I remember the days when I went to the gym without knowing anything about training. I would just take the weights in my hands for 2-3 hours and lift as much as I could for as long as I could.
For me, speaking with people inside the gym, was a routine because I wanted to learn more. I wanted to speak with people that looked better than me because I was interested how they were eating and training.
I miss those times because of all the good memories and nice people I’ve met through my journey to a six pack.
What I want to point out is that I was getting basic bodybuilding advice. Advice like train one muscle group everyday, then progress to a program similar to this:
- Monday : Chest + Biceps
- Tuesday: Back + Triceps
- Friday: Legs
Looking at it now, many would laugh. Surprisingly enough, I packed some muscle mass with those routines just because I was eating enough and getting stronger.
After a while, when my gains stopped, I started searching for workout routines to follow, and I stumbled upon split routines like :
- upper/lower 4 times per week
Back to the subject, the best upper lower split routine that I’ve used with great success was s 4 times per week upper lower split.
The best upper lower split routine that gave me good results was the generic bulking routine “invented” by Lyle Mcdonald with a few modifications of my own after experimenting with it on me and my clients:
Upper Lower Split Routine Workout Characteristics
How Many Times
This routine is best done 4 times per week, training each muscle group 2 times/week.
You start by going to the gym for 2 consecutive days. After those two days of training, you take 1 day of rest. After that rest day, you continue with another 2 days of training.
- Monday: Upper
- Tuesday: Lower
- Wednesday: Rest
- Thursday: Upper
- Friday: Lower
- Saturday: Rest
- Sunday: Rest
There is no problem if you can’t keep it like this. It was just an example. The 4 days/week protocol is 2 days on , 1 day off, 2 days on, 2 days off.
Before starting this routine I suggest the 3 times per week Upper Lower Split routine just to get accustomed with the volume
- Monday: Upper
- Wednesday: Lower
- Friday: Upper
- Repeat again the next week
Basically, start the 3 days/week training version and train like that for a few weeks. After 1-3 weeks, progress and train 4 times/week.
The Upper Lower Split Routine
Monday: Lower Body Training Day
- Squat: 3-4 sets x 6–8 reps (1 repetition short of failure and with a 2-5 minutes rest)
- SLDL OR Leg Curl: 3-4 sets x 6-8 reps (1 repetition short of failure and with a 2-5 minutes rest)
- Leg Press: 2-3 sets x 10-15 reps (1 repetition short of failure and with a 2-3 minutes rest)
- Leg Curl: 2-3 sets x 10-15 reps (1 repetition short of failure and with a 2-3 minutes rest)
- Calf Raise: 2-5 sets x 5-10 reps (1 repetition short of failure and with a 2-3 minutes rest)
- Seated Calf Raise: 2-5 sets x 5-10 reps (1 repetition short of failure and with a 2-3 minutes rest)
- Abdominal Exercises are optional
Tuesday: Upper Body Training Day
- Bench Press: 3-4 sets x 6-8 reps (1 repetition short of failure and with a 2-5 minutes rest)
- Any Kind Of Row: 3-4 sets x 6-8 reps (1 repetition short of failure and with a 2-5 minutes rest)
- Shoulder Press OR Incline Bench Press: 2-3 x 10-15 reps (1 repetition short of failure and with a 2-3 minutes rest)
- Chin Up OR Pulldown: 2-3 x 10-15 reps (1 repetition short of failure and with a 2-3 minutes rest)
- Triceps: 1-2 “pump” sets of whatever exercise 10-25 reps
- Biceps: 1-2 “pump” sets of whatever exercise for 10-25 reps
NOTE: For biceps and triceps, I call them pump sets because you’ve already got the necessary volume to promote muscle growth with the compound movements.
Pumping your arms would just feel nice for you and your lifting ego. Everybody likes to pump their arms after a training session, so the best time to do it is at the end of the training session.
Who Can Use This Routine?
The Upper Lower Split routine can be used by everyone. In case you are just starting out, the 3 days per week variant would be enough for the first 1-2 months.
How To Progress On This Routine
Start by doing your sets and get into the repetition range prescribed.
For example, if today you bench pressed 225 for 8 reps, the next week you should add 2.5-5 lbs to your bench press and work it back up until you reach 8 reps.
It should look like this:
Week 1: Bench press 225 lbs x 8 reps
Week 2: Bench press 230 lbs x 6 reps (next week you should try to do 8 res)
Week 3: Bench Press 230 lbs x 8 reps (you got back to 8 repetitions so you can increase the weight next week)
Week 4: Bench Press 235 lbs x 5 reps
In the week 5, you should try to do 8 reps. Don’t progress until you it 8 reps. Simple, isn’t it?
Do I Keep The Same Weight For 3-4 Sets ?
If you are one of those guys/girls that can handle the same weight across multiple sets by staying in the required rep range, by all means keep the weight static and work on your repetitions.
If you can’t handle the same weight, subtract 5-10% from the top set and work it downwards.
The first working set for bench press is 200 lbs x 5 reps.
The second working set should be 200 lbs x some reps. If you can’t lift 200 lbs for reps again, just get some weight off the bar and try it again.
The second set in this case should be 190-195 lbs x some repetitions. And so on.
How To Warm Up On This Split Routine ?
Warmup is simple. Just take a nice jog on the treadmill or do some dynamic stretching until you break a sweat. I believe 1-5 minutes should be enough.
An example would be:
- 1st warmup set is 50% of the working weight for 5 reps
- 2nd warmup set is 65% of the working weight for 3 reps
- 3rd warmup set is 75% of the working weight for 1-2 reps
- 4th set is the first working set (you are required to do 3-4 working sets after the warmup sets)
Working weight x the required rep range x the required times
Do I Need To Deload ?
A deload is required on almost any training routine that puts some stress on your body for a long time.
This program can be effectively used 6-12 weeks before you even think about deloading. You can consider a deload when you observe constant fatigue and plateau for a few weeks.
I won’t go in detail here because there are many deloading techniques. A deload simply means taking it easier for a couple of workouts (I talked more about how to deload here).
A quick example on how I would deload on this routine would be to cycle back my best weights to 80-90%, and work them up in 1-2 weeks to 100% of what they were before the deload took place. I would strive to improve whenever I could.
If my squat is 400 lbs x 5 reps, 85% of this weight is approximately 340 lbs. I would use 340 lbs as a deload. I would work it up to 400 across 2 weeks
- 1st week: 80-85% of previous maxes
- 2nd week: 90-95% of previous maxes
- 3rd week push it over 100% (I would try to squat over 400 lbs in the 3rd week)
After this deload, you can continue trying to lift bigger weights for more repetitions in the next weeks until you hit another plateau. Restart the deload.
How Much Time Can I Stay On This Routine ?
As long as you are comfortable, make gains, you see weights/muscle mass progress, and you are not bored.
Basically, this routine can be used indefinitely with slight adjustments.
I Don’t Recover Well Enough On This Routine
Some of the things you can adjust on this routine so you can use it if your recovery capacity is not appropriate, would be to cut down the volume and/or frequency.
This means you should do less sets or use a less frequent training approach.
I want you to do something now…
Well, if you have any friend that might benefit from knowing about this amazing upper lower body split routine workout, you can share it with him and he will probably thank you for doing that.
Also, if you have any questions regarding this routine, comment bellow!