Dave's Upper/ Lower Split (DULS)

This upper/lower body split is designed for growth while avoiding overtraining. If you're an intermediate to advanced lifter, give this workout a shot!

Workout Summary

Build Muscle
Split
Intermediate
4
Barbell, Cables, Dumbbells, EZ Bar, Machines
Male & Female

Workout Description

When it comes to designing an upper/lower body split workout, people fail on three fronts:

  1. Too Many Sets Per Body Part
  2. Too Many Isolation Movements
  3. No differentiation between workouts if performed twice in a week.

Here’s an upper/lower body split that hopefully addresses those shortcomings and allows for decent muscle growth. It will probably work best if you have over 6 months training experience and are somewhere between an intermediate and advanced lifter. If you have been making steady growth gains for over 3 years and are almost at your most muscular, this routine is probably not for you. Everyone else, Have a Go At It!

THE WORKOUT ROUTINES

Lower Body Workout A:

Lower Body A
Lower Body A Warm Up Sets Work Sets Rest
Exercise Sets and Reps Sets and Reps  
Squats 2 x 12-15 3-4 x 6-8 2-3Min
45 Degree Leg Press   2-3 x 10-12 1-2Min
Romanian Deadlifts (SLDLs)   3-4 x 6-8 2-3Min
Leg curl   2-3 x 10-12 1-2Min
Smith Machine Standing Calf Raise   3-4 x 6-8 2-3Min
Seated Calf Raise   2-3 x 10-12 1-2Min
17 total low end sets for an estimated workout time of 45 minutes. 23 total high end sets for an estimated workout time of 45 minutes.

Upper Body Workout A:

Upper Body A
Upper Body A Warm Up Sets Work Sets Rest
Exercise Sets and Reps Sets and Reps  
Barbell Row 2 x 12-15 3-4 x 6-8 2-3Min
Reverse Grip Pulldown   2-3 x 10-12 1-2Min
Bench Press 2 x 12-15 3-4 x 6-8 2-3Min
Incline Bench Press   2-3 x 10-12 1-2Min
Tricep Dips   1-2 x AMAP 1-2Min
Preacher Curls   1-2 x 10-12 1-2Min
16 total low end sets for an estimated workout time of 35 minutes. 22 total high end sets for an estimated workout time of 50 minutes.

Lower Body Workout B:

Upper Body A
Upper Body A Warm Up Sets Work Sets Rest
Exercise Sets and Reps Sets and Reps  
Squats 2 x 12-15 2-3 x 10-12 1-2Min
45 Degree Leg Press   2-3 x 10-12 1-2Min
Romanian Deadlifts   2-3 x 10-12 1-2Min
Step Back Lunge   2-3 x 10-12 1-2Min
Smith Machine Standing Calf Raise   2-3 x 8-10 2-3Min
Seated Calf Raise   2-3 x 12-15 1-2Min
14 total low end sets for an estimated workout time of 30 minutes. 20 total high end sets for an estimated workout time of 40 minutes.
What's Different? Less Volume than Lower A workout, Step Back Lunge substituted for Leg Curls.

Upper Body Workout B:

Upper Body A
Upper Body A Warm Up Sets Work Sets Rest
Exercise Sets and Reps Sets and Reps  
Pull Ups   2-3 x AMAP 2-3Min
One Arm Dumbbell Row   2-3 x 10-12 1-2Min
Bench Press 2 x 12-15 2-3 x 10-12 1-2Min
Incline Bench Press   2-3 x 10-12 1-2Min
Lying Tricep Extensions   1-2 x 10-12 1-2Min
Incline Dumbbell Curls   1-2 x 10-12 1-2Min
12 total low end sets for an estimated workout time of 30 minutes. 18 total high end sets for an estimated workout time of 40 minutes.
What's Different? Less Volume than Lower A workout, Step Back Lunge substituted for Leg Curls.

PUTTING THE WEEKLY WORKOUT PLAN TOGETHER

As it is designed, this is a 4 Day Split and looks like this:

4 Day Split:

  • Monday - Lower A
  • Tuesday - Upper A
  • Wednesday - Rest
  • Thursday - Lower B
  • Friday - Upper B
  • Saturday - Rest
  • Sunday - Rest

But if your schedule doesn’t allow this, or your tolerance for a 4 day program is small, then it can be arranged it a 3 Day Split like so:

3 Day Split:

  • Week 1 Monday – Lower A
  • Week 2: Monday – Upper A
  • Week 1: Tuesday- Rest
  • Week 2: Tuesday – Rest
  • Week 1: Wednesday – Upper A
  • Week 2: Wednesday – Lower A
  • Week 1: Thursday – Rest
  • Week 2: Thursday - Rest
  • Week 1: Friday – Lower B
  • Week 2: Friday – Upper B
  • Week 1: Saturday – Rest
  • Week 2: Saturday – Rest
  • Week 1: Sunday – Rest
  • Week 2: Sunday - Rest

LOADING PARAMETERS

The rep ranges outlined should follow the corresponding loads:

  • 6 reps – Approximately 85% of 1 Rep Max
  • 8 reps – Approximately 80% of 1 Rep Max
  • 10 reps – Approximately 75% of 1 Rep Max
  • 12 reps – Approximately 70% of 1 Rep Max

Q: Do you have to test 1 Rep Max on all exercises?

NO! But it will take a fair amount of experimentation to get the proper weight for the proper rep range, see “Progression” below.

PROGRESSION

Over the course of 8 weeks, the first two should be "Test" weeks where the above loading parameters are discovered so that by week 3 you’ll be ready for “Full Work” weights.

After the first week of “Full Work” weight (Week 3), you should try to increase the weight moved on the big compound moves (Squat, Deads, Bench, Incline Bench) each week after being able to perform all reps for all sets at the same weight.

After the 6th week of “Full Work” weight (Weeks 3 – 8) you will have to DELOAD.

DELOADING

A deload is when we take a break from hard training. A deload helps us to give our body a rest, give our mind a rest , prevent overtraining, increase our chance of getting stronger, prevent injury and increase motivation by preventing our program from becoming stale .

During the deload it is recommended that you cut your volume from 1/3 at the least to 2/3rds at the most. So whatever your total volume (Total Sets) multiply it by .3 or .6 and then reduce the sets per exercise according.

Q: Should I reduce the weight, during a deload?

Typically if we are going for mass gains, we want to keep the weight the same as our “Full Work” weeks. So reducing the volume (Total Sets) will be enough for the deload.

Questions?

If you have any other questions, please post them in the workout section on the forum!

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About The Author
Dave is an ACE and NSCA qualified personal trainer with over 12 years experience helping his clients build muscle, burn body fat and reach their goals.

67 Comments+ Post Comment

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Posted Thu, 05/27/2010 - 05:36
mathew
mate decent program noticed it has no shoulder exercizes?
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Posted Mon, 05/31/2010 - 15:30
Joshua
I also noticed that this workout has no shoulder exercises. Is this on purpose, or did you leave them out by mistake?
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Posted Thu, 06/10/2010 - 10:38
Chris
I would like to bump this question. Why is there no shoulder exercises? Other than that, it seems like a great program!!
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Posted Tue, 06/22/2010 - 19:03
Tom
Steve, why isn't there any shoulder exercises?
Steven's picture
Posted Tue, 06/22/2010 - 20:44
Steven
I'm not sure why there isn't any direct shoulder work.
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Posted Tue, 08/03/2010 - 11:07
andrew
would it be ok if we add two sets of shoulder shrugs or something to get alittle something for them?
Steven's picture
Posted Tue, 08/03/2010 - 15:54
Steven
Hi Andrew, You could definitely add them in.
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Posted Wed, 09/22/2010 - 22:00
Jason
Would it be okay to add Upright Row on Upper A and add Arnold Press on Upper B? Will that give the shoulders/rear delts and traps enough stimulation? Cheers
Steven's picture
Posted Mon, 09/27/2010 - 08:55
Steven
Hi Jason, That looks like a solid combination.
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Posted Fri, 09/24/2010 - 17:17
chris
ya looks good man, This program really helped me put mine together.
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Posted Sat, 10/23/2010 - 22:55
DiscoStew
Are the exercises to be done in the order shown? ds
Steven's picture
Posted Sun, 10/24/2010 - 09:05
Steven
Hi DS, Yes.
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Posted Thu, 10/28/2010 - 15:08
Javan
What if you did two uppers/one lower per week, then 2 cardio days on the rest days?
Steven's picture
Posted Tue, 11/02/2010 - 08:18
Steven
Hi Javan, For maximum results, I would stick to the workout as designed.
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Posted Fri, 10/29/2010 - 02:29
DiscoStew
Steve, does exercise order matter? I've noticed, for example, that the quad exercises come before the hamstring exercises, and the back exercises come before chest exercises. Would it make any difference to do an alternating pattern (eg back, chest, back, chest, etc or quad, hamstring, quad, hamstring etc)? ds
Steven's picture
Posted Tue, 11/02/2010 - 08:14
Steven
Hi DS, Yes, exercise order matters quite a bit. You can change the order for some exercises, but it generally shouldn't be arbitrary. It has to be well thought out. Exercise order exists to maximize stress and impact on a muscle. Changing it can often decrease the effectiveness of a workout.
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Posted Sun, 11/21/2010 - 16:02
coachtom
I really like this setup. I too noticed the lack of any shoulder excercises. What I started doing was supersetting Barbell shrugs when doing the deadlifts. Appears to be working, am getting decent visable results in Traps and Delt size. Just throwing in my 2cents...
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Posted Wed, 12/29/2010 - 16:41
Dan
Not Sure if this would Work but for Upper Body A could you change it to: Barbell Row 2 12-15 3-4 6-8 2-3Min Reverse Grip Pulldown 2-3 10-12 1-2Min Bench Press 2 12-15 3-4 6-8 2-3Min Incline Bench Press 2-3 10-12 1-2Min Military Press 2-3 Sets 6-10 reps Tricep Dips 1-2 AMAP 1-2Min Preacher Curls and for B Pull Ups 2-3 AMAP 2-3Min One Arm Dumbbell Row 2-3 10-12 1-2Min Bench Press 2 12-15 2-3 10-12 1-2Min Incline Bench Press 2-3 10-12 1-2Min Lateral Raises 2-3 Sets 6-10 Reps Lying Tricep Extensions 1-2 10-12 1-2Min Incline Dumbbell Curls Or is this too much volume? make changes wherever please.
Steven's picture
Posted Tue, 01/11/2011 - 14:37
Steven
Hi Dan, That looks very solid.
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Posted Wed, 02/02/2011 - 04:24
Martin
Thank you for the workout. The lack of shoulder workouts isn't really a problem since you work it enough with the other movements such as bench press etc. I want to know, surely there should be abs in there ? Also I am unsure about the amount of rest. The time posted, is that the time you should rest between exercises, or is it the time between sets ? If it is time between exercises what time should be taken between sets ? Thanks again for all the help. Martin
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Posted Tue, 04/12/2011 - 10:23
Dave
Hey Martin, 1) Abs can be added to the shorter "B" workouts 2) The rest periods posted are between sets. Rest periods should be between 60 and 90 Seconds. Obviously the heavier the weight and the harder you work in the set will dictate a longer rest period. Between exercise rest times should be the same (Don't lollygag around just because you are switching exercises)
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Posted Fri, 02/04/2011 - 00:09
Travis Harlan
hey i have weightlifting during school in the morning around 11. mon- parrallel squat, bench press, 5 sets each wen- power clean, hex bar deadlift, 5 sets each fri- box squat, towel bench, 5 sets each my auxiliary lifts too choose from are: tricep extensions dumbell flys behind kneck press incline press dumbbell curl military press dips i still wanna do this upper/ lower workout, so my question is would a 4 and a half break between workouts be enoug? also what auxiliaries should i do during school, or should i just do abs after my core lifts in school?
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Posted Mon, 03/21/2011 - 14:13
Jay
My question is after the deload can you run on this routine again or switch it up. I have made fantastic gains on this routine.
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Posted Tue, 04/12/2011 - 10:27
Dave
Jay, You can definitely run the routine again, as is or you can substitute different exercises, just make sure you keep the set/rep scheme the same and make sure you are substituting compound move for compound move and isolation for isolation. Dave
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Posted Tue, 03/22/2011 - 12:07
Jeremie jones
Hi, my question is, I've finished deloading now should I restart the routine or switch it up. I did make good strength gains. My diet is very clean and precise. But it seems I've lost alot of body fatwich is good but also seems like I lost more muscle than I wanted. I also carb cycle. High, low, no carb days. I feel strength wise its incredible but size seems to be smaller. I rely soley on my diet I also take fish oil, multi vitamin, designer whey,and saw palmetto. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
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Posted Tue, 04/12/2011 - 10:31
Dave
Hi Jeremie, Well if it did not produce size/muscle gains for you, then I would not repeat the routine but look into maybe a body part split. It sounds like you pay great detail to your diet, but I am concerned that you lost muscle mass on this routine, are you *SURE* you were getting enough protein and calories? Seems odd. How were you measuring your body fat percent and muscle gain/loss? Dave
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Posted Wed, 08/03/2011 - 23:05
MaxLeo
Does this look ok? Monday-upper a Tuesday-upper b Wed- rest Thursday-upper b Friday-Lower b Sat and Sunday-light cardio Abs on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday
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Posted Thu, 08/04/2011 - 20:59
Dave
Hey MaxLeo, What you have outlined above doesn't make any sense, 3 Upper body days and 1 Lower body day per week, that won't work too well. It would definitely give you an uneven physique. Why not just follow the program as It is laid out? Dave
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Posted Thu, 08/04/2011 - 21:43
MaxLeo
Sorry, that's not what I meant. It's the way you outlined just starting with upper body as opposed to lower body. And adding cardio on the weekend. Let's try this again. Monday-upper a Tuesday-lower a Wednesday-rest Thursday-upper b Friday-lower b Sat and sun- light cardio only. Plus abs 2-3 times a week. Again I apologize about my last post this is what I meant.
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Posted Thu, 08/04/2011 - 22:28
Dave
Ahh!!! That's much better! Yes doing Upper Body first in the week is *FINE* as long as you don't blow off Lower Body "B" workouts that will fall on a Friday. :) Peace!
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Posted Fri, 08/05/2011 - 00:44
MaxLeo
Thanks again!
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Posted Sat, 08/06/2011 - 09:27
kaushal dave
this seems like an amazing workout. What would you recommend for a muscle gaining vegetarian diet? anything specific apart from ample protein and carbs??. any help is much appreciated.
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Posted Wed, 09/14/2011 - 11:48
Dave
Just make sure you're getting ample calories. Try to reduce the amount of grains you're eating and bump up the fruits and veggies and nuts and seeds. Don't neglect getting healthy omega 3s (Fats) Enjoy the program!
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Posted Tue, 09/13/2011 - 23:32
Scott
My weight room doesnt have a smith machine so is there any exercises that I could substitute the standing calf raises for? It also doesnt have a preacher curl station or dip bar, so what could i replace those with?
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Posted Fri, 11/25/2011 - 15:45
Rambo
A question about the reps. First of all this routine looks very good. I've been training routines like this for over three years now and I'm very satisfied with the results. However, I'm used to train (with the same setup) with a 5*5 program. Can I continue with this and only change the secundairy excercises to let say 3*8? (Because I put more focus on maximale strenght instead of hypotrophy) So my routine would look like the following: Pull Ups 5*5 One Arm Dumbbell Row 3*8 Bench Press 5*5 Incline Bench Press 3*8 Lying Tricep Extensions Incline Dumbbell Curls Abs 8*F (2 different excercises)
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Posted Mon, 11/28/2011 - 16:16
Dave
Hey Rambo, That may be fine. Just keep an eye on your workout time. If it takes you too far past the 60 minute mark, I'd reduce the 3*8 sets to 2*8 or take some of the abs out. Good Luck, Dave Herber
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Posted Tue, 01/03/2012 - 20:51
zac
Great workout, thanks. When would you recommend adding abs and cardio?
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Posted Thu, 01/05/2012 - 15:43
zac
Great workout, thanks. WHen would you add cardio and abs?
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Posted Fri, 01/06/2012 - 12:49
Dave
I'd probably add Abs and Cardio after the shorter "B" workouts. Or do them on an off/rest day.
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Posted Mon, 01/09/2012 - 15:48
zac
Okay that's what I was thinking. Thanks man
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Posted Sat, 01/28/2012 - 19:53
Zack G
hey Dave what are your thoughts on incorporating chest flyes into this program (say as an alternate to incline press for one of the upper body days)? I enjoy doing flyes and seem to get a good pump from them
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Posted Wed, 02/01/2012 - 08:08
Dave H
Hey Zack, Chest Flyes are an isolation movement. I would not add them and take away a compound movement like Incline Chest Press. If you're going to swap exercises it's best to swamp Compound Move for Compound move or Isolation for Isolation. Even though you get a great pump from them, Chest flies do very little to build the chest as the weight used can't get too heavy as you put the shoulder at greater risk the heavier the weight gets. You can add them in along with Incline Press, but it will make your workout longer. ATB, Dave
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Posted Mon, 02/27/2012 - 12:07
omair
how much rest between the exercises???
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Posted Thu, 03/01/2012 - 14:02
Dave
You should rest as long as it takes to set up the equipment for the next exercise. This usually works out to 1 to 3 minutes. I wouldn't rest more than 3 minutes between exercises, unless you are in the later weeks and doing heavy weight!
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Posted Thu, 04/05/2012 - 10:00
arnold
Hey Dave. Can I gain muscle if I can do this workout routine only 3 times a week?
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Posted Wed, 04/11/2012 - 02:47
NightcoreROM
we don't hit deltoids?
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Posted Mon, 04/30/2012 - 12:29
Looking to Gain
Day one and two of this routine looks extremely similar to Layne Norton's PHAT routine. Layne has a higher volume for the light days. Could we had an extra exercise for bi/tris on the second day? 1-2 sets 10-12 reps?
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Posted Wed, 05/09/2012 - 06:06
SteveO
Just a query about progression. "you should try to increase the weight moved on the big compound moves (Squat, Deads, Bench, Incline Bench) each week after being able to perform all reps for all sets at the same weight". Does this mean if I can bench 80kg for 3 sets of 6-8 reps (A), then on the B workout a few days later I should try to reach 10-12 with the same 80kg? Or does it mean on the B workout I do my usual 72.5k for 10-12 reps? And then try 82.5kg the next A session? Btw this seems like a great routine, as despite my confusion im only on week 4 and my legs are growing well from squats and SDL twice weekly! Thanks
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Posted Tue, 06/26/2012 - 07:08
nighthawk
Would it be possible to substitute Romanian Deadlift for Sumo Deadlift and then adding Back Extensions ? Or would Sumo Deadlifts in itself be sufficient ? You guys seem to love Romanian deadlift, but i dont.
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Posted Thu, 11/22/2012 - 20:30
nick bock
is this work out good for weight loss?

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