Upper/Lower 4 Day Gym Bodybuilding Split Workout

Reach your muscle building goals with this balanced 4 day training split that mixes heavy compound exercises, machines, cables and incorporates 3 second negatives.

Workout Summary

Build Muscle
Split
Beginner
10 weeks
4
45-60 minutes
Barbell, Bodyweight, Cables, Dumbbells, EZ Bar, Machines
Male & Female
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Workout Description

This is a muscle building workout that I have been using lately now that I am training more often at commercial gyms. It works well both with, and without a training partner. If training with a partner, I recommend keeping rest periods brief. After your partner's set is finished, you should waste little time before hitting your next set.

Each training day is balanced. You start by challenging major muscle groups with 3 sets of compound or taxing machine exercises. Next, you follow up by finishing a muscle group with a more isolation-style movement that typically focuses on the use of 3 second negatives. Lastly, you work smaller muscle groups with 3 sets each, using 3 second negatives when it makes sense.

Here is the training schedule:

  • Day 1 - Upper Body
  • Day 2 - Lower Body
  • Day 3 - Off
  • Day 4 - Upper Body
  • Day 5 - Lower Body
  • Day 6 - Off
  • Day 7 - Off

Intense Dumbbell Curls

Upper body training days

Upper body training days follow this scheme:

  • Chest - 3 sets, compound
  • Back - 3 sets, compound
  • Shoulders - 3 sets, compound
  • Chest - 2 sets, isolation or machine/moderate compound. Use 3 second negatives when it makes sense.
  • Back - 2 sets, isolation or machine/moderate compound. Use 3 second negatives when it makes sense.
  • Shoulders - 2 sets, isolation or machine/moderate compound. Use 3 second negatives when it makes sense.
  • Triceps - 3 sets, isolation or machine/cable exercises. Use 3 second negatives when it makes sense.
  • Biceps - 3 sets, isolation or machine/cable exercises. Use 3 second negatives when it makes sense.

Lower body training days

Lower body training days follow this scheme:

  • Quads - 3 sets, compound
  • Hamstrings - 3 sets, compound
  • Calves - 3 sets, taxing machine or isolation
  • Quads - 2 sets, isolation or machine/moderate compound. Use 3 second negatives when it makes sense.
  • Hamstrings - 2 sets, isolation or machine/moderate compound. Use 3 second negatives when it makes sense.
  • Calves - 2 sets, isolation or machine/moderate compound. Use 3 second negatives when it makes sense.
  • Abs - 3 sets, isolation or machine/cable exercises.
  • Abs, Lower Back or Obliques - 3 sets, isolation or machine/cable exercises.
Day 1
Upper Body
Exercise Sets Reps
Bench Press 3 6-12
Barbell Row 3 6-12
Seated Overhead Dumbbell Press 3 8-12
Pec Dec - 3 sec negative 2 10-12
V-Bar Lat Pull Down - 3 sec negative 2 10-12
Side Lateral Raise 2 10-15
Cable Tricep Extensions - 3 sec negative 3 8-12
Cable Curls - 3 sec negative 3 8-12
Day 2
Lower Body
Exercise Sets Reps
Squats 3 6-12
Stiff Leg Deadlifts 3 8-12
Standing Calf Raise 3 10-15
Leg Extensions - 3 sec negative 2 10-12
Leg Curl - 3 sec negative 2 10-12
Seated Calf Raise - 3 sec negative 2 10-12
Cable Crunch - 3 sec negative 3 10-12
Cable Pull Through w/Rope 3 10-12
Day 4
Upper Body
Exercise Sets Reps
Incline Dumbbell Bench Press 3 8-12
Rack Deadlifts - 3" to 5" off ground 3 5-8
Military Press 3 8-12
Machine Chest Press - 3 sec negative 2 8-12
Pull Ups or Machine Rows - 3 sec negative 2 8-12
Machine Shoulder Press - 3 sec negative 2 8-12
Dumbbell Curls - 3 sec negative 3 8-12
Machine Tricep Dip - 3 sec negative 3 8-12
Day 5
Lower Body
Exercise Sets Reps
Leg Press 3 10-20
Dumbbell Stiff Leg Deadlifts 3 8-12
Leg Press Calf Raise 3 10-15
Hack Squat 2 8-12
Seated Leg Curl - 3 sec negative 2 10-12
Seated Calf Raise - 3 sec negative 2 10-12
Planks 3 60 sec
Hyperextension 3 10-12

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280 Comments+ Post Comment

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Posted Tue, 11/20/2018 - 07:45
James Latrel

After each week, do we upgrade the weight
For me personally:
100KG goes to 102.5 KG in a week

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Tue, 11/20/2018 - 10:53
JoshEngland

Hi James,

Add weight weekly when possible without jeopardizing form.

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Posted Mon, 11/12/2018 - 19:26
Charles

Hi Josh! My maintenance level is 2,800 roughly and I’d like to try an attempt burning some fat while leaning out. If I hit around 2,400 calories and hit this routine full force, should I expect to have a sleek lean body transformation at the end, or will I just get skinny and look worse? Trying to go from buff / moderate belly fat to lean with minimal belly fat and a more definition. I’ve always had this issue and truck myself into try going full cut then full bulk but it never ends up working. I end up looking skinny or too buffy.

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Tue, 11/13/2018 - 11:02
JoshEngland

Hi Charles,

If you perform this program while in a deficit, you'll lose body fat - yes.

For a more fuller look, I'd consider hiring someone to help you manipulate your macro nutrients. Going with a higher protein to preserve muscle mass, high carb to pump the muscles full of glycogen, and supplementing with creatine might be the way to go.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Mon, 11/12/2018 - 17:27
John Badia

Great 4 day split! Is it possible to increase the sets to 4 per excerise (5 sets for the compound excersises)? I feel that 2 or 3 sets is not enough for me.

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Tue, 11/13/2018 - 10:57
JoshEngland

Hi John,

Yes, that is possible and one way you can progress using this program.

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Posted Wed, 10/17/2018 - 15:48
Vanjuska

I am overweight like 7 kilograms and i want to start training.Should i lose weight first and then start or do it simultaneously?I do not know anything about gym and dieting.

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Thu, 10/18/2018 - 09:22
JoshEngland

Hi Vanjuska,

You can certainly do both simultaneously. The important thing with your starting point though, in my opinion, is to make small sustainable changes over time. If you make one small change every other week, or month, eventually you'll have completely transformed your lifestyle into an overall healthy one. This is a better approach than the all-or-nothing ones most typically try to implement right off the bat.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Sat, 10/13/2018 - 07:05
Rubenvdb96

Hey there,

I have been following this program for around 8 weeks now and Made great results on all fronts. My weight increased from 70-71kg to 75kg. Squat went from 60 to 85, bench from 80 to 87,5 and DL (instead of rack DLs) from 80 to 120 (All 3x5). I was quite new in training legs but got the hang of it now. Got my form checked regularly and it’s fine. I’m Not new to lifting, but used to be upper body focused before.

I like setting goals towards lifting higher weights, my question is If I should go on with this schedule after I’ve finished it (12 weeks) or go to a more advanced routine, If so, what routine? I’d like to keep a 4 day split focused primarily on power and mass. Advice would be greatly appreciated!

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 10/15/2018 - 14:22
JoshEngland

Hi Rubenvdb96,

That's awesome! Solid progress! Give this one a shot after you've finished this one: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/4-day-advanced-upper-lower-wo...

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 10/15/2018 - 14:22
JoshEngland

Hi Rubenvdb96,

That's awesome! Solid progress! Give this one a shot after you've finished this one: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/4-day-advanced-upper-lower-wo...

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Posted Tue, 10/16/2018 - 17:02
Rubenvdb96

Thanks for commenting!

I like the idea of the schedule, but I love doing the conventional bench, squat and DL. Can I make any substitutions, or is there a schedule around there which includes these exercises? Other than that it looks like a Good challenge!

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Wed, 10/17/2018 - 11:31
JoshEngland

Hi Rubenvd96,

You're welcome! This program is simply a template. You can alter it to include those exercises if you wish.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Wed, 10/17/2018 - 15:37
Rubenvdb96

Thanks a lot! You’ve been of good help indeed.

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Posted Sun, 09/30/2018 - 09:03
M Tahir

What rest periods would u recommend?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 10/01/2018 - 10:13
JoshEngland

Hi M Tahir,

45-60 seconds.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Sun, 09/09/2018 - 09:05
mihailo

Hi i want to start work out for the first time in my life so i'm tall 187cm with 92 kg weight. I want to build muscle and to lose fat is this work out plan good for that or should i found something difrent. I'm sorry if i typed something wrong i'm from europe.

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Posted Sat, 09/08/2018 - 11:52
Jimmy

Hey; thanks for that awesome routine. I'm skinny and I was wondering if I can split the 2nd upper day into 2 days just to be able to add more exercises specially for the chest.. Then my workout routine might be like: upper/lower/off/chest&back/lower/shoulders&arms/off... Is it possible?? If yes is it better to do the modification or should I stick to the routine as it is??

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Posted Mon, 08/27/2018 - 21:19
Ron

I've been working out for 2 months and it seems that nothing happens. I am an ASIAN of ectomorph body type. 135 pounds. What can you suggest

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Tue, 08/28/2018 - 08:35
JoshEngland

Hi Ron,

I'd recommend reading this and following its advice: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/expert-guides/muscle-building

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Posted Fri, 08/17/2018 - 21:16
Adam Noteware

I want to start increasing my size on all body parts. I can't get back 35 lbs when curling, meaning I can do a few reps but can't finish out a regular set. I can curl anything below 35 with ease, but can't go past that. What am I doing wrong and why can't I bicep curl more? Do I just need to continue curling 35lbs until I can complete a full set? Any suggestions would help me, cause I can bench everything else at a higher weight but not my arms /biceps for whatever reason. Please help me..

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 08/20/2018 - 09:02
JoshEngland

Hi Adam,

It's natural for your arms to be weaker than other, larger muscle groups. If you want to use more weight to target your biceps, do a more compound movement such as a chin up.

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Posted Mon, 08/20/2018 - 12:16
Adam

What I mean is that for whatever reason I can't curl a dumbell past 35 pounds?! Everything else as far as using a dumbell for on other body parts, I can use heavy with no problem. What would you suggest I do to get my biceps to look more Fuller? Should I lift heavy (low reps), then light (high reps during each workout on all body parts during my workout session? Please help me, I'd appreciate it very much...

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Posted Mon, 09/24/2018 - 16:31
Alex

I’d focus on other types of curls. For example to get greater thickness on your biceps, hammer curls target the brachialis which makes your biceps bigger and also helps with the overall strength of the bicep.

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Posted Fri, 08/10/2018 - 16:31
arunbharath

Hi. I'm 6 feet tall with 68kg weight, I'm planning to build lean muscle . Does this workout works for lean guy?

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Posted Fri, 09/14/2018 - 06:26
Rajat

Of course, this routine works for everybody. Just follow the routine strictly, track your progress, increase volume of training gradually and you will see the results. I am 6' 2", I started with 64 kgs and now I weigh 72kg.
Cheers!!

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Posted Sun, 09/16/2018 - 10:30
Marek

Hey Rajat, how long have you been doing this for? Any tips for a beginner?
Thanks

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Posted Mon, 08/06/2018 - 16:15
Nathan Richards

Hi all

So I've just recently started training again. I'm weighing at 15stone (95.25kg)(210lbs)I've put on near enough 3stone in weight on in 7months. Its not muscle it's pure fat.

Now my issue has always been the diet. However I've been told that my workout isn't helping as I do separate muscle groups each day or use to.

Need some serious tips and help in getting rid of the fat and building the muscle I once had.

All help is appreciated

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Posted Mon, 08/06/2018 - 15:00
Ryan

If I play basketball on Tuesdays and Thursdays, How can I adjust this schedule? Thanks!

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Tue, 08/07/2018 - 08:43
JoshEngland

Hi Ryan,

Use those days as your "rest days" and schedule your workouts around them.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Mon, 08/06/2018 - 14:26
Bahiri Mattiex

I’ve been working out since late April / early May. I used to weigh 200 now I’m at 171-175 . Ive been doing full body routines 7 days a week with cardio (hiit and steady state ) when I first started and then I became stagnant after a while and stopped seeing progress. I also felt like I loss a bit of muscle mass.

Im not used to rest days but I’m starting this routine today , Will this routine be beneficial?

Also what can I do and what should I do on my rest days ?

And will running a 1.50 after my strength training sessions hurt my gains ?

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Posted Tue, 07/31/2018 - 07:54
Pat

Hi,

Am I going to cause too much muscle damage if I add a decline exercise to days 1 & 4 to work my lower chest too?

Thanks in advance

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Tue, 07/31/2018 - 11:18
JoshEngland

Hi Pat,

It depends, but for most that should be a fine addition.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Sat, 07/14/2018 - 12:08
Jordi wessam Sabri

Hi,
Can I replace (Incline Dumbbell Bench Press) with (reverse grip bench press) coz I need to work my upper chest more effectively ?
Thanks

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 07/16/2018 - 10:01
JoshEngland

Hi Jordi,

You can, but I'm not sure it'll have that much of a difference in the amount of upper chest growth you'll achieve.

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Posted Sun, 07/08/2018 - 20:14
Anthony T Tran

I only can workout Mon-Thurs. Will having done this without that rest day on Day 3 affect anything?

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Posted Sat, 06/30/2018 - 00:23
megan

Hello, what is good for back fat? how soon doing this routine should we start seeing results? Also should I do cardio before weights or Weights and then cardio.

How long should beginners work out a first...1 hr and then cardio? 30 mins of each?

thanks

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 07/02/2018 - 08:53
JoshEngland

Hi Megan,

1. You can't isolate fat loss. The best approach is maintaining a calorie deficit for a period of time.

2. Results will always vary. You should begin to see differences for yourself at around the 4 week mark.

3. Perform cardio after weight training or at a different time of day altogether.

4. Depends on the individual. Beginners typically do best with full body workouts 3xs per week, no particular time limit on individual workouts.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Mon, 07/02/2018 - 12:55
Megan

Thanks Josh

I am not new to the guy but new to being serious about it, if that makes sense lol.

So just so I understand. IS it a good plan to do Cardio for the first two weeks and get use to each machine and free weights; making up some sort of routine. And getting by fast arse use to going. After which time start seriously with the weights first and then 30 mins of cardio (give it take)

How long in the weights and machines is good for fat beginners?

Goal being to lose 60 lbs in 8 months

Tia
Megan

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Tue, 07/03/2018 - 08:43
JoshEngland

Hi Megan,

Sure, that's a good strategy to get use to going to the gym every day.

Again, it always depends on the individual and it's tough to recommend individualized approaches over the internet. If you'd like specific help for your individual goals, I'd recommend seeking out the advice of a personal trainer in your area.

They'll be able to design a program that aligns not only with your goals, but also with exercise selection you actually enjoy. Until then, the programs on this website can be an excellent place to start.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Thu, 06/28/2018 - 00:11
Mohamed

I'm skinny, it's OK with me to use !?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Thu, 06/28/2018 - 10:22
JoshEngland

Hi Mohamed,

Yep!

Hope this helps!

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Posted Tue, 06/26/2018 - 06:11
Flavio

On Upper B there's "Rack Deadlifts - 3" to 5" off ground", is there any other exercise that's advised to substitute this one?

Ceers

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Tue, 06/26/2018 - 09:12
JoshEngland

Hi Flavio,

Any hip hinge variation will do the trick - deadlifts, rack pulls, good mornings, etc.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Thu, 06/28/2018 - 04:26
Flavio

Shouldn't there be a lats exercise on the Upper B main compounds? Somehow it seems lacking that. Either that or I'm missing something. Thanks for the explanation!

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Thu, 06/28/2018 - 10:23
JoshEngland

Hi Flavio,

Your lats will be worked through the pull ups or rows listed in the second upper workout.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Fri, 06/22/2018 - 18:21
Katelyn

Can you explain what the 3-second negative is?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 06/25/2018 - 09:05
JoshEngland

Hi Katelyn,

When you're lowering the weight (the eccentric portion of the lift), make it take 3 seconds.

For more on negatives/eccentrics, check out this article - https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/how-to-add-eccentric-training...

Hope this helps!

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Posted Tue, 06/19/2018 - 03:58
Flavio

Hi,

I'm just about to start this plan, would it be ok to substitute the stiff leg deadlifts for conventional ones?

Cheers