The Core-4 Strength & Hypertrophy Workout Program

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Progressive overload, lifting heavier weights and/or completing more reps, is vital for long-term strength gains and muscle hypertrophy. To optimize progressive overload, training programs should include a mix of low-rep, strength-focused training and higher-rep, hypertrophy-focused training.

Knowing this, I have created a 4-day training program designed to increase both strength and muscle hypertrophy called the “Core-4 Strength & Hypertrophy Program.”

Related: The Ultimate Diet for Muscle and Strength

The Core-4 Strength and Hypertrophy program is designed to build overall muscle along with strength on the big three powerlifts (squat, bench, and deadlift) and overhead press, which we will collectively call the “Core-4” strength exercises.

The Core-4 are compound exercises (multi-joint exercises that hit multiple muscle groups) with a large potential for strength gains; making them ideal for our low-rep, strength-focused training.

In addition to the strength-based Core-4 training, this program includes hypertrophy-based accessory work for overall muscle growth. These exercises were specifically chosen to build the muscles that support the Core-4.

Let’s dive into the program!

Core-4 Strength & Hypertrophy Workout Program

Weekly schedule:

  • Monday: Upper Body/Bench Press Focus
  • Tuesday: Lower Body/Squat Focus
  • Wednesday: OFF
  • Thursday: Upper Body/Military Press Focus
  • Friday: Lower Body/Deadlift Focus
  • Saturday: OFF
  • Sunday: OFF

***Training Mon/Wed/Fri/Sat or Tues/Thurs/Sat/Sun would be perfectly acceptable.

Core-4 Training Day 1 | Bench Press Focus

Monday
Upper Body/Bench Press Focus
Exercise Sets Reps
Bench Press  3  3-5
Incline DB Press  3  8-12
Dips  3  8-12
Pull-Ups OR Lat-Pulldown  3  8-12
Bent Over Row  3  8-12
Barbell Curl  3  8-12

Core-4 Training Day 2 | Squat Focus

Tuesday
Lower Body/Squat Focus
Exercise Sets Reps
Squat  3  3-5
Hack Squat OR Leg Press  3  8-12
Leg Extensions  3  8-12
Calf Raise  3  8-12
Ab Rollouts OR Planks  3  8-12/30-60 sec
Back Extensions  3  8-12

Core-4 Training Day 3 | Standing Overhead Press Focus

Thursday
Upper Body/Military Press Focus
Exercise Sets Reps
Military Press  3  3-5
DB Shoulder Press  3  8-12
DB Side Lateral  3  8-12
Chin-Ups OR Reverse Grip Pulldown  3  8-12
Seated Cable Row OR T-Bar Row  3  8-12
Alternating DB Curl  3  8-12

Core-4 Training Day 4 | Deadlift Focus

Friday
Lower Body/Deadlift Focus
Exercise Sets Reps
Deadlift  3  3-5
Stiff Leg Deadlift  3  8-12
Lying Leg Curl OR Glute-Ham Raise  3  8-12
Calf Raise  3  8-12
Decline Sit-Up  3  8-12
Hanging Leg Raise  3  8-12

Rep Range Instructions

3-5 reps: Choose a weight that you can perform at least 3 reps with but no more than 5 reps. If you cannot perform 3 reps then the weight is too heavy and you should decrease it for the next set. If you can perform more than 5 reps then the weight is too light and you should increase it for the next set.

8-12 reps: Choose a weight that you can perform at least 8 reps with but no more than 12 reps. If you cannot perform 8 reps then the weight is too heavy and you should decrease it for the next set. If you can perform more than 12 reps then the weight is too light and you should increase it for the next set.

Warm-Ups & Rest Periods

Warming up serves two purposes:

  1. Injury prevention, and
  2. To prepare your muscular and nervous system to lift heavier weights.

Your warm-up should consist of gradually increasing the weight lifted until you get close to your target working set weight.

Warm-Up for 3-5 reps: If you were planning on lifting 225 lbs then your warm-up would look like the following:

  • Bar X 10
  • 95 X 8
  • 135 X 6
  • 185 X 4
  • Work sets with 225 for 3-5 reps

Your warm-up should not be overly extensive or fatiguing as that could decrease your working set performance.

Warm-Up for 8-12 reps: For isolation or machine exercises, 1-2 warm-up sets may be sufficient (depending on the amount of weight you are lifting). For example, if you plan on using 60 lb dumbbells for Incline DB Press then performing one warm-up set with the 30 or 40 lb dumbbells should be sufficient.

Rest Periods: My philosophy on rest periods is simple, rest as long as needed. Maximizing performance is the name of the game.

Example Weekly Progressions

Your goal is to lift heavier and/or complete more reps each week. An example of how you could progress on the low-rep, strength-focused training could be:

  • Week 1 = 225 X 4, 3, 3
  • Week 2 = 225 X 5; 235 X 3, 3
  • Week 3 = 235 X 4, 4, 3
  • Week 4 = 235 X 5; 245 X 4, 3

An example of how you could progress on the higher-rep, hypertrophy-focused training could be:

  • Week 1 = 100 X 12; 105 X 10, 8
  • Week 2 = 105 X 12; 110 X 11, 10
  • Week 3 = 110 X 12; 115 X 12; 120 X 8
  • Week 4 = 120 X 10, 9, 8

Consistent, gradual increases in weight lifted and reps completed lead to long-term progress and gains.

Wrap-Up

The Core-4 Strength and Hypertrophy program is a very straightforward program designed to deliver results. Progressive overload is the key to long-term progress.

The combination of low-rep, strength-focused training and higher-rep, hypertrophy-focused training optimizes progressive overload. If you put in the work and strive to perform better each week then the results will follow.

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Name: Marc Lobliner

Bio: Marc is currently Chief Marketing Officer of TigerFitness.com, a 2012/2013/2014 INC. 500/5000 company as well as Owner/CEO of two of the fastest growing supplement companies, EthiTech Nutrition and MTS Nutrition.