4 Day Split Workout – Comprehensive Guide For Beginners!

I used a 3 day workout split for years. It worked well with my busy schedule. Still, I found that doing chest, shoulders, and triceps in one day was often too much.

I knew I had to find a solution if I wanted more effective workouts. That’s when I found the 4 day workout split.

By dividing my physique over 4 days, I found I could give each workout 100%. Here’s what you need to know about the 4 day workout split!

What Is A 4 Day Workout Split?

A 4 day workout split divides your body into 4 parts. 

For example, you can spread pushing muscles out over two days. You can do chest and triceps on one day, deltoids and traps on another. A 4 day workout split leaves 3 full days for recovery.

The advantage of this split is that you can do a little more total work per muscle group. Exercise variety promotes complete development. If there’s a downside, it’s not as flexible as the 3 day workout split.  

Popular 4 Day Workout Splits

Here’s several of the common 4 day workout splits. 

The Classic 4 Day Split Routine

This is one of the most popular 4 day workout splits. It’s a classic routine that’s common among bodybuilders. It’s also popular with all styles of lifting.  

Example Classic 4 Day Workout Split

This routine can be done in your home gym using any equipment. It’s designed to provide a rest day before and after leg day. That’s because leg training can be especially draining.

As noted, it spreads chest, shoulders and triceps over 2 workouts. As good as the 3 day push/pull/legs routine is, it forces a lot of work on push day. This routine solves that problem. 

Day 1: Chest, Triceps

Bench Press

Warm up over 3 sets:

  • Bar x 15 reps
  • 20% RM x 10 reps
  • 40% RM x 8 reps

3 Working sets x 8 reps

Incline Press: 2 sets x 8 reps

Incline Dumbbell Flyes: 2 sets x 8 reps

Close Grip Bench Press: 2 sets x 8 reps

EZ Bar Extensions: 2 sets x 8 reps

Crunch: 2 sets x 15 reps

Day 2: Off

Day 3: Back, Biceps

Deadlifts – Same as bench press

Bent Rows: 2 sets x 8 reps

Pull Ups: 2 sets x as many as possible

Alternate Exercise: 

Lat Pulldowns – Do this if pull ups are too difficult: 2 sets x 8 reps

EZ Curls: 2 sets x 8 reps

Hammer Curls: 2 sets x 8 reps

Wrist Curl: 2 sets x 8-10 reps

Hanging Leg Raise: 1 set x 10 reps

Crunch: 2 sets x 15 reps

Day 4: Shoulders, Traps

Overhead Press – Same as bench presses

Side Laterals/Bent Over Laterals  : 2 sets x 8 reps

Do this as one exercise. You are performing 8 reps of each movement. This is also known as a superset. A superset is two exercises done one after another. You rest after each superset. 

Shrugs: 3 sets x 8 reps

Ab Wheel: 3 sets x 10 rollouts

Day 5: Off

Day 6: Legs

Squats – Same as bench presses

Leg Press: 2 sets x 8 reps

Alternate Exercise: Leg Extensions

Not every home gym has a leg press. If you don’t, use this exercise instead.

Lying Leg Curls: 3 sets x 8 reps

Standing Calf Raises : 2 sets x 10-12 reps

Seated Calf Raises : 2 set x 10-12 reps

Crunch : 2 sets x 15 reps

Day 7: Off

Performance Notes

You have some room to move your exercise days if needed. You can also move your rest days if you want to. Legs and back, biceps are big days. You’re doing both squats and deadlifts. That’s why there’s a rest day before and after leg day. 

You can change any of the exercises as needed. Is your goal size and strength? Stick with the exercises listed here. Otherwise, you can change exercises to fit your goals and equipment.

Concentrate on proper exercise form. Make sure you lift the weight under control. Don’t rush your reps. Also, don’t let momentum do the work for you. Emphasis the negative part of the rep. As far as tempo, take 2-3 seconds to lift the weight. Then take 4-6 seconds to return to the start position. Do not train to failure. The last 1-2 reps should be difficult to complete.

The exception is if size and strength are your goals. In that case, train to failure. At that point, you can add techniques such as rest-pause. With rest-pause, you train to failure and rack the weight for a 10 count. Unrack and do as many reps as you can. Rack the weight again and repeat a 3rd time.

Rest 60 seconds between sets. 

Add 10% more weight when the listed reps feel easy. Try to add weight every other workout. Add weight to as many exercises as possible. If you can’t do more weight, try adding 1-2 more reps. The idea is to keep your workouts progressive.

The Upper/Lower Split

This is another popular 4 day workout split routine. In this case, you’ll rotate your upper body and lower body, performing 4 workouts a week. This is the same workout as used in a 3 day workout split. The difference is you’re doing two upper and lower workouts all in one week. 

Upper Body: Monday/Thursday

Deadlifts

Warm up over 3 sets:

  • Bar x 15 reps
  • 20% RM x 10 reps
  • 40% RM x 8 reps

3 Working sets x 8 reps

Lat Pulldowns: 3 Working sets x 8 reps

Bench Press

Warm up over 2 sets:

  • 20% RM x 10 reps
  • 40% RM x 8 reps

3 Working sets x 8 reps

Seated Overhead Press: 2 Working sets x 8 reps

Dumbbell Side Laterals: 1 Working set x 8 reps

EZ Curls: 3 Working sets x 8 reps

Triceps Pressdowns (alternate every other workout with EZ bar Extensions): 3 Working Sets x 8 reps

Ab Wheel – Alternating Roll Side To Side: 2 Sets x 10 Rollouts

Crunch : 2 Sets x 15 reps

Lower Body: Days 2 & 5

Squats

Warm up over 3 sets:

  • Bar x 15 reps
  • 20% RM x 10 reps
  • 40% RM x 8 reps

4 Working sets x 8 reps

Leg Curls: 3 Working sets x 8 reps

Standing Calf Raises: 2 Working Sets x 12 reps

Seated Calf Raises: 2 Working sets x 12 reps

Ab Wheel: 2 Sets x 10 Rollouts

Crunch: 2 Sets x 15 reps

Performance Notes

You can move training days to fit your schedule. Still, try and have a rest day after 2 workouts. If you find you’re overtraining, you can reduce the set totals. Another option is to spread it out over 8 days. The 8th day would add another rest day. 

Follow the info above regarding exercise form. Use the same rep tempo guidelines. Add rest pause as discussed. Use a 60 second rest between sets, add weight as discussed. 

Feel free to change any of the exercises. If your goal is size and strength, stick with the exercises listed, if possible. Otherwise, change the exercises to fit your own goals. 

The 4 Day Split With Legs Emphasis

There’s several ways you can break up your physique. This approach is size-oriented. That’s because it breaks up your workouts so a major movement is being done each day. The thinking here is that you will stimulate more natural hormone release this way. 

Day 1: Back, Biceps 

Pullups

2 x 8-10 (add a weighted belt if need be)

Bent Rows

Warm up over 2 sets:

  • 20% RM x 10 reps
  • 40% RM x 8 reps

2 Working sets x 8 reps

Close-Grip Lat Pulldowns: 2 sets x 8 reps

EZ Curls: 2 sets x 8 reps

Hammer Curls: 2 sets x reps

Day 2: Quad-Dominant

Squats

Warm up over 3 sets:

  • Bar x 15 reps
  • 20% RM x 10 reps
  • 40% RM x 8 reps

4 Working sets x 8 reps

Leg Extensions: 2 Working sets x 8 reps

Standing Calf Raises: 2 Working Sets x 12 reps

Seated Calf Raises: 2 Working sets x 12 reps

Ab Wheel: 3 Sets x 10 Rollouts

Day 3: Chest, Shoulders, and Triceps

Bench Press

Warm up over 3 sets:

  • Bar x 15 reps
  • 20% RM x 10 reps
  • 40% RM x 8 reps

3 Working sets x 8 reps

Incline Press: 2 sets x 8 reps

Overhead Press: 3 sets x 8 reps

Close Grip Bench Press: 2 sets x 8 reps

Triceps Pressdowns: 2 sets x 8 reps

Crunch: 2 sets x 15 reps

Day 4: Hamstrings and Glute-Dominant

Deadlifts – Same as bench press

Except: 5 sets x 8 reps

Lying Leg Curls: 3 sets x 8 reps

Hanging Leg Raise: 3 sets x 10 reps

Crunch Side To Side: 2 sets x 12 reps

Performance Notes

As noted, every workout day begins with a major exercise like squats, pullups, bench presses, and deadlifts. 

Follow the information presented above regarding form. Also use the same rep tempo. Add rest pause as discussed. Use a 60 second rest period and add weight as discussed. 

What About Warming Up?

In all the workouts, you’re warming up on the first exercise. Still, you may want to do additional warm ups. Dynamic warmups are ideal. 

What’s a dynamic warmup? It’s a series of movements that activate your nervous system and increase your body temperature. It will also increase your range of motion. Finally, it warms up your joints. This is important for injury prevention.

Here’s an example of a dynamic warmup routine. Anyone can do this warm up.

Jump Rope x 20

Jumping Jacks x 20

Bodyweight Squats x 15

Bent Torso Twists x 10

Shoulder Circles x 10

Adding Cardio

Whether you add cardio depends on your goals. If your primary goal is fat loss, you’ll want to add several cardio sessions a week. You can do cardio after your workout.

You can also do cardio early in the day. It’s a good idea to drink a small protein shake 20-30 minutes before your session. Beyond that, do your cardio on an empty stomach. 

Equipment

You can use any exercise equipment you have. Here is the most popular home gym equipment:

  • Bodyweight – You can do a 4 day workout split using all bodyweight exercises. If you have a pullup/chinup station and pushup bars, that’s even better. 
  • Resistance Bands – There are several good resistance band home gyms on the market. Many include a bar and various handle attachments. Some come with a portable platform. Usually, the resistance bands attach to the platform. This opens up quite a few exercises. 
  • Dumbbells – Dumbbells allow you to increase your range of motion on many exercises. You’ll need an adjustable bench for these workouts.
  • Total Gym – All models of this compact home gym work well with these routines. 
  • Bowflex – Any Bowflex model can be adapted to these routines. 
  • Single Stack Home Gym – This home gym provides fewer exercises than a Total Gym or Bowflex. Still, it will work with the simpler routine examples listed here. A pair of dumbbells will come in handy. 
  • Smith Cage – The best Smith cages also allow free weight work off the front. They include a high/low pulley system, and a bench. 
  • Power Rack With Free Weights – This is a pure bodybuilding or powerlifting home gym. Do you have a lat machine, a bench, and other attachments? Then you can do any of the 4 day workout splits listed in this guide. 

What Are The Benefits Of Doing A 4 Day Split Workout?

Here are the benefits of a 4 day workout split:

More Exercises

With a 4 day split, you can do more exercises than a 3 day routine. You’re breaking up your physique into 4 sections. The extra frequency is ideal for natural lifters that want to build muscle. This is because frequency helps stimulate protein synthesis, a direct trigger for muscle growth. It also helps limit cortisol release. Cortisol is a catabolic hormone that’s destructive to your gains. 

A 4 day workout split is also good for anyone trying to lose fat. This is because you’re more active with a 4 day split. You’re burning more calories. 

Recovery

Training 4 days a week supports good recovery. Still, it’s not as many recovery days as you’d get doing a 3 day split. If you find you need more recovery time, as noted you can spread your workout week over another day or two. 

Is A 4 Day Split For Me?

As long as it can fit with your schedule, anyone can use a 4 day split. However, a beginner should start with something simpler, like a full body routine. They can move up to a 4 day workout split after 4-6 months. 

A routine like this works well for general fitness routines. This is also a good routine for bodybuilders and athletes with more experience. That includes more sport-specific training. 

How Long Should I Follow A 4 Day Split To See Results?

Any good routine should be followed for 8-12 weeks. This is generally the time frame it takes to see noticeable results. 

Are you trying to add size and build strength? Then you should think in terms of a year or longer to see impressive results. This assumes you’re consistently adding weight to the bar. It also assumes you’re eating correctly and recovering.

The same thinking applies to fat loss. Depending on how much you want to lose, you will need time. That’s because it’s best to lose fat slowly. If you try to rush it, you’re losing muscle and fat. 

Should I Be Taking Supplements For My 4 Day Split Workout?

Yes! There are several cornerstone supplements you should use. This is true no matter what workouts you do. 

Here are the foundational supplements you should use:

Protein Powder

Many people live very busy lifestyles. This often means they miss meals. If you’re seriously training, missed meals will slow your progress. Protein is essential to your muscle growth goals. The advantage of protein powder is its convenience. All you need is a shaker, a serving of powder, and water. Adding a protein powder to your program ensures you’re meeting your daily requirements. (1)

Multivitamin

Think of a multivitamin as “health insurance”. It guarantees you’re getting all the nutrients your body needs to function optimally. A multi is an often overlooked supplement. That’s because they aren’t flashy. Yet, the last thing you want is slow progress because of a lack of essential nutrients.

Pre-Workout

There are different pre-workouts. Some have stimulants, some don’t. The bottom line is that they provide focus, performance, and endurance benefits. Also, if you choose a stim pre-workout, you will have a lot of training energy.                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Creatine

If muscle size is your goal, creatine is one of the best supplements to use. It’s been time-tested and proven effective. It helps increase endurance, promotes cell volume, and stimulates muscle growth. (2)

BCAAs/EAAs

Like creatine, a BCAA/EAA formula is important if muscle growth is your goal. Amino acids are a component of protein. Some, called non-essential amino acids, are made by the body. Others, called essential amino acids (EAAs) cannot be made by the body. They must come from diet and supplements. There are nine EAAs, three of them are the BCAAs. These aminos stimulate protein synthesis, a direct trigger for muscle growth. (3)

If you’re trying to lose body fat, you can add:

Thermogenic Fat Burner

Fat loss demands diet changes and a more active lifestyle. It’s important to eat less sugar and total carbs. Your meal should contain more protein. Processed foods should be avoided. Once you have your diet in place, you have to be more active. A thermogenic fat burner provides more energy and helps the body burn fat as energy. (4)

Tips & Common Mistakes

Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Keep A Training Journal – An exercise journal lets you keep track of the factors that contribute to your progress. A good journal tracks the time of your workout and the amount of weight used. It lists your exercises, reps, and sets. You can add other details like how you’re feeling. 
  • Make Sure You’re Using Enough Weight – Does your working set call for 8 reps? Could you have done 12 reps? Then you need to add weight. Your last couple of reps should be hard to complete. If muscle size is your goal, you can train to failure. Don’t make the mistake of using easy weights. Progressive overload is an important principle. Adding weight every other workout means more strength. And size will follow strength. 
  • Don’t Add Weight Too Fast – Like above, does your set call for 8 reps? Were you only able to do 4-5 reps? You’re trying to add weight too soon. You should be able to complete your goal reps. It may be hard but you should be able to do it. 

Common Mistakes

Avoid making these common mistakes:

  • Using A 4 Day Workout Split Too Soon – If you’re a beginner, start with a full body routine. After 4-6 months, you can work up to a 4 day workout split. Trying to jump right into a 4 day split can lead to overtraining. This is because you’re doing too many sets. Remember, more is not always better. 
  • Not Warming Up Enough – Always take the time to warm up thoroughly. This helps prevent injuries. Nothing is worse than an injury that keeps you sidelined for weeks or months. This guide provides both dynamic warmups and a pyramid approach to the first set.  
  • Adding Exercises – Don’t make the mistake of thinking that “more is better”. Taking one of these routines and adding 3-4 more exercises per body part is a mistake. It’s not how much work you do, or how long you work out. Remember, you grow when you recover. If you’re training hard, you shouldn’t be able to do a ton of sets. 
  • Not Following A Good Diet – Whether it’s muscle growth or fat loss, diet is essential to your success. You can’t eat a diet high in junk food and expect to make progress. As noted, eat according to your goals. Your diet should comprise clean foods. 

Conclusion

Moving up to a 4 day workout split usually means you have some experience under your belt. Chances are, you’ve been training for a while and made some good progress. A routine like this is the next step. It’s often the only routine you’ll need. No matter what your goals are, you’ll see great results with this routine. Remember, consistency is key. Let’s train!

References:

  1. Tarnopolsky, M. A., MacDougall, J. D., & Atkinson, S. A. (1988). Influence of protein intake and training status on nitrogen balance and lean body mass. Journal of applied physiology (Bethesda, Md. : 1985), 64(1), 187–193. https://doi.org/10.1152/jappl.1988.64.1.187
  2. Häussinger, D., Roth, E., Lang, F., & Gerok, W. (1993). Cellular hydration state: an important determinant of protein catabolism in health and disease. Lancet (London, England), 341(8856), 1330–1332. https://doi.org/10.1016/0140-6736(93)90828-5
  3. Jackman, S. R., Witard, O. C., Philp, A., Wallis, G. A., Baar, K., & Tipton, K. D. (2017). Branched-Chain Amino Acid Ingestion Stimulates Muscle Myofibrillar Protein Synthesis following Resistance Exercise in Humans. Frontiers in physiology, 8, 390. https://doi.org/10.3389/fphys.2017.00390
  4. Astrup, A., Toubro, S., Cannon, S., Hein, P., Breum, L., & Madsen, J. (1990). Caffeine: a double-blind, placebo-controlled study of its thermogenic, metabolic, and cardiovascular effects in healthy volunteers. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 51(5), 759–767. https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/51.5.759
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