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
  • Main Goal
    Build Muscle
  • Workout Type
    Split
  • Training Level
    Intermediate
  • Program Duration8 weeks
  • Days Per Week
    4
  • Time Per Workout45-60 minutes
  • Equipment Required
    Barbell, Cables, Dumbbells, EZ Bar, Machines
  • Target Gender Male & Female
  • Workout PDF Download Workout

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
Stiff Leg Deadlift   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
Stiff Leg Deadlift   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!

84 Comments
Daniel
Posted on: Tue, 05/04/2021 - 02:41

Hi
The workout volume is good for intermediate although you can add slightly more volume (toward 16 weekly sets per muscle group). I have 2 questions?
1. Why I don't see any deltoid and trapezius exercise?
2. Why is the isoation volume is so low 1-2 sets per workout, adding another isolation day would be ok?
I

Adam
Posted on: Mon, 04/06/2020 - 00:12

This is way too much volume . How can you expect anyone to be doing this twice per week and make any gains beforehand over training . Poor advice .

Simon
Posted on: Mon, 08/12/2019 - 12:43

Hi, Is this program good for building muscle rather than strength ? I normally do Push/Pull/Legs but want to try an upper/lower/off routine to give me more rest between workouts but still want to hit parts twice a week if possible. I really like this workout https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/8-week-plateau-busting-pyrami... but it's just to much for me in a week. Any other suggestions ?

Jordi
Posted on: Sun, 04/14/2019 - 17:15

Ive been looking for a workout upper lower and i want it to improve strength
I dont want to build more muscle but i dont want to just fat burn
I want to gain a bit muscle and get definition
Is it able to do it with that routine?
Been doing fullbody for more than 6 months and im bored now
Want to change routine

G
Posted on: Tue, 11/07/2017 - 21:57

Does the workout routine hit shoulders enough for it to grow? If not why isn’t there a military press/shoulder press added?

Noah Valentino
Posted on: Sun, 07/30/2017 - 02:50

Hi, im on week 4 currently and im confused about the weight scheme of this. On upper body A lets say I bench 160 lbs for 8-7-7 (3 sets), would I hit 160 lbs again on upper body B trying to go for 10-12 reps or go down in weight?

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JoshEngland
Posted on: Mon, 07/31/2017 - 09:59

Hi Noah,

You'd probably want to use slightly less weight to allow you to perform all the prescribed reps with perfect form.

Hope this helps!

AD
Posted on: Thu, 04/13/2017 - 23:04

Hey Dave,

Would it be ok to do DB Bench and Incline DB Bench on Upper Body B days? Is there any advantage to using DB's and mixing it up with Bench press?

Thanks

Sebastien Tremblay
Posted on: Tue, 12/20/2016 - 19:00

Hello Dave,

I was wondering if you could give some precisions on the low-end/high-end sets. Is there some sort of logic as to which one to do?

Thanks!

tyler
Posted on: Thu, 12/31/2015 - 20:20

Why is there no side delt work? I can understand not putting in ohp since the benchs and pulls, but how does the side delt get stimulated without side raises and ohp?

John
Posted on: Mon, 01/04/2016 - 15:41

I'm not Dave, but the lateral deltoid is an assistance muscle, we know this because abducting the arm in the frontal plane is not a natural movement.
So when performing chest/anterior deltoid exercises the front half of the lateral deltoid assists and the other half assists during back exercises.
But is this optimal for lateral deltoid growth? Then the answer is no, so if i were you i would have thrown in 2 sets of 10-15 reps lateral raises every upper body workout, and i highly recommend that you use a cable for better tension, bend over ~10° to give the lateral deltoid a more direct line of pull and to stop at 80-85° to decrease the risk of supraspinatus impingement, which is common in lateral raises.
I also suggest that you pause ~0.5s at the top, this helps to keep the form strict and to avoid momentum.

Jeremiah
Posted on: Wed, 08/05/2015 - 00:43

Umm where is the shoulder stuff like presses?

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MikeWines
Posted on: Wed, 08/05/2015 - 10:11

Jeremiah,
You'll be hitting incline press twice weekly which stimulates a good portion of the anterior delt so you'll still be getting quite a bit of stimulation.

Abraham
Posted on: Thu, 05/15/2014 - 17:07

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?

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

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.

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

How many weeks should I deload?

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

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?

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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mnsjason
Posted on: Tue, 05/21/2013 - 18:05

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

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

thank you for the quick reply

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

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.

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

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

E
Posted on: Sat, 07/18/2015 - 06:26

No.Of corsre not they would not be warm up sets then.It would certainly open up the door to injury.

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

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.

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

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

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

What's the advantage of training back before chest?

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

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

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

is this work out good for weight loss?

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Joey
Posted on: Fri, 11/30/2012 - 11:46

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

nighthawk
Posted on: Tue, 06/26/2012 - 07:08

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.

SteveO
Posted on: Wed, 05/09/2012 - 06:06

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

Erik
Posted on: Sat, 07/18/2015 - 06:34

I would just like to remind everyone that the Romanian dead lift and the SLDL are although similar, 2 different exercise's.If anyone would like me to explain further please let me know.

Looking to Gain
Posted on: Mon, 04/30/2012 - 12:29

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?

NightcoreROM
Posted on: Wed, 04/11/2012 - 02:47

we don't hit deltoids?

arnold
Posted on: Thu, 04/05/2012 - 10:00

Hey Dave. Can I gain muscle if I can do this workout routine only 3 times a week?

omair
Posted on: Mon, 02/27/2012 - 12:07

how much rest between the exercises???

Dave
Posted on: Thu, 03/01/2012 - 14:02

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!

Zack G
Posted on: Sat, 01/28/2012 - 19:53

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

Dave H
Posted on: Wed, 02/01/2012 - 08:08

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

zac
Posted on: Thu, 01/05/2012 - 15:43

Great workout, thanks. WHen would you add cardio and abs?

Dave
Posted on: Fri, 01/06/2012 - 12:49

I'd probably add Abs and Cardio after the shorter "B" workouts.

Or do them on an off/rest day.

zac
Posted on: Mon, 01/09/2012 - 15:48

Okay that's what I was thinking. Thanks man

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

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

Rambo
Posted on: Fri, 11/25/2011 - 15:45

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)

Dave
Posted on: Mon, 11/28/2011 - 16:16

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

Scott
Posted on: Tue, 09/13/2011 - 23:32

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?

Erik
Posted on: Sat, 07/18/2015 - 06:42

I myself do them freestanding on 2 2x6's with bar on traps like a squat.Takes a bit of getting used to but really brings in all kinds of core and stablizing muscles into the mix.I've gotten good growth from this as well as greatly improved balance.

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