The Big 4 Workout is a type of exercise day split. It means that this routine will be based around most important exercises rather than body parts. It is designed mainly for building muscle mass but also helps to gain some strength.
We will train 4 days of the week. Each day will be focused around each main mass and strength building movement: Squat, Military Press, Deadlift and Bench Press. Besides there will be few additional exercises.
Big 4 Workout Schedule
It is recommended to train 4 days a week and I don’t really see the way to exercise any less or more than that with this routine.
|Day of the week||Exercises|
|Monday – Bench Day (chest and triceps)||Bench Press + additional exercises|
|Tuesday – Deadlift Day (back & biceps)||Deadlift + few back exercises|
|Wednesday – Rest Day||Off|
|Thursday – Military Press (shoulders)||Military Press + shoulders accessory work|
|Friday – Squat Day (legs)||Squat + additional leg exercises|
As you can see each day represents different big compound exercise. In Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday we rest. You can have some extra sleep then if you want. This is the time when your muscles are repairing themselves (actually growing).
Volume – number of reps, sets and intensity
There will be moderate volume; weights moderate to heavy:
- 4 sets for each main exercise,
- 10-6 repetitions for main lifts, 12-8 for accessory work,
- ~70%-85% of 1RM – moderate to heavy weight.
We will be performing 4 ascending sets for each exercise. It means that weight should be increased each set. For example: do 10 repetitions with a starting weight, rest; add more weight to the bar and do 8 reps, rest again; increase the load again and do around 6 reps. If you feel strong enough you can add more weight or do last set with the same load.
If you prefer to do straight sets (the same weight throughout whole exercise) just aim for 7 repetitions for main lifts and 10 reps for additional work. Some people find it easier to track the progress this way.
One way or another remember about the progression. Each week you should add more weight to main lifts or do few extra repetitions. Your muscles won’t grow if each workout will be done with the same load.
The Big 4 Workout
Day 1 – Bench (chest and triceps):
- Bench Press: 4 sets, 10-6 reps;
- Dumbbell Pullover: 4 sets, 12-8 reps;
- Dips: 4 sets, 12-8 reps.
Day 2 – Deadlift (back and biceps):
- Deadlift: 4 sets, 10-6 reps;
- Pull-Ups: 4 sets, 12-8 reps,
- Barbell Curls: 4 sets, 12-8 reps.
Wednesday – Off.
Day 3 – Military Press (shoulders & traps):
- Military Press: 4 sets,10-6 reps;
- Dumbbell Side Raises (lateral): 4 sets, 12-8 reps;
- Bend-Over Dumbbell Rear Raises: 4 sets, 12-8 reps;
- Barbell Shrugs: 4 sets, 12-8 reps.
Day 4 – Squat (legs & abs):
- Squat: 4 sets, 10-6 reps;
- Romanian Deadlift or GHD Raises: 4 sets, 12-8 reps;
- Standing Calf Raises: 4 sets, 15-10 reps;
- Leg Raises or Cable Crunches: 4 sets, 12-8 reps.
Download TheBig4 logbook. (Right click and “save as…”)
Tempo should be as usual: 1 second up (pressing or pulling the weight), pause for 1 second squeezing trained muscles, lower the weight slower – 2 seconds down.
Take up to 2 minutes rest between sets while performing main lifts, no more than 60 second rest with additional exercises.
The Big 4 Workout is a great routine for building muscle mass but not only. It can serve you also for improving your 4 main lifts – getting stronger in the most important exercises. I recommend to stay on in around 8 weeks however if you are still making progress after that (your muscles are still growing) keep on going as long as you need. Weight yourself every week and type into your logbook what weight were you lifting after every session. It will really help you.