4-Minute Muscle Full-Body Workout

4-Minute Muscle Full-Body Workout
Take a different approach to your training to spark intensity and break through a plateau by using my 4-Minute Muscle method. This full-body routine will torch bodyfat and build solid muscle.

Updated July 3, 2018

If you're stuck on a training plateau or simply looking for something new to break up a stale routine, I have just the thing: my 4-Minute Muscle technique.

Typically we think of a given exercise in terms of sets and reps – 3 sets of 12 reps, 5 sets of 5 reps, etc. With 4-Minute Muscle, I'm changing the way you think about your training to some extent. The premise is to squeeze as many reps as you can for a given exercise into a four minute block of time. You can do this for any muscle group – chest, back, biceps, calves, you name it. Just pick one exercise and rep out for four minutes, resting as needed.

Of course, there are a few parameters I suggest following. First, weight selection is important. If you go too heavy, your rep count in the four minutes will be too low to promote hypertrophy; if you go too light, you'll get a ton of reps but probably won't stimulate much muscle growth. I recommend picking a weight that would normally have you reaching failure at 12-15 reps. Trust me, you don't want to go much heavier than this with the 4-Minute protocol.

Once you have the exercise picked and you've loaded up the bar, machine, cable stack or dumbbells with the appropriate weight (12-15RM), you'll start the clock. In the span of exactly four minutes, you'll alternate between repping out and resting to achieve as many reps as possible. I strongly suggest you don't go to failure right out of the blocks. On that first "set," do somewhere around 10 reps, then stop and rest for 15 seconds or so, then start repping out again. You'll want to experiment with different rep and rest schemes during the course of four minutes, but the whole point is to choose the best strategy to maximize the number of reps you do.

Ideally, you should complete between 36 and 45 reps in the four minutes; this will put you in the ideal muscle-building window or "sweet spot." If you're able to do more than 45 reps, you went too light and should use more weight next time; if you failed to hit 36, you went too heavy and should lighten the load when you do the 4-Minute technique again with that exercise. A typical 4-Minute Muscle rep scheme might look like this: 10 reps, rest 15 seconds or so; 10 reps, rest for a bit; 9 reps, rest; 6 reps, rest; 3 reps, and four minutes is up. That adds up to 38 reps total, which puts you in that 36-45-rep sweet spot. That's a great hypertrophy-promoting workout for that exercise.

To watch me go through one round of the 4-Minute Muscle protocol, check out the below video. I did the technique using EZ-bar curls for biceps.

As for making a complete workout out of the 4-Minute Muscle technique, you have a few options. Personally, I like using it for full-body training, as new research has shown that full-body workouts are better for fat-burning then split-training workouts. (Read my recent article on this.) Constructing a full-body workout from the 4-Minute technique is easy: Pick one exercise per bodypart and do each for four minutes.

In the below sample workout, that's exactly what I offer up – one exercise each for chest, back, shoulders, traps, biceps, triceps, legs, calves and abs. That's nine exercises, and only 36 minutes of training total. If you rest one or two minutes between each exercise, you can easily get that workout done in less than an hour. If you're short on time and don't have an hour to train, drop one or two of the smaller muscle groups (say, traps and abs) to cut the duration down by 5-10 minutes (include rest between exercises).

Not that I'm bashing split-training workouts; I know many of you like doing 2-day, 3-day, 4-day, even 5-day, training splits to pack on size and strength. The 4-Minute Muscle technique can be used in this context by using 2-3 exercises per muscle group (three exercises for large bodyparts like chest, back and legs, and two exercises for smaller groups like biceps, triceps and traps).

Below is a sample 4-Minute Muscle full-body routine. Feel free to swap out different exercises for those I programmed if you have personal preferences, but the mix I selected will provide a great full-body workout. Give it a try and let me know what you think on either my Facebook and Twitter pages. I'm interested to hear how everyone likes this 4-Minute Muscle protocol. Enjoy the burn, not to mention a little soreness the next day!

4-Minute Muscle Full-Body Workout

Exercise Sets Reps
Incline Dumbbell Press - 36-45
Wide-Grip Lat Pulldown - 36-45
Smith Machine Squat - 36-45
Machine Shoulder Press* - 36-45
Barbell Shrug - 36-45
EZ-Bar Curl - 36-45
EZ-Bar Skull Crusher - 36-45
Standing Calf Raise - 36-45
Cable Crunch - 36-45

Rest 1-2 minutes between exercises to catch your breath and give you time to set up for the next move.

*Hammer Strength, selectorized machine or Smith machine.

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