Bulldozer Training 4 Day Workout Split

4 day Bulldozer Training muscle building split. Combines rest-pause sets with progressive resistance. Workouts are shorter but more intense.

Workout Summary

Build Muscle
Barbell, Dumbbells, Machines
Male & Female

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.

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 5 20 30/30/45/45
Hammer Strength Bench 5 30 30/30/30/30
Dumbbell Flye 5 35 30/30/30/30
Close Grip Bench Press 5 30 30/30/30/30
Seated Dumbbell Extension 5 35 30/30/30/30
Day 2
Back, Biceps and Abs
Exercise Mini-Sets Rep Goal Total Rest Periods
Deadlift (See below)      
Barbell Row 5 25 30/30/45/45
Wide Grip Pull Up 5 35 30/30/30/30
Standing Dumbbell Curl 5 35 30/30/30/30
EZ Bar Preacher Curl 5 35 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 5 25 30/30/45/45
Seated Arnold Press 5 30 30/30/30/30
Bent Over Reverse Flye 5 35 30/30/30/30
Barbell Shrug 5 35 30/30/30/30
Seated Barbell Wrist Curl 5 35 30/30/30/30
Day 5
Quads, Hamstrings, Calves and Abs
Exercise Mini-Sets Rep Goal Total Rest Periods
Squat (See below)      
Leg Press 5 50 30/30/30/30
Leg Curl 5-7 40 30/30/30/30
Seated Calf Raise 5-7 50 30/30/30/30
Abs exercise (See below)      

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.
  • Dumbbell Flye - Pec dec, cable crossovers, incline dumbbell flye, chest dips.
  • Close Grip Bench Press - Bench dips, skullcrushers, seated French press.
  • Seated Dumbbell Extension - 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.
  • Seated Arnold Press - Hammer Strength shoulder press, Smith machine press, dumbbell press.
  • Bent Over Reverse Flye - Reverse pec Dec, rear delt machine.
  • 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:

About The Author
Muscle & Strength's Content Team is a group of fitness industry experts dedicated to publishing the highest quality articles, workouts and guides on the M&S Website.

189 Comments+ Post Comment

No Profile Pic
Posted Tue, 08/12/2014 - 16:33

Are macro-sets ever used? He defines them, but never talks about them. So from my understanding,a mini-set would be a 5 x 30/30/30/30, for example. Then a MACRO-set would be a longer rest time followed by repeating that mini-set (5 x 30/30/30/30) for the *same exercise*.

However this scheme tells you to move to the next exercise once ONE mini-set is complete. Is that correct?

No Profile Pic
Posted Mon, 08/11/2014 - 12:42

Just started this last week and I'm liking the feel of it so far. One issue though. I've been using a fairly light starting weight to ease into the program as recommended. If you make the rep goal total for a given exercise after only 2 or 3 mini sets, should you do the extra mini set(s) or just stop once the rep goal is achieved?

No Profile Pic
Posted Sat, 04/26/2014 - 01:04
Tattoo D

Steve, I wanted to personally say 'Thank You' for writing this up.

No Profile Pic
Posted Fri, 04/25/2014 - 01:02

Hey Steve,

I was going to start this rotation on a Monday. So, Wednesday would be an off day. I would like to take a yoga sculpt class on that Wed. Do you think this would not be enough rest for my muscles if I threw in a light weight cardio class?

Thanks for the help!

No Profile Pic
Posted Sun, 04/13/2014 - 04:00

Hi. Is working each muscle group once a week enough ???
On a 4 day push/pull it's twice and full body 3 days a week is obviously 3. Surely a week between is too much ??

No Profile Pic
Posted Thu, 04/03/2014 - 12:57

This is a great workout, thank you for putting it together Steve. In the last month I have seen the same amount of gains using your routine as I have the entire past half year. Apparently this is the type of system that works for me :)

Just one question though. I have heard that people with past shoulder injuries should avoid doing Arnold Presses, what do you think? Thanks.

No Profile Pic
Posted Mon, 02/10/2014 - 19:23
Omer Romdhani

What should be the rest time between the squat sets?

No Profile Pic
Posted Fri, 02/07/2014 - 13:56

Are there any of the exercises that I could substitute with hanging snatches? I just want to work on this movement, but also stick to the volume parameters of the program.

No Profile Pic
Posted Fri, 02/07/2014 - 12:26

I can't do over the shoulder workouts because on an injury what can I replace the shoulder press with?

No Profile Pic
Posted Wed, 12/18/2013 - 19:40

Hi Steve, I am 15 years old and I am 5'8 150 pounds and i want to get bigger. Is this a good program for me. Also, on Bench Press for example, would you preffer doing 5 sets like 6/4/4/4/4 or doing where you do as much as posible during each set. Thanks

No Profile Pic
Posted Tue, 11/26/2013 - 08:06

Could I preform this workout 3 days in a row except than put the leg workout before the arm? I am 18 years old and have been working out just over a year not realy succesfully infortunantly

No Profile Pic
Posted Fri, 11/15/2013 - 09:04
Victor Abreu

Hey Steve I have a question. I'd like to incorporate a little 531-Rest Pause from Wendler into this workout. Would I be able to start my cores (bench, military press, deadlift, squat) with the Wendler-Rest Pause method or would it be better to just do the Bulldozer method all the way through?

Additionally I would like to add some workouts and I want to make sure it's not over training. For example on Bench day can I have it set up as:
Bench: 531 Wendler Rest Pause
Incline: Bulldozer
Decline(or flys, or both?): Bulldozer
Close Grip: Bulldozer
Weighted Dips: Bulldozer
Tricep Pressdown: Bulldozer

I just want to make sure I'm not over training I guess. Please advise! Thanks

No Profile Pic
Posted Mon, 10/21/2013 - 14:24

Can you add more volume if you are more experienced
Im taking creatine, bcaa's and a protein shake

No Profile Pic
Posted Wed, 10/02/2013 - 04:21


I have a question on reps. If I lift a weight that I can lift 10-12 reps with, I can complete the mini-sets in 2.5 sets, not 5. At the other end of the scale, if it takes me >5 sets to complete my rep goal (and I assume i must meet my rep goal), then I am always adding weight for the next time, making it even harder?

I understand I need to reach my rep-goal but does this have to be using all 5 sets, less than 5 sets. Am I always to hit the rep-goal ? Do I have to achieve a specific rep count for the 1st set?

Any more details on this will be useful.


No Profile Pic
Posted Mon, 09/02/2013 - 19:26

How long do you rest on each set of squats

No Profile Pic
Posted Fri, 08/16/2013 - 22:17

This might be a common question, but I only see each muscle group being worked once a week. Biceps, chest, triceps, abs, etc. Each one is being worked out only once a week. Is that effective? I've been working out for years and have a pretty good amount muscle; won't this decrease my size? I always thought each muscle group was worked out three times a week.

No Profile Pic
Posted Wed, 07/24/2013 - 09:43

Hello Steve,

This routine is fantastic (switched to this from "Shawn's 3 day muscle building"), but there is one part that is not very clear to me : what is the recommended rest time for the squats in this routine, since it is not specified in the description ? Do i use the 30 seconds rest, like for the other exercises?

Thank you for this great workout routine!

No Profile Pic
Posted Sat, 07/13/2013 - 15:30
mike m

Did any of you guys do this program with workout partners? How do you make it work? NOrmally in straight sets one goes ,the other goes , etc. But with limited rest , there is not enough time to make that happen.

No Profile Pic
Posted Tue, 06/25/2013 - 03:24

Ive been doing this program for 6 weeks now and have started to plateau, what should I do to prevent more plateauing?
Would it be worth my while to drop the weight down 5-10lbs and "reset" like other workouts?

No Profile Pic
Posted Sat, 06/01/2013 - 15:35

I've been at this workout for two weeks, and I have mixed feelings. I am using heaving weights, but at the end of the [total] workout session, for the day, I am left with wanting more. Is this normal? Can add another session of the same workout for that day? For example, do day 1 twice in that day. I've been feeling like I can go for an extra 5 sets of every exercise.

No Profile Pic
Posted Tue, 05/21/2013 - 12:29

Hey Steve, I'm looking to start this program in a couple of weeks, and currently I'm only using 1 scoop whey protein after working out for recovery, do you suggest pre and post workout? or adding creatine? Just previously used to take 2 scoop whey protein with 3-4mg of creatine pre-workout and my lifts increased and energy levels were great whilst in the gym, then 2 scoop whey protein post-workout but I gained a fair bit of water retention and after a couple of weeks of not being able to get to the gym my lifts dropped dramatically as well as my body size. Basically I don't want to build up "fake" size. So any help would be great. I'm currently weighing 83kgs (183lbs) and hitting the gym a steady 3/4-days a week.

No Profile Pic
Posted Wed, 05/08/2013 - 16:33

Steve, I must say: For someone who´s taking steroids or has an extraordinary Genetics
this workout may works.
But for an ordinary person ( that´s almost all of the men) , working out 1 time a muscle in a week will nerver work.

No Profile Pic
Posted Fri, 11/15/2013 - 09:09
Victor Abreu

That's not true. I did the M.A.S.S. System which worked out 1 major week and I had noticeable gains within the first 2-3 months. This is in terms of strength and especially size

No Profile Pic
Posted Wed, 05/08/2013 - 14:56

I am 48 years old and have not worked out for 25 years. I just finished my 14th time through this routine. I am running on a 6 day schedule doing Hiit on my two off days from lifting. I have experienced significant beginner gains while actually maintaining my weight. I have not had to miss one day of workout since I started the program. I haven't felt this good in my life.

Thank you.

The problem is that I am a farmer and will be spending significant time in the fields the next few weeks before I can get back to the gym consistently. I understand why I need to take a day of rest between day 2 and day 4 of this routine. Would I be able to go back to back day 5 to day 1 if I get rained out for a couple of days without overtraining or risking injury? I can still do my Hiit while planting crops.

mnsjason's picture
Posted Wed, 05/08/2013 - 17:27

While it's obviously not ideal, as long as your diet can support your activity level and you're getting plenty of sleep, it shouldn't present a problem. Just listen to your body; if you start losing sleep or are slow to recover, it could mean that you do need that day off.

No Profile Pic
Posted Sun, 04/28/2013 - 22:17

Is there a printable version of this routine? and does it matter on how much weight I use?

No Profile Pic
Posted Tue, 03/26/2013 - 12:23

what about decline bench press should i fit them in? or are they not important

No Profile Pic
Posted Sat, 03/09/2013 - 12:58

Hey steve i am confused about this routine i dont understand the mini set and rep total thing how many sets am i going for? and when do i add weight? it says dont go to failure im very confused

No Profile Pic
Posted Sun, 03/03/2013 - 07:47

Hi Steve,
Just wondering about the squat component of this program. Is it correct when you say perform as many squats as you can in a 10 minute period? 10 minutes seems like an awfully long time to be doing squats.

No Profile Pic
Posted Fri, 03/01/2013 - 22:04
Igor Tachynskyy

This workout is the bomb, I've been stuck doing regular 8-10 rep sets of 3 with longer rest times in between sets and I haven't really achieved anything. I'm on my week 4 and I had crazy gains. I recommend some sort of pre-workout so you are really able to finish strong.
Try this people, you wont regret it. At first it will feel different since you will not be struggling as much on your first sets, it gets super hard and the end. And I recommend concentrating and doing them slow, if you power yourself then you run the risk of getting injured.

Great workout Steve thank you very much!

No Profile Pic
Posted Fri, 02/22/2013 - 14:11

Hi, thanks for the program its great! For Abs how many exercises, how many mini-sets per exercise, and what should the rest period between for each set. Thanks!

No Profile Pic
Posted Fri, 02/22/2013 - 09:25

Hey steve. Thank you for this. I have been using this for a couple of weeks now and I can see some results showing. This doesn't mean that I am a huge muscular guy now but I see this is working pretty well for me! Thanks!


No Profile Pic
Posted Tue, 02/19/2013 - 20:28

I read the second page of comments and found the answers to my two questions. Great looking workout. I'm excited to start this one.

Thanks again

No Profile Pic
Posted Tue, 02/19/2013 - 18:48

Hi Steve,

Two questions:
1) On the deadlift starting weight. If I pick a weight that I can do ten reps in a row easy. I imagine I will be able to do a lot more than 15 total reps in 10 minutes. I think I could manage I rep every 20 seconds.

2) On the squats rest time between sets. Just wanted to verify if you were talking about the squats in the FAQ section on rest time being as long as you need or is there a time limit?


No Profile Pic
Posted Fri, 02/15/2013 - 11:53

Hi Steve,
What total do you think someone should be at before they start a program like this? I followed starting strength for a while and when from a pathetic 300 total to mildly respectable 785 total. I recently got sick however and lost 15 pounds of body weight and about 70 pounds off my total putting me back at barely above 700. My biggest concern right now is to put that body weight back on and I'm slightly less concerned about the strength (obviously some strength will come from this). Do you think I should hop on this or follow another linear progression program for a month or two?

No Profile Pic
Posted Thu, 02/14/2013 - 11:03

Hey dude, thanks for sharing this great workout program. Started trying it out this week, damn im sore haha. Really efficient stuff.

No Profile Pic
Posted Tue, 02/12/2013 - 12:40

How long should I rest between squat sets?

mnsjason's picture
Posted Thu, 02/14/2013 - 19:11

Being that squat falls in the "compound exercise" category, I'd follow the instructions in regards to rest times specifically for compound movements. The routine outlines that for such movements, 60 seconds would the the max rest time.

No Profile Pic
Posted Sun, 02/03/2013 - 12:27

Hey Steve,

I was wonder 1) when would be a good day to add cardio to the and 2) if it is possible to move this workout around to a every other day split mwfsun.

No Profile Pic
Posted Fri, 02/01/2013 - 22:04

hi steve, just wondering if working 1 body part per workout is ok i work long hours and towards the end of my workout, i notice my energy level is shot. can this workout help; mon- chest tues- back wed- shoulders thurs- legs fri- arms thanks steve for any info you can recommend

No Profile Pic
Posted Sun, 01/13/2013 - 17:34
Kristopher 10613

Hey Steve. I was wondering if i could start this program even though I'm a beginner? I have a decent grasp on form and supplementing but my diet needs a little work. Is this a good program to start?

No Profile Pic
Posted Sun, 01/06/2013 - 10:47

with the rep goal and the sets area, are there a certain amount of reps i need to get or just enough to ad up to the goal of reps? or am i supposed to do the rep goal for every set?

No Profile Pic
Posted Thu, 12/20/2012 - 17:59

IS there a link to a 7 set variation? ( I'm a little confused by the layout but I like it.)

No Profile Pic
Posted Mon, 12/10/2012 - 14:10

Great workout, i myself look or different ways to train as i get so bored of standard weight training. hence im still a skinny asian kid lol

Much appreciated Sir!

No Profile Pic
Posted Mon, 12/10/2012 - 00:52
Ivan Mishev

just want to comfirm about the squats. you dont do the 30 second rest correct? you perform a set to almost failure, recover fully then perform the next. until u can achieve 20 total set. just not sure if the 30 second rest is used in the squats exercise.

No Profile Pic
Posted Mon, 12/10/2012 - 00:13
james mccain

is it k to work each body part twice a week

No Profile Pic
Posted Thu, 11/29/2012 - 11:54

Hi Mark, I wouldn't get rid of day 6 and 7 if I were you, I find it an essential rest period and you could end up over-training yourself.

No Profile Pic
Posted Mon, 11/26/2012 - 04:55

Since I have a lot of free time, is it ok for me to cut off both day 6 & 7 rest time?

No Profile Pic
Posted Thu, 11/22/2012 - 07:34

Hi Steve, When you say you do 7 sets for bench press, the chart says 5 mini sets. Should I be aiming for 7 sets or 5? Sorry if this is a stupid question but this routine is really interesting and I want to get it right when I start next week. Thanks mate.

No Profile Pic
Posted Mon, 11/12/2012 - 17:53

Hello I am confused about the deadlifts. Are you supposed to deadlift for 10 minutes straight and try to get fifteen reps only in those 10 minutes?