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, 12/13/2011 - 11:57
Brennan Smith

Starting this workout today. All my friends are saying that it's big weights or go home. I can't wait to show them up!!

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Posted Sat, 12/10/2011 - 22:29
bobby

I was wondering if this workout could be used for fat reduction while maintaning muscle? I figure it would be possible to if I dropped my calorie intake bc the intensity level of the work out is pretty up there at times. And your muscles would constantly be challenged by the heavy weight.

Steven's picture
Posted Wed, 12/21/2011 - 11:55
Steven

Sure, with a good cutting diet you could lose fat and retain muscle with this plan. You want to focus on two things to maximize results:

1) Pushing yourself in the gym. Using good form, always push yourself on every set. When you can perform the recommended number of reps for a set, add weight.

2) Eating to maximize muscle retention while cutting fat. Here are two articles that can help:

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/your-go-to-guide-for-cutting-...

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/how-to-create-a-bodybuilding-...

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Posted Thu, 12/01/2011 - 21:49
Carl

Hi Steve,

I just started your density workout and I plan to implement a plyo workout in a couple weeks. The plyo workout is 3 days a week, with only one lifting day per week. Would you recommend doing the lifting day from the plyo workout and not doing the density leg day or doing the density program for my legs and skipping the plyo lifting day?

Steven's picture
Posted Mon, 12/19/2011 - 13:47
Steven

What are your goals?

Dropping a complete day of training from this program wouldn't work very well, as you would be undertraining a portion of the body. What does this plyo-related workout look like?

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Posted Tue, 12/20/2011 - 20:58
Carl

The plyo workout basically consists of 3 leg workouts. Two days involve different jumps and low weight training and the 3rd day is a strength day for legs with squats, leg curls, extensions, etc. My question is, can I add the two days of low weight training and jumps to your density workout or would I be over training my legs?

Steven's picture
Posted Wed, 12/21/2011 - 15:34
Steven

Probably not overtraining. Just make sure you space them out appropriately around the leg day.

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Posted Tue, 11/29/2011 - 15:16
Drew

Hey Steve,

I have replaced Deadlift with Powerclean. Today was Back Strength, and doing 8 sets of 3 with 175 was pretty easy. I'm curious what I should begin with on the singles week for this lift?

Steven's picture
Posted Thu, 12/15/2011 - 19:37
Steven

I would start with 195 or so.

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Posted Mon, 11/28/2011 - 17:11
Ike

Hey Steve...What is this type of exercise routine geared toward as far as my body? Meaning.. will it add mass, strength, endurance, or will it help me lose weight as well? Thanks in advance

Steven's picture
Posted Thu, 12/15/2011 - 19:35
Steven

This program is designed to build muscle and strength. Fat loss comes primarily from diet.

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Posted Tue, 11/15/2011 - 11:34
TW

Man, I feel bad for Steve having to answer the same 'how many reps should i do for the strength set? 210?' question every other day. Good program.

Steven's picture
Posted Mon, 11/28/2011 - 13:37
Steven

Thanks TW.

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Posted Thu, 11/10/2011 - 13:09
Justin

How long should you do this routine for before changing to a different one to help with peaking or can I just always do this routine?

Steven's picture
Posted Mon, 11/28/2011 - 13:36
Steven

There is no urgent need to frequently switch routines. You can continue to use it as long as you feel it's serving you well.

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Posted Fri, 10/28/2011 - 08:44
Lee

So,lets say on your first set you do 30 reps,then you increase the weight,then on your second set you only reach 15,on your third set you do another 15,does that mean you increase the weight again when you start with your fourth set?Just a final question,can you do density chest once every week with strength chest after a 2 day rest period where you target other muscle groups?Thanx a lot

Steven's picture
Posted Mon, 10/31/2011 - 14:21
Steven

The 30 rep goal is for all sets, not for a single set.

I do not recommend running a strength and density workout with only 2 days of rest between. For best results run the workout as structured.

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Posted Tue, 10/25/2011 - 14:57
Josh

Hi
I was wondering what I could substitute deadlift with. I am limited on what I can do becaus I work out at home, I have an ez bar with about 300 lbs of plates, powertec multipress with attachments, powerbock dumbells, and hoist v3 home gym. Is this enough to complete your routine I have not started it yet, as I am very interested.

Steven's picture
Posted Wed, 10/26/2011 - 11:03
Steven

Hi Josh,

If you don't have a barbell, your next best option is to use the bent over row as your primary back exercise.

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Posted Sun, 10/23/2011 - 05:07
Benedict

Hey Steve,
This program looks great for an off-season football workout as it incorporates strength and muscle building. I was wondering if you would recommend adding plyometrics to help those looking to get a little faster and more athletic. Thanks

Steven's picture
Posted Mon, 10/24/2011 - 10:44
Steven

I'm sure they would be beneficial. I would recommend posting your question in the forum:

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/forum/

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Posted Fri, 10/21/2011 - 22:20
steve stukas

hi Steve, where can i add power clean into this?

Steven's picture
Posted Mon, 10/24/2011 - 10:43
Steven

You can use them on back during during the strength week.

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Posted Tue, 10/18/2011 - 01:31
Benedict

Hi,
Is there anywhere i could add Power Cleans to the mix? Thanks

Steven's picture
Posted Fri, 10/21/2011 - 15:01
Steven

You can use them on back during during the strength week.

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Posted Sun, 10/16/2011 - 14:18
john

I see for the density routine to stated that it be 70% of your 1RM, how about the strength routine what % should I use for my sets and exercises?

Steven's picture
Posted Sun, 10/16/2011 - 14:41
Steven

I think 75% might be a good place to start.

No Profile Pic
Posted Sat, 10/08/2011 - 12:37
scott

Hi Steve,

I currently experience a significant amount of lower back pain. Is there any way to accomplish the goals of this routine without including deadlifts?

thanks

Steven's picture
Posted Sat, 10/08/2011 - 22:31
Steven

Sure, but without knowing the nature of your lower back injury I can't recommend alternative exercises.

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Posted Thu, 10/06/2011 - 10:36
strenght training

thanks alot for answering my question there , but if i do this workout for good 4 weeks , eat alot , drink protein shakes , am i gna gain much strenght in these 4 weeks den?

Steven's picture
Posted Thu, 10/06/2011 - 15:51
Steven

In 4 weeks? Not much. It takes years to increase strength.

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Posted Wed, 10/05/2011 - 23:45
BIG DOG KB

I love this workout. Can't wait to get started. I will start when I am out of pre-workout so that I am under no supplements other than protein and a multivitamin. However, I am a little confused about the deadlift program. What exactly do you mean do as many singles straight for 10 minutes. That would be very intense. Don't mean to sound dumb but would greatly appreciate some clarification. Thanks

Steven's picture
Posted Thu, 10/06/2011 - 15:44
Steven

Do a single rep, release the bar, rest until you feel ready to go, and do another single. You basically rest in between each rep only long enough to recover your senses and strength.

No Profile Pic
Posted Wed, 10/05/2011 - 05:35
strenght training

hi steve,

if you get in a fight is circuit training is for it like for my strenght and training i train my body from Tuesday-Friday.

I do this workout everyday 4 days a week ,High jumps , Burpees ,Running , Jogging , 40 punches at heavy bag , Push Ups , Body weight Squats , Sit ups and have wrestling match once in a week and i do full body weight lifting on friday!

can you please tell me is this training any good for your strenght and power or shall i start doing weight training.

Steven's picture
Posted Wed, 10/05/2011 - 16:08
Steven

If you want a lot of strength and power then strength training is never a bad choice.

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Posted Tue, 10/04/2011 - 06:30
Chris

for example what weight am i using over these 30 reps?

Steven's picture
Posted Tue, 10/04/2011 - 15:36
Steven

As much as you can. When you reach that number of reps, add weight.

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Posted Sat, 10/01/2011 - 15:41
Leo

Hi Steve,

Just a question, so is it 30 reps per set? which totals to 210 reps(for example 7x30)
or is it over the course of 7 sets you do a total of 30 reps(like for example( 1st set- 5 reps, 2nd set- 5 reps, and the last 5 sets - 4 reps)

If it is the second one, then on chest day wouldn't the barbell bench be pretty much the same for Strength and Density days. I'm quite confused.

Steven's picture
Posted Sun, 10/02/2011 - 16:00
Steven

Hi Leo,

You are not performing 30 reps per set. The goal is 30 total reps for all 7 sets.

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Posted Tue, 09/27/2011 - 05:28
Prateek

Hey steeve,
I'm 24 and I bench arround 140 pounds,dead lifts 200 pounds and squat 250 pounds
what if I trained for four days as u suggested and then did HIIT for the rest three days with abs...
Or what if I did the same training for 6 days in a split that looks something like this
Monday-chest & back -density
Tuesday-shoulder biceps n tri-strength
Wednesday- legs n hams
Thursday-Chest & Back -strength
Friday-shoulders biceps & triceps - density
Saturday abs & legs
Sunday rest

HIIT every alternate evenings instead of cardio

Steven's picture
Posted Fri, 09/30/2011 - 16:42
Steven

Run the program as designed.

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Posted Thu, 09/22/2011 - 13:59
anthony

hey steve what will the results be if you do the density and strength workout in the same day ?

Steven's picture
Posted Fri, 09/30/2011 - 16:42
Steven

I don't recommend that. Run the program as designed.

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Posted Wed, 09/21/2011 - 14:32
AJ

Hello Steve
I'm just starting the program and I'm wondering what kind of supplements you think would help me out the most

Steven's picture
Posted Fri, 09/30/2011 - 16:41
Steven
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Posted Wed, 09/21/2011 - 07:18
Yendawg

On the 8 set days, should I change weight to keep my reps below 3? Example: My first couple of sets I can do 225 2 times. By my 4th set or so, I can only get it once. I drop weight to keep my reps about 2 reps I am in my 4th week of this routine. I am having some issues and now I think I might be doing the routine incorrectly.

Am I all f'd up?

Thanks

Steven's picture
Posted Fri, 09/30/2011 - 16:40
Steven

Use the same weight for all sets. You want to start with a weight that allows you to at minimum perform 2 reps per set.

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Posted Wed, 09/21/2011 - 00:23
John

For the strength day exercises you have, for example "1 or 2 tricep exercises of choice" and then have listed only 3 sets 6-10 reps. Is that 3 sets per exercise or three total sets for the exercises you choose?

Steven's picture
Posted Fri, 09/30/2011 - 16:39
Steven

3 sets per exercise.

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Posted Tue, 09/20/2011 - 13:26
steve2

Hi Steve, I can only spare a Wednesday and Friday during the working week to go to the gym. How would I split the routine to accommodate this? Unfortunately, I can't be lenient with the days since I'm a newly graduated doctor in the UK, and they're working me like a donkey!

Here is what I was thinking:

Monday: FREE
Tuesday: FREE
Wednesday: Shoulders and Biceps
Thursday: FREE
Friday: Legs
Saturday: Chest and Triceps
Sunday: Back and Traps

In order to let the posterior chain recover, I've split legs and back with chest/triceps. Is that ok? Or is three straight days too much? Thanks.