The upper lower split, one of the best and most modifiable workouts. You can get so creative with this workout that 90% of the time you will be able to fit it perfectly into your regime.

The upper lower split can be very beneficial for all three levels of fitness:

  • beginner
  • intermediate
  • advanced

With your training being split in half, you only have two sessions to mix and match perfectly depending on your goals. You can have:

  • 2 day split
  • 3 day split
  • 4 day split

FITMOLE has done a great work breaking the splits down to so many variations that if you want to know more about different day combinations have a look at “The Ultimate Upper Lower Split Guide: 2 Day, 3 Day, & 4 Day Workouts”.

Why is the Upper Lower Split Great?

Reason 1:

For starters, if you have had a look at the previous posts made on Self Developer like How To Workout As A Beginner or PUSH PULL LEGS: 3-6 DAY TRAINING SPLIT. You have noticed the number on principle on a good workout, training each muscle at least twice a week.

Training each muscle twice a week is optimal for hypertrophy(muscle growth) and will provide with overall better results. Faster recovery, ability to diversify between exercises and improved stamina.

Even if you cannot train enough to go through each muscle twice in a single week, it is important to have a functional workout that will allow and support you in making changes.


Reason 2:

You can get creative by combining strength and hypertrophy. Example:

  • Monday Upper Strength
  • Tuesday Lower strength
  • Wednesday Rest
  • Thursday Upper Hypertrophy
  • Friday Lower Hypertrophy
  • Weekend rest

Combine this with enough cardio in between and a balanced diet and you have a killer combination that will give you gains for a long long time. If you need guidance on dieting, make sure to check my last post on dieting about Counting Macros And Calculating Calories.

This is not your only option of course. You can train only strength or hypertrophy if you want. Though in my opinion, a split combining power and hypertrophy will be optimal.

Reason 3:

If you are an athlete and you are training most of the week on a specific sport, the need for strength training is going to sooner or later reveal itself.

In a week that is already full of training sessions and practice, you want a weight lifting split that will require you to train fewer times. And at the same time, giving you the results you want.

An Upper Lower split can come very handy for athletes. A two day split for example when you have only two days available for weight training. Will be good enough to hit all the muscle groups you need as well as not take the precious time off your practice.


The Workout Regime

Upper Strength

  • Floor Press 3(sets)x6(reps)/5×5
  • Incline Press 3×6/5×5
  • Close Grip Bench Press 3×6/5×5
  • Standing Overhead Press 3×8-10
  • Pull-Ups 3×8
  • Pendlay Rows 3×6/5×5
  • Preacher Curls 3×10

Upper Hypertrophy

  • Bench Press 4×8-10
  • Incline Dumbbell Press 4×10-12
  • Dips 4×10-12
  • Standing overhead 4×10-12
  • Barbell Rows 4×8-10
  • Lat Pulldowns 4×10-12
  • Hammer Curls 4×12-15

Lower Strength

  • Squat 3(sets)x6(reps)/5×5
  • Deadlift 3×6/5×5
  • Leg Press 4×6-8
  • Leg Curls 4×8
  • Calf Raise 4×8

Lower Hypertrophy

  • Front Squat 3-4 x 10-12
  • Weighted Lunges 3-4 x 10-12
  • Hyperextensions 4×15
  • Leg Curls 4×15
  • Calf Raise 4×15

When training for strength, your breaks in between sets should be generous especially in compound movements, like deadlifts, squats and bench presses. Around 2-5 minutes. The purpose of such long breaks is that you are required to give 100%in every set and you need to be almost fully rested. For smaller movements 2 minutes max will be good enough.

When training for hypertrophy, your breaks should be much smaller. Between compound lifts keep it at a maximum of 90 sec breaks. While for smaller movements between 30-60 sec will be optimal.

The way to make progress in strength training is progressive overload. Progressive overload is the increase in weight, frequency or repetition. We are mostly concerned with the compound movements here not so much the accessory exercises.

Once you are able to complete 5 sets of 5 reps on your compound moves, it is time to up the weight even if it took your 100%. When you go up in weight you lower the reps, so you can then try 6 sets of 3 reps and gradually go to 5 sets 4 reps and 5 sets 5 reps.


Calculating your Cardio

Cardiovascular exercise should not be absent no matter the workout split. Just like we diversify between exercises, weight and volume, we should diversify with cardio as well.

A combination of Low-intensity steady pace cardio should be accompanied by High-intensity interval training sessions. HIIT is a great way to improve your cardiovascular performance, lose fat and even build muscle.

HIIT does not have to be only running, you can try:

  • cycling
  • shadow boxing
  • circuit workouts
  • swimming
  • tabata

For guidance on how to perform a HIIT workout and its benefits, check out what is HIIT and how to do it.

Verdict on the Upper Lower Split

An upper-lower split will be a workout split that will help you make strength and muscle gains for a very long time. Effective workouts are based on frequency, versatility and diversity.

With this workout, I have been able to build muscle and increase my strength steadily and rapidly as long as I was working consistently. By far the most effective combination was strength sessions at the beginning of the week when you are most rested, followed by hypertrophy.

When you switch between strength and hypertrophy you must have noticed that the numbers in sets and reps differ by a lot and hence should be the weight that you are using.

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