4 day workout routine
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The 4 Day Split Workout: The Best Routine for All Fitness Goals

When I first began working out, I tried multiple types of workout plans and routines. Some workout plans worked better than others, but the one consistent factor in each workout plan was that each plan revolved around a 4-day split workout routine.

4 Day Split Workout Routines

The 4 Day Workout Routine consists of a workout plan that revolves around 4 days a week of working out. There are two main formats of a 4 Day program that are detailed below.

4 Days Straight Workout Routine Overview

Day 1Workout
Day 2Workout
Day 3Workout
Day 4Workout
Day 5Rest
Day 6Rest
Day 7Rest

2-1-2-2 Workout Routine Overview

Day 1Workout
Day 2Workout
Day 3Rest
Day 4Workout
Day 5Workout
Day 6Rest
Day 7Rest

I prefer the rest day in between so I can get the rest I need to perform at my best and lift the heavier weights. The downside of this one is that you’ll have to workout on a Friday.

With the 4 days straight method, going 100% 4 days straight is difficult to do even if you’re switching muscle groups. You will have to make sure your nutrition is on point to fuel those workouts (see under expert tips below). The benefit to this format is knocking out the workouts by Thursday giving you the weekend to relax.

The overall benefit of a 4 day split is the ability to rotate between all muscle groups and allow optimal rest time between workouts. When compared to other day splits, this routine focuses on working each muscle group equally.

Popular 4 Day Split Programs:

  • Upper Lower – Alternates between upper body only and lower body only workout days. This is a great routine for those wanting to increase muscle size.
  • Push Pull – This type splits workout days between exercises that push the weight away from the body and exercises that pull the weight toward the body. This routine is perfect for those that want to get great muscle definition.
  • Cardio Strength – The last type is the cardio strength 4 day split that focuses on 2 days of strength and 2 days of cardio. This is great for those that want to shred the weight off.

I prefer 4 day splits over other types of routines because they’re the most efficient routines and they take up less time. They’re efficient because I’m only in the gym for at least 1 hour each day and I work every muscle group at least twice during the week.

With shorter day splits (2 and 3), I’ll be in the gym for at least an hour and a half to 2 hours each day and that’s just too much time for most. Longer day splits (5 and 6) are just too many trips to the gym and not enough rest time.

The Best 4 Day Splits Variations for Fitness Goals:male weight loss

Weight Loss

For weight loss, I recommend the cardio strength 4 day split workout routine. This will allow you to get the recommended 2 days of strength training and dedicate 2 days to burning off the calories.

For the cardio days, I suggest a day of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and a day of steady-state cardio. High-intensity interval training burns both carbs and fats because the heart rate intervals are between mid and high heart rate zones. Steady-state cardio training focuses on burning more fat.

The strength days will focus on full-body combination workouts. Combination workouts allow you to move through the workouts faster in order for you to work more muscles in a shorter amount of time. The rep range for the workouts should be 12 to 15 repetitions.

Sample Week of Weight Loss 4 Day Split:

DAY 1: FULL-BODY STRENGTH
Warm-up (3 sets)10 reps Pushups
10 reps Squats
10 reps Jumping Jacks
Workout (4 sets)
15 reps Dumbbell Squat Curl Press
15 reps Dumbbell Deadlifts to Upright Rows
Workout (4 sets)
12 reps Pull Ups
15 reps Dumbbell Chest Press
Workout (4 sets)15 reps Medicine Ball Sit Ups
15 reps Dumbbell Shoulder Flys
DAY 2: HIIT
Warm-up (3 sets)30 Second Jumping Jacks
1 Minute Squats
Workout (4 sets)
30 Second Jumping Jacks
1 Minute Plank
45 Second Jump Rope
1 Minute Squats
Workout (4 sets)
1 Minute Mountain Climbers
1 Minute Inchworms
1 Minute Alternating Step Ups
1 Minute High Knees

Workout (4 sets)

1 Minute Jump Rope
30 Second Side Plank
30 Second Burpees
30 Second Side Plank
DAY 3: REST
DAY 4: FULL-BODY STRENGTH
Warm-up (3 sets)20 reps Sit Ups
20 reps Glute Bridges
10 Pushups
Workouts (4 sets)15 reps Leg Press
15 reps Barbell Deadlift to Shrug
Workouts (4 sets) 12 reps Dumbbell Chest Fly
12 reps Dumbbell Bent Over Row
Workouts (4 sets) 15 reps EZ Bar Curls
15 reps Tricep Extension
DAY 5: STEADY STATE CARDIO
Warm-up (3 sets)30 Second High Knees
30 Second Butt Kicks
1 Minute Squats
Workout30 Minute Run

Focus on keeping a steady above-average pace. If using a heart rate monitor, stay between 60% to 75% of heart rate max. Here is a tool to help find those numbers.

Expert Advice:

The focus on the macros for weight loss is to lower carbs. Lowering carbs will allow for more protein content to build muscles that burn more calories at rest.

45% of calories from Carbohydrate

30% of calories from Fat

25% of calories from Protein

Muscle Building

To build big muscle, I recommend the upper lower 4 day split workout routine. 2 days of this routine will be dedicated to upper body muscles only and the other 2 will focus on the lower body muscles only.

I suggest for the upper body days to put an emphasis on push muscles 1 day and an emphasis on pull muscles the other day. The same will be for the lower body muscle days.

The rep range during this routine will stay in the 8 to 12 range. This will be the optimal range for growing big muscle.

Sample Week of Muscle Building 4 Day Split:

DAY 1: UPPER BODY PUSH EMPHASIS
Warm-up (3 sets)12 reps Push Ups
10 reps Pull Ups (can be assisted)
Workout (4 sets)12 reps Dumbbell Bench Press
12 reps Dumbbell Rows
Workout (3 sets)12 reps Single Arm Dumbbell Tricep Kickbacks
12 reps EZ Barl Curls
Workout (3 sets)12 reps Incline Dumbbell Press
15 reps Tricep Dips
DAY 2: LOWER BODY PUSH
Warm-up (3 sets)15 reps Bodyweight Squats
15 reps Glute Bridges
Workout (4 sets)10 reps Barbell Squats
12 reps Kettlebell Swings
Workout (4 sets)10 reps Barbell Deadlifts
12 reps Dumbbell Lunges
Workout (4 sets)12 reps Single Leg, Leg Press
15 reps Dumbbell Calve Raises
DAY 3: REST
DAY 4: UPPER BODY PULL
Warm-up (3 sets)10 reps Pull Ups (assisted)
15 reps Push Ups
Workout (4 sets)12 reps Lat Pulldown
12 reps Dumbbell Chest Fly
Workout (4 sets)12 reps Dumbbell Hammer Curls
12 reps Lying Dumbbell Skullcrushers
Workout (4 sets)12 reps Dumbbell Upright Rows
10 reps Dumbbell Back Flys
DAY 5: LOWER BODY PULL
Warm-up (3 sets)10 reps Bodweight Lunges on each leg
15 reps Bodyweight Squats
Workout (4 sets)12 reps Barbell Deadlifts
12 reps Barbell Front Squats
Workout (4 sets)15 reps Kettlebell Swings
12 reps Lunge Cross through on each side
Workout (4 sets)12 reps Hamstring Curls
12 reps Single Leg Dumbbell Deadlifts on each leg

Expert Advice: 

The focus of muscle building is to lower fats and either increase carbs or proteins. Carbs fuel the bigger muscles to lift heavier weights and proteins repair the muscles to grow back stronger.

55% of calories from Carbohydrate

20% of calories from Fat

25% of calories from Proteinmuscle toning

Muscle Toning

Everyone loves defined muscles! To get the best muscle tone, I recommend the push pull 4 day split. Very similar to the upper lower body split, the push pull allows the user to dedicate 2 days to muscles that push the weight away from the body and 2 days to dedicate to muscles that pull the weight toward the body.

The best part about the push pull workout split is that most push muscles can be combined with another push muscle to do exercises at once. The same can be said for the pull muscles as well.

I like using this split because of the flexibility to do either combination workouts or work target muscle groups depending on how I feeling that day.

The range for this routine should stay between 12 and 20 repetitions.

Sample Week of Muscle Toning 4 Day Split:

DAY 1: PUSH COMBINATION EMPHASIS
Warm-up (3 sets)15 reps Push Ups
15 reps Squats
15 Sit Ups
Workout (4 sets)20 reps Dumbbell Squat Shoulder Press
15 reps Medicine Ball Sit Ups
Workout (4 sets)20 reps Dumbbell Bench Press to Leg Raise (perform a chest press and bring dumbbells back to starting position then raise legs up to 90 degrees and back down)
15 reps Seated Leg Extension
Workout (4 sets)15 reps Dumbbell Squats
15 reps Dumbbell Lunges
DAY 2: PULL EMPHASIS BACK AND BICEPS
Warm-up (3 sets)10 reps Pull Ups
1 Minute Hold Glute Bridges
Workout (4 sets)15 reps Barbell Deadlift
15 reps Dumbbell Rows
Workout (4 sets)15 reps Lat Pull Downs
15 reps EZ Bar Curls
Workout (4 sets)15 reps Hamstring Curls
15 reps Dumbbell Hammer Curls
DAY 3: REST
DAY 4: PUSH CHEST AND TRICEPS EMPHASIS
Warm-up (3 sets)1 Minute Pushups
1 Minute Squats
Workout (4 sets)15 reps Barbell Close Grip Bench Press
15 reps Barbell Squat
Workout (4 sets)15 reps Dumbbell Chest Fly
15 reps Leg Extension
Workout (4 sets)15 reps Dumbbell Extension
15 reps Medicine Ball Sit Ups
DAY 5: PULL COMBINATION EMPHASIS
Warm-up1 Minute Bodyweight Deadlifts
1 Minute Pull ups
Workout (4 sets)15 reps Dumbbell Deadlift to Upright Row
15 reps Lying Leg Curls
Workout (4 sets)15 reps Dumbbell Row to Upright Row
15 reps Dumbbell Back Fly
Workout (4 sets)15 reps Dumbbell Deadlift to Curl
15 reps Weighted Glute Bridges
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Expert Advice:

The focus of muscle toning is to balance out all of the macros. You don’t want more carbs with this goal because the carbs that you don’t use will be stored as fat.

50% of calories from Carbohydrate

25% of calories from Fat

25% of calories from Protein

Additional Tips for a Successful 4 Day Split Program

Plan and Record

Before you begin any workout program, you need to plan the workouts, nutrition, and rest days. Without a plan, you are setting yourself up for failure.

My suggestion is to plan 1 to 2 days before the next week starts. I write down the exercises I will perform for each day, the number of repetitions, and weight for each exercise, and I plan out how many macros (carbs, fats, and proteins) I will eat each day.

Recording your progress is just as important as planning. If you don’t record the weight you lifted or the macros you ate each day, it’ll be a guessing game to determine goals for the next week. Guessing will lead to wasted workout days and will hinder your journey toward achieving your goals.

Nutrition

Ask any fitness professional and they will tell you that nutrition is more important than working out. The hard work you perform in the gym can be canceled out with bad eating habits. Nutrition is key to fueling and repairing muscles.

Nutrition is going to look different for specific fitness goals. Using the examples above, I have broken down what the macros should look like for each goal. Before figuring going further use this tool to find out how many calories you should be eating on a daily basis.

Rest

Rest is just as important as nutrition and workouts. Without rest, your body will build up stress in the form of cortisol, making it more difficult to lose weight. Rest is key to repairing muscle and tissue damage from working out.

The rule of thumb for rest is 48 hours for a specific muscle group. The 4 day split routine does an excellent job of making sure that this is not an issue because of the added rest days between muscle groups.

Lack of rest will lead to overtraining. Overtraining will lead to serious injuries that might take weeks to months to recover from. My expert advice is to listen to your body. If you’re sore from a workout earlier in the week, its a sign that you may need another rest day before working out that muscle group again.

Conclusion

Most workout programs can be boring because of how repetitive they can be. This is one of the biggest reasons many quit working out. The 4 day workout routines are a great solution to this problem because of their flexibility. The flexibility to switch from a push pull format to an upper lower format to a cardio strength format week to week will help to keep workouts interesting.

Frequently Asked Questions


Are 4 Day Splits Workout Routines Effective?

4 day split workout routines are super effective because of the perfect balance between working out and rest during the week. This creates optimal rest for the muscle to perform at 100% max each workout day. With a 3 day program, there are too many rest days that can lead to lower performance when training. The 5-day programs don’t have enough rest days, which could lead to overtraining if not planned correctly.
The 4 day workout split routines also allow for balancing the muscle groups for optimal full-body strength training.

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Are 4 Days of Workouts a Week Enough?

The gold standard organization of exercise prescription and research, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), states that “Every adult should perform activities that maintain or increase muscular strength and endurance for a minimum of two days per week.”

As a Certified Personal Trainer through ACSM, they mention in my certification book that this recommendation will lead to just maintaining muscular strength. Strength training more than 2 times per week is guaranteed to increase muscular strength.

John Broadway

John is an experienced health and wellness professional with a history of working in corporate wellness, clinical research, fitness equipment, and non-profit organizations. With his knowledge and passion, John strives to help others achieve goals and success in health and all areas of life.

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