Fast 4: A Beach Body Workout Program For The College Student

Andrew Pardue
Written By: Andrew Pardue
February 4th, 2014
Updated: June 13th, 2020
189.6K Reads
Fast 4: A Beach Body Workout Program For The College Student
Not everyone wants to be a bodybuilder. This workout is perfect for the college student who wants to build muscle with the primary goal of looking great at the beach.
Workout Summary

Workout Description

I’m a huge fan of competitive bodybuilding. I have been since I first discovered it in high school, and I always will be. However, not everyone has aspirations to step on a competitive stage, especially during their college years.

For some people they just want to workout in order look better for the ladies. As a college student living on the coast and constantly on a beach full of women, I can respect that. So this raises the question: what type of training program should someone do in order to make sure they are improving their physique without training with the volume and frequency of a bodybuilder?

To answer this question, I created the Fast Four training program. This program is a four day split, four exercises each, separated into 4 training blocks to give users the biggest bang for their proverbial buck.

Be Basic

Being basic isn’t always a bad thing - especially if you want to look good when you get the chance to meet the girl you’ve been seeing around campus, or when beach season comes around. In the fitness industry there are always new exercises and equipment coming out, mostly from people trying to increase profits and notoriety. Sticking to the basics will not only save you from looking silly, like the guys doing those dumbbell curls on a Bosu ball, but they will also help you gain the muscle you need to make a statement at that next fraternity party.

The Fast Four training program is built around making the most out of your time in the gym. That means sticking with exercises that have stood the test of time and given bodybuilders, college athletes, models, and even the average Joe amazing results.

Guy Squatting

If you haven’t already learned, I strongly suggest finding a professional who can teach you how to properly bench press, squat and deadlift. I bet you already know how to bench press, but few people properly squat and deadlift.

The effectiveness of these two exercises can’t be emphasized enough. Squatting with a full range of motion will activate virtually every muscle from your abs down, while deadlifts work the entire lower body, core, back, and arms. You won’t get this much activation by doing a few random machine exercises and calling it a workout.

You may want some variety after doing the program for several weeks. If that’s the case simply substitute one of the exercises for a similar exercise that targets the same muscle groups. There are several varieties of the bench press, squat, and deadlift that can allow you to switch it up and continue making progress.

Build Your Rep

Without getting bogged down in the details, lifting weights in different rep ranges allows you to improve different areas of muscle growth; myofibrillar and sarcoplasmic hypertrophy. If you’re interested in learning more about this Cliff Wilson, arguably the top natural bodybuilding coach in the country, he has a great article discussing it in further detail that can be found here.

That being said if you really want to get the most out of your time in the gym, it’s great to change up the rep scheme of your program. To accommodate for this, you’ll notice that every 4 weeks the rep range changes in order to shift the focus of hypertrophy type and allow you to see better results.

Running Things

Sometimes being known as the big man on campus isn’t always a compliment. Let’s be real, college students don’t always have the best dietary habits. Late night runs to the local cookout, or knocking back beers with your buds can create some good memories. Unfortunately it can also give you a gut.

Although eating a proper diet can go a long way in allowing you to reach your ideal appearance, this may not always be possible during college. By adding in some cardio sessions to the program, you can at least reduce the effects of an unideal diet and keep your waistline in check.

Fast Four includes High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), which is essentially a series of all out sprints separated by recovery intervals. For example you could peddle as fast as possible for 30 seconds and then peddle at a moderate pace for 30-60 seconds; then repeat for the desired time.

The program also includes Moderate Intensity Steady State (MISS) cardio which can be thought of as a fast walk to slow jog pace. The session times and amounts are given in a pretty broad range since it will depend on your weight changes, appearance and other factors such as recovery and how much time you have to devote to your gym time.

ABSolutely Necessary

Fast Four is all about including the essentials that can activate the most muscle groups in the least amount of exercises. There aren’t any direct abdominal exercises in this program as you can see.

Girl Planking

Although you will get a lot of core activation through compound lifts like the squat and deadlift, feel free to add in some extra core work at the end of two workouts if you like. Just select an abdominal exercise of your choice and add it to the end of the workout. You can even follow the same rep schemes for that particular block although I would suggest only doing around 2-4 extra sets of ab work.

The Fast Four Training Program

Rep scheme and rest time:

  • Weeks 1-4 - 3 Sets, 15-20 reps. Rest time: 1:30-2:00 Minutes
  • Weeks 5-8 - 4 Sets, 10-15 reps. Rest time: 1:30-2:00 Minutes
  • Weeks 9-12 - 5 Sets, 5-10 reps. Rest time: 2:00-2:30 Minutes
  • Weeks 13-16 - 6 Sets, 2-3 reps. Rest time: 2:30-3:00 Minutes
Monday/Thursday training
Exercise Sets* Reps*
1. Barbell Squats 3-6 2-20
2. Dumbbell Lunges 3-6 2-20
3. Dumbbell Curls 3-6 2-20
4. Close Grip Bench 3-6 2-20

*Sets and reps will depend on what week of the program you are in

Tuesday/Friday training
Exercise Sets* Reps*
1. Deadlift 3-6 2-20
2. Bench Press 3-6 2-20
3. Overhead Press 3-6 2-20
4. Lat Pulldown 3-6 2-20

*Sets and reps will depend on what week of the program you are in

  • 1-3 MISS Sessions (20-35 minutes)
  • 1-3 HIIT Sessions (8-12 minutes)

Time To Get A Fratastic Physique

No matter how great of a training program you follow, it’s important to remember that a good diet will make as much, if not more of an impact on your physique. While this may not be the easiest task in college, finding articles on nutrition on this site or contacting a professional with expertise in this area can go a long way in helping you reach your ideal physique while balancing the demands of college life.

After finishing this program you should have a good idea of how you can set up your programs for the future. By lifting in a variety of rep ranges and paying attention to exercise selection you can continue to improve your physique while still allowing yourself plenty of time for chasing girls, or maybe studying… yeah right! Try out this training program and start turning that keg into a six pack!

Posted on: Sun, 11/22/2020 - 08:44

thanks a lot , this workout is very good

Posted on: Thu, 04/18/2019 - 17:16

I'm sorry but do you mind if I ask what MISS means?

Posted on: Sun, 03/11/2018 - 04:28

I really like this program, I want to learn how many days do I have to do cardio and approximately how many calories do I have to take in a day

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 03/12/2018 - 09:18

Hi Yigit,

Perform cardio as desired - I always recommend folks do some form of cardio regularly.

For your calorie needs, start here:

Hope this helps!

Posted on: Sun, 01/14/2018 - 10:37

How often and what days are you supposed to do the cardio workouts?

Posted on: Sun, 08/13/2017 - 00:36

Hi Andrew,

I realised barbell row is not included in the regime? Should I add that in or sub another exercise?


Andrew Pardue
Posted on: Mon, 08/14/2017 - 13:33

You could certainly add those in! This program is only designed to help those in a real time crunch but looking to get the "most bang for their buck" during time-restricted training sessions. If you wanted to build on this program by adding in some more training volume through complementary exercises, that would totally work.

Posted on: Sun, 07/23/2017 - 08:16

I've been going to the gym for a few weeks so I was wondering, would it be okay to skip weeks 1-4 since I've already gotten fairly used to weight lifting? Also, is there any negative impacts of doing more core work than the amount you said?

Andrew Pardue
Posted on: Mon, 07/24/2017 - 15:53

Hey Max! I would really encourage still doing the weeks 1-4. Even as training age improves, it can be super beneficial to periodically transition from lower, medium and high volume training cycles (volume = total sets, reps, and weight used) so allow for better muscular adaptions and growth. So you'll still really benefit from performing the entire program, just continue progressively overloading your working sets to continue promoting greater adaptions.

As for the core work, depending on your previous training experience and recent total training volume in core-focused movements, you could certainly add in more core work if necessary!

Feel free to follow my social media accounts where I provide a lot more information on programming nutrition and training!

IG: @andrewnpardue

Posted on: Mon, 04/06/2015 - 21:30

Andrew, you rock. Thanks for answering all the questions below - they answered all the questions I had about this program. .Thanks again!

Andrew Pardue
Posted on: Tue, 04/07/2015 - 09:37

Thanks, I'm glad it helped! I hate that I didn't see some of the comments until much later but happy to help when I can!

Posted on: Mon, 03/23/2015 - 20:59

Although I like the workout, can you show any results besides yours? I like to see results of other people that have done the same workout I am about to do. Thank you!

Andrew Pardue
Posted on: Tue, 03/24/2015 - 09:54

Hey Leonardo, thanks for checking out the article! Unfortunately I can't provide any "before and afters" since I wrote this article for busy college students but I actually only coach competitive natural bodybuilding athletes (in all divisions) that I typically provide much more in depth and higher volume programs. However like any training program, if designed properly and performed with the right consistency and intensity; along with a proper diet, will produce results. So as long as you're putting in the work consistently in the gym, results will come with time.

Posted on: Thu, 01/29/2015 - 01:26

Hey Andrew,
Thank you! Finally someone understands the workout I'm looking for! I call it "pretty boy" strong, when you look better than you can lift. I have a question, for the barbell bench press would it be appropriate to sub in dumbbells instead of a barbell?

Andrew Pardue
Posted on: Tue, 03/24/2015 - 10:05

Hey Jonathan, I would certainly suggest subbing DB bench in for BB bench if you feel better with that movement.

*sSorry for the slow response, my email alerts haven't updated me on new comments for a while like they are supposed to for some reason.

Posted on: Wed, 07/30/2014 - 03:20

Hey Andrew,

Great workout. I've been doing it for a while now. I was curious to know if I went through all the weeks and I still want to continue the workout or if I just wanted to stick with one of the sessions could I stick with just doing weeks 5-8 workout when I hit the gym?

Andrew Pardue
Posted on: Tue, 03/24/2015 - 10:04

Hey Nick, thanks for checking out the article! If you liked the program and wanting to keep using it, or start back on it again, I would actually suggest starting over at week 1 and going completely through it. Running the full 16 week program through would allow you to continue periodically training in different rep schemes and with different rest periods which can be VERY helpful and maximizing muscle growth due to their effects on myofibrillar and sarcoplasmic hypertrophy mechanisms. Each time you finished week 16, you could perform a lighter de-load week to improve recovery then start back over at week 1, and simply try to beat the amount of weight or reps you were able to perform the last time through or substitute in different exercise for each muscle group to keep things interesting!

Ps. Sorry for the slow response, my email alerts haven't updated me on new comments for a while like they are supposed to for some reason.

Posted on: Tue, 07/01/2014 - 23:44

hi andrew. just a question, i am 26 yrs old. can i still do this workout or this is not going to work as good as what it will give to a college or a 21 age below?

Andrew Pardue
Posted on: Tue, 03/24/2015 - 10:00

Hey! This workout would work just fine for you. Age itself has very little to no bearing on the productivity of a training program; what does have an effect is "training age" and development. For trainees that have been consistently in the gym for several months or years, they will eventually need to increase overall training volume and frequency to continue progressing. So if you're someone relatively new to weight training or an intermediate then this would work well; however if you've been in the gym for a long time the amount of sets or frequency of workouts may need to be adjusted to continue creating enough stimulus for muscle size and strength improvements. Also, simply focusing on progressive overload in the form of increasing reps per set; increasing the amount of weight lifted; increasing time under tension; or adjusting rest periods between sets can help you continue progressing without adjusting total volume or frequency as often.

Also, sorry for the slow response, my email alerts haven't updated me on new comments for a while like they are supposed to for some reason : /

Jeff G
Posted on: Mon, 05/05/2014 - 20:24

I was wondering if there is a way to make this a 3 day split......

Posted on: Tue, 03/24/2015 - 09:51

Hey Jeff, sorry for the slow response, my email alerts haven't updated me on new comments for a while like they are supposed to. I think the easiest way to make it a 3 day split is to just alternate the workouts. It would leave you not hitting each muscle group the same amount each week but it would be easier for you than completely restructuring the program. However I would say with some scheduling adjustments 4 days/week is pretty reasonable.

Posted on: Sun, 03/09/2014 - 10:11

Hey Andrew,

nice workout schedule, I am definitely going to try this out. I didn't pick up any answers on this from the comments so ill just post my questions:

i. Am I supposed to do the rep scheme as fast as possible?
ii.The HIIT and MISS, should I do both or alternate after each workout? so, mon/thu = HIIT and tue/fri=MISS?

And about the diet, I'm not one for much calorie-counting, and as a college student (as you pointed out in the article) there isn't much time nor possibility for extreme diets. Whats your opinion on a basic LCHF diet combined with the WO scheme? (that is, sallad and chicken/salmon/tuna/red meat) or should I just eat as i usually do, and the cardio will deal with the excess calories?

thank you on beforehand, from Stockholm, Sweden.


Andrew Pardue
Posted on: Sat, 03/15/2014 - 22:44

Hey man thanks! The reps should be performed at a normal pace, the "fast" in the program comes from limiting the exercises to the basics that hit the most muscle groups in each lift. Basically giving you the biggest bang for your buck per lift if that makes sense.

For dieting I honestly am not big on using specific foods in a diet. I prefer clients to track their macros and use a variety of foods to hit their macro targets. Again like you said during college it's definitely challenging. If tracking macros just isn't an option, I would just focus on getting variety and balance. As long as you can get good food sources in you can at least eye ball portions throughout the day and get an idea of what you're taking in on a consistent basis, then adjust with things like adding a piece of bread at one meal each day etc etc. Then you can adjust cardio depending on your weight changes/progress pictures/performance in the gym. Hope that helps! As you know, without adjusting macros it's a bit hard to give advice on the subject.

Andrew Pardue
Posted on: Sat, 03/15/2014 - 22:47

And yeah I would definitely just alternate the cardio and do just one cardio session per day to avoid muscle loss or reducing recovery!

Posted on: Sat, 03/01/2014 - 13:49

I am gonna do this workout, but as I only have a pair of dumbbells and a barbell, what would be a good replacement for the lat pull down?

Andrew Pardue
Posted on: Sat, 03/15/2014 - 22:34

DB or BB rows could be a great substitute!

Posted on: Tue, 02/18/2014 - 19:44

hey first of all great workout but one question could it be a better approach to integrate the biceps and triceps exercises on the second day and the bench press and the lat pull down on the first ?

Andrew Pardue
Posted on: Mon, 02/24/2014 - 21:08

I like how they are currently set up but if you find it more enjoyable to switch them up like that then I say go for it. As long as you're working hard and getting the lifts in then you'll see progress either way!

Posted on: Fri, 02/14/2014 - 03:12

Hi Andrew. Great Article by the way! Im not a college student, i am 26 years old and im looking for a program that will give me a beach body but also something that i can finish in an hour of workout. Work really sucks and i only have an hour of workout time everyday. can you recomend this for me?

Andrew Pardue
Posted on: Sun, 02/16/2014 - 22:13

Thanks for showing some love! If time was a problem I would actually just do the same program, but maybe cut down on the sets. Maybe try doing 3 sets of each exercise and just changing the rep scheme as you normally would every 4 weeks! That way you're still able to hit all the main lifts in different rep ranges. Just lift hard and heavy during your sets and you should still be able to get in a great workout!

Posted on: Thu, 02/13/2014 - 23:40

Hi, just wondering when should I do the cardio (HIIT) and (MISS) every day i'm in the gym, after weight training? and do I do them together one after another?

Andrew Pardue
Posted on: Sun, 02/16/2014 - 22:17

I wouldn't suggest doing two cardio sessions back to back. Typically I do my cardio right after I finish weight training that way I can just knock it out and not have to worry about it later. Maybe do a HIIT session on one day, and a MISS the next day. Alternating them like that may keep prevent boredom and burning out mentally.

Doing cardio before weight training can really decrease your power output. Plus you don't want to be exhausted when your doing something as heavy and important as squats where you need to be able to focus on having great form to stay safe!

mike hillman
Posted on: Sun, 02/09/2014 - 13:40

Hey Andrew great work out. How many warm up sets should a guy be doing befor starting on the work sets?

Andrew Pardue
Posted on: Sun, 02/09/2014 - 16:14

I usually do around 2-3 warm up sets before my compound movements. I like to try and space the weight increases out as evenly as possible. Say I was doing 200lbs squats for my working sets of 4x10. I would probably do 95lbs x 10, 135lbs x8, 185lbs x 5-8 then go into my working sets. You may like to do it differently but just getting a few sets and working weight up like this helps get your CNS ready to go and also helps you get mentally prepared.

Posted on: Sun, 02/09/2014 - 11:23

I'm curious about the weight increase throughout the process. Do I increase weekly

Andrew Pardue
Posted on: Sun, 02/09/2014 - 15:53

I'm a fan of what's called a double progressive overload. Essentially you begin with a weight you can do at the bottom of the suggested rep range, so for example 15 reps during the first block. The following workouts lift that weigh until you hit the top number (i.e. 20 reps for all your sets). At this point you'll add weight, maybe around 5-10lbs, that would have you lifting back toward the bottom of the rep range. This way you can keep progressing even when you can't add a lot of weight frequently. It's a great way to increase strength overtime and keep thing pretty organized.

Example. Week 1 Workout 1 Squat 150 for 15 reps.Next Squat workout you may lift 150lbs for 16 or 17. Then eventually you would hit 150lbs for 20 reps for all your sets. The next workout you may start at 160lbs for 15 reps then repeat the process.

When the next block begins and the rep range changes, just use your past workouts to estimate a new starting weight then use the same progression type.

Robin P
Posted on: Thu, 02/20/2014 - 09:37

Well, you increase when you can max the workout? XD

Posted on: Thu, 02/06/2014 - 03:58

Hey man great workout. Got any tips on how to implement the cardio. At the end or after workout. How long should the (MISS) cardio be?

Andrew Pardue
Posted on: Thu, 02/06/2014 - 14:20

Thanks for the support! If I were doing the workout I would probably do the cardio at the end of my weight training. After the heavy lifting you may not feel like it, but I would rather have my rest days where I can actually rest rather than doing cardio.That's more of a personal preference thing though. As long as you aren't doing the cardio before the weight training you'll be fine no matter which you choose (after workouts or on rest days).

MISS I suggest 20-35 minutes per session but this can obviously vary a lot. If you are just now adding the cardio in, you could even start with 10-15 minutes sessions and see how your body responds through your weekly weigh ins, appearance, and just how you're feeling overall!