4-5 Day Workout for Building Muscle & Strength

This workout is perfect for anyone coming off a long shredding phase and looking for a workout to help you build back some of the strength and muscle lost.

Workout Summary

Increase Strength
Split
Intermediate
8 weeks
4
60-75 minutes
Barbell, Bodyweight, Cables, Dumbbells, EZ Bar, Machines
Male & Female
download pdfDownload Workout

Workout Description

Coming off a shredding phase and looking to build back some of the strength you lost while adding muscle size simultaneously?

The following workout was written just for you.

The workout is an 8 week program that uses an upper/lower workout split.

The majority of lifts are compound movements in the 2-8 rep range. Each day also has some isolation exercises that fall more into the muscle hypertrophy rep range of 8-20.

The goal is to start out using a higher rep range on your heavy lifts as you gradually increase the weight up until you are ready for a heavy triple and a heavy double. This not only promotes muscle growth, but also aids in preventing injury and CNS fatigue by not taking each lift to a heavy max out single.

For those of you wanting to add in a 5th workout day, there is an optional Upper C workout that can be performed during the week. This workout focuses more on isolating the arms and shoulders.

For rest periods, on all sets greater than 5 reps limit rest to 1 minute. For all sets less than 5 reps, rest for 3 minutes prior to performing your next set.

Lower Workout A

Exercise Sets Reps
Barbell Back Squat 5 8, 6, 5, 3, 2
Trap Bar Deadlift 5 8, 6, 5, 3, 2
Leg Extension 3 15-20
Leg Curl 3 15-20
Seated Calf Raise 4 20-25

Upper Workout A

Exercise Sets Reps
Chest Supported Row 5 8, 6, 5, 3, 2
Bench Press 5 8, 6, 5, 3, 2
Pull Up 4 8-12
Seated Cable Row 3 12, 10, 8
Standing Overhead Press 4 12, 12, 10, 8

Lower Workout B

Exercise Sets Reps
Front Squat 5 8, 6, 5, 3, 2
Romanian Deadlift 5 8, 6, 5, 3, 2
Lateral Lunge 3 10-15
Hyperextension 4 10-15
Standing Machine Calf Raise 4 20-25

Upper Workout B

Exercise Sets Reps
Overhead Press 5 8, 6, 5, 3, 2
Machine T-Bar 5 8, 6, 5, 3, 2
One Arm Dumbbell Row 4 12, 10, 8, 8
Chin Up 3 8-12
Dumbbell Incline Bench Press 4 12, 12, 10, 8

Optional Upper C

Exercise Sets Reps
Close Grip Bench Press 5 8, 6, 5, 3, 2
Overhead Cable Tricep Extension 4 12, 12, 10, 8
EZ Bar Curl 5 8, 6, 5, 5, 5
A1. Incline Dumbbell Curl 2 12
A2. Preacher Dumbbell Curl on Incline Bench 2 12
Lateral Raise 3 10-12
Reverse Pec Dec 3 10-12

As far as progression goes, my recommendation would be to perform the 4 day split for 8 weeks. Each workout, try to increase the total amount of weight used. After 8 weeks, you can perform the program again incorporating the 5th day as an added form of progression.

On bodyweight exercises, increase the number of reps. Once you are able to complete all of the higher end of reps listed, add weight to the exercise. On lateral lunges, for example, you can perform them holding a dumbbell in a goblet fashion.

If you struggle to perform pull ups and chin ups for 8 reps, begin by performing them to failure and finish the rest of the set by performing eccentric only pull ups and eccentric only chin ups.

If you’re concerned about abdominal isolation work not being present in the program, you can include them in your variation of this program. Simply tack on an abdominal exercise to the end of each workout (preferably targeting a different function of the abs each time).

Additionally, heavy row variations are performed as chest supported exercises to cut down on the amount of stress on the lower back. If you feel like you can handle heavy non-supported variations, you're more than welcome to substitute them in instead.

If you have any further questions about the workout program, please feel free to leave them in the comments section below for us to answer.

37 Comments+ Post Comment

No Profile Pic
Posted Wed, 09/25/2019 - 17:10
Tony

I recently finished the body metamorphosis workout where I went 18 weeks because I just enjoyed it that much. I want to start this one because it feels like a fair next step. In reading the details I want to fully understand one thing. For the exercises that list various amount of reps, are you trying to increase the weight with each set or are you trying to increase the amount each week?

No Profile Pic
Posted Thu, 09/26/2019 - 10:43
JoshEngland

Hi Tony,

As reps decrease, increase the weight used. As reps increase, decrease the weight used if needed. And try to progress in total weight used whenever possible.

No Profile Pic
Posted Sun, 08/04/2019 - 12:42
Trish

Josh,

I see you say add ONE ab if we want to, but I also run 3 times a week. I usually run in the am and strength in the pm. Im thinking of adding the cardio on days that I do lowers so that my legs get a rest. Thoughts??

Trish

No Profile Pic
Posted Mon, 08/05/2019 - 15:44
JoshEngland

Hi Trish,

I'd normally recommend running after your leg workouts if possible. Ideally, you'd want to have at least 48 hours of rest in between training bouts. Running in the am of your leg workouts would give you 8-12 hours of recovery.

That being said, sometimes things aren't ideal - and you have to go with what is practical. If that's what works best for your schedule and makes you feel the best physically, you can def set it up that way.

No Profile Pic
Posted Fri, 06/28/2019 - 12:27
Matthew

Newby here, any good cheep meal plans for this type of workout. i'm on a plan that's about $40 for two weeks(lots of chicken, rice, eggs, oats) don't want to go much over that but looks like i'd need to add some extra protein.

No Profile Pic
Posted Mon, 06/17/2019 - 23:35
John

Would it be too much if i do another workout after doing this workout? Each one consist of doing 5 exercises so it seems like i could mix it up, instead of finishing after doing a lower body i would go on ahead and do an upper body workout,

No Profile Pic
Posted Tue, 06/18/2019 - 08:48
JoshEngland

Hi John,

I wouldn't recommend it.

No Profile Pic
Posted Wed, 06/12/2019 - 11:51
Ryan Cherry

Can I follow this program in a hypertrophy rep range? Say 8-12? On the bigger lifters I guess that would fall somewhere between 70-75% of 1 rm . Also how Does the schedule work? Upper C would be Day 6 if you rest on day 3?

No Profile Pic
Posted Wed, 06/12/2019 - 15:05
JoshEngland

Hi Ryan,

Sure that would be fine and yes, Upper C would fall on day 6 if you take a rest day during the week.

No Profile Pic
Posted Wed, 06/12/2019 - 17:20
Ryan Cherry

Okay cool. If I stay in the higher rep range, do I need to adjust volume? If so how would I go about doing that. Always confused by sets for lower reps vs higher. If that makes sense. Thanks for always providing amazing content man! I love you’re instagram where you show the SHUL workouts! Very helpful stuff.

No Profile Pic
Posted Fri, 06/14/2019 - 09:57
JoshEngland

Thanks Ryan! Appreciate those kind words!

You don't necessarily have to alter the volume. It really depends on your individual capabilities and ability to recover. I've done many programs using the same sets listed above for 10-12 reps.

No Profile Pic
Posted Thu, 04/18/2019 - 18:25
Jordi

Hi Josh,
by saying 5 sets of 8, 6, 5, 3, 2 reps it means to increase the weight? or maintain the same? ty

No Profile Pic
Posted Fri, 04/19/2019 - 10:17
JoshEngland

Hi Jordi,

Yes, increase the weight used as the reps decrease.

No Profile Pic
Posted Fri, 04/12/2019 - 14:49
Ron

Hi Josh,
Are upper workouts b & c supposed to be done on back-to-back days, or with a day in between? Will same/similar muscles back-to-back interfere with recovery?

No Profile Pic
Posted Mon, 04/15/2019 - 09:32
JoshEngland

Hi Ron,

I'd recommend a day in between if possible.

No Profile Pic
Posted Thu, 04/11/2019 - 12:32
Jordi

I’ve doing a fullbody for over 6 minths
Now i want something different
My goal is to build muscle and the little fat burn to get my abs seen
U know xd
Is that a good workout for me?
Thanks!

No Profile Pic
Posted Fri, 04/12/2019 - 12:41
JoshEngland

Hi Jordi,

This plan will be a solid transition from full body work. With 6 months of training under your belt, yes, you'll likely still be able to build muscle while losing fat. However, there comes a point where you'll no longer be getting those beginner gains. At that point, the two goals will require very different stimuli to achieve.

No Profile Pic
Posted Sat, 04/13/2019 - 01:30
Jordi

Ty Josh,
appreciate that.
I ended up changing my objective to improve strength, so i build muscle but not too much since i reduce some reps and volume from the auxiliar exercises.
does it sound a good choice for you?

No Profile Pic
Posted Mon, 04/15/2019 - 09:26
JoshEngland

Hi Jordi,

Yes, this would be a solid option for someone with those goals.

No Profile Pic
Posted Sat, 02/16/2019 - 22:10
Ryan Cherry

I just finished a push pull legs split. I am looking for a little more efficiency with twins on the way, so an upper lower split seems logical. I have to admit I love Arm day... I am curious about something similar to what you put (volume wise) with Arm work being indirect with the two upper workouts. I can knock out a decent arm workout at home for the 5 th day. Sorry, I know I have a million questions...

Day 1: Upper (chest, Back, shoulders)
Day 2: lower
Day 3: Rest
Day 4: Upper (chest, Back, shoulders)
Day 5: lower
Day 6: Arms (just Biceps and triceps )
Day 7: rest

No Profile Pic
Posted Mon, 02/18/2019 - 10:13
JoshEngland

Hi Ryan,

Congrats on the twins! Yes, that'd be a solid split imo.

No Profile Pic
Posted Mon, 02/18/2019 - 12:30
Ryan Cherry

Thanks so much man

No Profile Pic
Posted Fri, 12/07/2018 - 16:48
Konstantinos

Hello everyone,
I would be grateful if you could answer my question. I am having exercise in gym 4 times per week in which i do only team programmes (cross training, functional training, tabata), because i am bored of the usual training with weights etc..do you believe that i have a holistic exercise for my body and that is enough or i will have to do training with the usual weights, too?

No Profile Pic
Posted Mon, 12/10/2018 - 10:21
JoshEngland

Hi Konstantinos,

As long as you're exercises regularly and enjoying the exercise you perform, I'd say you have a good routine.

Hope this helps!

No Profile Pic
Posted Mon, 12/10/2018 - 10:27
Konstantinos

Hello and Thank you for your answer. I Just ask that because in my previous count of fat, the results have shown that i have lost muscle mass instead of fat, so they told me to put in my weekly programme the classic training with weight. Do you think that it is necessary and how can i gain muscle mass and lose weight? I will appreciate it if you could give an answer. Thank you!

No Profile Pic
Posted Mon, 12/10/2018 - 14:05
JoshEngland

Hi Konstantinos,

Yes, weight training will help. Doesn't have to be this particular program, you might find full body workouts beneficial to fit into your schedule.

Also, I'd recommend ensuring you're eating enough protein if your goal is fat loss. Dietary protein will help preserve muscle mass during weight loss phases.

Hope this helps!

No Profile Pic
Posted Mon, 12/10/2018 - 15:28
Konstantinos

Thanks for that. I Just ask you because i want to inderstand some things. I Just Wonder what the main advantage of adding in my weekly routine the classic exercise with weights, because the team programmes that i follow, for example the functional training has to do with exercise in Full body and has kettlebell, trx and weights inside. So, why do i have to add the classic exercise with weights if we suppose that functional training exercise the whole body?and why is there this opinion that someone Who makes team programmes such as Cross training, functional and Tabata should also add the classic training with weight? Could you explain me that? I would be grateful. Also, a Last question. Some people say that someone doesn't have to do more than 3 or 4 days per week exerxise in order for not losing muscle mass and have the muscles the rime to get rest in order not to lose muscle mass. Do you think is a right opinion or there is no problem? Thank you in advance.

No Profile Pic
Posted Sun, 10/28/2018 - 01:24
Claude

Hi Josh, I need some resistance training. My history has mainly been karate and some intense cardio. About 6 months ago the easy option for me was BodyPump and I've been consistent with 3 classes a week. Whilst there have been some results (mainly fat loss) I'm starting to get some overuse injuries as I've upped the weight. At my age (57) these take too long to heal! This workout looks like a good way to transition out of the high-rep stuff into strength building - which is what I want for my karate anyway. Is this a reasonable conclusion?

No Profile Pic
Posted Mon, 10/29/2018 - 09:15
JoshEngland

Hi Claude,

I don't have a whole lot of experience working with folks in your demographic - but I would think an altered variation of this routine that matches your recovery rate would be a good option.

I'd recommend starting out with 2 sessions per week and seeing how you felt from there (1 upper and 1 lower). If you feel good you can add a third session and rotate between upper and lower days. If you still feel you can do more, you could increase to 4 days per week - but my guess is that with your experience and age, 2-3 sessions should be plenty.

Hope this helps!

No Profile Pic
Posted Mon, 10/29/2018 - 17:21
Claude

Thanks Josh. Good advice on the recovery. The muscle growth is really just a healing process and I do need to be conscious that it is slower for me these days.

No Profile Pic
Posted Mon, 10/15/2018 - 11:14
Ron

Why is there so much more back work than chest/shoulder? Each upper day has 3 back exercises compared to 1 each for chest and shoulders?

No Profile Pic
Posted Mon, 10/15/2018 - 14:10
JoshEngland

Hi Ron,

For postural gains - most focus too heavily on their chest and not enough on their back. Give it a shot for a phase and check your V-taper progress.

Hope this helps!

No Profile Pic
Posted Sun, 10/14/2018 - 21:56
Merrin

Is this a good program to do after the 10wk upper / lower for women workout? https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/10-week-upper-lower-workout-f...
I’m looking to build muscle and am nearly at the end of the 10 wk program so keen to see what I should do next.

No Profile Pic
Posted Mon, 10/15/2018 - 14:10
JoshEngland

Hi Merrin,

Sure! This would be a good program to transition into after that one.

Hope this helps!

No Profile Pic
Posted Sat, 10/13/2018 - 00:52
Zachary Brown

is there a reason this workout doesn't really focus on the chest. The two upper body days seem to be a lot more back focused.

No Profile Pic
Posted Mon, 10/15/2018 - 14:09
JoshEngland

Hi Zachary,

For postural gains - most focus too heavily on their chest and not enough on their back. Give it a shot for a phase and check your V-taper progress.

Cheers!