If you’re looking to reach your fitness goals, you’ll need a solid training routine to ensure you stay on the right track. However, with so many different workout plans to choose from, it’s not always easy to know what’s right for your needs.
One of the most popular training routines for newcomers and seasoned fitness buffs alike is the 4 day workout split. But, what does a 4 day split mean, you might ask?
A 4 day split workout is any training plan that involves intense exercise 4 days a week. During the other 3 days of the week, you’ll either rest or do some light recovery exercises, like biking, swimming, or walking.
Not sure if the 4 day split workout is right for you?
Coming right up, we’ll walk you through the basics of this fitness routine and even give you an example of the best workout split so you can determine if a 4 day routine aligns with your personal training goals.
What Is A 4 Day Workout Split?
As mentioned, a 4 day workout split is any fitness regiment where you workout 4 days a week.
While this might sound simple, one of the greatest advantages of the 4 day split is that it allows you to create as intricate of a training plan as you’d like. For example, you can split up your 4 days of exercise based on muscle group (e.g., back and biceps, legs, core), or you could focus on a specific component of physical fitness, such as endurance, strength, or flexibility.
Whether you’re someone who really loves to nerd out on the minutia of training stats and adjusts your lifts accordingly, or you’re someone who’d rather just follow a pre-set fitness routine, the 4 day split workout routine is a solid training concept to get you started.
Pros & Cons Of The 4 Day Split Workout Routine
All workout routines have their advantages and disadvantages. The 4 day split is no exception. Here are some of the key pros and cons that you should take into account when deciding if this routine is right for you:
Advantages of the 4 Day Split
- Adaptable To Your Schedule – Since this training plan requires that you workout only 4 days a week, it’s fairly easy to adapt it to your busy schedule. Whether you work a 9-5 job or you work nights and weekends, there’s usually a way to organize this flexible program so it meets your needs.
- Good Balance Of Rest Days & Training Days – With a 4 day split, you only train 4 days a week. As a result, you can ensure that your body gets enough rest time each week to promote recovery and muscle building for maximum gains – something that’s difficult to do with full-body workouts.
- Can Be Fine-Tuned To Your Fitness Goals – As we’ve mentioned, the 4 day workout split is more of a training concept rather than a single fitness plan. Therefore, it’s fairly easy to customize your fitness routine to meet your personal goals when doing splits.
- Allows You To Break Up Workouts Into Shorter Sessions – Compared to a 3 day workout split, the 4 day model allows you to break up your workouts into shorter sessions without sacrificing your ability to train a specific muscle group. Thus, it’s a nice option for folks who have a limited amount of time each day to dedicate to training.
Disadvantages of the 4 Day Split
- Requires More Time Commitment Than A 3 Day Split (in theory) – Perhaps the biggest disadvantage of the 4 day split (at least when compared to a 3 day alternative) is that it does require more of a time commitment throughout the week. So, if you can only commit to going to the gym 3 days a week, this plan probably isn’t for you.
- Limited Training Intensity – Similar to a 3 day workout, one of the main drawbacks to a 4 day split when compared to a 5 or 6 day split is your limited training volume. Simply put, exercising more often means you have more opportunities to build muscle. Of course, over-training isn’t good, either, so it’s about finding that perfect training volume for your needs.
The Best 4 Day Workout Split Routine
Looking for a sample split workout that you can do 4 times a week? Here’s a training program to consider, with some sample exercises that might work well for your goals.
NOTE: We haven’t listed any suggested set and rep counts or weights for each exercise because what will work best for you depends on your ideal gains. For folks who want to maximize muscular strength, low reps and high weights are best. Meanwhile, if you want to increase muscular endurance, high reps and low weights are generally best.
Day 1: Back and Biceps
- Dumbbell Rows
- Seated Cable Rows
- Lat Pull-Downs
- Bicep Curls
Day 2: Chest and Triceps
- Bench Press
- Chest Dips
- Dumbbell Flys
- Cable Crossovers
- Dumbbell Press
- French Press
- Tricep Extension
Day 3: Lower Body & Core
- Back Squat
- Bulgarian Split Squats
- Walking Dumbbell Lunges
- Leg Presses
- Calf Raises
- Leg Extensions
- Core Workout of Your Choice
Day 4: Shoulders, Forearms & Core
- Shoulder Press
- Upright Row
- Dumbbell Lateral Raise
- Dumbbell Front Raise
- Reverse Bicep Curl
- Core Workout of Your Choice
A Note About Rest Days
As you can see, we’ve only included information about the 4 individual training days that you would complete if you commit to doing a 4 day split. However, we haven’t added in any information about the 3 days that you’ll want to rest each week because we want to leave it up to you to decide how to spend your off days.
For some folks, rest days are a chance to do some pretty low-key exercise, such as going on a walk or a fun bike ride in a local park. For others, rest days are a no-exercise day and are your chance to lounge around as much as you’d like.
In general, it’s best to give yourself at least 1 full rest day each week so your muscles can recuperate. For the other 2 days, it’s up to you to determine if you’d like to do some recovery exercises or continue resting.
As far as rest day timing goes, many people like to follow a schedule similar to this:
- Monday: Back and Biceps
- Tuesday: Rest
- Wednesday: Chest and Triceps
- Thursday: Lower Body and Core
- Friday: Rest
- Saturday: Shoulders, Forearms, and Core
- Sunday: Rest
While there’s no requirement that you organize your rest days like this, we’d recommend spreading them out throughout the week. That way, you can ensure your body gets enough rest to avoid over-training.
4 Day Split Workout FAQs
Are 4 day splits effective?
4 day splits can definitely be effective if done properly. While there’s no one-size-fits-all split workout out there that’s best for everyone, it is possible to achieve significant gains when using a 4 day workout split. This is particularly true because 4 day splits allow you to take 3 rest days a week, which are integral for building muscle and avoiding injury in the long term.
What is the most effective workout split?
Unfortunately, the most effective workout split is impossible to answer because the best workout split for your needs depends on your particular fitness goals. For example, some folks like to dedicate 3 days a week to longer training sessions, while others would rather do a 5 day split that involves shorter periods of time at the gym each day.
Can you build muscle 4 days a week?
You certainly can build muscle just from lifting 4 days a week. However, it’s important to note that getting the “perfect six-pack,” building lots of muscle, or slimming down also requires maintaining a healthy, balanced diet. Exercise alone can’t do everything, and a holistic approach to fitness is necessary if you want to achieve your training goals.
The Verdict: How Should I Split My Workout Days?
A 4 day split workout can be an excellent way to train for a whole host of different fitness goals. In particular, exercising 4 times a week can provide enough training volume to see muscular gains without risking over-training.
Whether you’re looking to build up your muscular endurance or your strength, there’s a 4 day split out there for your needs – the key is to supplement your training with proper rest and diet if you want to achieve your ideal gains.