Workout Systems: Lee Haney’s 4-Day Training Split

Workout Systems: Lee Haney’s 4-Day Training Split

“Train to stimulate, not annihilate” is one of bodybuilder Lee Haney’s favorite sayings. But the fact is, on the stage Haney did nothing but annihilate his competition. He won his first Mr. Olympia title in 1984, and continued his winning streak in bodybuilding’s most prestigious event for the next seven years until his retirement. If building muscle is your goal, you should listen to what Haney has to say.

At a height of 5-feet-11 inches, Haney reached a peak competitive weight of 250 pounds and could pump up his arms to 21 inches. But what set Haney’s physique apart from his competition was his symmetry, highlighted by a 56-inch chest that tapered down to a 31.5-inch waist. Such physiques are seldom seen by today’s champions who (as Arnold explains) have bodies that more likely resemble Coke bottles than hourglasses.

Married with two children, Haney earned a degree in youth counseling and in 1992 founded a Haney’s Harvest House, a non-profit mentoring program for young men. Along with this passion, Henry became a sought-after personal trainer. Among his clients were comedian Steve Harvey, and sports superstars Evander Holyfield and Shannon Sharpe. He shared many of his ideas in his three books, TotaLee Awesome, Ultimate Bodybuilding, and Beyond the Pump (which is primarily a book about Haney’s faith).

Haney was known for his symmetry, and much of this could be attributed to his focus on training the muscles with a variety of exercises that hit the muscles from different angles and used offered resistance curves. Here are some of his examples of exercises for specific body parts that could be performed in one workout and combined into a tri-set:

Shoulders
Posterior Head: Dumbbell Bentover Laterals
Anterior Head: Behind-the-Neck Press
Medial Head: Dumbbell Side Laterals
Upper Back
Lat Thickness: Seated Cable Row
Traps: Barbell Shrugs
Lat Width: Pulldowns

To achieve sufficient training volume to adequately stimulate each muscle group, Haney preferred using training splits, such as 5 days on/2 days off or 4 days on/3 days off. His favorite training split, however, was 3 days on/1 day off. Here is what he said about this training structure: “The Three on-off one, is the best program I have ever used. I like the fact that it gives the muscles three full days to recover while at the same time allowing you to train with 75-85% of your maximum weight. It also keeps the metabolism working at a good pace.”

One of Lee’s favorite workouts alternated between two training splits. Both splits were designed with 3-day-on, 1-day off schedule, as follows: Day 1, chest and arms; Day 2, legs; Day 3, back and shoulders; Day 4, rest. He would also train his calves and abs every day, as follows:

Standing Calf Raise, 6 x 15-20 (or Donkey Calf Raise)

Seated Calf Raise, 3-4 x 15-20
Vertical Leg Raise, 4 x 15-20
Incline Sit-up, 4 x 15-20
Seated Leg Raise, 4 x 15-20
Here is the first workout:

Day 1, Chest and Arms

Bench Press, 4 x 6-8
Dumbbell Bench Press, 3 x 8-10
Incline Bench Press, 4 x 6-8
Incline Dumbbell Bench Press, 3 x 8-10
Barbell Curl, 4 x 8-10 rep
Preacher Curl, 4 x 8-10
Cable Triceps Extension, 4 x 10-12
Skull Crushers, 4 x 6-8

Day 2, Legs

Leg Extension, 4 x 12-15

Leg Press, 4 x 10-12, but only use this exercise one out of 3 workouts

Squat, 4-5 x 8-10

Leg Curl, 4 x 8-10

Stiff Leg Deadlift, 3-4 x 6-8, performed every third workout

Day 3, Back and Shoulders

Front Lat Pulldown, 4 x 8-10
Barbell or T-Bar Row, 4 x 6-8
Cable Row, 4 x 8-10
Military Press, 4-5 x 6-8
Side Lateral, 4 x 8-10
Upright Row, 4 x 6-8

Day 4, Rest

Here is a second training split, which you will alternate with the first.

Day 1, Chest and Arms

Bench Press, 4-5 x 6-8

Incline Bench Press, 4 x 8-10

Dumbbell Flye, 4 sets x 10

Chest Dip, 3-4 sets x 12-15

Cable Crossover, 3-4 x 12-15, performed every other workout

Barbell Curl or Dumbbell Curl, 4-5 x 6-8 rep

Seated Incline Dumbbell Curl, 4 x 8-10

Concentration Curl, 4 x 8-10

Cable Triceps Extension, 4 x 12-15

Seated One Arm Dumbbell Extension, 4 x 8-10

Reverse Grip One Arm Cable Triceps Extension, 3-4 sets x 10-12

Day 2, Legs

Leg Extension, 4-5 x 12-15

Leg Press, 4 x 10-12

Squats, 4-5 x 8-10

Leg Curl, 4 x 8-10

Stiff Leg Deadlift, 3-4 x 6-8, but only use this exercise one out of 3 workouts

Day 3, Back

Narrow Grip Lat Pulldown, 4 x 10-12
Barbell Row, 4 x 8-10
Cable Row, 4 x 8-10
One Arm Dumbbell Row, 4 sets x 8-10
Military Press, 4-5 x 6-8
Side Lateral, 4 x 8-10
Upright Row, 4 x 6-8

Day 4, Rest

While these training splits look great on paper, Haney recognizes that we all have off days and suggests you modify the workout during these periods. “On days when your body feels fatigue, cut back on the number of sets and the amount of weight or go home get some rest and return later or the next day. Not listening to your body could result in getting injured.”

Unless you have Haney’s genetics and training drive, using this workout will probably not give you the physique of this 8-time Mr. Olympia. But the good news is that this a well-designed, proven approach to training that will help you add slabs of muscle to your physique quickly and help you achieve physical superiority.

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