10 Week Upper/Lower Workout Program for Women

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

Build Muscle
10 weeks
60-90 minutes
Barbell, Bodyweight, Cables, Dumbbells
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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.

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


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!

18 Comments+ Post Comment

No Profile Pic
Posted Fri, 10/12/2018 - 04:43

I have LOVED this program as it’s got me lifting the heaviest I have ever lifted in 15 years of going to the gym. I’m nearing the end of 10 weeks and am only making small strength gains now. So what’s next? Can you suggest the next program I should do?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 10/15/2018 - 14:04

Hi Merrin,

That's awesome! Glad you enjoyed the program! If you're still seeing progress, you can stick to this one. Otherwise, maybe you'd enjoy the 5 day per week women's program we have: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/muscle-and-strength-womens-wo...

Hope this helps!

No Profile Pic
Posted Wed, 10/10/2018 - 13:37

I just started this 10 week program and have completed the two heavy low rep days I really liked it im really trying to focus on glutes since that is my problem area and wondering if doing the same exserice sets every week for 10 weeks will that not put me in plateau?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 10/15/2018 - 14:03

Hi Gabby,

In short - no. Other platforms have suggested that you need to change your workouts up weekly to avoid plateauing, however, that simply isn't the case. So long as you are increasing the weight you use or improving your form, you'll see positive change. And since the workouts are consistent, it'll make it easier to track so you can improve over the 10 weeks.

Hope this helps!

No Profile Pic
Posted Fri, 09/28/2018 - 17:31

I have tried this program for a week now and I am loving the high rep days, but am struggling with form on the lower reps. I have now decided to cut for a few weeks before I focus on gaining muscle. Would rotating the higher rep days 4 times a week be better with a deficit? Or should I use this program as it is (with a deficit) to lose fat and maintain muscle? Do i need to find something else? Thanks

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 10/01/2018 - 09:56

Hi Sonja,

You can certainly adapt the program to focus strictly on higher rep ranges. Your calorie count can certainly affect your performance and ability to recover. Everyone is different, so it's tough to say in what way though. But, from the sounds of things, you'd likely enjoy/benefit from the higher rep ranges.

Hope this helps!

No Profile Pic
Posted Tue, 09/11/2018 - 20:52
Ashley Female Riggs

I’ve been following a weightlifting program for almost a year now where I do one body part a day, 5 days a week plus 30 minutes of cardio. I’ve hit a plateau and am looking to change it up. Would this be a good program to follow?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Wed, 09/12/2018 - 08:35

Hi Ashley,

Yes, it would. By following this style of program, you'll increase the frequency in which you hit each muscle group. (2xs per week vs 1x per week). Should be a solid option to help you break through that plateau.

Hope this helps!

No Profile Pic
Posted Wed, 09/12/2018 - 09:45
Ashley Riggs

Thank you! One more question if you don’t mind. Do you perform all the sets of one exercise and then move on to the next exercise or do you do one set of all of them and then repeat?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Fri, 09/14/2018 - 09:18

Hi Ashley,

Of course! Happy to help! Perform all the sets of an exercise before moving on to the next exercise.

Hope this helps!

No Profile Pic
Posted Mon, 09/10/2018 - 19:34
Jasmine Rivera-...

Where should I fit in cardio?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Tue, 09/11/2018 - 11:05

Hi Jasmine,

You can perform cardio as you wish - either in the morning if you workout in the evening, in the evening if you workout in the morning, immediately after your workouts, or on off days.

Hope this helps!

No Profile Pic
Posted Mon, 08/20/2018 - 21:12

I’m keen to build muscle and this program sounds like just what I need. But there’s not many ab exercises. Should I add in 5-10 mins abs at the end as my tummy needs the most work!

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Tue, 08/21/2018 - 08:55

Hi Merrin,

Yes, you absolutely can. This program is simply a base template- feel free to manipulate it how you see fit to meet your individual goals.

No Profile Pic
Posted Sun, 07/29/2018 - 06:01

I've been doing this routine for a couple of weeks and had a couple of questions.
1. Do the exercises have to be completed as they are listed in each routine? Some of the machines/ equipment is usually unavailable in the gym.
2. I cannot do the hack squats at all. I've tried just with a bar (no plates) and my knees keep coming in together, or the bar keeps banging on the back of my legs and bum. What are other alternatives to this exercise so I can replace it?
Thank you

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 07/30/2018 - 09:09

Hi Maya,

Try to stick to the order as best as you can, but if equipment isn't open, move on to something that is available.

You can replace hack squats with leg press.

Hope this helps!

No Profile Pic
Posted Thu, 07/19/2018 - 09:29
Gym Girl

Just wrapping up the Women’s 12 week program. I’m feeling more confident in the gym and have noticed more toning. My goal is to now make my muscles really pop and show how hard I’m working. I think with the 12 week program I was increasing weight, but definitely not going all out. Tell me what it should look like for this 10 week program? Should I be trying to go as heavy as I can on all four days? Will doing that make my muscles pop through? I won’t be eating additional calories as I’m trying to lose a few % of body fat (currently sitting around 23%) as I’d like to lean out a little more. Thanks!

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Thu, 07/19/2018 - 10:37

Hi Gym Girl,

Yes, you'll be using heavier weight with this program, especially on the first 2 days listed. The second 2 days will require lighter weight given the rep ranges.

23% is a pretty good bodyfat percentage for most women. If you drop another couple percentages, you'll likely have that popping look you're after.

Hope this helps!