The Four Day Split: Revised
An iconic routine in the world of lifting weights and working out
Lifting weights has been revised and rewritten so many times in today's modern age that gyms today are hardly recognizable. I am not knocking on Crossfit, OrangeTheory Fitness, Stretchzones, and the other nouveau workouts. In fact, quite the opposite; nowadays people who would never work out are inspired by these differential workout routines. It is really awesome to see a nation, a world, get out and active (as we should be).
In any case, the traditional methods of lifting weights still exist because of one simple fact: they work.
Lifting weights in tried and tested routines have been shown to be the most methodical way to gain muscle mass, both lean and bulk, and even lose weight (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4033492/). This is, of course, supplemented with rest and proper nutrition intake. And the many routines that exist next to Crossfit programs are not meant to replace them or the other sports that people do but supplement them. Below are some ways that the split routines, specifically the 4 day, can aid in any fitness goal.
The Different kinds of Splits (in workouts)
The 2 day split workout allows bodybuilders to choose two exercises per body part. The 3 day split workout allows bodybuilders to choose 3 or 4 exercises per muscle group, depending on whether the workouts are cycled once or twice in a given week. The 4 day split allows at least a full week between each muscle group workout so bodybuilders can choose up to 4 exercises per large body part (legs, back, chest, shoulders) and 3 exercises for smaller body parts (abs, biceps, triceps, calves).
This means that bodybuilders can choose a variety of exercises that place stress on each muscle group in different ways. For example a bodybuilder could create a chest workout which includes the incline press for the upper chest, the decline press for the lower chest, the flat bench for mid chest and cable crossovers to place isolated stress on the outer chest area.
The 4 day split workout also allows bodybuilders to exercises that will shock their stubborn body parts into growth. For example, using the 4 day split workout bodybuilders will have time to include isolation exercises for calves and forearms, etc., without spending more than 60 minutes in the gym, something they couldn't do if they employed the full body or 2 day split workouts.
A Focused Approach
A 4 day split workout training program allows experienced bodybuilders and new gym goers alike to create workouts that focus on large muscle groups as well as their historically stubborn muscle groups. Employing a 4 day program means that bodybuilders can place huge amounts of stress on each muscle group, forcing them to breakdown and tear and then rest each damaged muscle group for a week, giving each area time to repair itself and develop slightly more resilience before the next stressful workout. And as every bodybuilder knows, this slight resilience spells muscle growth and progression. Even if it is slight.
What a typical 4 Day Split Looks like...
I particularly like these workouts because they are so modular; one week I can focus on bench press and if next week it's taken I'll just jump to dumbell decline press... but I digress. After 12 weeks I usually take a deload week (or two) and I usually come back a little stronger. Here's a traditional setup:
Day 1 - Chest + triceps
Day 2 - Legs
Day 3 - Back + abs
Day 4 - Shoulders + biceps
Alternatively, the 4 day split could look like this:
Day 1 - Chest + biceps
Day 2 - Legs + abs
Day 3 - Back + triceps
Day 4 - Shoulders + traps
But these suggestions are by no means the only options available to people who work out. As long as each 4 day split workout day includes only one large muscle group, anyone can pair up the smaller muscle groups in any manner they see fit. Good luck out there!