Steve's Density And Strength 4 Day Split

This 4 day split by Steve Shaw is a powerbuilding system designed to propel intermediate lifters towards faster muscle mass and strength gains.

Workout Summary

Build Muscle
Split
Intermediate
4
Barbell, Bodyweight, Dumbbells, Machines
Male & Female

Workout Description

This is not a routine for beginners. You must have decent form on your heavy compound lifts before engaging in any form of heavy strength training. If you have spotty form, or do not have at least an 800 pound total for deadlift, squat and bench press, I recommend sticking with a more basic beginner routine.

This routine focuses on density days utilizing rest-pause training, and strength days which utilize low rep sets. It's a routine I love, and is fairly close to what I have personally run for a good portion of 2009. I had great results with this program, and didn't stall all year. For the record, even the split is my split.

It's time to become a beast. By improving your strength and your hypertrophy, you will hit your goals and then some. Stick with this routine for at least 4-6 months, and if it's stick working - keep going!

The Density And Strength Workout Split

You will need 2 full weeks to finish a complete cycle of this workout. During these 2 weeks you will workout 8 times, performing 4 strength workouts and 4 density workouts. The split is as follows:

Week 1

  • Wednesday = Chest Day (Density)
  • Thursday = Back Day (Strength)
  • Saturday = Shoulder Day (Density)
  • Sunday = Leg Day (Strength)

Week 2

  • Wednesday = Chest Day (Strength)
  • Thursday = Back Day (Density)
  • Saturday = Shoulder Day (Strength)
  • Sunday = Leg Day (Density)

Do not add in more training days. Naturals do not need training overkill. This is a very taxing routine, and you need your rest. Make sure workouts aren't running longer then one hour. If you are finishing in well under an hour, and want to add in pertinent complimentary exercises, by all means do so.

Barbell Deadlifts

Core Workout Principles

Progression. All of my workouts focus on progression. On every set of every workout, you must be trying for more reps. If you waste sets, there is no point in using this routine. Do as many reps as possible, training shy of failure on each set.

For Density Sets:

  1. Total Sets. Perform 7 sets per exercise.
  2. Rest Between Sets. Rest between each set is...30, 30, 60, 60, 90 and 120 seconds. The rest periods get longer as you go deeper into total sets. This allows for your strength to come back.
  3. Failure. Don't train to failure. Only do as many reps as you can.
  4. Progression. When you can do 30 reps in 7 sets, add weight to the bar. For some exercises, you may increase this number up to 35. I also prefer to do higher reps for certain leg exercises - such as leg extensions. You could aim as high as 40 to 50 reps for exercises such as this.

For Strength Sets:

  1. Total Sets. You will start by doing 8 sets of 2 reps, and will be pushing to get 8 sets of 3 reps.
  2. Rest Between Sets. Rest exactly 2 minutes between sets.
  3. Progression. When you can perform 8 sets of 3 reps, add weight to the bar.

Warm-up as needed. After about 3 to 4 weeks on this program, you will notice your strength endurance is improving, and you should start to progress on a consistent basis. For some of you, it may take more then a month for your body to adapt to limited reps. Also, I find that my joints tend to handle limited rest sets much better. This could be due to keeping the joints and muscles moving, instead of cooling them down with 3+ minute rests. Your mileage may vary.

Workout Schedule:

Wednesday - Chest and Triceps
Density Workout
Exercise Sets Reps
Barbell Bench Press 7 30 Total
Chest Dips or DB Bench Press or Incline Bench Press 7 30 Total
Close Grip Bench Press 7 30 Total
Strength Workout
Barbell Bench Press 8 2 to 3
2 Chest Exercises of Choice 3 6 to 10
1 to 2 Tricep Exercises of Choice 3 6 to 10
Thursday - Back
Density Workout
Exercise Sets Reps
Deadlift * Singles 10 minutes
Barbell Row or Yates Row or Seated Cable Row 7 30 Total
Pull Ups or Lat Pull Down or T Bar Row 7 30 Total
Strength Workout
Deadlift 8 2 to 3
2 to 3 Back Exercises of Choice 3 6 to 10
Optional: 1 Traps Exercise 3 6 to 12
Notes

* Do as many deadlift singles reps as you can in 10 minutes. When you hit 15 total reps for 10 minutes, add weight.

Friday - Rest Day

Saturday - Shoulders and Biceps
Density Workout
Exercise Sets Reps
Seated Press Behind The Neck or Military Press 7 30 Total
Seated Arnold Press or Upright Rows 7 30 Total
Barbell Curl or Standing Dumbbell Curl 7 30 Total
Strength Workout
Seated Press Behind The Neck 8 2 to 3
2 to 3 Shoulder Exercises of Choice 3 6 to 10
1 to 3 Biceps Exercises of Choice 3 6 to 10
Sunday - Legs
Density Workout
Exercise Sets Reps
Squat 3 to 4 6 to 10
Leg Extension 7 40 Total
Romanian Deadlifts 7 35 Total
Strength Workout
Squat 8 2 to 3
1 to 2 Quads Exercises of Choice 3 6 to 15
1 to 2 Hamstring Exercises of Choice 3 6 to 12
Notes

Note regarding ab training: Add in abs or calves once or twice per week if you wish - on any training day.

Monday and Tuesday - Rest Days

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581 Comments+ Post Comment

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Posted Tue, 03/24/2015 - 11:12
Thanh

Hi Steven, I have some questions:
I'm currently 64 kg 5''9. I'm also a hardgainer and I'm looking for a bulking program. Can you give me some advices. And should I use Weight Gainer or Whey Protein ?

Thanks.

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Posted Fri, 02/27/2015 - 14:09
Alex

what rest do you recommend for the assistance workouts on strength days? I'm switching to this program from RP-21 and I know the rest is supposed to be longer to allow strength to come back but I find it difficult to wait.

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Posted Sun, 01/25/2015 - 20:10
colin woodberry

Going 7sets all out seems like over training to me!

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Posted Tue, 12/16/2014 - 11:48
James

I want to keep running for my cardio. Is cardio, specifically running recommended while doing this routine.

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Posted Sun, 12/07/2014 - 23:09
Michael Corcoran

How long should it take for a workout?

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Posted Thu, 11/27/2014 - 08:38
Anis Taha

Hei steve, a big fan of your workout routines, just one question, would this workout be suitable after a week break after competing to reset my nervous system and gains?

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Posted Mon, 11/17/2014 - 13:32
Kris Fassa

I'm skeptical as to why behind the neck shoulder press is on a strength day. Wouldn't you prefer to do standing ohp and maybe push presses to command most weight possible at low rep schemes? It just seems behind the neck press would belong in the higher rep scheme. I could be wrong.

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Posted Sun, 11/16/2014 - 23:59
Dan

Steve, what supplements do you recommend for this routine?

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Posted Tue, 10/28/2014 - 14:25
kaveshan

Hi Steve

I asked a while ago about the 20 rep squat routine. I want to know something else about it. I have some endomorph characteristics... My ability to store fat is my downfall. The "squats and milk" programme should i, having the body that I've been blessed with drink a gallon of milk a day while doing 20 rep squats. I am over 15% bf and the majority of it is in my lower abdoman. I've read some articles that say drinking that much will definitely put on fat

Help please...

Thanks Steve

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Posted Tue, 10/28/2014 - 12:19
Dan

I'm a wrestler and I want to build power, explosiveness, and speed. If I follow this workout program will it increase all three?

Steven's picture
Posted Tue, 10/28/2014 - 12:23
Steven

Yes, absolutely.

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Posted Thu, 09/25/2014 - 21:41
Aiman

Hey Steve
I was wondering which one ( Density or Strength) builds muscles mass. Because I overtrained my chest muscles. SO only for the chest muscles I want to do cutting no more, I don't want to get any more mass there. Any suggestions please?
other wise love this workout

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Posted Mon, 09/08/2014 - 17:50
Brandon

Can we do standing OHP instead of seated behind the neck presses?

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Posted Mon, 08/18/2014 - 21:07
Bubba

It's funny people posting on here expecting a reply. He hasnt responded in almost 2 yrs.

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Posted Tue, 07/29/2014 - 10:01
baley

hi steve, i was wondering if i could switch out triceps for biceps on the chest density day, i find that my chest/triceps are too fatigued to do the close grip bench press and i would like to do that exercise to my full potential. your reply would be greatly appreciated .

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Posted Mon, 06/16/2014 - 08:40
trainer11

we have to do 30 reps one set and 30 for other like this repeat for 7 sets???

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Posted Sun, 06/15/2014 - 04:20
Arnold

Hey Steve, I'm currently 49yrs old and have enjoyed your 5-day power split routine & am ready to try this density & strength 4-day program . My question is that I am 18 months removed from a lower lumbar discectomy which worries me with the heavy deadlifts particularly . Any tips?

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Posted Tue, 06/10/2014 - 21:55
Joe

how does the 7 sets of 30 total reps work

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Posted Fri, 05/30/2014 - 17:08
Naser

I've been doing density and strength in the same day for the last two weeks. Is that bad?

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Posted Sat, 05/17/2014 - 21:28
Remy

Hi Steve - 1 question - so on back, strength day, you would be doing between 17 and 20 total sets?

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Posted Thu, 04/17/2014 - 17:24
joe

What do you suggest if we want to add an abs routine to this work out ?

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Posted Thu, 04/17/2014 - 09:18
tanner

Did each comment have to get those thumbs up and down? 1 of Steve comment: "Any time!" and it get 20 up and 24 down, I'm not have a problem with the thumb up, but the problem is the thumb down, it makes no sense! Is this a scam site or people split into 2 sides in this website , 1 for thumb up and 1 for thumb down? I wonder that!

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Posted Wed, 04/16/2014 - 00:44
tim

hey Steve, program looks solid I did about two months of the power,muscle,burn 4 day split but progress plateaus so I figure I try this out right now I'm 23 wiegh 165 bench225, squat315,deadlift435. so I read the article thoroughly and one question comes to mind that I didn't see answered on density training day after I complete the 7 sets for 30 reps. how long should I rest to start the next 7 sets for 30 reps if you can respond ASAP it would be much appreciated!

thanks, tim

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Posted Wed, 04/09/2014 - 01:12
Thomas

This is an excellent and challenging routine. It's not exactly for beginners, you'll be doing lots of Calisthenics over lifting barbells. It's exhausting as well, though, I made it a month and I think I am burnt out. The gains are sweet gains though and I'm feeling quite mighty, just burnt out doing 7 sets of 30, it wears on the mind.

5/5

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Posted Sun, 03/30/2014 - 16:43
Carolyn

Would you recommend this for a beginner? Or should beginners do full body 3-6 months before attempting more advanced routines

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Posted Mon, 03/03/2014 - 22:42
Piotr Lachowicz

Hey Steve. I am wondering weather i should do your strength and density program or the program for ectomorphs. I do consider myself an ectomorph. I weigh 165, i am 5"11, I and really skinny though i can lift a decent amount. I started working out sophomore year of high school, though never took it seriously till a bout a year ago. I also approached working out the wrong way so never had allot of gains. I did gymnastics for 4 years. Now i am a freshmen in collage and i have been doing hte 5x5 strength program and have seen great gainz. My current 5x5 weight for my bench squat and deadlift combinded is 780.
Which program would suit me better, the strength and density, or the ectomorph one.

Also i have always eaten very little, and i am working on eating more

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Posted Mon, 03/03/2014 - 18:08
Piotr Lachowicz

Hey Steve. I am wondering weather i should do your strength and density program or the program for ectomorphs. I do consider myself an ectomorph. I weigh 165, i am 5"11, I and really skinny though i can lift a decent amount. I started working out sophomore year of high school, though never took it seriously till a bout a year ago. I also approached working out the wrong way so never had allot of gains. I did gymnastics for 4 years. Now i am a freshmen in collage and i have been doing hte 5x5 strength program and have seen great gainz. My current 5x5 weight for my bench squat and deadlift combinded is 780.
Which program would suit me better, the strength and density, or the ectomorph one.

Also i have always eaten very little, and i am working on eating more

Thank you, i may have accidentally posted this question twice.

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Posted Tue, 02/25/2014 - 18:24
deeb

Dude i know this isn't a routine for power-lifting but I'm a power-lifter and i got to tell u after one week of trying this routine I'm more than satisfied, thank you!

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Posted Sat, 02/22/2014 - 17:10
pedro

im 49 yrs old can i do this???ive lifted inconsistently for years looking for direction.

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Posted Fri, 02/07/2014 - 14:53
Joshua

Steve, I really enjoyed this workout when I was overseas. I made awesome gains. However, I am now working full-time and in school full-time. How can I turn this into a 3-day routine without cutting too many corners?

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Posted Thu, 02/06/2014 - 16:05
Samir

so say if you're doing barbell bench press for density; is this how the work out would look like? set 1- 30reps, set 2- 30reps, set 3- 30reps, set 4- 30reps, set 5- 30reps, set 6- 30reps, and finally set 7- 30reps?

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Posted Thu, 01/30/2014 - 22:32
Greg

Steve,
I'm looking forward to trying this routine out, but I have a few questions. In your opinion, how many days of cardio can I get away with during this cycle? I usually like to get 30 min of sprints, jogging, or elliptical in at least 3-4 days a week, but I don't want to risk over training by minimizing rest days... I train in the mixed martial arts 3-5 days a week, which does provide cardio in itself, however I like to stay as physically well-rounded as my programs will allow me. Also, should this routine strictly stay at two weeks or can it be prolonged to four?

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Posted Mon, 01/27/2014 - 07:10
Alex

Is it possible to use only the density part of this schedule?

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Posted Mon, 01/20/2014 - 11:22
Jeremy

hey steve. first i want to say this program is really great, i used it about a year ago for 6 months, best program i've used yet. Now, for my first question, i have been doing sports of the last 6 months, but i stopped going to the gym, is this program still suitable for me? and my second question is, if i change the exercises on back day to more compound bicep exhausting exercises, could i skip the bicep workout? i don't have time for a full fourth day of this workout. Thanks a lot for the program.looking forward to your reply.

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Posted Sat, 01/18/2014 - 15:18
Mike

Hi Steve,

This looks like just what Ive been looking for, a power-bodybuilding routine!

I cant understand why it starts on a Wednesday though, unless I'm missing something, but it looks like a standard 2 on, 1 off 2 on 2 off to me I don't like to train at weekends if at all possible. Is there any reason why you couldn't train starting Monday, Tuesday, have Wednesday off, train Thursday, Friday and the weekend off?

Great siteby the way!

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Posted Tue, 01/14/2014 - 13:53
Brad

Can you mix and match the order in which do the workouts? For instance could I do Chest/Legs/Back/Shoulders because when I squat after I've done shoulders my rotator cuffs are in agony when lifting heavier weights.

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Posted Sun, 12/29/2013 - 14:30
Fred

Hi Steve, if wanting fat loss during this routine what type of cardio is recommended?

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Posted Tue, 12/10/2013 - 16:56
Brandon

Hey Steve,

I noticed that you stopped posting answers for this routine back in 2012 so I'm not sure if you will ever get back to me or not. That being said, I have a few questions that I wasn't able to have answered by searching through previous comments. First, the squat sets don't follow the same template as the rest of your routine. I was wondering what the progression and rest times would look like for that. Obviously using 30, 30, 60, 90, 120 won't work because we are only doing 3 or 4 sets. Secondly, I am a little concerned with the deadlifts as well. I injured my back as a beginner. It's been a few years and has had a lot of time to heal but still I try not to stress it too much. Lifting 15 times over the course of 10 minutes would suggest that we're using some pretty heavy weight. I still enjoy deadlifting so is there any way we could customize that part of the workout that wouldn't compromise my gains too much? Please let me know. Thanks in advance.

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Posted Sun, 12/08/2013 - 12:14
Genry Milskiy

Steve what if I reach 30 reps in 4 sets do I continue with the remaining 3 anyway?

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Posted Fri, 11/29/2013 - 16:30
Kris

Very nice training, I've been doing it for a month and before I was stagging at 2 plates 30 on the bench and on the second cycle I hit 3 plates 5. The density workouts ask you a big recovery (sleep and eat good) but once recovered, believe me, you're stronger. 2-3 days after a workout, I still feel it, especially on the first iteration.

Steve, I've included an abs workout with the legs day with the same philosophy or your program and it's amazing, the abs are stronger then ever.

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Posted Wed, 11/06/2013 - 17:24
Alexey

I ve tried this Workout, and it feels great ! like all the pressure and feeling of progress. But Density weeks , i have a question about it. one of my friends said that i might have a problem with Lactic acid, that it will stop me somehow. That 30 reps is too much ( now im able to do only 12 per set ) . I just want to double check that.

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Posted Mon, 11/25/2013 - 12:22
Richard

you want all your reps form the seven sets to total 30, not 30 each set. read some of the first comments posted steve answered and it breaks this down in detail

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Posted Mon, 10/28/2013 - 18:15
Martins V.

In density, i need to get some extra weight when i get 7 sets per 30 reps - for example Biceps curl 20 kg 7x30?

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Posted Wed, 10/23/2013 - 21:23
Mike

I was thinking of taking this and replacing density with explosiveness and body weight training. Explosive for first exercise and then body weight for two more. For example chest day might be pylo pushups then regular pushups and then dips. What are your thoughts on this and what would you suggest for reps for the explosive exercises?

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Posted Tue, 10/08/2013 - 12:10
Joey Concepcion

I'm super confused, I do about 80-110lbs on a 8 rep set. Does this mean I have to do 30 rep for 7 sets or do 7 sets with an overall 30 rep total?

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Posted Fri, 09/27/2013 - 09:48
matthew

can i do 7x7 on density

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Posted Wed, 09/25/2013 - 10:58
john doe

Hello. Im doing both strength a d density on same day. Is it ok ?

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Posted Tue, 08/27/2013 - 23:29
maninder

hey steve

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Posted Tue, 08/27/2013 - 23:27
maninder

hey steve ,the strength session is for strength and what the density session for? and what hypertrophy this program lead, myofibrillar or sacroplasmic, i want to lean and strong and dont want any bulk,would this program will help me what i want?

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Posted Mon, 08/26/2013 - 23:57
gabe

hey Steve,
first off I want to say thank you for your shared knowledge and wisdom. I am currently a college and ROTC student while keeping fat at bay or decreased. I would like to ask will this workout program allow me to make gains in strength and continue fat loss while being able to perform military training/college life? or is this something that requires a solid commitment?