Bulldozer Training 4 Day "Mini-Dozer" Workout Split

4 day "Mini-Dozer" Bulldozer Training muscle building split. Combines rest-pause sets with progressive resistance. Lower volume variation.

Workout Summary

Build Muscle
Split
Intermediate
8 weeks
4
30-45 minutes
Barbell, Bodyweight, Dumbbells, EZ Bar, Machines
Male & Female
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Workout Description

For more information on the Bulldozer style of training, please read:

Several years ago I began to play around with rest-pause training. I would load up the bar, knock out a set, and rest for only a very short period of time before performing another set. It didn't take long for me to realize one thing...rest-pause style training was both brutal and effective.

I was spending less time in the gym training but waking up with an incredible amount of DOMS (muscle soreness). Limiting rest between sets was also making my workouts far more engaging. I had no time to stop and think. Every workout felt like warfare. I would crush it, rest for a short period of time (never fully recovering), and get after it again.

A note on "Mini-Dozer" Training Variations

Mini-Dozer training variations involve fewer overall exercises, and generally a lighter workout training volume. They are perfect for lifters who don't have time to live at the gym, or for trainees who can't handle the physical demands that come with a higher number of sets.

Make no mistakes about it...Mini-Dozer variations ARE potent. I personally used variations like these for nearly a year and experienced quality muscle gains.

How do you know which variation to choose? If you're a younger lifter with tons of energy and plenty of time on your hands, then the conventional Bulldozer splits are probably a better choice. If you're a "seasoned" lifter (polite way of saying age 30+) with a family, demanding job and a home, then the Mini-Dozer variations are generally your best option.

A Note on Exercise Variations

Mini-Dozer workouts involve a limited number of exercises per training day. If you want to incorporate more exercise, a good way to do so is by alternating lifts. For example, let's say you want to use both close grip bench presses and seated dumbbell extensions to hit the triceps. During your first week of training you could use close grip bench presses, and on week two you could perform dumbbell extensions.

Bulldozer Training Basics

Bulldozer training is structured around the following principles:

  • Limited Rest Between Sets. Rest between sets is typically 15 to 30 seconds, but can run as high as 60 seconds for certain compound exercises, or for extended set schemes.
  • Shorter, But More Intense Workouts. Because of the restricted rest between sets you will spend less time in the gym on any given day, but your workouts will have a greater "per rep" intensity*.
  • Fewer Exercises Per Bodypart. You won't need 4 to 5 (or more) exercises to hit a bodypart hard. Bulldozer training uses a higher number of sets per exercise than most workouts, so you will generally use no more than 2-3 exercises for a given muscle group.
  • Weight Progression Using Rep Goal Totals. You will add up the total reps performed for a given exercise, and if it reaches a predetermined goal, weight will be added the next time you perform this lift.
  • Mini-Sets and Macro-Sets. Groups of sets for a given exercise are called mini-sets. They are distinguished with a different nomenclature because they are not performed like most sets, when fully recovered. Macro-Sets are groupings of mini-set clusters.
  • No Failure. Do not train sets to failure. Stop every mini-set when you feel like you may fail on the next rep. If you are not sure, stop the set and rack the weight.
  • Same Weight. Use the same working weight for each mini-set of a given exercise.

*Intensity in this context does not relate to absolute strength, but rather the burden placed upon a muscle as it relates to muscle fiber unit recruitment.

Bulldozer Set Example and Explanation

Bulldozer sets use the following style of annotation:

  • Bench Press x 7 with 30/30/45/45/60/60

For this example, you will perform 7 total sets using the following rest periods between sets:

  • Perform set 1, then rest 30 seconds
  • Perform set 2, then rest 30 seconds
  • Perform set 3, then rest 45 seconds
  • Perform set 4, then rest 45 seconds
  • Perform set 5, then rest 60 seconds
  • Perform set 6, then rest 60 seconds
  • Perform set 7. Rest, then move on to the next exercise.

Rep Goal System

Bulldozer training utilizes the rep goal system. The rep goal system is a progression approach I developed that tells you when it's time to add weight to a particular exercise.

The rep goal system works like this...you simply count the total reps performed for a given Bulldozer exercise, and when this total reaches the predetermined "rep goal", you add weight to that exercise the next time in the gym.

  • When to Add Weight - Add weight (the next time you perform this exercise) when you reach the rep goal total for a given exercise.

I do not recommend adding more than 5 pounds to a lift at any given time. There is no need to rush. Remember that muscle building is a marathon, not a sprint. Adding 5 pounds per week might not seem like much, but it could theoretically move your bench press from 135 pounds to well over 300 pounds in a given year. Obviously, this is not likely to happen, but the point remains...trust the process and add only 5 pounds per lift.

Finding a Starting Weight

When trying to find a starting weight for each exercise, pick something you could easily perform 10-12 reps with.

Workout Notes

Bulldozer training is deceptively simple. Try a moderately light day to get the feel of the system before going full speed ahead. Resist the urge to add volume or exercises. Trust the process and train with common sense. The combination of rest-pause training and progressive resistance will yield some fairly impressive muscle.

Bulldozer Training 4 Day Workout Split

Note: This can also be run on a 6 day rotation by dropping day 7.

Day 1
Chest and Triceps
Exercise Mini-Sets Rep Goal Total Rest Periods
Bench Press 7 30 30/30/30/30/45/45
Hammer Strength Bench 7 30 or 35 30/30/30/30/45/45
Close Grip Bench Press 7 30 or 35 30/30/30/30/45/45
Day 2
Back, Biceps and Abs
Exercise Mini-Sets Rep Goal Total Rest Periods
Deadlift (See below)      
Barbell Row or Pull Up 7 30 or 35 30/30/30/30/45/45
Standing Dumbbell Curl 7 40, 45 or 50 30/30/30/30/30/30
Abs exercise (See below)      
Day 4
Shoulders, Traps and Forearms
Exercise Mini-Sets Rep Goal Total Rest Periods
Seated Overhead Press 7 30 or 35 30/30/30/30/45/45
Bent Over Reverse Flye 5 35 or 40 30/30/30/30
Barbell Shrug 5 35 or 40 30/30/30/30
Seated Barbell Wrist Curl 5 35 or 40 30/30/30/30
Day 5
Quads, Hamstrings, Calves and Abs
Exercise Mini-Sets Rep Goal Total Rest Periods
Squat (See below)      
Leg Extension or Leg Press 5 40, 45 or 50 30/30/30/30
Leg Curl 5 40, 45 or 50 30/30/30/30
Seated Calf Raise 5 50, 55 or 60 30/30/30/30
Abs exercise (See below)      

Alternative Chest Workout

This is another solid shoulder workout choice for those of you who prefer 3 chest exercise variations.

Day 1
Chest and Triceps
Exercise Mini-Sets Rep Goal Total Rest Periods
Bench Press 5 20 or 25 30/30/45/45
Hammer Strength Bench 5 25 or 30 30/30/30/30
Dumbbell Flye or Pec Dec 5 35 or 40 30/30/30/30
Close Grip Bench Press 7 30 or 35 30/30/30/30/45/45

Alternative Back Workout

This is another solid shoulder workout choice for those of you who prefer to work both rows and pull ups.

Day 2
Back, Biceps and Abs
Exercise Mini-Sets Rep Goal Total Rest Periods
Deadlift (See below)      
Barbell Row 5 30 or 35 30/30/45/45
Pull Up 5 30 or 35 30/30/30/30
Standing Dumbbell Curl 7 40, 45 or 50 30/30/30/30/30/30
Abs exercise (See below)      

Alternative Shoulder Workout

This is another solid shoulder workout choice for those of you who choose not to perform direct forearm work.

Day 4
Shoulders and Traps
Exercise Mini-Sets Rep Goal Total Rest Periods
Seated Overhead Press 5 25 or 30 30/30/30/30
Seated Arnold Press 5 30 or 35 30/30/30/30
Bent Over Reverse Flye 5 35 or 40 30/30/30/30
Barbell Shrug 5 35 or 40 30/30/30/30

A Note on Deadlifts

For deadlifts you will be working with rest-paused singles instead of multiple rep sets. It is best to start with a weight that you could easily perform a 10 rep set with. Perform as many singles as you (safely) can within a 10 minutes period. Perform a rep, stand up, recover your bearings and breath, then perform another rep.

  • Deadlift rest-pause - Keeping good form, perform as many rest-pause singles as you can in 10 minutes. When you can perform 15 reps, add weight the next time you deadlift.

There is no right or wrong rest period for these singles. The key thing is to keep solid form. When you can perform 15 total reps within a 10 minute time frame, add 5 pounds to the bar the next time you deadlift.

A Note on Squats

For squats you will be performing 4 total sets. The first 3 sets will utilize the same weight. You will perform as many reps as you safely can with this weight, and when the total number of reps performed for these 3 sets adds up to 20, you will add weight the next time you squat.

After completing these 3 sets, you will drop the weight and perform a 20 rep set of squats. You will most likely need to start with approximately 40-45% of your one rep squat max. Add weight to the 20 rep set when it feels manageable.

  • 3 Sets of Squats - Using the same weight, perform as many reps as you can. Stop a set when you feel your form is slipping, or if you feel you can fail on the next rep. When you can perform 20 combined reps for these 3 sets, add weight the next time you squat.
  • 20 Rep Set of Squats - Start with approximately 40-45% of your one rep squat max. Add weight to the 20 rep set when it feels manageable.

Working the Abs

Understand that training the abs doesn't "reveal" the abs. You don't carve out a six pack by doing an endless number of crunches. For this program do whatever abs exercise(s) you prefer. I recommend using at least one weighted exercise such as weighted sit ups or cable crunches. Exercises like this allow you to and resistance over time.

Substitution Exercises

The following is a list of possible substitution exercises. These "swaps" are fairly equal, meaning compound for compound, machine for machine, etc., and will serve you well if prefer to avoid any of the listed exercises:

  • Bench Press - Incline bench press, dumbbell bench press, incline dumbbell bench press.
  • Hammer Strength Bench Press - Incline bench press, dumbbell bench press, incline dumbbell bench press, Smith machine bench press, pec dec, cable crossovers, incline dumbbell flye, chest dips.
  • Close Grip Bench Press - Bench dips, skullcrushers, seated French press, stead dumbbell extensions, cable tricep extensions, one arm dumbbell extensions.
  • Barbell Row - Dumbbell Row, T-Bar row, seated cable row.
  • Pull Ups - Lat pull down, rack chins.
  • Standing Dumbbell Curl - Barbell curls, EZ bar curls, seated dumbbell curls, EZ bar preacher curl, concentration curl, cable curl.
  • Seated Overhead Press - Military press, push press, seated behind the neck press, dumbbell overhead press.
  • Bent Over Reverse Flye - Reverse pec Dec, rear delt machine, Hammer Strength shoulder press, Smith machine press, dumbbell press, seated Arnold press.
  • Barbell Shrug - Dumbbell shrug, power shrug, Smith machine shrug.
  • Seated Barbell Wrist Curl - One arm dumbbell wrist curl, Smith machine wrist curl.
  • Leg Press - Barbell lunge, front squat, hack machine squat, leg extension.
  • Leg Curl - Stiff leg deadlift, glute ham raise.
  • Seated Calf Raise - Standing calf raise, leg press calf raise.

FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions

What can I replace squats with? Squats are considered one of the top muscle building exercises. They are certainly a proven leg builder. While I do not advocate removing them from this program, if you ignore this advice and do so anyway, use rest-pause leg presses.

What can I replace deadlifts with? Deadlifts are another potent muscle building exercise. Like squats, I do not advocate removing them from this program. If you ignore this advice and do so anyway, I recommend the following type of structure for your back workouts:

  • Barbell or dumbbell rows - 5 rest-pause sets.
  • Pull ups or lat pull downs - 5 rest-pause sets.
  • Seated cable rows or machine rows - 5 rest-pause sets.

Can I add more volume? No, please don't. Trust the program and the process. Push for progression of weight, and give the program some time to work as designed.

How long should I run this program? As long as you'd like. There is no urgent need to switch workouts.

How long should I rest between exercises? Rest until you are fully recovered and feel ready to go again.

When can I add cardio? You can perform cardio on off days, after lifting weights, or at least several hours removed from your weight training session. If muscle building is a priority, you do not want to perform cardio prior to lifting. Save your energy for the iron.

Can I add extra abs exercises? You can, but it won't help you create a six pack. Abs are created by losing fat. Train them the same way you train every other muscle group.

I want to lose fat and build muscle at the same time. Is this a good workout for me? Fat loss is mostly about diet, not exercise. If you want to lose fat, you need to cut back on what you eat. Keep in mind that it's hard to lose fat and build muscle at the same time. Some may be able to do this to a small degree, but it is not optimal for packing on muscle mass.

How do I eat to build muscle? Great question. Here are some articles that can help you:

46 Comments+ Post Comment

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Posted Sun, 03/01/2015 - 12:26
Rob

Sounds a great approach.
If I get to the required reps in say 5 sets, do I just move into next exercise?
Guess this would prove that weight isn't heavy enough?!

Thanks

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Posted Tue, 12/24/2013 - 13:04
eddie

hi steve, can it work if i switch day 4 and day 5 so i end the cycle with the shoulder workout?

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Posted Wed, 04/24/2013 - 05:23
Greg Alchin

Hey Steve,

Just wondering on the best tempo suited to this program?

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Posted Wed, 03/06/2013 - 01:34
Andrew harris

Steve
Just wondering about a proper stretching routine

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Posted Wed, 01/23/2013 - 11:53
James

This seems similar to an EDT workout. Can you explain the difference?

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Posted Wed, 01/09/2013 - 16:25
Sela

Hi Steve,

If possible is there a detail description of the different types of lifts that you have in your programs. Just that starters like me would know the positioning and how to carry out the exercise correctly.

Thanks
Sela

mnsjason's picture
Posted Wed, 01/09/2013 - 19:09
mnsjason

Hey Sela! You can actually click the individual lifts, as they link to videos of the lift. Also, here is a link to ALL of the lift videos: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/exercises

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Posted Sun, 01/06/2013 - 19:59
Dom

Hi Steve another great workout thanks for this I've used several of your program's and enjoyed them all thoroughly! One quick question I'm looking to do a clean bulk retaining my current definition (maybe losing a bit) but putting on some muscle mass would u recommend this bulldozer training or your 4 Day Maximum Mass Workout Split?

Thank you!

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Posted Wed, 11/14/2012 - 02:40
Mohammed Irfan

Hi Steve,

I want to start with this routine. But i have an issue with tear in knee ligament. What you recommend me to replace the squats with? Any other recommendations?

I was in talk with Yitmy about my knee and please can u go over this link,

http://www.muscleandstrength.com/forum/threads/71236-Exercise-to-go-with...

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Posted Sun, 11/04/2012 - 17:22
Billy

What do you recommend for warmup sets? Progressively heavier weight pyramid up?

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Posted Wed, 10/17/2012 - 11:17
jake

Hi
i literally fit into the description for which this workout routine was made,but i've been working out for some years now and due to my job timings am not able to hit the gym for more than 30mins for max of 5 days a week these days. So my question is would this workout have the same effects as the "Bulldozer Training 4 Day Workout Split". And if i have some spare time can i add an extra exercises into a workout with the same number of sets?

Thanks for your workout routine.

Steven's picture
Posted Wed, 10/17/2012 - 14:34
Steven

Don't add exercises to this program. Focus on progression instead of adding volume.

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Posted Fri, 09/21/2012 - 15:30
Giovanni

Hi Everyone.
My name is Giovanni.I am new here, but this site is the best I have ever found around. I did read that it is hard to lose fat and build muscle at the same time. So I was just wondering, which is the first thing I should d start? Basically I would like to have a good six pack, and build a good muscle. Can someone Please let me know? One more question. I do not go to the gym due to my work I do the workout at home, will I find video workout with not to machinary that I can easily do them at home?
Many Thanks!
Giovanni

Steven's picture
Posted Wed, 10/17/2012 - 14:33
Steven

What is your current age, height and weight?

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Posted Wed, 10/17/2012 - 17:36
Giovanni

Hi Steve. My age is 46, My height is 1.65cm, and my weight is 60kg.
Looking forward to hearing from you.
Many Thanks in advance!
Greetings from London.
Giovanni

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Posted Mon, 09/10/2012 - 20:41
eddie

hi steve, quick question would it be ok to substitute the reverse flye with the front barbell raise? thanks steve for this site making great progress

Steven's picture
Posted Wed, 10/17/2012 - 14:31
Steven

Front delts get hit quite a bit from pressing lifts in general, so I don't recommend adding in front delt work.

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Posted Mon, 09/10/2012 - 03:52
Munther Almulla

Hi steve, can i play day1 chest+pi+tri day2 back day3 rest day4 shoulder+pi+tri day5 Quads+Hamstrings+Calves and play cardio after finish the routine

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Posted Mon, 09/10/2012 - 03:48
Munther

Hi Steve,
can i play Day 1 - Chest ,Biceps and Triceps
Day 2 - Back , Traps , Forearms and Abs
Day 3 - OFF
Day 4 - Shoulders ,Biceps and Triceps
Day 5 - Quads, Hamstrings, Calves and Abs
Day 6 - OFF
Day 7 - OFF
and play cardio after the workout

Steven's picture
Posted Wed, 10/17/2012 - 14:30
Steven

I wouldn't do biceps the day before back.

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Posted Fri, 08/24/2012 - 05:59
ALI

Hi Steve,
Can i do 4 sets and each one like this 20, 15, 10, 8 reps. Starting with light weight and then i go up in weight .
Is this OK?
Thank you

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Posted Wed, 08/15/2012 - 19:50
jim

seriously, how many times does he have to explain the SAME question. Good routine Steve!!

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Posted Mon, 08/06/2012 - 18:57
James

Steve:
Do you have a recommendation for the number of reps per mini set; for example if 30 reps total for 7 mini-sets, should i try to do 4-5 reps per mini-set or try something like 8 - 7 - 6 - 5 - 4 (30)?
Thanks
James

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Posted Sun, 08/05/2012 - 15:54
Shawn

Hi steve, just wondering on all the information I have acknowledged over the years if it is a good idea to work a 4 day split on a cycle and then switch to just working individual groups for a cycle. Keep in mind I'm pursuing physique while going for strength, incorporating mass and lean cycles, thanks Shawn

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Posted Tue, 07/17/2012 - 19:47
Adrian

Steve just started this workout yesterday. This is a continuation of keegans question.

I thought you were supposed to try for 30 reps as well for each of the 7 sets. So to make sure I'm doing this correct when we get to 30 reps in any of the 7 sets we go up in weight is that correct

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Posted Fri, 03/08/2013 - 13:49
Cliff

Adrian,

You have 7 sets to achieve a total of 30 reps. The first set you may get 10, second set 7, 3rd set 5, and so on. If you reach 30 total reps (adding all reps for each set together) within the 7 set range, increase weight next workout. As long as you keep the rest period as described, the last two sets will be brutal. I have been using the 4 day bulldozer workout and cant believe the gains i have made. And...I dont see it slowing down in the near future.

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Posted Thu, 07/05/2012 - 11:03
Keegan

Hey I work a 4 day 40 hour week and this training split seems perfect for my schedule, except I am having trouble understanding the Rep Goal System. Are the total reps counted up in one set totals? As in bench press would be 7 sets of 30 reps each set? It seems stupid but I just want to be sure I do it correctly.

Steven's picture
Posted Thu, 07/05/2012 - 11:24
Steven

No, the 30 rep goal is for the entire 7 sets, not 30 reps per set.

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Posted Thu, 07/05/2012 - 13:36
Keegan

okay so in one set I should be doing at least four reps to meet the rep goal?

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Posted Wed, 06/27/2012 - 15:38
BigAugie

Hey Steve, I've modified this program to a full-body push/pull split more out of personal preference since I was never a fan of upper/lower splits. I opted to mod the mini-dozer version b/c of the overall training volume. I'm only on week 1 so I'm still figuring out the loads but so far I like it. I tend to use different exercises on each of the two push and pull days per week. I haven't done straight sets for a while b/c I favor super-setting to save time but I'm amazed at how quickly I finish with the short rest times. Just wanted to see if you saw any issues with this variant. Thanks.

Steven's picture
Posted Thu, 07/05/2012 - 11:20
Steven

No issues as long as you're not over-working the volume.

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Posted Sat, 06/23/2012 - 17:44
Mike

Thank you so much for explaining the target audience for Full Bull vs Mini Bull. I AM 30+ with Family, 2 Jobs and i'm going back to School. I have to literally squeeze a workout when i can. I was originally reviewing the Full Bull and thinking "there's no way i'll have the time" but seeing this alternative is certainly rewarding.

My only question is how flexible are the exercise regimens? I would essentially like to combine the Leg and Shoulder days because I truly cannot get to the gym 4days/wk. Just curious at this point.

Thanks again!

Steven's picture
Posted Thu, 07/05/2012 - 11:20
Steven

There is a 3-day variation here:

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/bulldozer-training-3-day-work...

You could drop the volume a bit on it and turn it into a "mini."

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Posted Thu, 06/21/2012 - 13:24
Bryan

What should be the rest time between squat sets?

Steven's picture
Posted Thu, 07/05/2012 - 11:19
Steven

I would rest at least 2 minutes, or until you feel ready to go again.

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Posted Tue, 06/19/2012 - 20:19
Oddy

Can I add a burn set on this workout?

Steven's picture
Posted Tue, 06/19/2012 - 23:15
Steven

I do not recommend that. They really aren't needed with a program like this.

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Posted Wed, 06/13/2012 - 17:39
Rick

Hi Steve, can u explain a bit better the mini-sets thing?, for example, the first exercise says: Bench Press 7 minisets, 30 rep goal... does that mean i have to do like 5 liftings between each miniset?

Steven's picture
Posted Thu, 07/05/2012 - 11:18
Steven

You can find more info here:

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/bulldozer-training-rest-pause...

"Bench Press 7 minisets, 30 rep goal... does that mean i have to do like 5 liftings between each miniset?"

You do 7 total sets with the prescribed rest periods.

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Posted Tue, 06/05/2012 - 13:47
todd

Hey Steve great stuff! Do you think I could modify this into a 3-day per week split? Say chest/bi, back/tri, legs/shoulders? Also what do you think about using this program during a cut? Keep up the great work!

Steven's picture
Posted Fri, 06/08/2012 - 14:40
Steven

Perfect for a cut. And sure, 3 days per week works. Use this variation and pair it down a bit:

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/bulldozer-training-3-day-work...

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Posted Sat, 06/23/2012 - 17:56
Mike

Hi todd,

how has this method gone for you thus far? This is exactly what I am going to have to do myself...

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Posted Sun, 06/03/2012 - 11:02
braden

Hey Steve,
Which do you think is better for muscle mass gains and definition between this 4 day split and the 3 day split? I have been working out consistently for 3 years now. I'd like to be able to use this workout throughout the summer and when i return to college this fall.
Thanks!

Steven's picture
Posted Tue, 06/05/2012 - 09:00
Steven

Definition comes from fat loss and/or building muscle. Either split will help you build muscle as long as you train hard and eat properly. Pick the variation that most motivates you to train.

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Posted Thu, 05/24/2012 - 18:07
Bart

Heyy Steve,
I really like this workout, great job on coming up with this system! I was wondering if you could give me some advice, I am changing my workout schedule every week (doing an different split or different exercises, different reps/sets) and I was wondering if this would fit in (to keep my body shocked)? What are your thoughts about constantly switching routines?
Looking forward to your answer!
Bart

Steven's picture
Posted Tue, 05/29/2012 - 16:15
Steven

I am not a fan at all of frequent changing. Your body spends more time adapting to the specific demands of the program, decreasing results. You need to allow adaptation to the physical demands so your body can start to perform better, and with this increase progression will come gains.