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
download pdfDownload Workout

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

Post your post-workout swolfies in M&S gear on IG and tag @muscleandstrength, #muscleandstrength, or DM them to us to get a shoutout on Muscle & Strength stories!

320 Comments+ Post Comment

No Profile Pic
Posted Thu, 09/05/2019 - 17:27
Antonio

Hi! I have been training for some months now and wanted a change in my workout. I really liked the exercises and the split of this one. However, i see it is classified as beginner and I feel I should already jump into an Intermediate training. Would you recommend to look for another training? What does make this a beginner workout?
Thank you!

No Profile Pic
Posted Tue, 09/03/2019 - 08:24
Redi Shani

How much rest between sets?

No Profile Pic
Posted Thu, 07/18/2019 - 11:17
محمود حسين

hi
3 types of deadlift is overtreaning? or it is okay ?

No Profile Pic
Posted Sun, 08/04/2019 - 12:29
Michael Rodzen

Stiff leg dead lifts target hamstrings, not the entire posterior chain like conventional dead lifts. You will not be using heavy weights and taxing the body in the same way so it is okay.

No Profile Pic
Posted Wed, 07/10/2019 - 01:18
Ken

Omg those 3 second negatives really make the routine

No Profile Pic
Posted Mon, 05/13/2019 - 23:52
Don

Hi I'm 45 and returning to the gym. Been doing this routine now going on 2nd week after finishing up on a 4 week beginner routine., I'm following a Keto diet at a slight caloric deficit as I need to lose about 30lbs. of body fat. I'm 6'5 and weighing in at roughly 255. How do you feel the diet will work with this type of program. Also, I'm supplementing with fish oil, and a free test booster. Do you think this program will fit for me at this point?

No Profile Pic
Posted Tue, 04/23/2019 - 22:41
Mark

I love this workout! The only changes I have made are a few more biceps and triceps, I use a trap bar for the stiff leg deadlifts (Josh, you hooked me on the trap bar in the SHUL workout), and I do the ab and glute work on its own day. The three-second negatives are very effective.

No Profile Pic
Posted Wed, 04/24/2019 - 11:55
JoshEngland

Hi Mark,

That's awesome bro! Keep up the good work!!

No Profile Pic
Posted Tue, 04/23/2019 - 04:43
Angelo

Sir will this overtrain our lower back ? And can i still do weighted facepulls everyday ? If i add it will, there be too much volume that recovery will suffer ? Been doing this for a week using 3 sets of 12 reps for all the exercise . Been lifting whole body for 4 and a half months before switching to this program i switched because i was plateau-ing in my lifts using a fullbody strength program. Thankyou sir seems like a very good program.

No Profile Pic
Posted Wed, 05/01/2019 - 04:52
Jared Isaiah Frazier

Why are you doing 3 sets and 12 reps for everything? Increase weight weekly and play with it see where you're at. I always pyramid down like 12 10 8. But I play with my weight for gainz u wanna make that sh!the hard. Sometimes I'll shoot for 10 and barely get 9. That means I pushed myself hard. I'm on my 5th week and been just increasing weight weekly. I came back from a broken finger and jaw surgery and this program has really got me back into that OG feeling

No Profile Pic
Posted Thu, 03/28/2019 - 14:10
Ryan

Will this program work well for power building/strength? I was looking for a good upper/lower strength building program.

No Profile Pic
Posted Fri, 03/29/2019 - 09:38
JoshEngland

Hi Ryan,

For maximum strength, there are better programs. That said, this program will still build strength - but it's rep scheme is more in-line with muscle growth.

No Profile Pic
Posted Mon, 03/25/2019 - 18:14
Jan

Can i do cardio with this program?

No Profile Pic
Posted Wed, 03/27/2019 - 16:40
JoshEngland

Hi Jan,

Sure!

No Profile Pic
Posted Wed, 03/20/2019 - 21:42
kamel

can i do trap bar deadlift instead of squat ...i have knee and lower back pain from squats

No Profile Pic
Posted Mon, 03/11/2019 - 10:04
David

Hi Steve

Like the look of this to get back into the gym!
Do you recommend increasing weight after each set?

No Profile Pic
Posted Tue, 04/02/2019 - 04:01
Jared Isaiah Frazier

I do what I know will be a challenge but stays in the rep ranges it provides. I'm going to track exactly the weight and reps I did so next time I know to put a littLe more on and do the same reps I did last time I believe that's called progressive overload. That's just what I plan to do. Also some cardio on rest days

No Profile Pic
Posted Thu, 02/07/2019 - 14:05
Jason

Will this workout help if I’m trying to lean bulk

No Profile Pic
Posted Sat, 01/26/2019 - 12:01
zuren

Hi,
I have a mild slipped disk problem in my back. should I be careful with any of the exercise? are they all okay and safe for me to follow?

No Profile Pic
Posted Tue, 01/15/2019 - 17:38
Dan

Hi does this workout have core exercises? If so which ones?
Thanks,
Dan

No Profile Pic
Posted Mon, 01/07/2019 - 03:51
Yassein

Hi , i have been going through steady training and nutrition plan for about 5 months. And i want to maximize muscle growth as faster as possible.

Is this plan best for me ?

No Profile Pic
Posted Mon, 01/07/2019 - 12:46
JoshEngland

Hi Yassein,

The increase in frequency can certainly help depending on the programs you've used in the past.

No Profile Pic
Posted Sun, 12/30/2018 - 14:03
Ozzy Saleh

I have been implementing for a couple of weeks, i noticed that there is a lot of deadlift exercises. Is that to strengthen the core?

No Profile Pic
Posted Mon, 12/10/2018 - 11:01
Shaun

Hey I’ve just swapped from a 4 day split and on this routine I don’t feel like my chest gets blasted as much, I’m a total beginner been out from training a while now and on the upper days I’ve added some face pull and some cable rows as my shoulders are rounded is that ok

No Profile Pic
Posted Sun, 12/02/2018 - 13:04
BHANUKA DISSANAYAKE

Which split are You recommend after done this split.??? I done this one

No Profile Pic
Posted Mon, 12/03/2018 - 12:28
JoshEngland
No Profile Pic
Posted Tue, 09/03/2019 - 08:28
Redi Shani

How was the results?

No Profile Pic
Posted Sun, 12/02/2018 - 01:49
t0mmy_j82

Just come across this workout, looks awesome and looking forward to giving it a go when I finish my current workout!! Cheers :)

No Profile Pic
Posted Sun, 11/25/2018 - 21:26
daniel

hi how long should the break between each set be, thanks.

No Profile Pic
Posted Mon, 11/26/2018 - 10:05
JoshEngland

Hi Daniel,

45-60 secs should do the trick.

No Profile Pic
Posted Thu, 11/22/2018 - 00:28
Simer

Hi ,
Is this workout okay for girls?
Like I’m a beginner and don’t want to get too masculine but to get toned body. Just want to gain little muscles and get fit, not like body builders.
You think it’s okay for me?

No Profile Pic
Posted Fri, 11/23/2018 - 10:58
JoshEngland

Hi Simer,

Yes, this workout is completely ok to perform as a woman. It will not make you look like a bodybuilder bc of the hormonal and physiological differences women have compared to men.

It should help you with the goals you have :)

Hope this helps!

No Profile Pic
Posted Wed, 11/21/2018 - 04:53
Gav Wright

Hi, Josh,
As well as the warm-up question....
I work shifts, which makes it difficult to to stick to a strict regime.
If need be, would it be ok to do 4 days straight of alternating upper/lower/upper/lower and then have say 2 days off?
Thanks man!

No Profile Pic
Posted Wed, 11/21/2018 - 10:07
JoshEngland

Hi Gav,

Yes, that would be absolutely ok to do.

For warming up, try this: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/warming-up-for-dummies

No Profile Pic
Posted Wed, 11/21/2018 - 10:56
Gav Wright

Thanks Josh

No Profile Pic
Posted Tue, 11/20/2018 - 11:36
Gav Wright

Hi, absolutely hate cardio but I assume I need to do some sort of warm-up.
What would you recommend?

No Profile Pic
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

No Profile Pic
Posted Tue, 11/20/2018 - 10:53
JoshEngland

Hi James,

Add weight weekly when possible without jeopardizing form.

No Profile Pic
Posted Tue, 11/20/2018 - 20:09
James Latrel

Is this the best possible workout for muscle gains or the creed workout

No Profile Pic
Posted Wed, 11/21/2018 - 10:07
JoshEngland

Hi James,

I'd go with this one if building muscle is your goal - and be sure to pair it with a calorie surplus.

Hope this helps!

No Profile Pic
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.

No Profile Pic
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!

No Profile Pic
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.

No Profile Pic
Posted Tue, 11/13/2018 - 10:57
JoshEngland

Hi John,

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

No Profile Pic
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.

No Profile Pic
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!

No Profile Pic
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!

No Profile Pic
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...

No Profile Pic
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...

No Profile Pic
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!