What Is a 4×12 Workout?

There are different ways that people carry out their workouts across the world, based on their personal preferences, themuscles they target, and other essential factors. However, a common ground in all forms of workouts is …

There are different ways that people carry out their workouts across the world, based on their personal preferences, themuscles they target, and other essential factors. However, a common ground in all forms of workouts is that it is divided into sets and reps. One such division is the 4×12 routine workout. 

The 4×12 Workout 

workout routine
workout routine

The 4×12 workout routine is simply that your exercise is broken down into four sets, each with 12 reps. So if your preferred exercise is the bench press, your 4×12 bench program will see you perform 12 reps, rest, and perform the 12 reps again. This cycle will continue until you complete the cycle four times. Throughout the program, you will have performed 48 reps of bench press. 

You can typically perform the 4×12 workout routine in any gym, standard or subpar, or in your home gym, regardless of how equipped it is as the routine is really flexible.

What are Sets and Reps anyways?

A rep is simply completing the correct motion of the exercise once. For example, a rep of barbell squat is you going down with the weights and coming back up. Due to the nature of weightlifting, you typically perform several numbers of reps to ensure you push your muscles to their limits. 

Because you simply cannot perform all the necessary number of reps in one go – your muscles have to recover, you have to divide your reps into groups. These groups are sets, and they are the number of times you perform a specific number of your reps till you complete your program. 

Using the 4×12 example, you will be performing 48 reps of your desired exercise, perhaps biceps curls. Because you cannot possibly complete all 48 curls in one go, you break down the 48 reps into groups of four. That way, after completing the first set of 12 reps, you rest briefly, then continue with the second, third, and fourth reps, resting in between each.

How do I Know the Number of Reps, Sets, and Rests?

arm toning workout
arm toning workout

There are several essential factors to consider when choosing the number of reps and sets you should do. The point of weightlifting and developing muscles is to work your muscles to fatigue, as this is when the muscle fibers will begin to build more strength.

Depending on your base strength level and the weights you choose to use, the number of reps you should do can vary. As a result, your friend’s number of reps may not be the optimal number for you. 

Nevertheless, the general rule of thumb is to lift lighter weights if you are going for a higher number of reps and heavy weights for lower reps.

Furthermore, each set is to consist of the number of reps you perform with the correct form before your form gets compromised. At this point, you take scheduled rests so that your muscles can recover in time for the next set.

Therefore, if you can properly perform a military curl with about 50 lbs for six reps before you begin to compromise your form, your aim should be six reps per set. 

High Reps Low Weight or Low reps High Weight?

Your chosen number of reps and sets should typically depend on a few factors. For example, your preference will depend on your current strength, the weight you’re using, and your precise training goals.

For example, if your goal is to develop your overall health and fitness, try beginning with lighter weights and observe how many reps you perform with proper form. Alternatively, if you seek to build your functional strength, go for heavy weights with relatively low sets and reps.

However, if you are chasing muscle bulk and definition, endeavor to lift heavy weights with moderate to high reps and sets.

How to Build a Workout Routine

Exercises Per Workout

The most suitable number of exercises per workout depends on your targets and fitness level. For example, performing one exercise per muscle group is reasonable if you are just beginning. Make sure you use good form when performing each move to ensure that your workout is safe and effective. As you develop your fitness levels, you may decide to increase the exercises you perform for each muscle group.

Workout Frequency

It is also essential to figure out how many times you can work out per week. Naturally, the answers may depend on your goals, lifestyle, and schedule. For example, total training volume is often more essential than how many training sessions you engage in per week to develop your muscular strength.

As a result, you can decrease or increase your training sessions’ weekly frequency as the volume of work, which includes the exercises, sets, and reps you perform across the session, is more essential.

Other Workout Structures

circuit training
circuit training

Here are some other workout structures that you may be interested in:

Circuit training

With circuit training, you perform every exercise consecutively without rest, enabling you to develop your muscle while leaving your heart rate elevated. In addition to the resulting muscular development, circuit training can also help burn calories during and after your sessions.

Pyramid training

With pyramid training, you capitalize and build on every set by increasing your weight and decreasing your reps. This structure will help you target muscle fibers and achieve optimal gains from each rep you complete.


With supersets, you select multiple exercises that target the same muscle group and perform them consecutively. For example, you may perform weighted lunges right after performing weighted squats. This typically increases workout intensity, resulting in more calorie loss as an extra benefit.

Tabata strength training

This involves a relatively short but high-intensity circuit training that elevates your heart rate more than traditional circuit training. It requires you to alternate 20-second exercises intervals with ten seconds of rest, repeating the cycle for four minutes. For example, You can deadlift for as many reps as you can within 20 seconds, then rest for ten seconds before you restart the cycle.


Tri-sets are like supersets as they involve performing three exercises consecutively for the same or opposing muscle groups, without rest in between. Tri-sets are an excellent way to develop your intensity and burn more calories. You can perform lat pulls, followed by pull-ups, and finish with chin-ups, as an example.