The “4 X 7” Model of Periodization Using Body Weight Training

I’m going to do something I haven’t ever done before on this blog.

I’m basically going to do half a post, then send you over to another site to get the rest of the info. I’m not an expert on this subject and just want to guide you in the right direction. If you think “4 X 7” means 4 sets of 7 reps, then you would be mistaken. It is referring to something quite a bit different than that.


[I learned about 4 X 7 periodization from my buddy Ryan. I had a beer with him earlier this year in Seattle and he told me of his plans to move to Malta. I thought he was crazy until I saw some of his photos. This place is amazing!]

What is the 4 X 7 Model of Periodization?

The 4 refers to 4 distinct workouts…

  • Workout 1: No Intensity
  • Workout 2: Low Intensity
  • Workout 3: Medium Intensity
  • Workout 4: High Intensity

These 4 workouts are done 4 days in a row. The “7” refers to how many times this 4 day cycle is done. So over a period of 28 days, this 4 day cycle is done 7 times.

Where Did I Learn About This Funky Workout System?

Back in 2009 I was closely following an emerging blogger named Adam Steer. I liked his blog because he talked about many Eastern Philosophies ignored by many of us in the West.

I learned things I had never seen mentioned in typical “fitness magazines”. Adam teamed up with Ryan Murdock (inducted into the International Martial Arts Hall of Fame in 2006) In late September of 2009, they released a groundbreaking body weight course—> I was so committed to learning what Adam and Ryan were teaching that I cancelled my gym membership…breaking a 17 year streak of paying monthly gym dues.

I Led a Private Blog  for People to Learn the Program With Me

Over 200 people decided to ditch the gym Oct, Nov, and Dec of 2009…and learn Ryan and Adam’s body weight program along with me. I posted every day for 90 days and we all did the program together. Out of the 200 who started the program with me, only 46 made it to the end.

It was a tough program, but every single person in that private blog group who finished the program loved the results.

No Rest Days Using the 4 X 7 Method of Training?

You do a workout every day, so no true rest days. Here’s the cool thing…the “No Intensity Days” and “Low Intensity Days” are almost better than a rest day.

I sometimes trash Yoga, but Ryan had us doing “Prasara Yoga”. This was a complex high level program we were doing.

The first two days of the cycle, prepared our bodies to perform at a higher level when the intensity was increased. Adam and Ryan call this, “Releasing the Parking Brake”.


[In February of this year, Ryan and his wife met me and my girlfriend for lunch on the Seattle waterfront. This was before Ryan moved from Canada to Malta.]

Learned About His New Project Over A Hefeweizen

So Ryan is an extremely brave and adventurous guy. We were eating some delicious Seattle seafood, drinking beer, and having a great time…then he told us that he was moving to Malta. I think my girlfriend asked him what Malta was like. Get this…he had never been to Malta!

That is nutty, but cool at the same time. I don’t have that in my DNA. Very funny! Then he told us about a massive project that he was launching in June…

Adam and Ryan Launching a Body Weight “Game Changer”

They are releasing a master product called Shapeshifter...but have set it up to where you can add “plugins” to create a custom program.

Want to do body weight and resistance band training? They will have a resistance band plugin. It will be one master program with various plugins. Supposedly they will add more and more plugins over time for people to create any program that suits their needs.

I can’t wait to see what this looks like (the program isn’t for sale at this time).

Get a Free Shapeshifter Sample for the Next 24 Hours

Bottom line…I believe in what Adam and Ryan are doing here.I was pleased with their first big program, but this is supposedly going to blow that one out of the water.

My only complaint about the last program was the quality of the videos. Ryan told me they hired a guy who works on major motion pictures to film Shapeshifter. You can see how impressive this looks, by checking out their free sample workout…

Click Here to Get a Sample Shapeshifter Bodyweight Workout

Note: My passion is training with weights, but I plan to buy Shapeshifter (not for sale yet) and follow the program once every other year for 3-4 months to get past sticking points.

After I completed their previous program…I came back to the gym weaker in a few lifts…but then blew past my personal best.

48 thoughts on “The “4 X 7” Model of Periodization Using Body Weight Training”

  1. Yes, with bodyweight exercises one can train seven days a week just changing the intensity. There’s no problem.

    Anyway, i think that placing the low/medium/etc intensity days as consecutive is more of a personal choice. Perhaps you prefer to follow a lower body/ upper body routine or take two hard consecutive days or whatever you like ….

    The philosphy would be: do as much as you can without overtraining.

    Nice post!

  2. Scott Sonnon’s CST 4×7 protocol usually follows a template like this if you wanted to incorporate it in your training regardless of what modality you use

    “No” Intensity- Joint Mobility/Intu-flow (a free version of beginner version is on Youtube) Mostly rest and very light exertion (Rate of Perceived Exertion) RPE 1-2

    “Low” Intensity- Compensations (Prasara Yoga or any kind of yoga, Mobility, or some sort of active stretching) RPE- 3-4

    “Mod”Intensity- Strength training (Weights, Clubbells, Kettlebells, bodyweight etc) or lighter version of whatever you do on High day at a moderate heart rate. Good day to practice skills/movements RPE 5-7

    “High” Intensity- Metabolic Conditioning (Tabata, Tacfit , Crossfit, Sprinting Interval Training, or some sort of sport) High heart rate or could be strength training with higher reps or weight RPE 8-10 (All out with good technique…but don’t puke!)

  3. This is fantastic Rusty! Some years ago I used to do weight training along with yoga and was really fascinated with how lean my body looked so knowing that they’re incorporating a type of yoga in this sounds fun.This “modular” system sounds like it will be just perfect. Please keep us all updated on how it progresses. I’ll grab the sample right away.Thank you for sharing! Keep it up buddy! 🙂

  4. This idea of progressive training with no rest days is what I’ve been trying to do last few years. Sometimes, the day after 2 high intensity days in a row, my body needs to rest, also I need to workout something to feel better for the next training day. Excellent description.

  5. Hey Rusty,

    Been reading your stuff for about a month or two now and have made some great strides by incorporating some of your suggestions (managed to drop from 165lbs to 135lbs), but now I’m kinda’ stuck.

    I like being 135, but I don’t like the fact that I’m floating around 25% body fat. I’d like to be around 18-20%. I’ve got my diet and workout listed up on my blog, so I won’t extend it any longer than I have to, but I want to know if there is anything I can do to try and drop the last ~5% to lean down. Thanks!

  6. @ Devin
    you’re totally wrong
    You can indeed become too big than you want too, it happens all the time to females and males too. In fact there are many males on the web who lost muscles on purpose because they wanted to be more slender and less bulky.

    Also there’s no such a thing as “toning a muscle” but there’s such a thing as “toning the body”. Toning means adding tone and it just describes the combination of loosing lot of fat and just gaining a little extra muscles so that you look defined and firm without looking big.

  7. That’s an interesting workout routine. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a program that didn’t have any rest days built in.

    Working out is a necessary thing these days. Unless you are going for a very specific kind of result, like body building or triathlon training, I’ve begun to wonder if all the different routine variations are better than any other.

    The fittest and most cut guys I know do hard physical labor all day and don’t eat like hippos. I wonder if I can start a farm and get guys to pay me to do chores and call it a workout.

  8. @jay
    You can do a A LOT of positive things with those tools man. Visual Muscle Building is a great program that anyone can benefit from. Let me know if you got any questions and I’d be glad to help out.

    @Rusty
    I’m a HUGE fan of bodyweight training and I use it regularly in my routines. I think the true definition of ‘strength’ is the ability to manipulate your own body weight and that’s exactly what this type of training helps accomplish.

  9. Hey Rusty,

    Im a 14 and a half year old skinny teenager (6ft, 138 pounds). I was wondering if u think visual impact muscle building is a good idea for me. (I wanna look good, but also get stronger). The problem is I only have adjustable dumbbells (1-55), a chinup bar, and an adjustable bench. Can I still do the program(even if i have to adjust it a bit)??

    Thanks,
    Zabin Bashar

  10. hey Rusty and everyone else!first of all i want to say that i stumbled upon your blog a few weeks ago and i’ve been hooked ever since!your articles and general knowledge have been really eye opening!now on to my questions,which are irrelevant to your current article but i just thought to post here since it’s your more recent one.i’m 25 years old, 63 kg, 1.65 m. and my goal is to lose body fat and get lean.i want to get rid of my love handles and thighs.my body fat is found on these two areas.:
    nutrition questions: for the past 3-4 weeks i have been eating really clean 5 days a week with taking my only carbs through fruit and vegetables.and my overall portion sizes are very controlled.the sixth day is a cheat day which means i eat like there’s no tomorrow :-p(carbs,fat,chocolate…etc for like 8 hours in order to work as i read) and the next day is a fast day where i drink only water. i have already seen results but i would really love your input on this coz i don’t want to impede my try by doing something that i can avoid.do you think the cheat-fast day combo would work?it’s supposed to accelerate your metabolism and rise leptin levels.and it’s also good for psychological reasons.
    also, i love cherry tomatoes with my salad so i eat around 6-7 cherry tomatoes daily with salads ( two with every salad) through the day.but i’ve heard that they contain glycogen and they are not recommended to someone who wants to lose body fat.is that the case?do you think i should avoid them?i eat a lot of green vegetables though.

    training questions: my workouts are mostly hiit.
    2 days : weighlifting with really short to non rest between sets( 20-25 minutes) and then 20 minutes steady tempo cardio
    1 day : bodyweight exercises with really short to non rest between sets ( 20-25 minutes) and then 20 minutes steady tempo cardio
    2 days: hiit running 20-25 minutes.
    1 day : steady tempo cardio (50-60 minutes)
    rest day

    what do you think of my workouts? since my goal is to lose body fat and get really lean, do you think it’s a good one? any suggestions are welcome of course! i’m really really sorry for the huge message,i know i’m being a pain but please rusty and anyone shed some light here.i’d hate to see ignorance cover my determination.:-)

    ps: sorry for any mistakes,english is not my mother language.

  11. Crazy that someone would move to Malta without ever being there! Anyways this is a neat article even though I believe weight lifting is generally more beneficial (when done correctly) then body weight exercises.

  12. I can personally attest to the effectiveness of bodyweight exercises. I’m not sure if you’ve experimented with Tabata or not (or if it can be used in the 4×7 system), but it is absolutely killer. A mere few minutes and I feel more exhausted than if I actually did a weight lifting routine. I made a post on my own blog about bodyweight exercises including my bodyweight routine that I used to drop 10% bodyfat (fatfightingformula…burn-fat-without-equipment/)

  13. Hey Rusty,

    I really like all of Adam and Ryan’s body weight workouts. I’ve been following them for over a year now and can’t wait to checkout their new videos.

    I love lifting weight too but it’s always a good idea to take a break and change things up with some body weight training.

    Best – Mike

  14. Love the concept of no and low intensity workouts on ‘rest days’. This is something to try out for sure, want to focus more on the alternative ways of training and nutrition (fasting, Eat Stop Eat style). Many thanks for this heads up!

  15. The last thing I expected when opening your blog was to see a picture of my home country! Viva Malta 🙂

    Just wanted to let you know that you have maltese followers too, thanks for all the great info!

  16. While I do realize the benefits of these type of routines with regards to losing body fat. I`m still skeptical as I feel people can have better results lifting as heavy as they can with proper diet, your body isn`t just going to explode into body building status. There is no such thing as toning!
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