulking up.

Thank you so much for all the wonderful knowledge i've gained already from this site,

Adam

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Steven
Posted on: Fri, 08/13/2010 - 14:27

Hi Adam,

You could swap in another power grouping. Try to base the new power sets on heavy compound style lifts.

As far as which routine is best? Most of them will serve you well. The real magic is in progression of heavier weight. The nice thing about this routine is variety. You get to hit a muscle in 3 different ways.

The best thing for bulking is simply food. You need to eat so that scale is moving up. Here is an article I wrote on my bulking approach. Let me know if you have any questions.

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/power-muscle-burn-bulking-die...

william
Posted on: Fri, 08/13/2010 - 00:09

hey there

can I subsitute the barbell bench press excercises with dumbbell press?
I mean for the chest workout? Cause i tend to workout myself and its hard to do barbell press. Kinda feel stupid with i am trapped underneath a barbell :)

cheers

William

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Steven
Posted on: Fri, 08/13/2010 - 11:40

Hi William,

Dumbbell bench press is a great exercise. You can definitely use it.

karm
Posted on: Thu, 08/12/2010 - 20:52

hi steve,
i've been using this program for three weeks now and i've seen amazing results, i got two questions steve...what if i wanna add a cardio to this routine everytime i go to gym cuz of my higher cholestrol levels and second one is this routine is best for specially for size gains or would you recomend something else?
thanks.

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Steven
Posted on: Fri, 08/13/2010 - 11:39

Hi Karm,

You can do cardio first thing in the morning, post-workout, or on off days. This routine is for muscle! I used a variation of it myself for many years and it worked very well. Just make sure you eat enough to grow and you will make great gains.

Karm
Posted on: Sun, 09/26/2010 - 19:07

Thanks alot steve,
Now I've Been doing this workout for bout two and half months and I made great gains, for example I started doing bench press with 90 pounds + barbell which I was doing barely 5 to 7 reps each set and Now just in two months I'm at 160 pounds + bar all sets to 12 rep...and I'm gettin big amazingly, like I get compliments everyday from people seen me couple months back..I really appreciate it.
One more question steve, I've Been doing the exact workout you posted and I love doing all the exercises...do I need to change my workout in anyway cuz i read that your muscles will stop growing and adopt the exercises if you do em more than 8 to 10 weeks or I can keep on using the same workout long as i want?
Thanks in advance.

Sean
Posted on: Thu, 08/12/2010 - 18:39

What would be a good substitute for leg press and seated cable row?

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Steven
Posted on: Fri, 08/13/2010 - 11:22

Hi Sean,

You could try lunges or hack squats instead of leg press.

For cable row, you could do machine row, t-bar rows, or incline bench two arm dumbbell row.

Zer0s0phT
Posted on: Thu, 08/12/2010 - 12:40

Hi,

I started this workout this week and so far I am really enjoying it. I do workout at home and it would be greatly appreciated if I can get a couple exercise substitutes.

Replacement for Leg Press for Muscle (I intend to try the 20 rep squat burn).

Replacement for Hamstring Muscle and Burn Leg Curl.

Thank you in advance !

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Steven
Posted on: Thu, 08/12/2010 - 13:49

For leg press I recommend dumbbell lunges. For hamstrings, you could try rear lunges or side lunges.

Zer0s0phT
Posted on: Thu, 08/12/2010 - 16:10

Perfect!

Thank you so much for your quick answer. This site has been an invaluable tool in my progress.

MBA
Posted on: Tue, 08/10/2010 - 14:12

Hi Steve!
I´ve been working this routine nearly 2 months now, an i have to say i´m very satisfied so far!
It looks like this:
Day 1: Shoulder / triceps
Day 2: Back /calves / abs
Day 3: Rest
Day 4: Chest / biceps
Day 5: Quads / Hams / abs
Day 6: Rest
Day 7: Rest

My question to you is, what´s your thoughts on replacing cardio (i don´t have access to cardio in my gym) with running and/or swimming on two of the "rest days"? Especially the for the swinningpart- will it lead to overtraining, when mainly the chest, back and shoulders are in use here? The same goes for running and the leg muscles???

Hope to hear from you soon.

Thanks
MBA

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Steven
Posted on: Tue, 08/10/2010 - 19:32

Hi MBA,

Swimming and running for health is perfectly fine on off days. as long as you are resting when you can and eating a good diet, you should be fine.

I played quite a bit of basketball when I made most of my gains and it didn't hold me back.

MBA
Posted on: Wed, 08/11/2010 - 02:26

Thank you for the response, i appreciate it!

josh
Posted on: Mon, 08/09/2010 - 15:24

i lvoe the look of this workout cant wait to try it; i was just wondering what rep tempos are best to use? maybe slower on power and piston like on burn?? thanks

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Steven
Posted on: Mon, 08/09/2010 - 19:26

Hi Josh,

I don't recommend worrying about rep tempo. Use good form and keep the movements natural. You are using heavy weight for all exercises so it will have a tendency to determine the tempo for you.

josh
Posted on: Wed, 08/11/2010 - 06:34

thanks man; what about rest between set 90-120 seconds?? thanks :D

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Steven
Posted on: Thu, 08/12/2010 - 14:33

90-120, and longer for big lifts like squats and bench if you need the rest.

bnd
Posted on: Mon, 08/09/2010 - 14:05

hey steeve,
i love your workout routine andd will start it at once
just got some questions:
1-this routine don't have any trapz,rear shoulder or
forearms specific excercises
.is this ok coz i'd love to grow my trapz
2-should i stick with the exact routine or i can cycle diff
excecise evey week like for example one week doing
pinweel curl other week do standing or seating
alternate dumbell curl
i'm 26 y 182 cm and 176 ib being lifting for one year
gained about 12 ib muscles but not doing alot of excercises for legs
is this routine ok for me now
and thanks in advance:)

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Steven
Posted on: Tue, 08/10/2010 - 19:29

Hi BND,

Your traps are worked very hard with overhead presses and deadlifts. Forearms are worked hard simply from the constant barbell and dumbbell tripping, and rear delts are hit hard with back work.

Regarding exercises, I wouldn't swap the major ones. Swapping curl exercises in ok though. For other exercises, you could swap if the exercise is comparable.

This routine would be perfect for your experience.

Bnd
Posted on: Wed, 11/03/2010 - 09:53

Hello Steve,
bnd here i'm using your routine for over 2 months now and I've seen fantastic results
i gained extra 9 bounds and noticed great boost in my strength and got more differentiated muscles
You rock man :) thanks