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

4.4 STARS
222 VOTES
RATE THIS
About The Author
M&S writers is a collection of all the other writers that have published content on Muscle and Strength.

581 Comments+ Post Comment

No Profile Pic
Posted Fri, 01/25/2013 - 17:32
Chris Allen

Thanks for the response! As far as sets and reps I was looking for how many sets, and how many reps during warm-ups. There is so much varying information that I'd like to see your take. Do you increase the weight on every warm up set, or stay static. How many wa up sets do you perform and is there a rep range you like. Thanks again.

mnsjason's picture
Posted Fri, 01/25/2013 - 17:38
mnsjason

Oh, sorry! It depends on what you're comfortable with. I personally will start with a very low weight, push 8 reps, add weight, push 8. I also do some light cardio for about 5 minutes before I begin any workout.

No Profile Pic
Posted Mon, 01/14/2013 - 17:54
Sebastian

Hey Steve. Even though I read through the comments, I still don't get the "deadlidt single" thing on the density workout. Could you explain it more thoroughly? Thanks in advance. Nice workout by the way!

No Profile Pic
Posted Tue, 01/08/2013 - 16:55
Nick Traina

Whats up Steve, i was just wondering is this workout going to put major size on me? like will it put a lot of mass on? or will it just improve my strength, because i'm trying to get a lot of size plus strength. Please get back to me thanks

Joey's picture
Posted Wed, 01/09/2013 - 15:00
Joey

Hey Nick - This routine will help build muscle, but that will be more dependent on your diet. Here is a helpful muscle-building guide:
https://www.muscleandstrength.com/expert-guides/muscle-building

No Profile Pic
Posted Sun, 01/06/2013 - 13:53
tasos

Hi,Steve.
i have a low back injury(herniated disk) and i can't do deadlifts.Another exercise for the session of back and legs ?thanks

No Profile Pic
Posted Fri, 01/04/2013 - 16:42
tasos

Hi,Steve.
I have a problem with lower back pain(herniated disk) and i can't do deadlifts for singles enen thought for reps...what i can do for back and legs in the position of deadlifts? keep up the good work!

No Profile Pic
Posted Fri, 01/04/2013 - 12:09
JB

On density and strength workout days, what should the weight difference be for workouts such as bench, squat, deadlift, etc.?

No Profile Pic
Posted Fri, 12/28/2012 - 12:00
Ali

Am I supposed to do 210 reps in total of each exercise during the density training? I mean 7 x 30 = 210

No Profile Pic
Posted Thu, 01/24/2013 - 08:58
Flash

NO...30 reps total for the whole 7 sets.

No Profile Pic
Posted Thu, 12/27/2012 - 02:16
Brad

Hi,

I'm currently doing P90X classic and I'm thinking about switching to another program. I see that this program has a good rating on this website but in my opinion it seems a little too short. Could this be used as a stand-alone program or do l have to combine it with another program?

Joey's picture
Posted Fri, 01/04/2013 - 11:22
Joey

Definitely stand-alone. Believe me, this will be plenty of work. Focus on progressing with weight.

No Profile Pic
Posted Fri, 12/21/2012 - 15:59
Big Bob

For the 8 sets of 2-3 reps on strength days, do you use the same weight for all 8 sets?

No Profile Pic
Posted Wed, 12/19/2012 - 05:42
Chris Walker

Absolutely one of the best muscle building, strength enhancing, complete weights programs i have ever used. I have used very similar, albeit a few diff exercises, over the years and managed to put on circa 15 kgs of lean muscle whilst maintaining 12-13% BF.

Steve, brilliant job!

No Profile Pic
Posted Tue, 12/18/2012 - 21:52
Aaron

I was wondering about the squats on density days. Could you follow the same format as the other exercises? Why did you change it up?

No Profile Pic
Posted Mon, 12/17/2012 - 00:05
Em

for the strength workout, how long do you recommend that I rest between the assitance exercises?

No Profile Pic
Posted Mon, 12/10/2012 - 18:14
Big Bob

On the strength days, when it says pick 2 exercises for 3 sets does it mean 3 total sets or 6?
So each exercise for 3 sets or a total of 3 sets between the 2 exercises?

No Profile Pic
Posted Sun, 12/09/2012 - 22:45
Malik

Is it alright if I add more workouts to this routine, so instead of 2 chest and 1 tricep on the density day, maybe 3 chest and 2 triceps

No Profile Pic
Posted Wed, 12/05/2012 - 21:34
Big Bob

On strength days you say 1- 2 or just 2 exercises of a muscle for 3 sets. Does this mean 3 sets total when you use 2 exercises or 6 sets?
For ex: for chest it says 2 exercises of choice 3 sets
Does this mean 3 or 6 total sets?

No Profile Pic
Posted Tue, 12/04/2012 - 20:42
Geno

So for this routine. For example it says density days starting with chest to do 7sets of 30 total reps. So Im a moderate weight lifter, so Ill start with 135lbs on my bench press. So do I use that same weight for 7 sets at 30 reps each because I think that would be the only weight I could use to even make it to 30 reps, and if I do so. I add at least ten pounds total weight the following week right? What happens if I cant even do 30 reps each set? I think I might be able to do it for the first 2-3 sets but then what? Can you please explain to me what I should do, because Im really interested in this routine!
thanks

No Profile Pic
Posted Thu, 01/24/2013 - 08:56
Flash

Its 30 reps for the whole 7 sets and NOT for an individual set..if you do more than 30 total, then add weight next time you do this workout.

No Profile Pic
Posted Thu, 11/29/2012 - 22:57
Bobby

Hi Steve when u say 30 reps for 7 sets would that be a total of 210 total reps before adding weight?

Joey's picture
Posted Wed, 12/05/2012 - 11:40
Joey

No - 30 reps total

No Profile Pic
Posted Tue, 11/27/2012 - 20:50
Anthony

Hey Steve, I am on my 4th week and seeing some decent results in size and strength, while maintaining a high caloric clean diet. I'm curious as to what of the speed of each rep be for the positive and negative of my lift. For example, I've been counting 3 seconds positive then 3 seconds negative on the contraction? Great workout so far!

No Profile Pic
Posted Fri, 11/23/2012 - 13:05
Yan

Hi Steve! I have a question to do for your routine! Im going to do your workout next week, but for density set i have to do fast reps till i do 30 each set, or just normal move?

No Profile Pic
Posted Sat, 11/17/2012 - 09:55
ali

hi dear Steve , why the shin exercise isn't in leg workout ?
thank you

No Profile Pic
Posted Tue, 12/04/2012 - 00:31
Paul

Your shin isn't a muscle.

No Profile Pic
Posted Tue, 11/13/2012 - 16:04
Aaron

Hey steve, been on this workout for nearly 2 and a bit months now! All i can say is fantastic. My atrength is up but not only that i have put on some serious muscle mass. Especially around the shoulder area. This beats generic 8-12 reps any day

Thanks once again

No Profile Pic
Posted Mon, 10/29/2012 - 11:31
Jon Lawrence

currently doing 5/3/1 but really want to start this workout after christmas. I was wondering what the starting percentages (of my 1rep max) should be for both the strength portion and the density portin of the routine. thanks

No Profile Pic
Posted Sun, 10/28/2012 - 16:00
Jon

In your opinion what is the minimal and maximum gains you can make in one month for your bench and squat using this program?

No Profile Pic
Posted Mon, 10/22/2012 - 11:31
Mike

Big fan of your articles and workouts. Did the Power, Muscle, Burn 4 day split for more than 18 months. Most recently I've been doing my own 3 day split based a lot on what I've learned researching and doing your workouts. But where I've had the biggest muscular and strength growth is on a 4 day split. This workout here seems to fill my desire for both impressive strength and muscle gain. Unfortunately my deadlift/squat/bench total is only 750. Would I see optimal results from this workout?

PS. I'm a 6'5 ectomorph. If that helps.

No Profile Pic
Posted Fri, 10/19/2012 - 12:56
Jordan

Steve,

You mentioned that you recommend doing cardio for 20-30 minutes post-workout. However, several muscle building programs strongly suggest that you consume an adequate protein source within 30 minutes after completing training to re-build broken down muscle. How would this work if your doing cardio post-workout and missing this critical 30 minute post-workout protein consumption window? Any feedback would be helpful. Thanks.

No Profile Pic
Posted Fri, 10/19/2012 - 05:01
Kyle

In regards to the squats on density day, how long shall I rest between each set?

No Profile Pic
Posted Thu, 10/04/2012 - 08:19
Raul

Hi Steve, I tested others routines yours previusly and have been ok. I want to try this, but I have a question, if I raise p.e. 100 kg bench press, How many kilograms 7x35 I start your routine "Density and strength"?
thanks

No Profile Pic
Posted Wed, 10/03/2012 - 15:43
Ozioma Ejim

Hey steve I wanted to know if i could get on this program for i have not lifted in over a couple of month now. (I participate in football and I known to be one of the strongest on the team)

Steven's picture
Posted Wed, 10/03/2012 - 16:33
Steven

It should serve you well.

No Profile Pic
Posted Wed, 10/03/2012 - 16:58
ozioma ejim

good to now. I want to also ask about the rep, how much weight do I put on (and if it deponds on max do I go off of my offseason max or do I start over)

No Profile Pic
Posted Mon, 10/01/2012 - 21:46
Victor

Hi Steve,

I tried finding the answer in the comments section...but after a couple pages, this might be easier.

I just started this program today and I'm excited to see where it goes. Could you clarify one piece for me: Am I supposed to be going up in weight on each set? I read that you said you should use your 8 rep max for both strength and density... I feel like if you're going for 30 reps in density, but 16 for strength, you're either supposed to go up in weight, or I'm missing something.

e.g. Today I did chest (density), so my sets were:
10x140lbs, 5x145lbs, 5x145lbs, 5x150lbs, 3x160lbs, 1x175, 1x175.

did do this wrong?

Thanks!

Steven's picture
Posted Wed, 10/03/2012 - 16:33
Steven

You use the same weight for all sets. The weight will be different on strength days and density days.

No Profile Pic
Posted Mon, 10/01/2012 - 02:06
Emerson

hey, on the strength days for the chest, after im finished with my heavy benching and I go onto the assistance exercises, if in addition to the two other exercises you say to pick, if i throw 3 sets of dips in, will that cause any harm?

so basically my asistance exercises are as follows:
3x incline db press
3x dumbell flyes
3x dips
3x skull crushers/close grip bp or something

Steven's picture
Posted Wed, 10/03/2012 - 16:32
Steven

I don't recommend adding any extra work. This workout will serve you well as designed. Extra work does not equate to extra results. Progression is most important.

No Profile Pic
Posted Fri, 09/28/2012 - 14:26
Márcio

Hi Steve very good workout I gonna give it a try!!!

I'm bodybuilding from almost 5 years, always lifting heavy and hard training.

I'm thinking about this training and what do you say about doing the following split:

Week 1

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

Week 2

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

This way my biceps rest one more day in the middle of the week.

Please let me know what you think about this.

Thank you,
Good trainings

Steven's picture
Posted Wed, 10/03/2012 - 16:30
Steven

Looks good!

No Profile Pic
Posted Fri, 09/14/2012 - 14:43
Levi

For the back density day, I was wondering if it would be better to add weight to my pull ups or do the lat pulldown?

No Profile Pic
Posted Mon, 09/10/2012 - 04:36
David

Hey. I'm contemplating between this workout program and 4 day power muscle burn workout. My aim is to get a lean and toned physique. Which one out of the two would you recommend?. I have been working out regularly however without sticking to any set programs. Should i start with one and move on to another? Thanks.

No Profile Pic
Posted Mon, 08/20/2012 - 20:10
Dimitri Kritikos

Hey Steve, I'm loving this workout so far! just finished my second week and am already feeling stronger. Just one quick question...is the training volume for each body part enough? I feel like after chest day, for example, I'm slightly sore for only about a day, but then i have to wait a whole week to train chest again. I have just been used to training each body part twice a week, so once a week per bodypart is an adjustment for me.

No Profile Pic
Posted Tue, 08/14/2012 - 17:07
Mike

Any draw backs to only changing the days to Monday Wednesday Friday Saturday?

No Profile Pic
Posted Fri, 08/10/2012 - 22:31
Dylan N.

How do I add definition to my chest? I've never quite get the noticeable definition that stays, only seems to show when I work out, but sort of diminishes after a night's sleep. I follow a work out program that only lets you work on your chest one day out of every 5 days.....is that enough to stimulate the chest muscles? Do I have to do push-ups every day as well? It seems I'm missing something. Please help?

No Profile Pic
Posted Tue, 08/07/2012 - 03:02
Jake

Hey Steve, just wanted to mention a cool approach I took to this work out. I struggled the first day after hammering out the 7 sets of barbell, then db bench, having to lower my normal weight 50 lbs to do the same reps. After that I figuring making a few alterations to prepare my body for more volume then its use to rather than just giving up. So I tried it like this

First week: instead of 7 sets of 30 reps total, I lowered it to 5 sets of 40 total reps

2nd week: Strength day; 6 sets instead of 8 on the main compound exercise.

3rd week: 6 sets of 35 total reps

4th week: 7 sets on the main compound exercise

5th & 6th week: As planned in your workout

So within around a month I prepared for the volume level and am handling it fine now. Seeing significant strength gains, thanks for the great routine!

No Profile Pic
Posted Sat, 08/04/2012 - 22:41
Antonio

How long should the training session be ?