Amazing Results With Upper Lower Body Split Routine/Workout For Muscle Mass

muscle man statue - upper lower body split routine workout

Muscles “carved” with upper lower split routine – sarcasm anywhere?

I remember the days when I went to the gym without knowing anything about training and 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.

Speaking with people inside the gym was the best part of the workout because as a beginner, the advice that you can get from bigger and potentially more knowledgeable folks is hunted down like hell.

The simple thought of finding out what someone who looked better than me knows regarding training so you could apply and achieve his looks was enough to keep me going on.

Now that I remember that times, I miss them because of all the good memories and nice people I’ve met through my journey in seeking knowledge.

What I want to point is that I was getting basic gym advice or bodybuilding advice as everyone else: one muscle group everyday, then progressed to the cookie cutter program known as:

  • Monday : Chest + Biceps
  • Tuesday: Back + Triceps
  • Friday: Legs

Looking at it now, many would laugh BUT surprisingly enough, I packed some muscle mass with that routines just because I was following without knowing one of the most important rules for muscle growth: Progressive Overload + loads of food = WIN

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
  • push/pull/legs
  • push/pull

Back to the subject, the best upper lower split routine that I’ve used with great success was 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.

It is done 2 consecutive days with a pause in between after which following 2 days of training again.


  • 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 as 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

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

You can download the routine in a PDF file from here:

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Upper Lower Split Routine

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 so pumping your arms would just feel nice for you and your lifting ego (It’s like 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 Is This Routine For ?

The Upper Lower Split routine can be used by everyone but in case you are just starting out, 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 range prescribed so for example if today you bench presses 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 after which you will add more weight

Do I Keep The Same Weight For 3-4 Sets ?

If you are one of the 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, substract 5-10% from the top set and work it down each time just like a reverse pyramid training.

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 ( 1-5 minutes would be enough ) after which you will warm up with low reps

An example would be:

  • 50% of the working weight for 5 reps
  • 65% of the working weight for 3 reps
  • 75% of the working weight for 1-2 reps

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 even starting a deload or thinking about one, when you observe that the plateau came in.

I won’t go in detail here because there are many deloading techniques and from my part, 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 it up in 1-2 weeks to 100% of what they were before the deload took place, after which I would strive to improve whenever I could.

So if my squat is 400 lbs x 5 reps, 85% would be 340 lbs so 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%

Continue pushing in the next weeks until the next deload where you can do the same thing.

How Much Time Can I Stay On This Routine ?

As long as you are comfortable, make gains, your weights/muscle mass progresses and you are not bored.

Basically, this routine can be used indefinitely with slight adjustments after some decades when you will be too old to keep up with the volume. (joke intended).

I Don’t Recover Well Enough On This Routine

Some of the things that you can adjust here so you can stay on this routine would be to cut down either on the volume AND/OR frequency.

Have you used this workout routine in your training? What’s your take on it? Did it worked for you?

Also, if you have any questions regarding this routine, comment bellow!

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.

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  1. beginnerbb says:

    I’ve heard about this routine on some forums and I thought of learning more about it. is it good for a beginner?

    • If you are a beginner, I would recommend you to start with a strength orientated routine like “starting strength” just to learn the big 3′s fast by practicing them every workout and than you can move to upper/lower split routine.

      But if you really want to try it, there is nothing wrong even if you are a beginner.

  2. patrick says:

    hi looks like a great program cant wait to start it, question i have iam planning on doing cardio 4 days a week, how could i incorporate this into this routine,

    • It all depends on what are your goals. Using the upper/lower routine would imply that you shouldn’t stress your body further and let it recuperate so you can put some muscle mass.

      If you really want to do cardio, you can try 20-40 minutes of slow pace, steady state cardio or even taking a walk in the park daily.

      Doing excessive cardio is a NO – NO when you want to put muscle mass so make sure you don’t overdue it.

      Good luck

  3. I stopped weight lifting for awhile (2 years) due to a couple of injuries from TKD. I had a separated shoulder and severe tendonitis in the right arm. My right arm healed fully about three months ago and I have been doing some exercises to strengthen it gradually.

    I just started working out with heavy weights over the past 3 weeks. I am already gaining muscle mass, losing some fat, and gaining strength rapidly.

    I use a 5 day U/L routine.

    Week 1 = Upper M, R, Sa and Lower T, F.
    Week 2 = Lower M, R. Sa and Upper T, F.

    There are two days off per week in this routine; those being Wednesday and Sunday.

    My body type is Mesomorph. I recover quickly and the 5 day listed above seems to work pretty well. When I was younger three day whole body and 5 day split routines also worked well. So long as I do any physical labor I get bigger and stronger fast.

    Do you think the U/L 4 day would work equally well?

    • I would definitely restrict the upper/lower routines to 4 times/week depending on your recovery. If you feel you can take the 5 times/week training volume, then by all means do it. Remember this: progressive overload is the key!

  4. I recover very slowly, especially my chest and triceps which take 5 days, do you have any advice or training tips that could help? I am currently on a upper/lower split in wich i do one week of U,L,U and one L,U,L.

    • Ryan, if you recover slowly, I recommend you to cut down the volume (sets for each exercise to a bare minimum 2-3 sets for the compound movements and 1 set for isolation) and work your way up for there.

      Some creatine will probably help you to recover faster and don’t go to failure on each exercise. (I would only go to failure on 1-2 main exercises TOP).

      Good luck and tell us if that did it for you.

  5. Does it matter if you do lower day before upper?

  6. Garret Shopen says:

    Aw, this was an exceptionally nice post. Spending some time and actual effort to create a really good article… but what can I say… I put things off a lot and never manage to get anything done.

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