Going to the gym for the first time, or picking up the habit after a long hiatus can seem intimidating. It can seem like a whole different world. There are so many different types of exercises, machines, and trainees – sometimes it’s hard to figure out where you should even start from. This isn’t the case for everyone though; some people know exactly what they want and how to get there. If this is your first time in the gym or if you just need a change, this article will show you how to put together an effective 4-day workout routine for lean muscle with getting rid of fat at the same time. This 4 day bodybuilding routine won’t be easy but it’ll definitely give you results.
Are There Any Other Benefits Of An Advanced 4-Day Workout Routine For Lean Muscle?
This type of workout has many other benefits apart from just building muscle.
You will burn more fat due to the high volume of training that you will be doing on a daily basis (11). This is great if losing weight is your goal.
This routine can also teach you discipline, because it tells you exactly what you need to do, when, for how long, and also gives you options in case you prefer some exercises over others. There’s really no excuse to miss your gym session when you’ve got a solid workout plan in place.
You’ll be building more muscle density and conditioning than ever before. This is because you’re going to be doing a high volume of sets for each muscle group on a daily basis. Conditioning refers to how hard you can train during each workout.
3 Things That You Must Do In Order To Make The 4-Day Split Work For You
Here are 3 things that you must keep in mind while working out using this split routine…
Always Refer To The Priority List
This bodybuilding routine won’t work if one or two of these points are not strictly followed. These are the things that you must prioritize above all else while working out on this type of a split.
- Get 7-8 hours of sleep each night (more is even better) (7)
- Eat only healthy foods – no junk food whatsoever
- Never miss workouts!!! (this means plan your day around your workout, and vice versa)
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In order to recover properly, here’s what you need to do:
Don’t Take Too Much Time Between Sets
Rest periods should be anywhere from 45 seconds up to 2 minutes max. More or less than this can be counter productive. Try taking 1 minute rests when going heavy but increase it to 1.5 or even 2 minutes when doing more volume (reps).
Eat Lots Of Protein And Carbohydrates During Your Post-Workout Meal
Don’t Skip Workouts
If you wake up and feel like hell and you’re too tired to go to the gym, do yourself a favor and get in a basic bodyweight workout at home. If you miss a workout, your progress will take a significant setback and it may take several days for you to recover.
Maximize Rest Periods
In order to get the most out of your workouts, you have to maximize the amount of rest that you get during each set. There are a few things that you can do in order to accomplish this…
First, focus all of your mental energy into squeezing and contracting the muscle that you’re working. This will cause more blood flow which means better nutrient delivery throughout your workouts and stronger pumps (very important for building lean mass) (3) If possible, try using isometric holds at the peak contraction point as they also make a big difference when it comes to strength gains.
Second, breathe out as hard as possible (or even grunt) once you reach the maximum contracted position. This will send intra-abdominal pressure through the roof which helps to boost strength (10) By squeezing your stomach muscles and pushing outwards with all of your might, you are making the most of every rep.
Third, stay as relaxed as possible throughout each set (but don’t let yourself go completely limp either). Make sure that you’re not tensing up because this is a sign that you’re going too heavy for your reps. You should be using weights that you can control with ease through the whole range of motion – just be sure to push them hard at the contracted point.
Finally, use slow and controlled movements in order to maximize time under tension (TUT) while working each muscle group. This will have an even greater effect than breathing out at the end of each rep (which is already a great technique by itself).
Doing each workout like this may not give you the best pump but it will allow you to lift for longer periods of time, making better use of your energy stores. You’ll also get stronger because of the additional rest that is built into each set.
Sample 4-Day Split Workout Routine For Lean Muscle
The best 4-day split workout routine for lean muscle is one that’s flexible enough to fit into your schedule. This particular split involves strength training on 4 days of the week and resting on 3 days. You can take rest days off entirely, or engage in cardio and other low-impact workouts.
The sample 4 day workout routine for lean muscle with cardio is as follows:
- Monday – Chest, Triceps, Abs
- Tuesday – Legs
- Wednesday – Rest
- Thursday – Shoulders and Abs
- Friday – Back and Biceps
- Saturday – Rest
- Sunday – Rest
You’re free to choose the exercises and intensity for each day depending on your fitness levels. Some ideal exercises you can choose from are:
- Chest & Triceps – flat bench press, overhead rope extensions, incline dumbbell flyes.
- Legs – squat, leg curls, seated calf raises, stiff leg deadlifts.
- Shoulders – military press, dumbbell lateral raises, bent over reverse crossovers.
- Back and biceps – hammer curls, bent over barbell rows, seated cable rows, lat pull downs.
You might be tempted to extend your strength training, and do it for most of the week. Be very careful not to over-exercise your muscles – it’s better to go slow and steady, than overdo it (6).
Why Is Muscle Recovery Important?
Building lean muscle is basically tearing old fibers down and replacing them with new ones. This process can be improved by allowing your body to recover well from each workout you do. The better this recovery occurs, the less likely any muscle memory issues will arise. It also means you can continue pushing yourself in the gym without having bad effects later on (9).
Four things happen while you’re recovering from a workout:
Muscle protein synthesis increases by 50% four hours after a workout (like resistance training), and this is what builds up muscle (12). It may increase even more if certain supplements are taken with carbohydrate drinks during recovery.
Post-workout shakes containing a combination of carbs and proteins are extremely beneficial for regeneration – it doesn’t matter whether the proteins are from whey or whole food sources like chicken! Whole food sources may even be more beneficial, as they also contain carbohydrates and a wider array of micronutrients.
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Muscle Fiber Rebuilding
Muscle fibers are torn down during workouts, but each fiber is not totally destroyed when you hit the gym. The microtears in your muscle fibers rebuild and become stronger every time you work out (2). This process has nothing to do with the fatigue associated with training; it happens whether you feel tired or not.
You can see (and feel) this if you have ever experienced delayed onset muscle soreness after a workout – those aches show that your muscles are recovering well from their exertion! If inadequate recovery occurs due to lack of sleep, illness or malnutrition, your body cannot rebuild properly, leading to less energy for future workouts. Working out with under-recovered muscles is a terrible idea, as it might lead to injuries and worse – excessive muscle memory.
We sweat (and lose a lot of fluid through exhaled air). During recovery we need to hydrate to ensure lost fluids are replaced (5). Being properly hydrated also allows the removal of metabolic waste products like lactic acid from your body.
This can cause fatigue and soreness if not removed quickly enough by means of drinking water or sports drinks packed with electrolytes and minerals that help in this process. When not enough fluid is consumed after exercise, cramps may occur because the muscles cannot rebuild adequately due to lack of hydration.
Removal Of Metabolic Waste Products
Acids accumulate during workouts, with lactic acid being the most common. It causes muscle soreness in your tired muscles because the body is forced to break down glycogen into glucose to remove it from the muscles, which uses up energy that would otherwise be available for rebuilding (4). Inadequate fluid intake means lack of blood flow and removal by organs like kidneys (8). Excessive fatigue can also result if this continues over time.
The Bottom Line
The 4 day workout split for lean muscle works, but only if you’re consistent, and patient. Consistency means doing all 4 days each week, and patience means allowing your muscles to rest and recover. The combination of these two qualities can give impressive results over time.
Check out this 20-min Full Body Workout at Home.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- All About Post-Workout Nutrition (n.d., precisionnutrition.com)
- Damaged muscles don’t just die, they regenerate themselves (2020, sciencedaily.com)
- Exercise Hyperemia and Regulation of Tissue Oxygenation During Muscular Activity (2011, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Lactic acid and exercise performance : culprit or friend? (2006, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Optimizing the restoration and maintenance of fluid balance after exercise-induced dehydration | Journal of Applied Physiology (2017, journals.physiology.org)
- Overtraining Syndrome (2012, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Physical Activity & Sleep: How Sleep Affects the Body (2020, sleepfoundation.org)
- Physiology, Blood Volume – StatPearls – NCBI Bookshelf (2021, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Recovery after Heavy Resistance Exercise and Skeletal Muscle Androgen Receptor and Insulin-Like Growth Factor-I Isoform Expression in Strength Trained Men (2011, journals.lww.com)
- The Effect of the Intra Abdominal Pressure (IAP) Breathing (2018, sryahwapublications.com)
- The Right Way to Burn Fat, Not Muscle (n.d., issaonline.com)
- The time course for elevated muscle protein synthesis following heavy resistance exercise (1995, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)