4 Day Maximum Mass Workout

A mass building routine that features a great combination of effective compound and isolation movements along with intense, high impact five minute burn sets.

Workout Summary

Build Muscle
8 weeks
45-60 minutes
Barbell, Bodyweight, Dumbbells, Machines
Male & Female
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Workout Description

This is an intermediate muscle building workout for lifters who:

  1. Have experienced beginner gains and are confident they know how to build muscle.
  2. Have a solid grasp of exercise form on the major compound movements.
  3. Know how to set up an effective muscle building eating plan.

Overload. Overload is critical to the muscle building process. Push each set for the maximum number of reps, stopping that set either when you feel your form is slipping, or if you feel like you may fail on the next rep. Do not train to failure. The point is to stimulate growth, not annihilate your body and central nervous system.

Add weight to each exercise as frequently as possible, when it makes sense. I recommend using the same weight for every set of a given exercise, and when you are able to perform a comfortable number of reps on each set, add weight.

Rep Ranges. Rep ranges are simply a guideline. It's is ok to go over them, or a hair under at times. Again, the magic is overload. Rep ranges are simply a tool.

5 Minute Burn Periods. For each body part you will perform a 5 minute burn out period. These sets are brutal. Pick a weight that allows you to perform about 12-15 reps. Over a 5 minute period you perform as many reps as possible with that weight, starting and stopping sets as needed. Rest only long enough to catch your bearings and breathe, and then start knowing out more reps.

5 minute burn out periods are not about sets and reps. They are about finishing off an already fatigued muscle. Don't obsess (or even count)  over how many total sets you do. Instead, try to do as many reps as possible in 5 minutes using whatever rest periods you need to survive.

4 Day Maximum Mass Workout Split

Day 1
Back and Biceps
Exercise Sets Reps
Deadlift 2 5
One Arm Dumbbell Row 3 8-12
Wide Grip Pull Up or Lat Pull Down 3 10-12
Barbell Row 3 8-12
Seated Cable Row or Machine Row 5 Minutes Burn
EZ Bar Preacher Curl 3 10-12
Concentration Curl 3 10-12
Seated Dumbbell Curl 5 Minutes Burn
Day 2
Chest and Triceps
Exercise Sets Reps
Bench Press 3 6-10
Incline Dumbbell Bench Press 3 8-12
Chest Dip 3 AMAP*
Cable Crossover or Pec Dec 3 12-15
Machine Press or Dumbbell Bench Press 5 Minutes Burn
EZ Bar Skullcrusher 3 8-12
Two Arm Seated Dumbbell Extension 3 8-12
Cable Tricep Extension 5 Minutes Burn
Day 4
Quads, Hamstrings and Calves
Exercise Sets Reps
Squat 3 6-10
Leg Press 3 15-20
Hack Squat or Dumbbell Lunge 3 8-12
Leg Extension 5 Minutes Burn
Stiff Leg Deadlift 3 8-12
Leg Curl 5 Minutes Burn
Standing Calf Raise 3 10-15
Seated Calf Raise 5 Minutes Burn
Day 5
Shoulders, Traps and Forearms
Exercise Sets Reps
Seated Barbell Press 3 6-10
Seated Arnold Press 3 8-12
Dumbbell Lateral Raise 3 10-15
Hammer Strength Press or Smith Press 5 Minutes Burn
Upright Row 3 8-12
Barbell Shrug or Dumbbell Shrug 5 Minutes Burn
Seated Barbell Wrist Curl 3 12-15
Barbell Static Hold 5 Minutes Burn

*AMAP = As many as possible.

Barbell Static Holds. Instead of performing reps you simply hold the bar as long as possible.

Post your post-workout swolfies in M&S gear on IG and tag @muscleandstrength, #muscleandstrength, or DM them to us to get a shoutout on Muscle & Strength stories!

685 Comments+ Post Comment

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Posted Thu, 12/06/2018 - 08:57

Any excercise to replace leg curls?
Have a bad machine at my gym, cant really do those.

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Thu, 12/06/2018 - 12:17

Hi Rick,

And hamstring focused deadlift variation or potentially bodyweight leg curls will do the trick.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Mon, 11/26/2018 - 23:13

Hey Steve,
I am just wondering about scheduling. Am I okay to change the days that I go to the gym, so that I am alternating days, and my only consecutive are Saturday and Sunday? My desired days to workout are: Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Also, if I'm to miss a day at some point, should I do whichever muscle group coincides with the day that I missed the next time I work out, or should I stay with the same muscle schedule and just skip those groups? Thanks!

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Posted Mon, 11/26/2018 - 19:31

Hi Josh,

how many acconditioning or warming up sets/reps should we do in each exercise? For instance: I used to do 3, maybe 4 warming up sets in deadlift (e.g: 30kg x10, 40kgx8, 50kg x 8 and then the effective ones).

Another question is; sometimes I feel I can reach one more set for the strength exercises like the deadlift, squats etc... Is it good if I do 4 efective sets instead of 3 or 2?

The same for hypertrophy, how many warming up sets/reps and how many effective sets? 3? Could I do 4? Maybe 5 would be so much?

I know the answer is to listen to my body, but sometimes if I'm doing a biceps curl and it's my first exercise I feel I can do 4 sets, (after the warming up ones) but maybe I'm gonna feel so exhausted to do properly the next biceps exercises.

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Tue, 11/27/2018 - 11:31

Hi Miguel,

For warm ups, start here: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/warming-up-for-dummies

In terms of your question about sets, I'd recommend keeping them as written. If you feel you have more gas in the tank, focus on increasing the weight you're using instead of the set count. Once you've maxed out on weight, then begin to add in additional sets.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Thu, 11/22/2018 - 08:28

I have adapted this program and doing 4 sets where it says 3. And 3 sets where it says 2 (ex: deadlift)
When I was doing only 3 sets it didn't seem to wear me out.
Also, for burnouts, i decrease the weight every 1.5-2 minutes because i was not able to do more than 5-6 reps on the second part of the burnout (after 2-3 minutes), so i figured it is better to lift some more, rather than pause to often.
What do you guys think about that ?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Fri, 11/23/2018 - 11:00

Hi Florin,

That is completely fine! Especially if it's helping you accomplish your individual goals.

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Posted Mon, 11/19/2018 - 15:45
Logan whitaker

What are recommended rest periods? 1:30 -2 minutes between sets?

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Posted Sat, 11/17/2018 - 22:18
Ayush Raina

Is creatine necessary and why only monohydrate? Why others not? I am just only 17. Will it have any side effect on me. I already eat whey protein isolate only 25g of 30g scoop with a good diet.

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 11/19/2018 - 10:35
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Posted Mon, 11/12/2018 - 00:36

Hi Josh. Just wondering if 3 sets of 5 for deadlifts would be better than 2.

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 11/12/2018 - 11:22

Hi John,

It depends. It depends on how intense you're performing the sets independently. And what your individual threshold for recovery is.

You can certainly do an additional set if you deem it necessary for your goals.

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Posted Tue, 10/30/2018 - 07:57
Amish Kanabar

hey quick question. wanted to know will it help you build size aswell as well as muscle?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Tue, 10/30/2018 - 09:47

Hi Amish,


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Posted Mon, 10/22/2018 - 18:16
Brant Hannahs

Hey, just wondering how much the abs are affectedby this workout? I'm trying to bulk up from being skinny-fat but I also want to get a six pack. One more question, since I'm skinny-fat shoulld I focus on bulking and eating healthy at the same time, proper protein intake and all?

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Posted Sun, 09/16/2018 - 19:46
Josh Collins

I am really trying to grow my muscles , particularly arms! Should I train those muscle groups multiple times per week ?

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Posted Wed, 10/17/2018 - 18:40
Magnus Klutz

The most you want to work out your arms is 3 times per week. If you work them out too much, you can end up damaging your muscle, and you might even end up losing muscle. I suggest getting day of rest between each day that you work out.

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Posted Sun, 09/16/2018 - 03:54
mohammad shamout

thanx aloot
but is 3 exercises enough for biceps and triceps ?
and what about duration of 8 weeks ?
i think after 4 weeks you need to change the programme <,??

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Posted Tue, 09/25/2018 - 04:29
Brian Aldridge

You will be working you Biceps and Triceps on the Chest, Back and Shoulder exercises, there is no need to do more than a few exercises that concentrate on the Biceps and Triceps alone.

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Posted Sat, 08/25/2018 - 10:38
Kieran Harrington

What does "Burn" and "AMAP" mean?

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Posted Wed, 09/12/2018 - 16:21

AMAP = As Many as possible

Burn = Keep doing them until you burn out for the duration of the time

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Posted Wed, 10/17/2018 - 18:42
Magnus Klutz

"Burn" means you're burning the fat off of your muscle. "AMAP" is As Many As Possible. Basically fat burning.

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Posted Mon, 07/23/2018 - 15:14
Denes Maia

Hello Shaw. I want to know why i start day one with Dead Lifts??

And if its heavier i can get.

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Posted Wed, 07/18/2018 - 20:35

Hello, JoshEngland!
What do you think of chest flies instead of peck deck or cable crossover?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Thu, 07/19/2018 - 09:20

Hi Flavainya,

I think they all accomplish the same thing :)

Hope this helps!

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Posted Tue, 07/10/2018 - 20:59

Hi, JoshEngland!
I was wondering, could I switch order of days in this program? Start with chest-triceps and then move to bavk-biceps in 2nd day?
Ty for yoir replies and amazing work!

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Wed, 07/11/2018 - 09:32

Hi BacktoGAINZ,

Of course! And you're welcome! Sure, that should be fine.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Sat, 05/19/2018 - 10:42

Hey Steve, my son and I have been doing your workout program above for about 6 weeks now and it's great! My son just turned 14 (6-4 185) and I am 48 (6'7 245), looking to put on a little more size. You recommended to someone looking to transition to another Mass program one that focuses more on less reps, and the burns are removed from the program. Do you think it would be okay to progress to this program for our age, or should we stick with the program above. Thank you so much, Shawn

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Posted Wed, 07/11/2018 - 10:07

Hey Josh, just curious if you received my last message and question about my son and I using your program. I didn't see a response, sorry if I overlooked it. Thanks!

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Wed, 07/11/2018 - 10:22

Hi Shawn,

To be honest, I'm not experienced in working with either your's or your son's age demographic.

At 14, I'd think he'd be better off nailing down foundation movement patterns during full body workouts (squats, deadlifts, bench presses, overhead presses, pull ups, rows, etc). With the focus on learning and mastering form rather than moving any sort of weight or trying to isolate muscle groups for growth.

At 48, you'd probably be better off performing an upper/lower split focused on similar movements, but with added isolation work to target desired muscle groups.

We've got templates for both styles on this website. They are generic tho, so if you're seeking specific recommendations, I'd suggest seeking out the help of a personal trainer in your area.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Wed, 07/11/2018 - 10:29

Thank you so much Josh, most appreciate the advice, thank you!

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Posted Sat, 05/05/2018 - 06:20
David jessup

Should you rest between each set on a particular workout. And if so how long. Should you rest between each exercise and if so joe long.

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Posted Tue, 04/24/2018 - 22:18
Adam Warsing

Are you supposed to increase weight for the burn sets?? And if so how do I know I should increase weight??

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Posted Thu, 04/19/2018 - 01:37

Almost 2 months On. I have gain 8 pound of muscle and offcourse 2 pounds of fat on calories surplus. Gain strength and shirts getting tight on chest and biceps.
By far this is the best workout for busy professionals which cover all the sides from strength to burn.

Many thanks to Steve Shaw for a great free workout plan.

Here is another question, shall i continue same workout in my upcoming cutting cycle or would you recommend me a different workout?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Thu, 04/19/2018 - 10:45

Hi Shah,

Yes, you can continue on with the same program - just be sure to alter your calorie amount during your cutting cycle.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Wed, 03/28/2018 - 23:34

This is a perfect plan for my needs being a busy professional. One month on and i love it.
My question, how important is to train abs as this program doesn't have abs workout

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Thu, 03/29/2018 - 09:12

Hi Shah,

Abs are worked indirectly through all of the compound movements. If you wish to add in additional ab isolation work, feel free to do so.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Tue, 03/27/2018 - 15:41

Where would Cardio fit in, if it's necessary? I mean certainly I wound't do cardio after that massive leg day but what would you recommend?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Wed, 03/28/2018 - 09:32

Hi David,

I always recommend folks perform some form of cardio consistently during the week. I'd recommend picking a variation you enjoy performing and slotting it in wherever you can feasibly do it.

Personally, I walk my dog a couple of miles each day. Bam - cardio taken care of!

Hope this helps!

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Posted Thu, 03/01/2018 - 22:39

Hey, I just finished the first week of this program and I am loving it so far! I have a question concerning rest days though. Since I'm typically busy during the weekends I decided to workout Monday-Thursday with no rest in between to complete the 4 days. Considering I have a body type that puts on fat easily, should I squeeze in a cardio day on Friday? Perhaps doing some intermittent fasting on the off days? Thanks!

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Fri, 03/02/2018 - 09:41

Hi Shaheed,

Yes, you could certainly perform cardio on Fridays. I always try to remain lightly active on my off days. Doing so helps with weight maintenance and increases your body's ability to recover.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Mon, 02/19/2018 - 09:20

Hello first thanks you its a great 4 Day Maximum Mass Workout but now i finishe it in 8 week so what must i do after that i will repat the same program or what i dont know can you help me please

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 02/19/2018 - 09:25

Hi Ismail,

You can repeat or move on to a new workout. You may enjoy this one next: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/10-week-mass-building-program...

Hope this helps!

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Posted Tue, 03/13/2018 - 18:37
jesse j vasquez

can you post another one for men and women?

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Posted Mon, 02/19/2018 - 10:29

Ismail. Keep doing his split routine. Anymore your over training your muscles. Do research from people other then a certified trainer’s. Talk to people who have speciality degrees in this area and you will realize how easy it is to over train. It takes days for muscles to heal . Diet, rest and train hard. You will get results!

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Posted Wed, 02/14/2018 - 19:08

I have just finished a upper lower body beginner split, is this good for growing the muscles bigger and taking it to the next level?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Thu, 02/15/2018 - 08:34

Hi Dan,

It's definitely a good routine. However, for lifters looking to maximize muscle growth, I always recommend stimulating the muscle multiple times per week (as you would in an upper/lower routine). Personally, I'd look to make your upper/lower more challenging if muscle growth is your main goal.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Wed, 02/14/2018 - 06:21

How should I do the barbell static hold?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Wed, 02/14/2018 - 11:13

Hi Diego,

Load up a barbell and hold on for dear life for the prescribed amount of time.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Mon, 11/27/2017 - 10:42

I just finished a 4 day split with a duration of 8 weeks. Is this a good split to begin with? Also why are there no abdominal workouts?