Forums are a great place to find battle-tested weight training programs. Reddit, in particular, is a gold-mine where you can find beginner, intermediate, and advanced routines. Ivysaur’s 4-4-8 is no exception, it has been an extremely popular beginner’s routine since being published.
In this article, I will provide you with the original program, as well as information about what the program helps you achieve. Remember that this routine is designed for novice lifters, so it might not be as beneficial if you have years of experience.
Ivysaur's 4-4-8: The Original Routine
You can see a picture of the original routine below. As the name implies, a majority of the exercises you do will be performed for 4 sets of either 4 or 8 reps. Compared to other novice routines, this one has slightly more frequency and volume.
The Goal Of This Program
This program is specifically designed to help you become stronger and build muscle if you’re just starting out. Note that this program has more of a powerlifting approach as opposed to a bodybuilding approach. With this being said, the overall goal is becoming stronger and not necessarily building muscle. Adopting this program sets you up for success when you choose to change to an intermediate routine. Although you will build muscle on this program as a novice, that’s not the main objective.
Pros and Cons
Choosing a program that is effective and enjoyable is a crucial aspect of training. Knowing this, it makes sense to weigh the pros and cons before you get the ball rolling.
Ivysaur’s 4-4-8 has more volume than most starting routines. This implies that you’re increasing the total amount of sets and reps you perform.
Frequency – Every major muscle group is being hit twice a week, and this is crucial for making gains as a beginner. Even better is the fact that most of the exercises are compound movements.
Increased bicep focus compared to many starting programs. Chin-ups are a great exercise to add-in for both back and bicep development.
The program pushes you to increase your workload each week. To do so, you need to know your one-rep max for all of the important compound lifts. Training in such a way is a great way to rapidly get stronger.
You’re encouraged to run this program as a 3-day split, thus giving you ample time to recover.
For someone who is truly a beginner, performing multiple compound exercises in one day can be taxing on the body. You will be fine, however, if you progress appropriately.
There is no focus whatsoever on the triceps. Yes, you will indirectly work your triceps with the bench press and overhead press, but more can be done. Tricep development is crucial for increasing strength in any of your push exercises and getting bigger arms. Consider adding 4 sets of dips or tricep pushdowns on one or two of the days.
Several muscle groups are targeted in a single gym session. This is not necessarily the most optimal way to train the body from a growth standpoint. Considering that this program is focused mainly on strength, there are no real issues here.
Your form can be an issue on compound lifts if you’re truly a beginner. Make sure that you perfect your form before increasing the weight to prevent unwanted injuries.
A Quick Note On Increasing Weight
The whole point of this program is for you to end up stronger. For this to happen, you need to push yourself each week and attempt to lift heavier than the previous week.
At the start, you need to figure out your one-rep max for several exercises. This should be fairly easy as a beginner, but I highly suggest having a spotter to do so. Then, you calculate how much weight you can do for four reps of that exercise by 80-85% of your max.
You now take 90% of the weight you calculated for your sets of four. This is now the weight you’re expected to do for your sets of eight.
Each week you’re expected to progress in the following manner:
15 pound increase each week on squats and deadlifts
10 pound increase each week on the bench press
5 pound increase each week on the overhead press
Remember, the overall goal is to increase weight. Even a two-pound increase is better than none, especially when you will eventually hit plateaus.
Ivysaur’s 448 is a great program if you’re a beginner looking to build strength. The original routine has its ups and downs, but ultimately the choice is yours. There is a reason why this program is so popular on the internet, it’s proven to be effective.
All credit goes to Ivysaur for posting the original routine on Reddit.