Summer and beach season are approaching and you still haven’t gotten in shape? The clock is ticking – it’s time to sign up for the gym and start thinking about your training program! The choice between workouts can be very different – you can focus on gaining muscle mass or losing weight, split routines, or full-body workouts. How could you find your bearings in all this diversity? And how many days do you need to train? You will read about all these nuances in this article, and also – the most interesting – you will be able to try the most effective 4-day workout routine to get ripped!
How Often Should You Train?
One of the main questions in the process of creating a personal training program is the number of days you can dedicate to vigorous exercise. The likely first thought “more is better” here isn’t always true. Here is some basic information on finding the right exercise routine and avoiding common mistakes. Is a 4-day workout routine to get ripped right for you? Let’s figure this out.
First of all, you should make a decision on the purpose of your workouts. Usually, there are two primary directions – gaining muscle mass and losing excess fat. In the second case, you absolutely need to maintain a moderate but consistent calorie deficit. A healthy rate of weight loss is 1-2 pounds per week (2). For effective weight loss, it is recommended to train 4-5 days a week, but you can start small – two to three times, and gradually move to a more intense regimen.
If you are trying to gain muscle mass, you need to look at other priorities. For example, if you are an ectomorph or mesomorph, and generally have no problems with being overweight, you don’t need to maintain a calorie deficit at all. On the contrary, your diet should match your energy expenditure. For a successful muscle-building workout, you should include 3 days of short, high-intensity cardio. In addition, according to research (1), you need to engage in strength training at least twice a week to achieve noticeable results. This means if you are just starting out, two to three days of full-body workouts should be sufficient. If you already have some experience, you can move on to 3-4 days of split workouts, and if you are practically an athlete, go for 4-5 days of intense workouts.
As it happens, 4 days of training is a great choice if you’re no longer a beginner, but still not an athlete. Plus, split workouts are recommended for this workout frequency. You can opt for upper/lower body split, or a split by body parts.
Split Into Upper And Lower Body
This split is recommended for those who have already passed the initial stage of training and want something more intense. But at the same time, this split is not the most difficult. In short, it is suitable for the intermediate level. In this split, you cover your entire body in two days, dividing it into upper and lower muscle groups (5). The first is usually chest, back, shoulders and arms. The second is quads, glutes, hamstrings, calves, abs. This way of training is more challenging than full-body workouts because it trains each muscle group for longer periods of time and allows you to engage them from different angles.
This split is significantly more difficult and is suitable for those who have been training for a long time already. In this case, you devote separate sessions not just to the upper or lower body, but to particular muscle groups. Because of this, you invest more strength and energy into training each muscle group, which leads to very impressive results. This is recommended to combine large and small muscle groups (for example, chest and triceps). When you do many chest exercises, you often use your triceps, so the complementary triceps exercises will work harmoniously. Another option is to train opposite muscle groups (such as chest and biceps). In this case, make sure you don’t load the same muscle group for two days in a row. You can put in a leg day or a rest day to avoid overloading. It is very important to train first a large and then a small muscle group. Otherwise, you run the risk of underperforming exercises.
Now you know the best types of 4 day workout routines for men. Here’s a detailed plan of a 4 day workout routine to get ripped (3).
4-Day Workout Split
This is a split by muscle group, so keep in mind that you should be on an intermediate or advanced level to follow the schedule.
It goes as follows:
- Monday – Chest, Triceps, Abs
- Tuesday – Legs
- Wednesday – Rest
- Thursday – Shoulders and Abs
- Friday – Back and Biceps
- Saturday – Rest
- Sunday – Rest
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Now, here are the exercises for each day.
- 4 sets of 8-10 reps of Incline Dumbbell Press
- 4 sets of 8-10 reps of Flat Bench Press
- 3 sets of 10 reps of Incline Dumbbell Flyes
- 3 sets of 10 reps of Cable Crossovers
- 3 sets of 10 reps of Close Grip Bench Press
- 3 sets of 10 reps of Overhead Rope Extensions
- 3 sets of 10 reps of Reverse Pushdowns
- 4 sets of 10, 10, 8 and 6 squats.
- 4 sets of 10 reps of Leg Press
- 3 sets of 12 reps of Leg Extensions
- 4 sets of 10 reps of Stiff Leg Deadlift
- 3 sets of 12 reps of Leg Curls
- 4 sets of 12 reps of Smith Machine Calf Raises.
- 4 sets of 8 reps of Seated Calf Raise.
- 4 sets of 10 reps of Military Press
- 3 sets of 10 reps of Dumbbell Lateral Raises
- 3 sets of 10 reps of Bent Over Reverse Crossovers.
- 3 sets of 10 reps of Plate Shrugs.
- 4 sets of 10 reps of Wide Grip Pull Up
- 4 sets of 10 reps of Lat Pull Down
- 4 sets of 10 reps of Seated Cable Rows
- 4 sets of 10 reps of Seated Cable Rows
- 4 sets of 10 reps of Bent Over Barbell Row
- 3 sets of 8-10 reps of Standing Barbell Curl
- 3 sets of 8-10 reps of Seated Alternate Dumbbell Curl
- 3 sets of 10 reps of Hammer Cuts
When you engage in training, not only the exercises you do are important, but also what you do before and after the workout, as well as how you organize it. Here are some good tips for making your workouts more effective.
A proper warm-up is crucial for your workout. Warming up accelerates blood flow and makes your muscles more flexible and prepared for an intense session (8). You’ll need to dedicate just 5-10 minutes to a warm-up, but the effect will be instant. Light cardio, such as moderate jogging or pedaling on a stationary bike are the best bet for strength training. If you choose to do stretching, remember to make your muscles warm beforehand. Also keep in mind that you stretch only to some degree of discomfort, not serious pain.
Choose Proper Weight
You need to keep your eye on the weight you choose, since it’s supposed to be neither big nor small. How could you keep the balance? Start your workout with a weight that you can lift 12-15 times in one set (6). For many people, this will be enough to start building muscle. When you achieve certain results, increase the weight. This is necessary to avoid plateaus – a situation where you no longer progress while continuing to exercise.
Rest is just as important as exercise, since your muscles grow precisely while you’re relaxing. Free up some time to rest between sessions, and be sure not to train the same body parts for several days in a row. There are many different ways to rest, but sleep is most important for your goals. Sleep at least 7 hours a day. Lack of sleep impairs mood and concentration, and also reduces workout performance due to lack of energy (4, 7). Another cup of coffee won’t replace your precious hours of sweet dreams.
Follow A Healthy Diet
A healthy diet is the key to any workout success. Put more vegetables and fruits in your shopping cart, and stick to your calorie limit. Eat plenty of healthy proteins – the best are found in seafood, fish, and plant sources such as quinoa and tofu. BetterMe offers a variety of diets to suit all tastes, from Keto or Vegan to Mediterranean and Paleo. Low-calorie diets should be avoided if your focus is on gaining muscle mass rather than shedding extra pounds.
To sum up, a 4 day workout routine to get ripped is an excellent choice if you already have some training experience. Upper-lower body split and 4-day split are the most common types of 4 day routine which differ in complexity. Pay attention to your warm-up and rest, choose correct weights, enjoy a delicious healthy diet, and your strengthened muscles will gratify you in no time.
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 for decision-making. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Effects of Resistance Training Frequency on Measures of Muscle Hypertrophy: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis (2016, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Losing Weight (n.d., cdc.gov)
- Shaun’s 4 Day Muscle Building Split Routine (2021, muscleandstrength.com)
- Sleep Duration and All-Cause Mortality: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Prospective Studies (2010, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- The Ultimate Guide to An Effective Workout Split (2021, bodybuilding.com)
- Weight training: Do’s and don’ts of proper technique (2020, mayoclinic.org)
- Why lack of sleep is bad for your health (n.d., nhs.uk)
- Why Warm-Ups and Cool-Downs Are Key (2014, webmd.com)