Spring Training: The 4 Day Workout Split For Strength & Size
You could say that in order to reap the benefits of lifting, you must befriend the weight room. After all, if you’re investing several hours per week to the gym, it would make sense that you nurture the acquaintance right?
When it comes to friendship, we tend to lean towards an epicurean posture: The act of befriending serves the purpose of having somebody willing to jump on a landmine in order to rescue you, condole you in the tough times and bring you chicken noodle soup when you’re sick.
This angle of friendship is grounded in your own interest.
What we intuitively know, but also neglect, is that true friendship is sprouted by a person who enters the relationship ready to die for the other, willing to offer their hand in emergency and is the one who shows up the chicken soup.
This type of friendship is most prevalent in the military and in marriage. It’s that rock-solid-I-am-here-for-you-no-matter-what type of relationship. These friendships are not defined by the benefits one can reap. They are matured with parties that enter with a servant heart with a disposition that is always looking to nurture the relationship instead of siphoning the soul out of the other with constant selfishness.
But when it comes to befriending the gym, we’re quite different.
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We enter this relationship like a business deal. We suddenly adopt the mindset akin to a silver-tongued used car salesman. One who is quick, and witty to cut a transaction that benefits only himself.
However, this friendship will soon end how it started. Whenever a relationship is birthed only because it offers advantage to you, it will at some point stop being a relationship when the advantage recedes like the ocean tide.
You see, the gym has done its part. It has come a long way to make the friendship work.
She’s made itself herself available to you. For the price of a few lattes, you can have access to her. She doesn’t change either – you can always expect her to be there when you need her the most.
She has even planted herself all over the world, making it possible for you to visit her when you’re on the business trip to Boston or on vacation in the Philippines. Yet, we sophomorically give her less than half of our devotion and expect the relationship to blossom.
You don’t show up when you set a date and still, you expect her to be faithful. You take advantage of her by showing up only when it’s convenient, but the second there’s a hiccup, she takes the back-seat. You only want to be involved if it benefits you, if it’s convenient and if t’s easy.
Do you see the disconnect?
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It’s a fair-weather relationship. Meaning, you only engage when if it benefits you or when you have the time to do it. Maybe it’s time you show up as a friend and give her the loyalty she deserves.
I know, the list of justifiable excuses are sprinting through your mind already. Not enough time, overwhelm on where to start, and past failure all might be holding you back from courting the noble relationship with the gym.
But what follows is a straightforward training program that is effective and simple to follow. It’s also been designed to fit into your life – making the committment to show up sustainable.
You’ll be training four times a week. Each session should take you about 45 minutes and certainly no longer than one hour.
I need you to do me a favor – I need you to show up for about four hours per week. Can you do that? If so, I promise your friendship with the gym is going to be so rewarding that you’ll wonder why it took you so long to commit.
Sounds very similar to the song most men sing when they find their bride huh?
4 Day Workout Program Notes
Given the fact that I’m asking you for four hours per week in the gym, we have to factor that into your program. These parameters assume that you’re like 99% of the human society who doesn’t get paid to lift weights.
There’s no shame in that, it’s all good.
But with that said, we have to strategically prescribe movements that give you the biggest bang for your buck. Meaning, we don’t want you to waste the finite resource you have – time – with exercises that provide little return.
So, we build each training session with that in mind.
The first movement is a compound lift – but we arrange the reps and manipulate the tempo to induce fat loss and muscle building at the same time. Your compound movements will leverage the German body composition methodology popularized by Charles Poliquin. It’s defined by short intervals with multi-joint movements that generate maximum growth hormone.
The compound lift will be arranged as 10 x 5 (3 second eccentric phase followed by a explosive concentric phase). The result of this approach is increased time under tension and maximum recruitment of the Type II muscle fibers (which have the highest potential for growth).
The second movement augment the big lift with an assistance exercise. For any squat or pulling movement, you’ll attack the glutes, hamstrings, low-back, and thighs. For any pushing movement, you’ll address the lats, upper back, biceps, triceps and shoulders.
The third movement in each of your sessions will be dedicated to metabolic stress training. Meaning, you’ll perform high reps with high intensity causing your system to produce energy in the absence of oxygen. Body weight movements and core work will round out each of your training sessions.
Perform each workout – Day I, Day II, Day III, and Day IV once per week. Ideally, take a rest day between each day of training.
Zone 2 work (or also known as steady state cardio) done at 65-70% max heart rate is permitted on your off days. Keep cardio sessions to 20-30 minutes. The medium is your choice. Run, bike, row, swim, versa-climber or ski-erg are all game.
Train for three weeks, and then take a deload week. During your off week, stay active but don’t smash yourself in the gym. When you return to the gym, increase the load by 2% on all of the volume work (the compound movements that you execute 10 x 5 with).
Any movements labeled as “A” and “B” are be to be done as a superset. Meaning, once you complete the required reps in “A” move to movement “B” with no rest between sets.
For your volume work on the 10 x 5 sets, rest 90 seconds.
For your hypertrophy work, rest 120 seconds.
Day 1 Workout
- 1 – Front Squat: 10 x 5 (3 second eccentric, explosive concentric)
- 2 – Valslide leg curls: 4 x 12
The hamstring serve to purposes: knee flexion and knee extension. Any curl movement is grounded in knee flexion. The lying leg curl is the usual tool of choice. It’s not a foul decision – especially if you have tons of time to isolate the hammies. But, since we’re going for the “most-bang-for-your-buck” movements, I propose the Valslide leg curl. It serves as a knee flexion movement for the hamstring, but unlike the lying leg curl, it recruits the glutes in execution.
You’ll start in a bridge position with your shins perpendicular to the floor. Place your heels on the slides. To initiate you’ll slide your feet until your knees reach full extension. In this process, be sure to keep your hips from sinking to the floor. Then, you’ll activate the hamstrings and glutes to pull your heels towards your body. At this position, squeeze your hamstrings and glutes. Return to extension to starting position and repeat.
- 3A – Jumping lunges: 4 x 20
- 3B – Ab roll outs: 4×20
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Day 2 Workout
- 1 – Incline dumbbell bench press: 10 x 5 (3 second eccentric, explosive concentric)
- 2 – Zottman curls: 4 x 12
The Zottman curl is a compound arm movement. It acts as a dumbbell curl in the concentric phase, and then serves as a grip builder and tremendous exercise for the brachialis (the outer bicep) on the way down.
You’ll hold a set of dumbbells in front of you with palms up at your thighs. Keeping your elbows tight to your sides you’ll curl both dumbbells up at the same time. Squeeze at the top.
Then, you’ll rotate the weights until your palms are faced down – keep in mind you’re still at the top of the curl – and then you’l lower them with a pronated grip all the way down to starting position.
Assume the conventional grip and then repeat.
- 3A – Close grip push ups: 4 x 20
- 3B – Kettlebell swings: 4 x 20
Day 3 Workout
- 1 – Romanian deadlift: 10 x 5 (3 second eccentric, explosive concentric)
- 2 – Leg extensions: 4 x 12
- 3A – Standing calf raise: 4 x 20
- 3B – Hise shrug: 4 x 15-20
Joe Hise, is the creator of his movement along with his potent 20 rep breathing squat method. Immediately after you complete your standing calf raises, you’ll keep the bar racked and transition into the Hise shrug.
To perform the Hise shrug, you’ll set up like you’re going to squat. Instead of squatting, you’ll inhale and shrug simultaneously. In this part of the movement, think about bringing your shoulders to your ears. Squeeze your traps at the top and then exhale to lower back into starting position and then repeat.
Day 4 Workout
- 1 – Seated dumbbell press: 10 x 5 (3 second eccentric, explosive concentric)
- 2 – Reverse machine flye: 4 x 12
- 3A – Parallel grip pull ups: 4 x 12-15
- 3B – Burpees: 4 x 25
To build a body that you’re proud of, you need to push your chips in – you need to commit to the gym. She’s done her part and she is still patiently waiting for you to show up.
Often, the bottleneck in a committed relationship with the gym is lack of time or overwhelm on what to do when you get there.
You are now armed with a plan that dissolves those excuses.
It’s time to be a good friend to a comrade who has been nothing but loyal to you.