I’m sure you’ve already read Part 1 of My Secret Workout Formula. So now, let’s get back it at and talk about why my “Big 4” workout works, and what you can do to get the most out of it.
All Together Now!
The significant difference when focusing on the “Big 4” is that you are working your entire body every time you go to the gym. So, if arranged with some consideration, you get a HUGE time-saving workout that will target all muscle groups, and boost your heart rate due to the tempo of the exercises. There are, however, a few things you need to remember.
- The Big in “Big 4” is there for a reason. Focus on selecting primarily large, multi-joint exercises like rowing variations, squats, and deadlifts. We want as many muscles working as possible with every movement. So save isolating exercises, like bicep curls, for another day.
- Location, location, location. Remember when I said in part 1 that your metabolism burns calories? So if we focus on increasing metabolism through muscle selections, we’ll be better off. Arrange your exercises so the muscles in each quadrant are as far away from each other as possible. This may not seem like something that matters, but think of the distance between muscle groups as the distance your blood has to travel. This distance provides additional metabolic demand, which is a good thing. So, going from a push-up (quad 1) to a squat (quad 3) is an excellent choice. But if you try putting deadlifts (quad 4) ahead of bench press (quad 2) you will really feel what I am talking about.
- Keep it growth-oriented. When it comes to identifying the number of repetitions and sets, you could set a variety of targets based on your goals. In my experience, most people will get benefits by aiming for 5-12 repetitions for each of 3 to 6 sets. This stays within muscle growth (hypertrophy) range, leading to a lean and toned look if you are a woman or a slightly more muscular look if you are a man.
- Be aware of the risk and adjust as needed. You may not be able to squat your max if you are also doing pullups, handstand push-ups, and single-leg Romanian deadlifts in the same circuit. Consider starting with lower weight than normal on some exercises, and moving up from there.
- Don’t be a one-trick pony. Many people stick with the same exercises for all eternity. That is, without a doubt, a one-way ticket to plateaus, boredom, and overuse injuries. After all, there are other ways to squat than with a barbell on your back. Mix it up a little, and you’ll find that you stay interested more easily. Just make sure that your form is spot-on when you pick up a new exercise.
- Try to see things from multiple angles. Along with making sure you periodically choose different exercises, you need to make sure you aren’t always working in the same plane of motion. By varying the forces at work, you will strengthen and stabilize your joints and stimulate your core muscles to fight against rotational forces. For example, if you always do a dumbbell chest press why not try a single-arm variation? Or try offset loading your step-ups by holding a dumbbell in just one hand. This may not seem like much of a change but give it a try and let me know what you feel.
We’re not done yet! Now that you know the “why” of the “Big 4” workout, we’ll review a menu of exercises in part 3. Talk to you then!