I’m a huge fan of competitive bodybuilding. I have been since I first discovered it in high school, and I always will be. However, not everyone has aspirations to step on a competitive stage, especially during their college years.
For some people they just want to workout in order look better for the ladies. As a college student living on the coast and constantly on a beach full of women, I can respect that. So this raises the question: what type of training program should someone do in order to make sure they are improving their physique without training with the volume and frequency of a bodybuilder?
To answer this question, I created the Fast Four training program. This program is a four day split, four exercises each, separated into 4 training blocks to give users the biggest bang for their proverbial buck.
Being basic isn’t always a bad thing - especially if you want to look good when you get the chance to meet the girl you’ve been seeing around campus, or when beach season comes around. In the fitness industry there are always new exercises and equipment coming out, mostly from people trying to increase profits and notoriety. Sticking to the basics will not only save you from looking silly, like the guys doing those dumbbell curls on a Bosu ball, but they will also help you gain the muscle you need to make a statement at that next fraternity party.
The Fast Four training program is built around making the most out of your time in the gym. That means sticking with exercises that have stood the test of time and given bodybuilders, college athletes, models, and even the average Joe amazing results.
If you haven’t already learned, I strongly suggest finding a professional who can teach you how to properly bench press, squat and deadlift. I bet you already know how to bench press, but few people properly squat and deadlift.
The effectiveness of these two exercises can’t be emphasized enough. Squatting with a full range of motion will activate virtually every muscle from your abs down, while deadlifts work the entire lower body, core, back, and arms. You won’t get this much activation by doing a few random machine exercises and calling it a workout.
You may want some variety after doing the program for several weeks. If that’s the case simply substitute one of the exercises for a similar exercise that targets the same muscle groups. There are several varieties of the bench press, squat, and deadlift that can allow you to switch it up and continue making progress.
Build Your Rep
Without getting bogged down in the details, lifting weights in different rep ranges allows you to improve different areas of muscle growth; myofibrillar and sarcoplasmic hypertrophy. If you’re interested in learning more about this Cliff Wilson, arguably the top natural bodybuilding coach in the country, he has a great article discussing it in further detail that can be found here.
That being said if you really want to get the most out of your time in the gym, it’s great to change up the rep scheme of your program. To accommodate for this, you’ll notice that every 4 weeks the rep range changes in order to shift the focus of hypertrophy type and allow you to see better results.
Sometimes being known as the big man on campus isn’t always a compliment. Let’s be real, college students don’t always have the best dietary habits. Late night runs to the local cookout, or knocking back beers with your buds can create some good memories. Unfortunately it can also give you a gut.
Although eating a proper diet can go a long way in allowing you to reach your ideal appearance, this may not always be possible during college. By adding in some cardio sessions to the program, you can at least reduce the effects of an unideal diet and keep your waistline in check.
Fast Four includes High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), which is essentially a series of all out sprints separated by recovery intervals. For example you could peddle as fast as possible for 30 seconds and then peddle at a moderate pace for 30-60 seconds; then repeat for the desired time.
The program also includes Moderate Intensity Steady State (MISS) cardio which can be thought of as a fast walk to slow jog pace. The session times and amounts are given in a pretty broad range since it will depend on your weight changes, appearance and other factors such as recovery and how much time you have to devote to your gym time.
Fast Four is all about including the essentials that can activate the most muscle groups in the least amount of exercises. There aren’t any direct abdominal exercises in this program as you can see.
Although you will get a lot of core activation through compound lifts like the squat and deadlift, feel free to add in some extra core work at the end of two workouts if you like. Just select an abdominal exercise of your choice and add it to the end of the workout. You can even follow the same rep schemes for that particular block although I would suggest only doing around 2-4 extra sets of ab work.
The Fast Four Training Program
Rep scheme and rest time:
- Weeks 1-4 - 3 Sets, 15-20 reps. Rest time: 1:30-2:00 Minutes
- Weeks 5-8 - 4 Sets, 10-15 reps. Rest time: 1:30-2:00 Minutes
- Weeks 9-12 - 5 Sets, 5-10 reps. Rest time: 2:00-2:30 Minutes
- Weeks 13-16 - 6 Sets, 2-3 reps. Rest time: 2:30-3:00 Minutes
|1. Barbell Squats||3-6||2-20|
|2. Dumbbell Lunges||3-6||2-20|
|3. Dumbbell Curls||3-6||2-20|
|4. Close Grip Bench||3-6||2-20|
*Sets and reps will depend on what week of the program you are in
|2. Bench Press||3-6||2-20|
|3. Overhead Press||3-6||2-20|
|4. Lat Pulldown||3-6||2-20|
*Sets and reps will depend on what week of the program you are in
- 1-3 MISS Sessions (20-35 minutes)
- 1-3 HIIT Sessions (8-12 minutes)
Time To Get A Fratastic Physique
No matter how great of a training program you follow, it’s important to remember that a good diet will make as much, if not more of an impact on your physique. While this may not be the easiest task in college, finding articles on nutrition on this site or contacting a professional with expertise in this area can go a long way in helping you reach your ideal physique while balancing the demands of college life.
After finishing this program you should have a good idea of how you can set up your programs for the future. By lifting in a variety of rep ranges and paying attention to exercise selection you can continue to improve your physique while still allowing yourself plenty of time for chasing girls, or maybe studying… yeah right! Try out this training program and start turning that keg into a six pack!