Build muscle with this upper/lower workout for women. It combines lower rep ranges with higher rep ranges on both upper & lower days to maximize your results!
Workout Summary

Workout Description

Women can truly benefit from the increased training frequency that upper/lower workout programs provide.

A lot of this has to do with the fact that women must, often times, use lighter weight than men when training, and can recover a lot quicker than men can from their workouts1.

While full body workouts tend to be more beneficial for women, upper/lower programs have their place in women’s specific programming as well.

For those women who are strong and can put up significant amounts of weight, it can allow them more time to recover from their workouts. So, think of it as a more advanced approach to women’s specific weight training.

It can also be beneficial for intermediate-advanced women looking to break the monotony of full body workouts by performing training sessions with slightly higher volume to target their muscle groups.

Whatever your reasons for wanting to perform an upper/lower split, the one listed below is an excellent option to base your workout template around.

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The course will teach you how your body builds muscle, how to utilize workout plans on our website to maximize muscle growth, how to eat to build muscle, how to supplement to build muscle and how to track your progress.

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10 Week Upper/Lower Workout Routine for Women Overview

Below you will find a weekly breakdown of the exercises you’ll perform for the next 10 weeks.

The program will consist of 4 weight training days. Two days a week will be upper body training days focused on building the muscles of the upper body. Two days a week will be lower body training days focused on building the muscles of the lower body.

Each training day will include some variation of glute training as many women have a difficult time activating their glutes (and want to build a better butt which involves frequent gluteal activation).

Keep rest periods relatively short, resting 2-3 minutes on strength based lifts and rep ranges and 30-45 seconds on accessory based lifts and rep ranges.

Weight progression will be highly individualized. Your goal, however, should be to increase the total amount of weight moved in each training session each week. This weight increase doesn’t have to be much, even 1lb weekly increases over time will add up the longer you perform a weight training program.

Monday: Upper (Strength Focused)

Exercise Sets Reps
1. Dumbbell Bench Press 4 6
2. Dumbbell Row 4 6
3. Standing Overhead Press 4 6
4. Chin Up 4 6
5. Plank 4 20 Secs
6. Hyperextensions (glute focused) 3 12-15

Tuesday: Lower (Strength Focused)

Exercise Sets Reps
1. Barbell Squat 4 6
2. Deadlift 4 6
3. Reverse Lunges 4 6
4. Leg Press 4 6
5. Barbell Hip Thrust 4 6

Thursday: Upper (Hypertrophy Focused)

Exercise Sets Reps
1. Incline Dumbbell Bench Press 3 12
2. Seated Cable Row 3 12
3. Seated Dumbbell Press 3 12
4. Lat Pull Down 3 12
5. Dumbbell Bicep Curl 2 12
6. Tricep Extensions 2 12
7. Single Leg Bodyweight Glute Bridge 3 12-15 Each

Friday: Lower (Hypertrophy Focused)

Exercise Sets Reps
1. Goblet Squat 3 12
2. Romanian Deadlift 3 12
3. Bulgarian Split Squat 3 12 Each
4. Hack Squat 3 12
5. Barbell Glute Bridge 3 12

FAQs

Q. I’m a beginner, can I perform this upper/lower workout routine?

As previously mentioned, this workout was written with intermediate-advanced women trainees in mind.

If you are a true beginner, or even a causal lifter, you might be better off with a full body training routine like this one.

Q. How should I eat while performing this workout program?

Calorie intake and dietary recommendations will always vary from person to person making it nearly impossible to recommend a specific diet program for you to follow.

That being said, building muscle and losing fat all comes down to an energy balance equation at the end of the day. Start off by finding your calorie needs using our bmr calculator.

It’d be more ideal to perform this particular program in a calorie surplus – as you’ll be lifting heavier weight than you are normal used to. So, you would create a surplus by gradually adding in 100 calories to your bmr at a time (think 3-4 week periods) until you’ve reached your goal.

That’s not to say you can’t use this program to lose weight, it’s simply not as ideal. If fat loss is your goal, subtract 100 calories from your bmr at a time (3-4 week periods) until you’ve reached your goal.

These recommendations are of course highly generalized, but it is a good starting point to find your calorie needs and create a deficit or surplus without relying on drastic caloric changes.

Q. Can I substitute an exercise?

Yes, absolutely! However, you should keep these things in mind when doing so:

  1. It has to work the same target muscle group as the exercise you are subbing out.
  2. And ideally, it’d work that muscle group in a similar plane of motion as the one being subbed.

Q. What program should I do once the 10 weeks is up?

I always recommend people take a full week to deload after completing a workout program. This deload will help you with your recovery, allow you to reestablish some life balance, and map out your future goals.

Once you’ve figured out what your goals are, you can begin the search for a new program, return to the ideal full body style training, or come back to this program.

Q. How can I incorporate cardio into this workout routine?

I always recommend low intensity cardio with weight training. HIIT is often over glorified and low impact cardio, like walking, is often overlooked.

Walking is a fundamental movement most people don’t do enough of. And it’s the perfect sidekick to weight training as it is low impact by nature and can aid in muscle recovery.

So, feel free to add cardio to this program how you see fit, but my recommendation would be to walk/hike on your rest days.

Final Thoughts on the Upper/Lower Program for Women

This 10 week upper/lower workout program was designed for intermediate-advanced women trainees. It has a great balance of upper training days and lower training days to help them push more weight than they are normally used to.

Try it out for yourself and let us know how you like it and what results you obtain in the comments section below!

And, if you have any questions or would like specific exercise substitution recommendations, please feel free to leave us a comment in the comments section below!

130 Comments
Mariela
Posted on: Wed, 01/31/2024 - 02:18

Hi there! I am not new at working out, but new at learning how to do it properly nd with an objecrive in mind.
so here is my question. The strenght days should i lift more weighr tha the hypertrophy days?.

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Roger
Posted on: Wed, 01/31/2024 - 12:18

Hi Mariela, thank you for reading M&S.

Yes, the goal is to lift as heavy as you can without sacrificing form on the strength days. The hypertrophy days should be challenging, but you should feel confident in the weight you're using. I hope this helps!

Tish
Posted on: Wed, 12/27/2023 - 11:19

Hi there, I’m not looking to bulk but to be more cut. For the strength days should I be going to failure? I’m concerned that if I do heavy weights I’ll bulk, but not sure if that’s just a myth for women.

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Roger
Posted on: Thu, 12/28/2023 - 21:18

It is a myth. Don't be afraid of the heavy weights. Unless you're genetically built different, then you should be fine, and getting stronger never hurts.

Stephanie
Posted on: Fri, 10/27/2023 - 12:19

Hi there! After seeing all these positive comments, I would love to start this program next week as I have been training for a marathon but lacking in ideas for my strength training on the side.(I have lazy glutes, which I have been trying to exercise diligently for a few months, but it's nice to bring in some upper body too).
Do you think this program is a good strength program to go along a marathon training?
I run 3 (to 4) times per week. Tues(/Wedn) easy runs (3 to 5 miles), Thursday hills or speed work for 1hour, Sunday long runs (8 to 20 miles depending). At the moment I only strength train 1 per week on Friday and do mobility on Monday (with that program I'd do it on Sat).
(BTW, I am an experienced gym goer...)
Thanks for the advice! All the best!

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Roger
Posted on: Sat, 10/28/2023 - 07:22

Hello, Stephanie. I actually think this is as good of a program as you will find to go with marathon training. As long as you don't push it too hard so it doesn't affect recovery and the runs, I say go for it! Hope this helps!

Stephanie
Posted on: Sat, 10/28/2023 - 09:24

Many thanks Roger,
Great to know!
I will make sure to keep an eye on my form and I will surely keep you posted.
All the best!

Jane
Posted on: Thu, 10/12/2023 - 21:39

Hello! I just completed this program and was blown away by the results. I really enjoyed this structure and had two questions..1) what program would you recommend moving on to after this? 2) when would be optimal to start this program over? Thanks so much for all for the information!!

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Roger
Posted on: Sun, 10/22/2023 - 11:17

Hi, Jane. Thanks for reading M&S. So glad you like the program. We have many options to consider after you determine your new goals.

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/how-to-choose-your-next-train...

You can also do this program again after a week off if you like. Nothing wrong with doing this twice as long as you keep seeing results.

Hope this helps!

Lauren
Posted on: Thu, 10/12/2023 - 21:13

I absolutely loved this program and have gained strength and more muscle from doing this. I love how each day was set and the exercises included. Can’t wait to go through this program again (after I complete a different one) and challenge myself again.

Love
Posted on: Tue, 08/15/2023 - 18:12

Why are the reps so low?

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Roger
Posted on: Sat, 08/26/2023 - 21:51

To help improve strength as well.

Sian
Posted on: Thu, 06/15/2023 - 05:35

Is there any reason I couldn’t do 3 sets of 8 instead of 4 sets of 6 on the power/strength days? Often I don’t have the time to do four full sets of each exercise

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Roger
Posted on: Thu, 06/15/2023 - 06:42

Not sure how one less set but two extra reps makes a difference, but you need the heavier weight and less reps to get stronger. If that fourth set is that time consuming for you, simply do three sets of 6 instead.

Sian
Posted on: Thu, 06/15/2023 - 07:02

Hi Roger, thanks for the reply. It’s actually the extra rest period required for 4 sets that is adding the time on to my workouts. With 3 sets of 8 it would be the same volume/reps overall as the 4x6 but with one less rest period per exercise which saves me a fair bit of time. Obviously I’d still go heavier and push to near failure for these, but would you just recommend dropping a set instead? I was worried that would impact results as it’s less volume

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Roger
Posted on: Fri, 06/16/2023 - 07:18

I don't think sacrificing one set per exercise would be that impactful, and if it would help you stay consistent, then it will help you in the long run.

Kat
Posted on: Wed, 05/10/2023 - 09:29

Hi! I'm just starting another round of this program after deload. I'm wondering if it's possible to add cardio/core on wednesdays as I'm a bit pinched for time during the weekends.

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Roger
Posted on: Sun, 05/14/2023 - 19:52

That is a good idea, Kat. Make the time whenever you can. Let us know how it works out for you. Thank you for reading M&S!

cathy
Posted on: Fri, 04/07/2023 - 19:08

the same exercises are done for 10 weeks?

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Roger
Posted on: Sun, 04/23/2023 - 12:36

Yes.

MurC
Posted on: Tue, 03/21/2023 - 09:18

If i wanted to replace Monday’s plank’s (i have a dedicated core day) with lateral raises to get in more shoulder work, would i do them for 6 reps as well or up the reps for isolated work?

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Roger
Posted on: Mon, 03/27/2023 - 20:50

Stick with 6 reps. It would help promote size by training with heavier weight. Just don't sacrifice form for the sake of weight.

VaLeree
Posted on: Fri, 02/10/2023 - 11:13

Why aren't there any delt work or bicep/tricep focused movements included?

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Roger
Posted on: Tue, 02/21/2023 - 21:12

Seated DB Press are for shoulders. The Thursday workout has both curls and triceps exercises. If you feel you need more, you can add your own to the or find another program.

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/how-to-choose-your-next-train...

Wendy
Posted on: Wed, 01/04/2023 - 13:55

Hi,
The programme Women's 10 week upper/ lower programme looks great. I can see the reps/sets for each excercise but do I complete each excercise with reps and sets and move I.e 3 sets of 12 reps then on to the next or do I do one set and move onto the excercises underneath repeating until 3 sets are completed . Thankyou

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Roger
Posted on: Tue, 01/17/2023 - 13:42

Perform all sets of one exercise before moving on to the next.

Erin
Posted on: Sun, 11/13/2022 - 17:25

Hello!

Thanks for this program it is awesome. I never thought I would look forward to lifting weights...
For rest times, which exercises are "strength based lifts" and require 2 minutes of rest?

Thanks!

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Roger
Posted on: Sat, 11/19/2022 - 09:24

Those would be the first two exercises in each workout, Erin. Rest two minutes between sets on those movements. Thanks for reading M&S!

Lisa J
Posted on: Thu, 10/13/2022 - 03:50

I'm really looking forward to starting this programme, because it seems like the best one for my goal (build muscle) and fitness level (intermediate). I also like the spread focus on Upper and Lower body. However, I have trouble planning the exact days as adviced into my schedule.

- Is it smart to combine 2 workouts in 1 day - for example, Strength Upper and Hypertrophy Lower in 1 day? Or the 2 Hypertrophy workouts in 1 day?
- If I keep the programme spread over 4 days, but plan them on different days, what do you advice - just keep enough rest days to recover for the upper as well as the lower body?

Hope you can help, thanks in advance!!

Lisa

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Roger
Posted on: Fri, 10/14/2022 - 09:48

You can swap the days as you need to based on your schedule, Lisa. I don't suggest combining two workouts into one, though. That is a lot of training. Do the four workouts on whatever days you need to. Just make sure you keep enough rest days to recover as you suggested.

Thanks for reading M&S!

Lisa J
Posted on: Fri, 10/14/2022 - 12:23

Thank you Roger! Starting this Monday :-D

Danielle Lockard
Posted on: Wed, 10/12/2022 - 21:43

Hi- question on the weight progression recommendation. Increasing weight weekly seems quick since only Increasing by a pound is next to impossible with equipment options. Would bumping up the weight 1 set at a time be recommended or not enough? Also, do you recommend a rep range to help increase weight/load weekly?

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Roger
Posted on: Fri, 10/14/2022 - 09:45

Bumping up one set at a time would work for you, Danielle. As for rep range, you could add 2 reps for each exercise and try to achieve that before going up.

For example, if the workout calls for 12 reps, then shoot for 12-14. Once you get 14, then go up. Hope this helps!

Lollie
Posted on: Thu, 09/29/2022 - 07:35

I’m on week 8 of this program and I’m absolutely loving it! Any suggestions for the next program to do? I like the 4 day split and would like to focus on hamstrings/glutes a bit more without loosing upper body strength.
Thanks for the free program!

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Roger
Posted on: Thu, 09/29/2022 - 10:33

It is what we're here for, Lollie. We're grateful you come to M&S for your workout needs.

This one should be a good one for you. The only suggestion I would make is to add your two favorite glute exercises for the lower body workouts. Do three sets of 8-12 reps for each.

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/upper-lower-4-day-gym-bodybui...

Rebeca
Posted on: Tue, 06/28/2022 - 05:41

For organizational reasons I have to go from training for 5 days, 30-40 minutes every day of the week, to training for 3 or 4 days at the most, also 30-40 minutes. How can I do it so that reducing a day or two does not affect the results? Muchas gracias!! Saludos desde Zaragoza, España! Rebeca.

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Roger
Posted on: Thu, 06/30/2022 - 08:50

Hi, Rebeca. Actually, you may not notice a reduction at all. Matter of fact, it may actually improve because you have the extra time to recover. Just make sure you give it all you got when you do train, and you should feel good about the results.

Rebeca
Posted on: Thu, 06/30/2022 - 09:43

Thank hoy very much for your answer, Roger!Really, you has helped me to look it whith other perspective!

Diana Davis
Posted on: Sun, 05/22/2022 - 17:57

This program looks fantastic. I can't wait to try it. I'm glad there are glute exercises each time. This is a problem area for me but is improving. I'm 61 yrs old, an experienced lifter, and a retired physical therapist. I'm relatively new to the progressive overload concept of training but I like it a lot. My goal is to build lean muscle tissue and lose the stubborn squishy fat that many years on a vegetarian diet gave me.

I weigh 119 lbs and eat daily 1650 calories, with one cheat meal Saturday night, lol! I'm making progress with muscle building, slow but steady. I do 1 gr protein per pound of body weight and I take Perfect Aminos by Body Health which has helped me tremendously. Any other recommendations I would greatly appreciate.

Zoe
Posted on: Sat, 02/05/2022 - 18:58

I'll use this plan but I hate that there are glute exercises on upper body days so I probably won't do these x)

Laura Zakhary
Posted on: Thu, 01/27/2022 - 13:05

Hi, first thank you for this workout. I’ve had great results following your programs. I just took creatine for the first time today as recommended per this routine, i only took 5g because i wasn’t sure what to expect. I noticed it made me dizzy even though i had it with a big breakfast and i also didn’t feel empowered. Kind of felt like it hindered my workout a bit. Any thoughts? Thank you

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Roger
Posted on: Fri, 01/28/2022 - 09:59

I've never known anyone that ever mentioned dizziness as a side effect of creatine. So, my suggestion would be to speak to your doctor about it.

What I can say is that creatine is mainly for recovery, not pre-workout energy. It also will take a few weeks before you see the results. If you were looking for energy, a pre-workout supplement with caffeine would've been the best bet.

Laura Zakhary
Posted on: Sat, 01/22/2022 - 00:41

I just finished your 6 week (5 day/week) training for women program that focused on 3 days a week for the lower body and this program only has two days. I saw great results with the 3 days, so my question is, would i lose muscle mass if i cut down to 2 days ?

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Roger
Posted on: Mon, 01/24/2022 - 17:53

No, Laura. You shouldn't lose any muscle mass. Make the two days count, and you'll be fine.

Imrana Aziz
Posted on: Wed, 11/03/2021 - 03:49

Hello from NZ.
Its so refreshing to see that you have responded to all the questions,even as latest as the last few months.
I am currently in lockdown, and training at home. I have a few loose equipments ( barbells, dumbbells, KB , bench) so wondering what would exercise would i substitute for
1) chin ups
2) leg press
3) Lat pull down
4) seated cable row
5) Hack squat
6) Incline db press

thanks:)

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Roger
Posted on: Fri, 11/05/2021 - 18:36

Hello to NZ! We're doing our best with the comments and questions. Hopefully they will be answered quickly going forward.

1) Pullovers
2) Single Leg Squat
3) If you can buy a band, do pulldown with those, if not, single arm pullover with a dumbbell.
4) Dumbbell Row on the Bench
5) Jump Squats with Kettlebell
6) Floor Dumbbell Press. Press the weight up over the face area to target the upper pecs more. You can also do pushups with your feet elevated.

Good luck!

Shahad
Posted on: Thu, 08/12/2021 - 05:23

Can I do this schedule in 3 days :
fro example :
sat : upper 1
mon: lower 1
wed: upper 2
and in the second week :
sat : lower 2
mon: upper 1
wed : lower 1
and go on ..
is it possible ?

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Marina
Posted on: Fri, 08/13/2021 - 09:36

Shahad -

It's best to follow the program as written to maximize results.

FB
Posted on: Sat, 07/24/2021 - 01:55

Hi, can anyone recommend an alternative to the glute hyperextension? Don’t have access to the machine. Can I just do glute bridges instead?

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Abigail
Posted on: Mon, 07/26/2021 - 11:39

Hey FB - yes you can