Bulldozer Training 4 Day Workout Split


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May 13, 2016
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4 day Bulldozer Training muscle building split. Combines rest-pause sets with progressive resistance. Workouts are shorter but more intense.


Workout Description​

For more information on the Bulldozer style of training, please read:
Several years ago I began to play around with rest-pause training. I would load up the bar, knock out a set, and rest for only a very short period of time before performing another set. It didn't take long for me to realize one thing...rest-pause style training was both brutal and effective.
I was spending less time in the gym training but waking up with an incredible amount of DOMS (muscle soreness). Limiting rest between sets was also making my workouts far more engaging. I had no time to stop and think. Every workout felt like warfare. I would crush it, rest for a short period of time (never fully recovering), and get after it again.

Bulldozer Training Basics​

Bulldozer training is structured around the following principles:
  • Limited Rest Between Sets. Rest between sets is typically 15 to 30 seconds, but can run as high as 60 seconds for certain compound exercises, or for extended set schemes.
  • Shorter, But More Intense Workouts. Because of the restricted rest between sets you will spend less time in the gym on any given day, but your workouts will have a greater "per rep" intensity*.
  • Fewer Exercises Per Bodypart. You won't need 4 to 5 (or more) exercises to hit a bodypart hard. Bulldozer training uses a higher number of sets per exercise than most workouts, so you will generally use no more than 2-3 exercises for a given muscle group.
  • Weight Progression Using Rep Goal Totals. You will add up the total reps performed for a given exercise, and if it reaches a predetermined goal, weight will be added the next time you perform this lift.
  • Mini-Sets and Macro-Sets. Groups of sets for a given exercise are called mini-sets. They are distinguished with a different nomenclature because they are not performed like most sets, when fully recovered. Macro-Sets are groupings of mini-set clusters.
  • No Failure. Do not train sets to failure. Stop every mini-set when you feel like you may fail on the next rep. If you are not sure, stop the set and rack the weight.
  • Same Weight. Use the same working weight for each mini-set of a given exercise.
*Intensity in this context does not relate to absolute strength, but rather the burden placed upon a muscle as it relates to muscle fiber unit recruitment.

Bulldozer Set Example and Explanation​

Bulldozer sets use the following style of annotation:
  • Bench Press x 7 with 30/30/45/45/60/60
For this example, you will perform 7 total sets using the following rest periods between sets:
  • Perform set 1, then rest 30 seconds
  • Perform set 2, then rest 30 seconds
  • Perform set 3, then rest 45 seconds
  • Perform set 4, then rest 45 seconds
  • Perform set 5, then rest 60 seconds
  • Perform set 6, then rest 60 seconds
  • Perform set 7. Rest, then move on to the next exercise.

Rep Goal System​

Bulldozer training utilizes the rep goal system. The rep goal system is a progression approach I developed that tells you when it's time to add weight to a particular exercise.
The rep goal system works like this...you simply count the total reps performed for a given Bulldozer exercise, and when this total reaches the predetermined "rep goal", you add weight to that exercise the next time in the gym.
  • When to Add Weight - Add weight (the next time you perform this exercise) when you reach the rep goal total for a given exercise.
I do not recommend adding more than 5 pounds to a lift at any given time. There is no need to rush. Remember that muscle building is a marathon, not a sprint. Adding 5 pounds per week might not seem like much, but it could theoretically move your bench press from 135 pounds to well over 300 pounds in a given year. Obviously, this is not likely to happen, but the point remains...trust the process and add only 5 pounds per lift.
Finding a Starting Weight
When trying to find a starting weight for each exercise, pick something you could easily perform 10-12 reps with.

Workout Notes​

Bulldozer training is deceptively simple. Try a moderately light day to get the feel of the system before going full speed ahead. Resist the urge to add volume or exercises. Trust the process and train with common sense. The combination of rest-pause training and progressive resistance will yield some fairly impressive muscle.

Bulldozer Training 4 Day Workout Split​

Note: This can also be run on a 6 day rotation by dropping day 7.
Day 1
Chest and Triceps
ExerciseMini-SetsRep Goal TotalRest Periods
Bench Press52030/30/45/45
Hammer Strength Bench53030/30/30/30
Dumbbell Flye53530/30/30/30
Close Grip Bench Press53030/30/30/30
Seated Dumbbell Extension53530/30/30/30
Day 2
Back, Biceps and Abs
ExerciseMini-SetsRep Goal TotalRest Periods
Deadlift (See below)
Barbell Row52530/30/45/45
Wide Grip Pull Up53530/30/30/30
Standing Dumbbell Curl53530/30/30/30
EZ Bar Preacher Curl53530/30/30/30
Abs exercise (See below)
Day 4
Shoulders, Traps and Forearms
ExerciseMini-SetsRep Goal TotalRest Periods
Seated Overhead Press52530/30/45/45
Seated Arnold Press53030/30/30/30
Bent Over Reverse Flye53530/30/30/30
Barbell Shrug53530/30/30/30
Seated Barbell Wrist Curl53530/30/30/30
Day 5
Quads, Hamstrings, Calves and Abs
ExerciseMini-SetsRep Goal TotalRest Periods
Squat (See below)
Leg Press55030/30/30/30
Leg Curl5-74030/30/30/30
Seated Calf Raise5-75030/30/30/30
Abs exercise (See below)

A Note on Deadlifts​

For deadlifts you will be working with rest-paused singles instead of multiple rep sets. It is best to start with a weight that you could easily perform a 10 rep set with. Perform as many singles as you (safely) can within a 10 minutes period. Perform a rep, stand up, recover your bearings and breath, then perform another rep.
  • Deadlift rest-pause - Keeping good form, perform as many rest-pause singles as you can in 10 minutes. When you can perform 15 reps, add weight the next time you deadlift.
There is no right or wrong rest period for these singles. The key thing is to keep solid form. When you can perform 15 total reps within a 10 minute time frame, add 5 pounds to the bar the next time you deadlift.

A Note on Squats​

For squats you will be performing 4 total sets. The first 3 sets will utilize the same weight. You will perform as many reps as you safely can with this weight, and when the total number of reps performed for these 3 sets adds up to 20, you will add weight the next time you squat.
After completing these 3 sets, you will drop the weight and perform a 20 rep set of squats. You will most likely need to start with approximately 40-45% of your one rep squat max. Add weight to the 20 rep set when it feels manageable.
  • 3 Sets of Squats - Using the same weight, perform as many reps as you can. Stop a set when you feel your form is slipping, or if you feel you can fail on the next rep. When you can perform 20 combined reps for these 3 sets, add weight the next time you squat.
  • 20 Rep Set of Squats - Start with approximately 40-45% of your one rep squat max. Add weight to the 20 rep set when it feels manageable.

Working the Abs​

Understand that training the abs doesn't "reveal" the abs. You don't carve out a six pack by doing an endless number of crunches. For this program do whatever abs exercise(s) you prefer. I recommend using at least one weighted exercise such as weighted sit ups or cable crunches. Exercises like this allow you to and resistance over time.

Substitution Exercises​

The following is a list of possible substitution exercises. These "swaps" are fairly equal, meaning compound for compound, machine for machine, etc., and will serve you well if prefer to avoid any of the listed exercises:
  • Bench Press - Incline bench press, dumbbell bench press, incline dumbbell bench press.
  • Hammer Strength Bench Press - Incline bench press, dumbbell bench press, incline dumbbell bench press, Smith machine bench press.
  • Dumbbell Flye - Pec dec, cable crossovers, incline dumbbell flye, chest dips.
  • Close Grip Bench Press - Bench dips, skullcrushers, seated French press.
  • Seated Dumbbell Extension - Cable tricep extensions, one arm dumbbell extensions.
  • Barbell Row - Dumbbell Row, T-Bar row, seated cable row.
  • Pull Ups - Lat pull down, rack chins.
  • Standing Dumbbell Curl - Barbell curls, EZ bar curls, seated dumbbell curls.
  • EZ Bar Preacher Curl - Concentration curl, cable curl.
  • Seated Overhead Press - Military press, push press, seated behind the neck press, dumbbell overhead press.
  • Seated Arnold Press - Hammer Strength shoulder press, Smith machine press, dumbbell press.
  • Bent Over Reverse Flye - Reverse pec Dec, rear delt machine.
  • Barbell Shrug - Dumbbell shrug, power shrug, Smith machine shrug.
  • Seated Barbell Wrist Curl - One arm dumbbell wrist curl, Smith machine wrist curl.
  • Leg Press - Barbell lunge, front squat, hack machine squat, leg extension.
  • Leg Curl - Stiff leg deadlift, glute ham raise.
  • Seated Calf Raise - Standing calf raise, leg press calf raise.

FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions​

What can I replace squats with? Squats are considered one of the top muscle building exercises. They are certainly a proven leg builder. While I do not advocate removing them from this program, if you ignore this advice and do so anyway, use rest-pause leg presses.
What can I replace deadlifts with? Deadlifts are another potent muscle building exercise. Like squats, I do not advocate removing them from this program. If you ignore this advice and do so anyway, I recommend the following type of structure for your back workouts:
  • Barbell or dumbbell rows - 5 rest-pause sets.
  • Pull ups or lat pull downs - 5 rest-pause sets.
  • Seated cable rows or machine rows - 5 rest-pause sets.
Can I add more volume? No, please don't. Trust the program and the process. Push for progression of weight, and give the program some time to work as designed.
How long should I run this program? As long as you'd like. There is no urgent need to switch workouts.
How long should I rest between exercises? Rest until you are fully recovered and feel ready to go again.
When can I add cardio? You can perform cardio on off days, after lifting weights, or at least several hours removed from your weight training session. If muscle building is a priority, you do not want to perform cardio prior to lifting. Save your energy for the iron.
Can I add extra abs exercises? You can, but it won't help you create a six pack. Abs are created by losing fat. Train them the same way you train every other muscle group.
I want to lose fat and build muscle at the same time. Is this a good workout for me? Fat loss is mostly about diet, not exercise. If you want to lose fat, you need to cut back on what you eat. Keep in mind that it's hard to lose fat and build muscle at the same time. Some may be able to do this to a small degree, but it is not optimal for packing on muscle mass.
How do I eat to build muscle? Great question. Here are some articles that can help you: