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, 05/15/2014 - 17:07
Abraham

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. So would body part splits would be better for advanced lifters?

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Posted Mon, 04/21/2014 - 18:17
Matt

Hi, how would you combine this with cardio training. I am a swimmer and would like to swim around 3 times a week. Would this be possible if I followed a 3 day split. What days would you recommend? Thanks.

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Posted Mon, 11/25/2013 - 17:42
Paul

How many weeks should I deload?

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Posted Fri, 11/01/2013 - 15:39
Denijs

Would it be ok if I train 5 days doing 2on/1off like this

upper A
lower A
off
upper B
lower B
off
upper A
lower A
...

Or would I be overtraining?

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Posted Mon, 10/07/2013 - 11:40
lewis

Could this plan work as;
Mon- lower A
Tues-rest
Wed-upper A
Thurs-lower B
Fri-upper B
weekend- rest
Tuesday is a no no for me and would prefer to hit all the same week rather than the 3 day spilt up of the plan

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Posted Sun, 10/06/2013 - 10:37
Richard

what does it mean by low end sets and high end sets

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Posted Tue, 06/18/2013 - 01:25
Matt

Is there any reason not to substitute the Romanian Deadlifts with Conventional deadlifts? I would rather do the conventional unless it would effect the program.

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Posted Tue, 05/21/2013 - 18:04
justin

Just started this routine. Just was wondering after the 8 weeks r up. Do I continue with the routine split? Really like this set up. Tks

mnsjason's picture
Posted Tue, 05/21/2013 - 18:05
mnsjason

As long as you continue to see results, you can run this routine for as long as you'd like.

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Posted Tue, 05/21/2013 - 18:51
Justin

thank you for the quick reply

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Posted Mon, 05/20/2013 - 12:43
patrick

hi looks like a very good program looking forward to doing it, would it be o.k to do 15-20 min of cardio straight after my workout or should i leave cardio till evening or off days.

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Posted Tue, 03/19/2013 - 11:15
Brandon

Are the warmup sets to be done at the same weight as the working sets?

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Posted Thu, 03/14/2013 - 19:00
RJ

I did this routine for 3 weeks, took 1 week off because I had to study and then went back on it and in about 1.5 months I noticed myself getting stronger and my body composition changing. This routine stopped me from over-training like I had been doing and help me understand the importance of compound exercises and the upper/lower split vs the body part split as I had been doing which wasn't helping me reach my goals. My diet has been ok, there are some weeks where I might have french fries or a couple of beers but for the most part, I have lost inches from my belly and have seen gains in my upper body and in my legs. Some days if I am short on time, I will only do 2 sets of each exercise but still complete the routine. One of the best parts about this is that if I miss a day because of work or school, I can make it up on one of the 3 rest days. I will continue to do this for another month where my 8 weeks will be completed and report back. So far, so good, thank you Dave.

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Posted Sat, 01/26/2013 - 14:39
Tom

If dips hurt my shoulder can I replace them with close grip bench 3 set 8-10 reps ?

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Posted Sun, 01/06/2013 - 20:10
mark

What's the advantage of training back before chest?

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Posted Fri, 12/28/2012 - 06:47
Ryan

workout format was great!

no real need to introduce abs as the amount of compound movements carried out covers this anyway. the one thing i changed was a deadlift in place of the lower B leg press as already hit this on the monday along with 2 squat exercises over the week.

i wanted to put in a military press but the sheer volume of bench press and incline i was reluctant to as shoulders kept getting hit as the secondary muscle group.

overall a great routine cheers

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Posted Thu, 11/22/2012 - 20:30
nick bock

is this work out good for weight loss?

Joey's picture
Posted Fri, 11/30/2012 - 11:46
Joey

Yes! Fat-loss will be dependent on your diet. Here is a very thorough Fat-Loss guide. https://www.muscleandstrength.com/expert-guides/fat-loss

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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 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 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, 04/11/2012 - 02:47
NightcoreROM

we don't hit deltoids?

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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 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 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 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 Tue, 01/03/2012 - 20:51
zac

Great workout, thanks. When would you recommend adding abs and cardio?

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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, 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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.