Learn how to build muscle, burn fat & stay motivated.
Brett & Megan
Share

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

116 Comments+ Post Comment

No Profile Pic
Posted Fri, 08/18/2017 - 13:05
Fatima

Hello, Im 20 years years old weigh 43 kg and Im around 165 tall. And I stopped working out for maybe 2-3 years. Are these workouts suitable for me and to gain weight ?

No Profile Pic
Posted Sat, 07/22/2017 - 00:15
Enrique

Hi, I'm 36 years old, weigh 177 pound and 5,6 feet tall. According to some measures my fat% is 25. Will this work out plan help me to lose fat and gain muscle or should I try something different. I attend the gym 4 times a week (mon-tue-thu-fri) In case this work out plan fits to me, what meal plan wouuld you recommend me? Thanks for your work

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 07/24/2017 - 09:21
JoshEngland

Hi Enrique,

This program can help, but the important part of fat loss is being in a calorie deficit.

Find out your calorie needs here: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/tools/bmr-calculator

Then subtract ~250-500 calories from that number to create a calorie deficit and aim to eat that number of calories each day.

Hope this helps!

No Profile Pic
Posted Fri, 07/14/2017 - 23:41
Khoa

I'm sorry , i already send you my comment but i miss somthing , can i use this workout for get bigger and stronger ( upper and lower body by M&S Team) or intermediate ( upper and lower (P.H.U.L ) workout by Brandon Campbel )
My Weight just 117 ( i want to get bigger ) please tell me which is good for me ( i'm a teenager) 14 years old
Before 9 month i workout really really heavy and i have muscle but nothing changed much , now i want to started again ( Beginner or Intermediate )
Thanks for help me

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 07/17/2017 - 09:14
JoshEngland

Hi Khoa,

At 14, I wouldn't stress too much about your ability to add muscle. You'll be going through some changes soon enough that will help out in that regard. For now, I'd recommend learning the basics. Look into resources on proper nutrition, proper sleep hygiene, and proper form for movement patterns.

If you start researching on those things, you'll be a lot further ahead than most of the other teens your age when you near the end of puberty and building muscle becomes easier.

Here's a good place to start: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/expert-guides/teenage-bodybuilding

Hope this helps!

No Profile Pic
Posted Fri, 06/30/2017 - 01:03
ABID

You've added Rack Deadlift on Day 4 - Upper Body split. May i know, why? Shouldn't it be included in the lower body workout routine?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Fri, 06/30/2017 - 10:22
JoshEngland

Hi ABID,

The rack deadlift eliminates the lower portion of the motion which would be more hamstring focused. It focuses more on the upper portion of the motion which is more lower back focused.

Hope this helps!

No Profile Pic
Posted Thu, 06/29/2017 - 15:43
Chirag Patel

Is the volume enough for arms, or can i add more exercises or more sets.

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Fri, 06/30/2017 - 10:20
JoshEngland

Hi Chirag,

Yes, there is enough volume to increase arm muscle growth.

However, everyone is different. If you feel like you need more, feel free to add some in.

Hope this helps!

No Profile Pic
Posted Wed, 06/14/2017 - 14:46
Marshall

I'm 37 years old and only been lifting seriously for about a year. I've had some recent set backs due to bad lifestyle decisions I've made but I'm looking to get back in the gym and get serious. I've got a goal weight in mind and need to lose around 50 pounds to hit it. I'm no where near as strong as I should be at my size and even when I lifted hard I found it difficult to build lots of strength. With fat loss as my primary goal is this program a good choice or should I build a base of strength first with something like 5x5?

No Profile Pic
Posted Sun, 06/11/2017 - 21:31
Steve

Hi Josh
I'm 56 years old been lifting off and on for years. Looking to ge shredded. My question is would you recommend this workout to an advance lifter.

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Wed, 06/14/2017 - 09:56
JoshEngland

Hi Steve,

Absolutely. The way I see it, and so long as the individual is healthy enough to exercise and doesn't have compensation with the movements, a program that consists of:

Squating
Pushing
Pulling
Hinging
Lunging
Carrying

is suitable for every lifter and can be adapted to fit any level of experience.

Hope this helps!

No Profile Pic
Posted Mon, 06/05/2017 - 18:05
Aliraza

Hey!
Would u recommend this program for loosing weight ? if not then do u have such a program?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Tue, 06/06/2017 - 09:38
JoshEngland

Hi Aliraza,

Sure you can use this program for weight loss. The most important factor in determining whether you reach your weight loss goals is making sure you are in a calorie deficit. This program can help you burn calories to assist with creating that deficit.

Find out how many calories you need here: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/tools/bmr-calculator

Then subtract ~250-500 calories from that number to create a deficit.

Hope this helps!

No Profile Pic
Posted Sun, 05/14/2017 - 14:53
Coltom

Also. Where am I able to find a complete setup of this workout ? Like an excel file with it all graphed up?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 05/15/2017 - 09:28
JoshEngland

Hi Coltom,

Downloadable versions of all of our programs should be available in the very near future. Hang tight and I apologize for the inconvenience in the meantime.

No Profile Pic
Posted Sun, 05/14/2017 - 14:47
Coltom

Hello. I have been doing the madcow 5x5.. and it doesn't seem like it's enough for me. I'm 19, 155, 5'9. And I don't get any kind of burn with the madcow after a couple weeks. Which, I am looking for a burn and increase in size. This a good workout for that? I'm also wondering. What is the process in which you increase weight from workout to workout ?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 05/15/2017 - 09:29
JoshEngland

Hi Coltom,

Yes, this program is geared towards building muscle mass. Finding the perfect program for yourself takes a lot of trial and error. Test it out, see how you respond and how you like it, then determine if it is a good program for you.

Hope this helps!

No Profile Pic
Posted Sat, 05/13/2017 - 14:06
Khansahib

for how many weeks, i have to follow same routien until i changed to next level??

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 05/15/2017 - 09:26
JoshEngland

Hi Khansahib,

Perform the program for 6-8 weeks before taking a week to deload. During that week, ask yourself:

Is this program still helping me achieve my goals?

Am I still seeing progress with this program?

Do I enjoy doing this program?

If you answered yes to all three questions, you dont necessarily have to change your program. If you answered no to any of them, it may be time to move on to something new.

Hope this helps!

No Profile Pic
Posted Fri, 04/21/2017 - 13:33
Alex

What about adding some deadlifts (3 working sets of 3-5 reps) every other workout on the second lower body day ? Perhaps as the first exercise, then continuing with the leg press, leg press calf press and so on.

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Fri, 04/21/2017 - 14:46
JoshEngland

Hi Alex,

Instead of adding them in, I'd recommend subbing them for one of the other deadlift variations already listed within the program. This program contains 3 different deadlift variations. Adding any more might be a bit much for the movement pattern.

Hope this helps!

No Profile Pic
Posted Tue, 04/18/2017 - 19:52
Christopher winstel

I plan on using this program for 3 months, what intermediate plan from muscle and strength would you suggest after that. I like to change my programs every 3-4 months.
Thank you

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Wed, 04/19/2017 - 09:28
JoshEngland

Hi Christopher,

You could go with something such as our PHUL program. It is one of most popular 4 day Upper/Lower splits and has an intermediate training level difficulty. The link can be found below.

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

Hope this helps!

No Profile Pic
Posted Sat, 04/15/2017 - 13:31
georgr

im not familiar with negative sets and i dont have a training partner, what changes should in order to switch the negative sets for normal ones instead?

No Profile Pic
Posted Wed, 04/12/2017 - 16:02
Steve

Hey Steve. I'm going into an 8 week transformation contest. First would this routine be good for that. And second I know everything is about diet now would you do a kinetic diet or a moderate carb diet or a high carb diet or would you do a carb cycle diet. Also in this routine you have sets of 2 is that enough or do you think I should add another set to the set of 2's

No Profile Pic
Posted Sat, 04/08/2017 - 19:37
daniel

can i use this workout for like 4-3 months to lose weight with a diet?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 04/10/2017 - 09:59
JoshEngland

Hi Daniel,

Of course! Pairing this program with a sound diet plan and a caloric deficit will help you lose weight.

Hope this helps!

No Profile Pic
Posted Tue, 04/04/2017 - 14:41
RAFAEL

WOULD YOU RECOMMEND FOR A PERSON WHO NEEDS TO LOSE 80LBS, THIS PROGRAM OR A FULL BODY 3 DAYS A WEEK PROGRAM.

No Profile Pic
Posted Tue, 04/04/2017 - 05:14
kumar

I was just wondering, is it bad to have a cardio day on one/two of the rest days if I'm trying to put on muscle mass? I have fat around my belly and chest which I want to get rid of for the summer.

I was thinking to do swimming one day and 30mins running on the other?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Tue, 04/04/2017 - 09:13
JoshEngland

Hi Kumar,

You should be fine doing that amount of cardio. Personally, I like to do some form of cardio either day (either low intensity or HIIT). Cardio keeps you heart healthy and as long as you are eating in accordance with your goals and recovering properly in between workouts, you should be fine.

Hope this helps!

No Profile Pic
Posted Mon, 04/03/2017 - 16:12
Scott

Hi can I swap the sldl for conventional DL?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Tue, 04/04/2017 - 09:12
JoshEngland

Hi Scott,

Sure, I don't see why not.

No Profile Pic
Posted Tue, 04/04/2017 - 09:34
Scott

Thanks for the reply. Just didn't know if it would be to much, I like to dl

No Profile Pic
Posted Wed, 03/29/2017 - 13:36
Jeff

This is a 2 part question.

1). Could you do pyramid sets for the compound lifts, (ie. 20,15,12 or 15,12,10 or 12,10,8 etc etc)?

2). Could this be done 6 days a week, (ie. U,L,U,L,U,L rest)? If so, what changes would need to be made to make something like this work?

Please and thank you.

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Thu, 03/30/2017 - 11:24
JoshEngland

Hi Jeff,

Yes, feel free to pyramid your sets.

Sure, this program can be done 6 days a week. If you plan to do so, I'd recommend lowering the overall volume (sets) you do per workout. I'd also say it's not exactly necessary depending on your goals. You should still see plenty of good adaptations performing 4 weight training sessions per week. Use the additional days to do some active recovery outdoors or other recreational activities you enjoy performing.

Hope this helps!

No Profile Pic
Posted Mon, 03/20/2017 - 14:52
andy

Do you think its ok to superset opposing muscle groups? Could I bench/row and a superset, take 2m rest and then repeat? Same with tris/bis at the end? i find this can cut down on the time spent in the gym (not because im lazy but because I work out early in the morning and gets me to work a little sooner). Also what do you recommend for warm ups?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 03/20/2017 - 15:07
JoshEngland

Hi Andy,

Yes, I'm all for it. Which is why I included that scheme in my Fast Mass program, check it out below:

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/fast-mass-program

As far as warm ups go, start here: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/warming-up-for-dummies

Hope this helps!

No Profile Pic
Posted Mon, 03/20/2017 - 15:42
andy

It does! Thank you for the quick reply.

No Profile Pic
Posted Mon, 03/27/2017 - 13:21
Andy

Thanks for the reply. What would you recommend for warm up sets? I have heard some people say do an entire set at about 60-70% the weight you will do for working sets. Others, like in Starting Strength, follow a formula in which you do 1-3 reps at 20, 40, 60, 75, 90% weight to work up to your working sets.

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Tue, 03/28/2017 - 09:15
JoshEngland

Hi Andy,

The link provided before to the warming up article should provide you with all the warm up information you need.

The generic fall back for warm ups is performing cardio on a treadmill and then doing a couple of lifts with lighter weight, however this doesn't always warm up the central nervous system like something along the lines of dynamic breathing and stretching would.

If you're following some of those sample warm ups in the article linked to my last reply, some additional sets prior to the lift with lighter weight and focusing on form should get you set to perform your working sets at a high level.

Hope this helps!

No Profile Pic
Posted Fri, 03/10/2017 - 11:33
Rachel

This workout is Excellently put together, not like my grammar but what matters here is the full use of muscles in upper and lower body. I've been out of the gym for awhile and needed something not too much as well as a routine to build good foundation. I vary the exercises weekly. I do more reps and more sets as I've progressed. Very simple and very good routine. There's really no room for negative criticism here. If you're having trouble with this workout, then you're not putting in the discipline. When it comes to negatives, there's no need to complain about that either. You don't even need to ask to do them it should be a given. I really appreciate the wisdom and the knowledge of this base routine.. I love it!.

No Profile Pic
Posted Sun, 03/05/2017 - 07:09
Davor

Feel like this workout is too demanding on hamstrings..
Is it OK to skip dumbell SLDLs?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 03/06/2017 - 09:26
JoshEngland

Hi Davor,

Yes, you can skip the SLDLs if you feel like you're having difficulties recovering from this workouts. It might be a good progression to this program to aim to work to the point where you are comfortable adding them back in though.

No Profile Pic
Posted Fri, 03/03/2017 - 13:57
Aniket Korade

Should I do straight sets in this workout plan???

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Fri, 03/03/2017 - 14:40
JoshEngland

H Aniket,

Yes. You should perform these in a straight set fashion.

No Profile Pic
Posted Tue, 12/13/2016 - 17:52
Mark

How long can you do this routine. Plus can you do cardio on this program.

No Profile Pic
Posted Thu, 12/08/2016 - 23:09
Lemuel Donkor

Will this help me bulk up? I've been going to the gym for 3 months on a 5x5 strength, but I'm lanky and want to bulk up, will this help? ??

No Profile Pic
Posted Thu, 09/29/2016 - 12:53
Daniel

I've been doing this program for about 3-4 weeks and do monday wednesday thursday and saturday. I feel that 48 hours rest is too little since Im still sore on thursday from mondays workout. Any comments?

No Profile Pic
Posted Wed, 10/05/2016 - 20:01
Brandon Hewitt

Yeah, cut out the long negatives and do the reps at a normal speed. Long eccentrics are notorious for causing some brutal soreness, and there's a ton of them here! If there were fewer exercises, I could see using longer negatives. But honestly, this is already ALOT of volume. I've been lifting for years and this routine would trash me good. If removing the slow rep speed doesn't help - I'd look at your caloric intake and your sleep. You may not be eating enough or sleeping enough, thus making your recovery slow. Beyond that - I'd probably drop some of the machine isolation exercises to cut out some volume. This is a lot of work, there's a chance it's simply too much. I've been lifting for years and am a NSCA certified trainer. This routine is a tad too crazy in my opinion.