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

242 Comments+ Post Comment

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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

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Tue, 06/19/2018 - 08:37
JoshEngland

Hi Flavio,

Sure, that should be fine.

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Posted Mon, 06/04/2018 - 15:37
Vasant

Hi
It’s been one week I have started this routine. After tr first 2 days I was feeling very sore .. and took the 3rd day off .. then continued with the next 2 days .. now I don’t feel sore .. so should I take the 6& 7 day off ??
I am eating well and resting and feeling good.

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 06/04/2018 - 16:08
JoshEngland

Hi Vasant,

Yes, take the rest days as prescribed.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Sun, 06/03/2018 - 13:41
Badr Hannachi

Hi,
I have finished this 8 - week routine and have benefitted from it very well. I was wondering if you have a ‘next step workout’ routine or another workout routine, 4-day split, for maximum muscle and strength for me?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 06/04/2018 - 10:37
JoshEngland
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Posted Sat, 06/02/2018 - 02:34
B

Hello all,

Woman here with two questions:

1.) Do you recommend adding cardio on these days? Like a sprint workout afterwards or are the weights enough and I should keep the cardio separate?

2.) I’m looking to tone while losing about 25-30 pounds. Is it recommended that I eat a caloric surplus for the muscle gain or a caloric deficit for the weight loss?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 06/04/2018 - 10:38
JoshEngland

Hi B,

1. Sure that should be fine to add to this program.

2. Depends. Give this article a read: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/how-do-you-know-whether-to-cu...

Hope this helps!

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Posted Thu, 05/31/2018 - 13:47
Mussadiq

can i follow this in ramadhan .. i have been lifting for quite a long time but i get somewhat tired in this month as you know i have to fast for day and cant meet the calorie goal. i have been following the one part per day program and i was thinking if i can change to upper lower body split so that i have some more rest days,
or if you can give me a plan which i can follow that will be most appreciated .. thanks

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Posted Tue, 05/29/2018 - 00:44
Shubham goyal

Sir am skinny fat guy Can I follow this program?
Please reply nd help me

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Tue, 05/29/2018 - 11:03
JoshEngland

Hi Shubham,

Yes, you can perform this program if you're skinny fat.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Tue, 05/22/2018 - 15:26
Mark England

Hi Josh, I've been so immersed in lifting heavy for bulking gains that I've developed a belly from the extra calories. Does this program lend itself to some HIIT or would you advise against it? Thanks in advance.

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Tue, 05/29/2018 - 11:04
JoshEngland

Hi Mark,

Sure, you can perform HIIT to help provide the calorie deficit needed for fat loss. However, at the end of the day, a consistent calorie deficit over a decent amount of time is what will help you lose your unwanted fat.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Mon, 05/14/2018 - 02:40
Ankur Gupta

Hi. For how long one should continue with the 4 day upper and lower body split workout?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 05/14/2018 - 08:51
JoshEngland

Hi Ankur,

This program's duration is 10 weeks.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Wed, 05/16/2018 - 00:57
Ankur Gupta

Thank you.

No Profile Pic
Posted Wed, 05/09/2018 - 18:29
Mohamad

Hi, is it okay to replace the squat for box squat? I have very weak legs (overall), flat feet and hence horrible balance preventing me from performing proper squat with proper form.
I hardly squat 40kgs for 6 while my upper body is doing fine.
Thanks!

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Thu, 05/10/2018 - 08:57
JoshEngland

Hi Mohamad,

Yes, absolutely.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Thu, 04/26/2018 - 07:17
essam sayed

hi again
can I use supersets in that workout like between biceps and triceps or in chest exercises?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Thu, 04/26/2018 - 10:06
JoshEngland

Hi essam,

Yes, you can incorporate supersets using this workout program.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Fri, 04/20/2018 - 16:21
ARoun

Hi I’ll be done with this program soon, I seen great muscle growth ! what do you recommended after this one? Should I do an individual body part split or another lower/body split?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 04/23/2018 - 09:41
JoshEngland

Hi Aroun,

Depends on your goals. You can continue running this program if you're still enjoying it and seeing results. You could give PHUL a try if you want to increase your strength gains. Or you can switch to a hypertrophy program if you want to chase the pump for a while.

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/phul-workout

Hope this helps!

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Posted Sun, 04/15/2018 - 17:59
Zachary Long

Will someone that has been lifting for almost a year see mass gain and benefit from this workout?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 04/16/2018 - 09:09
JoshEngland

Hi Zachary,

Yes, but probably not the kinds of gains they experienced their first yr of lifting. Still, you should be able to put on size by performing this program and eating in a calorie surplus.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Sun, 04/15/2018 - 06:46
essam sayed

thanks a lot for this workout
I have a question
what about forearms exercises?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 04/16/2018 - 09:23
JoshEngland

Hi Essam,

Feel free to add in additional forearm exercises if you feel it is necessary to do so.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Sat, 04/07/2018 - 08:30
Andre

Hi, I just wanted to know how many weeks should we keep at this routine before starting a new one? 4? 5? 6?
Thanks

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 04/09/2018 - 09:44
JoshEngland

Hi Andre,

10 weeks. It's listed in the workouts description at the top of the page and on the PDF.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Wed, 04/04/2018 - 09:49
Babicus

Hi, i have just started this workout however there is no guidance for the weight?

Should I be doing my max on strength days, how much on the other days and how much should i be increasing by weekly?

Thanks!

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Wed, 04/04/2018 - 10:10
JoshEngland

Hi Babicus,

Use 75-85% of your working max for each lift.

Progression is very individualized. So long as you are increasing the weight over time, you'll be able to achieve your goals.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Wed, 04/04/2018 - 05:12
georg skeide

Can i do this program as a Novice, or do i need to change something? if so, what should i change.

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Wed, 04/04/2018 - 10:08
JoshEngland

Hi Georg,

I'd recommend starting here: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/beginner

Hope this helps!

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Posted Tue, 04/03/2018 - 10:39
Jake smith

Would this workout work for an ectomorph lookin to bulk?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Tue, 04/03/2018 - 11:27
JoshEngland

Hi Jake,

The 3 body types are somewhat of a myth. But to answer your question, yes this workout can help you put on muscle so long as you are eating enough calories each day and sleeping 7-9 hours each night.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Mon, 04/02/2018 - 11:26
Georg Ansgar Skeide

Hello, can i add my own abs workout on both leg days? It’s 2 minute plank, side plank.
Then sit ups and bicycle crunches

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 04/02/2018 - 16:31
JoshEngland

Hi Georg,

Sure, go for it!

Hope this helps!

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Posted Thu, 03/22/2018 - 10:17
Mohamed Magdy

i find very hard to play Machine Tricep Dip , what can i play instead of it for tricep ?
second thing this workout include one tricep and biecep workout in a day , can i play two workout for biecep and tricep ??