Have you been thinking about shedding a couple of extra pounds but are unsure of where to start? If so, then a 4-day workout routine for weight loss may be the answer that you’ve been looking for. Training for four days a week is an ideal option for people who are looking to achieve their fitness goal – be it building muscle or losing some weight.
An important factor to note before delving into a 4-day workout routine for weight loss and toning is that you need a workout routine. Many people, when they are looking to shed some weight, will dive into working out without first determining how and when to exercise. This is not the best plan.
Why You Should Have A Workout Routine
Having a workout routine is important because (1):
1. It keeps you consistent
Most people with to-do lists will more often than not end up sticking to them. If you have an appointment scheduled in your calendar you are most likely to keep it in spite of whatever happens. The same logic applies to a workout routine. Slotting some time every week to exercise will keep you in line not letting you fall off the wagon.
2. Helps with frequency
It is hard to either build muscle or effectively lose weight when working out just one day a week. No matter how hard you push yourself on this one day, you cannot beat the results or effects of someone who may have, say a 4-day workout routine for weight loss and muscle gain. Exercising for more days helps keep your metabolism up to burn calories and keeps your muscles active to help them tone up and grow.
3. It is more efficient
When at the gym, or even when working out from home, many of us would be tempted to stick to the exercises that we love and enjoy. While it is great to enjoy exercising, choosing to work out one part of the body in favor of the other is not an efficient way to lose weight or gain muscle. What is the point of having killer abs and strong arms when your lower body has little to no muscle definition?
4. It helps avoid overtraining
Overtraining is constant intense training that does not provide adequate time for recovery. Pushing yourself too much and too far which causes the body to further break down. A proper workout routine always includes different workouts for different muscle groups. You also need to allocate rest days to help you relax, giving your muscles some time to repair and build themselves.
Overtraining then leads to issues such as an altered resting heart rate, insomnia, increased injury, extended muscle soreness, plateaued progress, a loss of concentration, and an increased risk of injury, among others (2). Having a varied routine also prevents boredom, delays a performance plateau, and improves adherence (10).
How To Create A Workout Plan?
Creating a workout is not as hard as some would consider it to be. If you are finding it hard to do, here are are some tips on how to create a workout plan that works best for you and your goals (6):
Determine what your goals are
At the end of a set time – for example in 3 months – what goal would you have liked to have achieved? Are you looking to have a smaller waistline? Do you want to be able to run for 30 minutes straight or would you like to have increased your weights in the gym by an extra 10 pounds? Determining your goals helps you set a routine that guides you to work effectively towards this goal.
Pick the days that work for you
Some people like to be at the gym first thing Monday morning, while others prefer to work out from the middle of the week heading into the weekend. Whichever days you choose, make sure that they are days that fit effectively with your schedule, which will make it less likely for you to skip out on exercising.
Divide up your days
Having an effective 4-day weight loss workout for men or women does not mean only doing cardio, HIIT, or strength training all the 4 days of the week. This will most likely lead to overtraining. Instead of doing this, it is advisable to dedicate different days to different types of exercises, all targeting different muscle groups i.e.,
- Strength training – Mondays & Thursdays = lower body workouts while Tuesdays and Fridays = Upper body workouts
- Mondays & Thursdays = Cardio while Tuesdays and Fridays are dedicated to either upper body or lower body workouts (depending on the week or day)
- Mondays = Cardio, Tuesdays = Lower body workouts, Thursdays = HIIT and Fridays = Lower body exercises
PS: It is important to remember that you should not train only one muscle group all week. While you can train a specific muscle group two days in a row (7), dedicating a 4-day workout routine for weight loss to the same type of exercises for the same muscles groups will most likely lead to overtraining and possible injury.
Determine amount of reps per workout
When setting up your 4-day workout routine for weight loss and toning, it is important to realize that different goals require different approaches. One-size doesn’t fit all. For example, for fat loss, it is advisable to do more reps (i.e., 15 to 20 reps per set), while toning and muscle gain requires few reps per set – about 8 to 12 reps.
Be ready to switch things up every 3 or so months
After about 12 to 14 weeks of doing the same workouts, our body adapts to these moves and intensity and thus we end up burning less calories and the muscles tear less thus we end up experiencing a performance or weight loss plateau. Always change your workout routine after about 3 months.
Determine how much time you need to spend per workout
According to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, if you are looking to lose weight, you should aim to accumulate a weekly total of at least five hours of moderate cardio (300 minutes), or two-and-a-half hours of vigorous activity (150 minutes) (5).
In terms of strength training, it is recommended that you do both isolation and compound exercises two to three days a week (4). In a 4-day workout routine for weight loss, you could aim for one or two days of strength training, depending on your schedule.
Schedule time for a warmup and cool down
Every effective exercise plan needs to include a few minutes for warming up and cooling down. Warm-ups rev up your cardiovascular system by raising your body temperature and increasing blood flow to your muscles, which in turn helps reduce muscle soreness and lessen your risk of injury. Cool-downs after a session allows your heart rate and blood pressure to slowly go back down to the pace they were at before you started your workout session. Failure to cool down could lead to light-headedness, dizziness and/or fainting (8).
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How To Lose Weight Fast With Exercise?
All kinds of physical activities burn calories and thus can help you lose weight. Whether you are gardening, mowing the lawn, cleaning utensils, working on your computer, running, cycling, playing soccer, or lifting weight, you are going to burn some calories.
What matters the most in all these activities is the intensity at which you do each activity. i.e., slow ballroom dancing for about 30 minutes can help a 155-pound person lose 112 calories while disco dancing could lead to losing 205 calories and ballet which uses a lot of muscle can burn 223 cals.
A 185-pound person running at 5 mph can burn 355 calories, while the same person running at 6.2 mph will burn 444 calories in 30 minutes (3).
What Is A 4-Day Upper Lower Workout Routine For Weight Loss?
Also known as an upper/lower split, this is a training style that breaks your workout sessions down into two categories: upper body workout days and lower body workout days. A 4-day upper lower workout routine for weight loss helps you stimulate each muscle group more frequently, which can help with weight loss and building muscle. It also allows you enough time between each workout to rest your muscles (8).
Such a split would be as follows:
- Monday – Lower body – Working out your calves, thighs, hamstrings, and core
- Tuesday – Upper body – Exercising your chest, back, shoulders, triceps, and biceps
- Wednesday – Rest day
- Thursday – Lower body
- Friday – Upper body
- Saturday and Sunday = Off days
The Best 4-Day Workout Routine For Weight Loss
This 4-day weight loss workout routine for men can also be done by women and is perfect for beginners and advanced gym-goers. Please note that this 4-day workout routine for weight loss and toning incorporates cardio, as well as isolation and compound exercises.
Day One – Lower Body
- Start with a warm up then do 10 to 15 minutes of moderate cardio
- Start by standing with your feet hip-width apart and place the hands on your hips.
- Take a big step back with your right leg, crossing it behind your left. Bend your knees and lower your hips until your left thigh is nearly parallel to the floor.
- Keep your torso upright and your hips and shoulders as square as possible to the wall in front of you.
- Return to the start position and repeat the movement on the other side.
- Do this 10 to 15 times on each side for one set.
- Lie on your back with your hands at your sides, knees bent, and feet flat on the floor under your knees.
- Tighten your abdominal and buttock muscles by pushing your low back into the ground before you push up.
- Raise your hips to create a straight line from your knees to shoulders.
- Squeeze your core and pull your belly button back toward your spine.
- Hold for 5 to 10 seconds, and then return to your starting position.
- Try doing this 15 to 20 times for one set.
This can be done with a barbell, kettlebells, dumbbells, water bottles, or soup cans if you do not have any gym equipment at home.
- Hold a pair of dumbbells in front of you with an overhand grip (your palms should be facing the body).
- Hinge forward at your hips, slightly bending the knees, lowering the dumbbells to the ground without allowing your back to round.
- Brace core and lift back to the starting position. Keep your shoulders together and your spine in a neutral position throughout the workout.
- Try doing this 15 times for one set.
- Stand with feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart as you hold a kettlebell in front of your body with both hands, arms straight.
- With a slight bend in your knees and a flat back, hinge at your hips and swing the kettlebell back through your legs.
- Use that momentum to stand and swing the kettlebell out in front of your body, up to shoulder height. Thrust your hips forward, and engage your glutes and core as you stand up straight.
- When the kettlebell hits shoulder height, your knees should be straight, and glutes contracted in a full hip extension.
- Allow the kettlebell to swing back down through your legs
Finish with a simple cool down.
- Begin with a warmup and do some moderate cardio eg jogging, running, or swimming, etc
- Start in a standing position with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Squat down with your back straight and your hands on the floor between your feet.
- With your weight on your hands, kick your feet back so you’re on your hands and toes, and in a pushup position.
- Do one push-up before jumping your feet back to their starting position.
- Push strongly from this position and jump, reaching your arms over your head.
- Begin in a traditional plank position with your shoulders directly over your hands and wrists.
- Be sure to keep your back flat and your butt down, maintaining a neutral spine. Do not curve your back or sag your hips.
- Engage your core and lift up your right knee, bringing it toward your elbow (or as far as you can). Return the right knee back to the starting position as you simultaneously drive your left knee up toward your left elbow.
- Return to the starting position and continue switching legs as you pick up the pace. It should feel like you are running in place in a plank position.
- Start on your hands and knees, place your hands on the ground, shoulder-width apart, or a little wider.
- Carefully move your feet in position by extending your body and propping your feet up on the bench/couch/chair, or step, one at a time. Position yourself to make sure that your shoulders, hips, and toes are all in a staring line. Do not sag or arch your hips.
- Slowly lower your chest by bending your elbows. Try looking at a spot on the wall to keep your head elevated and to avoid banging your nose or forehead on the ground. Remember not to arch your back.
- Push up until your elbows are straight, but not locked, returning to the start position.
- Do this 10 to 12 times for one set.
- Sit on the edge of the chair or couch and grip the edge next to your hips. Extend your legs and part your legs to be about hip-width apart with the heels touching the ground.
- Look straight ahead with your chin up. Press into your palms to lift your body and slide forward just far enough that your butt clears the chair’s edge. This is your start position.
- Slowly and carefully lower yourself until your elbows are bent between a 45 and 90 degrees angle.
- From this position, slowly push yourself back up to the start position and repeat.
- Try doing this up to 12 times for each set.
This is a rest day. Take some time to relax and give your muscles some time to repair and recover.
Do a 30-minute HIIT workout and 3 sets of two lower and upper body workouts each.
Do a combination of lower and upper body workouts.
The Bottom Line
A 4-day workout routine for weight loss is a good idea for anyone who wishes to shed some extra pounds. Diving these exercises into two day intervals goes to further give you some time to rest and recover, preventing overtraining.
If you choose to attempt the above outlined 4-day workout routine for weight loss and toning, please remember to first consult your doctor, especially if you have any underlying chronic illness.
Check out the 20 Minute Full Body Workout at Home below.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any medical conditions. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- 3 Reasons to Use a Workout Schedule (n.d., active.com)
- 12 Signs You’re Overtraining (n.d, mensjournal.com)
- Calories burned in 30 minutes for people of three different weights (2018, health.harvard.edu)
- How Often Should You Work Out? (2020, healthline.com)
- How to Build an Exercise Plan (n.d., helpguide.org)
- How to Build a Workout Routine (n.d., mensjournal.com)
- The Surprising Truth About Training the Same Muscles Two Days in a Row (2019, stack.com)
- Upper/Lower 4 Day Gym Bodybuilding Split Workout (n.d., muscleandstrength.com)
- Warm Up, Cool Down (2014, heart.org)
- Why is it important to vary my workout routines? (2011, acefitness.org)