Upper lower split routines are a go-to for many fitness enthusiasts due to their simplicity, flexibility, and effectiveness.
By separating workouts into two types – upper-body and lower-body, these routines allow for a comprehensive, efficient training regimen.
However, these routines need to be programmed correctly, focusing on the right exercises, sets, and reps to prevent overtraining or injuries.
In this episode, we dive deep into the world of upper lower split routines. You’ll learn what they are, why they’re beneficial, and how they make it easy to train all muscle groups twice per week without overextending yourself.
Additionally, I’ll walk you through the best 3-, 4-, and 5-day upper lower split routines for gaining muscle and strength.
If you’re looking to enhance your workout and see more results, this episode is a must-listen!
0:00 – Please leave a review of the show wherever you listen to podcasts and make sure to subscribe!
1:13 – What is an Upper and Lower split routine?
7:46 – Why can an upper and lower split routine make it easy to train all muscle groups twice per week?
17:08 – Why upper and lower split routines allow for plenty of rest
19:16 – Why is it important to wait 48 hours before you train a muscle group again?
20:19 – Try Pulse today! Use coupon code MUSCLE to save 20% or get double reward points!
22:29 – The best 4-day upper and lower split workout routine
33:53 – The best 3-day upper and lower split workout routine
36:40 – The best 5-day upper and lower split workout routine
Mentioned on the Show:
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Hello. Hello, I’m Mike Matthews and this is Muscle for Life. Thank you for joining me today for a new episode on the upper lower workout split. And the reason I wanted to record this episode is it occurred to me that I have not recorded an episode on the upper lower split. I’ve recorded episodes on full body split, on, uh, body parts split, push pull, legs split, and others, but not the.
Upper body, lower body split, which of course separates your workouts into upper body workouts and lower body workouts. And the upper lower split is one of my favorites. It’s very popular for a good reason. It’s simple to understand. It is simple to program, it is flexible. It can accommodate different schedules, different goals, different progression models, different programming variables and so on.
And it also allows you to train your whole body. In a balanced way or an imbalanced way if you want to prioritize your upper body over your lower body, or vice versa. And so in this episode, I’m going to talk all about this split, what it is, how it works, what its pros and cons are, as well as how to create effective upper lower workouts and workout routines.
Okay, so let’s start with a brief explanation of what the upper lower split is. So this is a training routine that separates your workouts into upper body workouts and lower body workouts. Now, in the upper body workouts, you are training some or all of the muscle groups in your upper body. So your chest, your shoulders, your back, your arms, and in your lower body workouts, you’re training, some are all of the muscle groups in your.
Lower body or the major muscle groups like your quads, your hamstrings, your glutes, your calves, and usually the upper lower split is a four day routine. That’s kind of a standard approach. Two upper body workouts, two lower body workouts each week, although you can turn it into a two day per week routine, a three day per week routine, five day per week routine, or even a six day per week.
Routine, which I would not recommend for most people, but can be appropriate in certain cases. Now, I mentioned in the intro that the upper lower split is one of my favorite workout splits, and there are a few reasons for that. The first one is, it trains your entire body in a balanced or imbalanced way.
And by that I mean. You can, let’s say you’re doing four workouts per week. You do two upper, two lower workouts. That would be a balanced approach, uh, assuming that the total volume is at least similar. And then in an imbalanced approach, maybe you are going to do three upper body workouts in one lower body workout per week if you’re doing four workouts per week, or vice versa.
And you might want to do one of those things because you want to prioritize your upper body or you want to prioritize your. Lower body. Now, most upper, lower workout routines that you’ll find out there are relatively balanced, and that helps beginners in particular because a common beginner mistake with strength training is just spending too much time training the mirror muscles.
So for guys, that’s the pex, that’s the shoulders, that’s the biceps. And then neglecting the stuff that they don’t really see the back, the triceps, the legs, which you can hide if. If you just wear baggy pants every day to the gym and with women, often these days, the focus is on the lower body and the glutes in particular.
A lot of glute volume, possibly a lot of lower body volume, although some women are trying to minimize quad, well, maybe not minimize, but they’re trying to keep their quad and hamstring volume relatively low while keeping their glute volume very high, because while they want big. Glutes. They don’t want big legs per se.
And so I, I see many women these days doing a lot of glute training, a bit of lower body training, and not much upper body training or a lot of training intensity with their lower body training and not nearly as much intensity with their upper body training. And when you approach your strength training in an inappropriately imbalanced way like that, whereas.
An appropriately imbalanced approach would be something like what I just mentioned a couple of minutes ago where you want to prioritize your upper body development because that’s what you need for your physique goals or whatever, and so you are consciously spending most of your time training your upper body while still doing enough lower body volume to, let’s say, maintain.
Your current amount of muscle and strength, yes, that’s imbalanced, but it is a plan to achieve an explicit goal. It isn’t just randomly imbalanced or imbalanced because no thought was put into the plan other than I just want bigger pecs, or I just want a bigger butt. And so when training is randomly imbalanced or inappropriately imbalanced, it can create size and strength imbalances between the front and back of your body, the upper and lower portions of your body, and that can cause funky aesthetics, I guess you could say.
And everyone has. Seen the guy in the gym who clearly has spent 80% of his time training his upper body and 20% of his time training his lower body. But muscle imbalances can also increase your risk of injury. For example, imbalances in size and strength between the muscles on the front side and the back side of your body, particularly the muscles that are responsible for.
Pushing things away or pushing things overhead and then pulling things. If you have an imbalance between those muscles, and many guys spend a lot more time pushing things than they do, pulling things that can increase the risk of injury in your shoulders, imbalances between the front and the back of your legs.
So let’s say a lot of your lower body training has been very quadriceps. Dominant and your hamstrings have not received nearly as much training and your hamstrings are proportionately much weaker than your quads and are not as strong as they should be to counterbalance the quadriceps strength. That can increase the risk of injury in your knees and so on.
There are other similar examples that I could give, but I think you get the idea. So if you want a body that not only looks. Good by, let’s say, classical physique standards, bodybuilding standards, not that means that you need to become a bodybuilder or even look like a bodybuilder. I don’t consider myself a bodybuilder.
I don’t consider my physique, uh, a bodybuilder’s physique, except maybe you could say I look like a lifestyle bodybuilder. But that’s as far as I want to go. I like having. More muscle than the average person. I like how that looks, but I also like looking athletic. I like to stay relatively lean and I don’t like the muscle bound look.
Personally, I think it looks kind of cool in some cases. Like there are a couple of guys in my gym who are on a fair amount of drugs. They’re open about it and they are a couple guys I can think of. They’re fairly tall, like. Six, five to six eight and they weigh two 70 and they’re pretty lean, like it looks cool, I’ll give them that, but that’s not quite the look that I want for my body.
I like the more natural look, which means a bit smaller, but maybe you could say a bit more like, uh, an athlete rather than a bodybuilder. And so to achieve that as well as if you want to achieve a body that is very. Functional and is resistant to injury and is ready for different types of vigorous physical activities, then you want to avoid inappropriate or random imbalances in your training, and an upper lower split can just help ensure that you are not accidentally.
Creating those types of imbalances. Something else I like about the upper lower split is it makes it easy to train all of your major muscle groups at least twice per week, and that’s not hugely important if you are brand new to strength training, because something around probably 10 sets per major muscle group per week is going to produce more or less all of the muscle and strength that you can gain for.
At least the first six, eight, maybe even 12 months. And as you can productively do up to about 10 hard sets for any individual major muscle group in one workout session, you can follow, for example, a body part split. If you’re brand new and do quite well, you can just do a chest day and do 10 sets for your chest, and then you can do a back day, do 10 sets for your back, and then you could do a shoulders day, and then you could do an arms day, and then you could do a legs day.
If you’re willing to train five days per week, and that approach can work really well actually, because all of your major muscle groups are getting plenty of attention every week. They’re getting at least 10 hard sets per week, if not a bit more because of the overlap of certain exercises. A bench press, for example, is not just volume for your pecs, it’s also volume for your shoulders.
It’s volume for your triceps, even a little bit for your lats. And a barve row, for example, is not just volume for your back muscles, it’s also volume for your biceps and so on. Now, there’s a point though, usually after the first year to maybe year and a half of consistent training where the parameters for progress change a little bit.
Total weekly volume per major muscle group often has to go up certain muscle groups. That are very responsive to training. We all have those muscle groups that just seem to grow with minimal stimulus. You might be able to keep those at 10, maybe 12 hard sets per week. But then with other muscle groups, especially more stubborn muscle groups, you might have to go up to 15 hard sets per week.
And in that case then increasing. Frequency is the optimal way to go. So it, it would no longer be optimal to do a chest workout and do 15 hard sets in that workout. Again, generally you want to do no more than probably eight to 10 max 12 hard sets for an individual muscle group in one workout, and it’s going to be more productive to split the, let’s say it’s 15 hard sets that you need to do.
For a muscle group per week to continue gaining significant amounts of size and strength. Research shows that training that muscle group more than once a week is almost certainly going to be better than just training it once a week. And there is research to suggest that that’s generally true, that generally true training your muscle more than once a week is likely better for gaining.
Muscle and strength than just training them once per week. But all rules have exceptions. Right? And I would say that the most obvious exception to that rule is what I mentioned, somebody who’s new to strength training, who does not need to do more than about 10 hard sets per major muscle group per week to gain a lot of muscle and strength to gain more or less.
All of the muscle and strength that they can gain for at least the first year or so. Meaning they could do more if they wanted to. They could do 15 hard sets per major muscle group per week, and they could train every major muscle group twice per week, follow a more advanced training program. But the results would be more or less the same as the beginner approach, as the simple body part split that I mentioned.
And so unless they just like working out and like being in the gym, why? Do that anyhow, coming back to this point of upper lower, making it easy to train major muscle groups at least twice per week. It’s just built into the programming. It’s baked into the cake, as they say. Right? Because again, your, your typical upper lower split.
Just baseline starting point is four workouts per week usually, and you’re doing two two. So depending on how those workouts are set up, if they’re set up even remotely correctly, you should be training most of the major muscle groups in your upper body twice and your lower body. Twice. And if you are training two or three days per week, we’ll get into that a little bit later.
You are gonna make some changes, but you can balance the approach out over time. So for example, if you are training three days per week and you want to give your upper and your lower body equal attention, you can switch between a week A and a week B. Where week A is two, upper one lower, week B is two lower, one upper repeat indefinitely.
So another point that I like about the upper lower split is it ensures your training is high quality. And what I mean here is it ensures that you don’t do a bunch of what’s called junk volume. You don’t do a bunch of sets and a bunch of reps for muscle groups that are very fatigued. And your form is, is no longer very good and you’re not.
Able to use very heavy training weights because this is your 13th hard set for your chest in one workout. And that inevitably is what happens if you train just one muscle group in a workout and you do anywhere more than eight to 10 sets in that workout. And even that 10 is, is really the maximum that I would personally do for any individual muscle group, uh, in one workout.
And I, I prefer. Six to eight hard sets for any individual muscle group in a workout. Now, keep in mind, I am an advanced weightlifter right now. I’m just looking to maintain, I’m not really pushing for progress. If I were new, then I would be okay doing eight to 10 hard sets for an individual. Major muscle group in a workouts for reasons that I shared earlier.
But if I were trying to make progress or if I were an intermediate weightlifter, so I have maybe a year or two max three years of training under my belt, I’ve gained a lot of muscle and strength. I still can gain a fair bit more given my genetics and given my. Anatomy. If that were the case, then it would be very important for me to avoid low quality, low productivity sets.
I guess you could say newbies can actually get away with junk volume to a point because their body’s hyperresponsive to training. But after you’ve been training for a few years, your body is not hyper responsive, and it gets to a point where it’s fairly resistant to gaining more muscle and strength, and therefore more workout volume is needed.
Heavier weights are needed and also higher quality training is needed. You no longer can afford to do sets that are a lot lighter really than they should be. Again, because you’re very fatigued and you’re not getting as many reps as you could have gotten if you would’ve saved those sets for another workout that.
Alone can get in the way of your progress over time. And with the upper lower split, you’re never training any individual muscle group to the point of exhaustion. So that means that you can perform a lot of high quality reps, a lot of high quality sets with heavy training weights, depending on what rep ranges you are trying to work in.
And that is generally better for building muscle and for gaining strength. Yet another thing I like about the upper lower split is it limits soreness and fatigue. And that’s because you never train any individual muscle group to exhaustion, and because of that, you are not causing a lot of muscle damage.
And because of that, you are not experiencing a lot of muscle soreness. And it’s not that muscle soreness is bad. By the way. If your training is making you sore, that’s probably a good thing if it’s making you very sore. You probably are overdoing it a bit. You probably are causing more muscle damage than you should be causing.
So just to keep that in mind with your programming. But if you are experiencing no soreness in your training, that isn’t a bad thing either. Your training might be quite effective. However, if you are not sore at all and you are trying to gain muscle and strength, you should audit your programming to ensure that you are doing enough volume, so enough hard sets for at least the major muscle groups that you care the most about.
Per week, and you should ensure that you are taking those sets close to muscular failure, that you are not doing a bunch of sub maximal training. It needs to be high intensity training to cause the adaptations that you want, and you should ensure that you are doing effecti effective exercises. That you are not doing, let’s say, an inappropriate amount of isolation exercises versus compound exercises and so forth, because often if nothing is sore at all to any degree, you are not training hard enough, at least not training hard enough.
To make progress. If you’re just trying to maintain the muscle and strength you have, you probably can get away with absolutely no muscle soreness whatsoever. But if you are trying to progress, you should be experiencing at least a little bit of soreness in some muscle groups fairly often, but, With the upper lower split.
Again, a nice thing about it is you really should never be extremely sore, extremely fatigued after your workouts, and that can just make your life a little bit better, which then can make you like your training a bit more, look forward to your workouts a little bit more, maybe apply yourself a little bit more diligently in your workouts, have a little bit more motivation, and all of those things add up to.
More progress over time. One final reason I like the upper lower split is it allows for plenty of rest. Now, research shows that after you train a muscle group, it’s best to wait around 48 hours. Probably 48 to 72 hours is kind of the the sweet spot before you train that muscle group. Again, and studies show that if you do that, that can reduce your risk of injury, and particularly repetitive strain injuries, which are the more common injuries that you’re going to experience, at least to some degree, if you’re gonna do a lot of strength training over a long period of time.
You can avoid acute injuries. The nastier things that some people worry about unnecessarily because the actual risk of strength training performed correctly is quite low, and the incidence of those nasty acute injuries is quite low. However, the repetitive stress injuries are inevitable to some degree, and those are soft tissue injuries that are caused by repetitive actions, and you can take actions to reduce your risk of.
Repetitive stress injuries, like this point of making sure that you’re not training muscle groups too frequently. You can also change the exercises that you’re doing semi-frequently. Probably every two to three months is best for most people and those. Exercise substitutions can be similar to the exercises that you were doing in your last two to three month training block, but if you can vary the angle of motion or something in the motion pattern as opposed to doing the exact same motion that you were doing for the previous two to three months, that can reduce the risk of repetitive stress injuries.
But even if you do all of the things right, If you are serious about your strength training and you are getting stronger and the weights are getting heavier, inevitably you are going to experience a repetitive stress injury now and then to one degree or another. And at that point, the best thing to do is stop aggravating it.
Stop doing whatever exercises, piss it off, find other exercises that you can do. That don’t aggravate the problem. And then depending on the problem, look into what the underlying cause might be and how you can address that. But I’m going to end that tangent there and share the second reason why it is a good idea to wait at least 48 hours and in some cases 72 hours before you train a muscle group again.
And that is that it ensures you can give maximal effort in your workouts in every set of those workouts. And that, as I mentioned earlier in the podcast, is very important for making progress, especially if you are no longer a newbie. You can’t just go through the motions and end sets when they’re getting pretty hard and expect much to change.
You have to train with a bit of intensity if you want to continue gaining muscle and strength if you have already gained a fair amount of muscle and strength. And so anyway, the upper lower split accommodates this 48 hour to 72 hour rest rule. Well, because in any well-designed upper lower workout routine, like the ones that I will share with you in this podcast, each of your major muscle groups will get at least two to three, if not four days of rest in between workouts.
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Go to buy legion.com/pulse. Order now. Use the coupon code muscle Save 20%. Try pulse risk free and see what you think. Okay, let’s talk about workouts now. Let’s start with the four day upper lower split, which again is the default version of this workout split. And it’s popular with everyone from beginners to advanced weightlifters because it allows for plenty of volume.
You can do plenty of hard sets per week per major muscle group, plenty of reps. It also provides for plenty of rest in between. Workouts where you are training the same muscle groups again, as well as plenty of rest. Generally, you get three days of rest per week, and the best way to schedule an upper lower four day split is to do your workouts one and two, so the first two workouts on consecutive days, then take a rest day, then do workouts three and four on the next two consecutive days, followed by two rest days.
You don’t have to do it that way, but by including that one day of rest, In the week, it can help improve the quality and therefore the productivity, the efficiency of the next two workouts that you’re doing in the week. And I’ll walk you through some workouts here. Not that this is the only way to set these up, of course, but I just wanna give you an example of an effective template.
And if you wanna see this visually, head over to legion athletics.com, search for upper, lower split three words, and you’ll find an. Article that has these workouts and that this podcast is based on, uh, the article was my outline essentially for this podcast. So here’s how a four day per week routine could look if you wanted to prioritize your upper body.
So we would start with your upper body. Then you could do a bench press, three sets of four to six reps, or six to eight reps, or eight to 10 maybe if you are female. And just starting out with training. And that’s only because having. Worked with and heard from many women over the years who were new to strength training, they often don’t have enough strength to comfortably start with four to six reps per set on basically any exercise, with the exception of maybe a barbell squat, and they’re more comfortable starting with something a bit lighter that allows for eight to 10 reps per set and using that to build their strength up to a point where they can comfortably incorporate four to six reps per set.
But if you’re a woman and you like. The lower rep ranges like I do and like many people do, then feel free to three sets of four to six reps of this bench press here. That’s the first exercise, two to three minutes of rest. Then we could do a one arm dumbbell row, so we start with some pressing. Then we do some pulling to give our pressing muscles a break.
Three sets again of four to six reps or higher, depending on your circumstances. Two to three minutes of rest in between sets. Then we go back to pressing. And next we could move on to an incline dumbbell bench press. So a little bit more volume for our pecs, primarily for our pecs, but now we’re doing incline, which trains them a little bit differently than the flat bench press that we started with, and now we’re doing dumbbells rather than.
Barbell, which also trains the muscles a little bit differently. And do three sets of six to eight reps here, two to three minutes of rest. In between each set. You could do four to six as well. You might find that six to eight is a little bit more comfortable because now you are a little bit fatigued.
But if you prefer, you could do four to six reps per set there as well. That rep range works quite well with that exercise. And then we could end with some biceps, so we could just do like an alternating dumbbell curl. Three sets of six to eight reps with two to three minutes of rest. In between sets and you could do four to six if you are a stronger experienced weightlifter, because then you can maintain proper form.
If you are relatively new, you might find that it’s hard to use good form with enough weight to do four to six reps per set on an alternating dumbbell curl, in which case you can do six to eight reps per set. So that’s our upper body a and. Now we move on to the second workout of the week, which is a lower body workout.
Now, if we wanted to prioritize our lower body, we would switch those. We would start with our lower body, and then we would train our upper body, because the first workout of the week after we have come off of at least a day or two of rest is usually our. Best, we have the most energy. It’s our best performance, and so it makes sense to use that to prioritize the muscle groups that we most want to prioritize.
But in this case, we are prioritizing our upper body. So now second day of the week, we’re doing our lower body work workout, starting out with a deadlift that is volume for the lower body. It trains the hamstrings more than the quads, but it does train the quads to some degree. It also trains basically every muscle on the backside of our body, which is why I really like the deadlift.
I also think it’s fun. It’s one of my favorite exercises. Just pick up a heavy barbell and it, it is also an efficient way though to train all of the muscles on the backside of your body. So we start with a deadlift. We, we do three sets of four to six reps with the caveat that I mentioned earlier a couple of times.
I won’t say it anymore. Two to three minutes of rest in between which I. I’m always around three, if not four minutes, depending on how I’m feeling. But if I was in a rush, I could rest two minutes in between those sets. Then we move on to a leg press. So we do three sets of four to six reps here, with two to three minutes of rest in between each set.
Then we move on to a Bulgarian split squat, a great unilateral exercise that doesn’t load our spine very much, but still. Generates a, a strong training stimulus. Do three sets of six to eight reps per set here with two to three minutes of rest in between each set and end with a leg curl. End with some more hamstring volume.
Three sets of six to eight reps with two to three minutes of rest. So we started out with some hamstring work with the deadlift as well as some additional volume for the other muscle groups on the backside of our body. Then we went to a quad dominant exercise that didn’t involve putting a barbell on our back that is a little bit more lower back friendly because our lower back is going to be fatigued.
From the deadlift, we do a leg press, then we move on to a unilateral exercise, a little bit more quad volume there with the Bulgarian split squat lighter weights, just cuz of the nature of the exercise. And we end the workout with some hamstring volume, some direct hamstring volume with a leg curl. Then we would take a day of rest, ideally.
And now we are. To our third workout of the week, which is our upper body B. And so this is gonna be similar to the upper body A, but we’re gonna do some shoulder work as well as some pulling. So in the upper body A, that was kind of like a chest push pull. Now it’s a shoulder push pull. So we start with an overhead press, three sets of four to six reps per set, couple minutes of rest in between each.
Then a chin up, three sets of four to six reps, weight it. If you need to, if you’re strong, get a dip belt weight that that’s a, a great exercise that works basically forever. You can never be too advanced or too strong for a weighted chin up or a weighted pull-up. Do three sets there, four to six reps.
Then do a dumbbell side lateral raise because it is basically impossible to train your side and your rear delts extensively. I would say even. Appropriately give the the side and rear delts enough volume to balance out all of the volume that the front delts get without doing a side raise or a rear raise.
So we’re gonna do three sets of a dumbbell side raise. We’re gonna do six to eight reps per set there. And then we’re gonna do a dumbbell, rear lateral raise, three sets of six to eight reps. Then we end the week with our final lower body workout. Which is gonna start with a back squat instead of a deadlift.
Could also be a front squat, but starts with a barbell squat. Three sets of four to six reps. There a couple of minutes of rest in between those sets. Then we do a Romanian deadlift, which is great for the hamstrings in particular, and isn’t as. Difficult isn’t as systemically challenging as a conventional deadlift.
Do three sets of four to six or six to eight, or even eight to 10 reps there, depending on how your lower back is feeling. If your lower back is feeling fine after the barbell squat, which it will be if you’re doing a front squat more so than a back squat. The back squat stresses the lower back more than the front squat.
You can lighten the load on the remaining deadlift, remaining deadlift, depending on how you feel. And then, We’re gonna do a lunge, which is another great unilateral exercise. I’m intentionally including a bit of unilateral training. Bilateral training where you’re training two limbs, both limbs at the same time, is great.
But if you only do bilateral training, you can develop muscle and strength imbalances unconsciously because you are favoring one side or the other. Even if it’s. Slightly again and again over time, but by including unilateral training, particularly with your lower body training, these types of imbalances are most problematic when they are lower body, and they tend to be more common in the lower body than the upper body, although it can be an issue at the upper body and it can be addressed.
You can, for example, do single arm dumbbell presses. That is, I would say, a fairly underrated exercise if you are noticing. Some imbalances. This would be between the right and left side of your body when pressing. But anyway, I’m intentionally including lower body unilateral training here to avoid developing bilateral imbalances over time.
And so the lunge is a great exercise. It doesn’t require as much weight, so there’s less spinal loading. It also works your hips in exactly the way that they were designed to work, which is great. That’s very. Functional to use a buzzword. So you’re loading the hips and you’re working them through their natural range of motion.
And so we do three sets of six to eight reps there, and we end with some calf raises if you want. If you don’t wanna do calf raises, you can do some more hamstring. Volume. So you could do leg curls, like if you did seated leg curls earlier in the week, you could do lying leg curls or vice versa, or a standing leg curl if your gym has one of those machines.
Or you could do a Nordic curl if you don’t want to do a machine or you don’t have access to a machine or again, You can do some calves, three sets of six to eight reps, and if you wanna get the most size for that calf training, you want your legs to be straight. You don’t wanna do the seated calf raise.
You wanna do either the standing calf raise, or let’s say the leg press calf raise where your legs are straight, because when your legs are straight, That focuses on the larger muscle that we see, the the gastrocnemius or gastroc. Whereas when your legs are bent, like in a seated calf raise, that focuses more on the smaller and the deeper soleus muscle.
Now, if you were a bodybuilder trying to get bodybuilder calves, you would need to do quite a bit of straight and bent leg calf raises. You wouldn’t just focus on the gastroc with straight leg. You do need to train the soleus if you want to maximize. Your calves. But if that’s not the case and you are not doing much volume per week and you want to get the most size outta that volume, stick with the straight leg.
Okay. So that’s an example of, I would say, a well designed four day upper lower workout split. And again, if you want to see that, head over to legion athletics.com, search for upper, lower split three words, and you’ll find an article that I wrote that this podcast was based on. And you can see as a chart.
Now let’s talk about the three day per week routine, which can work well if you’re a beginner or if you are not. If, let’s say you’re an intermediate or an advanced weightlifter, but you’re busy, you can only train three days per week, and you still really want to push for progress. If you were to follow a push pull legs, like what I’m doing right now, three days per week, push pull legs.
You can maintain muscle and strength easily indefinitely on a push pull legs, and I also do just like those workouts. I like that template. However, it’s hard to rack up enough volume. In fact, it, it’s basically impossible if you are going to follow a true push pull legs template to rack up enough volume in any major muscle group to make progress.
If you are an intermediate to advanced or an advanced. Weightlifter who needs at least 15 hard sets for a major muscle group per week to get anywhere with it. In that case, an upper lower split works better because you can, I mentioned this earlier in the podcast. You can alternate between weeks that are higher volume for your upper body and higher volume for your lower body.
And so what that means then is two weeks out of each month. You are getting enough volume to stimulate growth, to stimulate progress in your upper body, and then you are getting enough volume to maintain your muscle and strength in your lower body. And then on the other two weeks, it’s the other way around.
You now are getting enough volume to stimulate growth, to stimulate progress in your lower body and enough volume in your upper body to maintain what you have. And so what that means then is you want to be switching between. Weeks where you emphasize your upper body and emphasize your lower body, or if you really want to focus on your upper body or your lower body and you are okay with making a lot less progress or maybe no progress in the other, then you can do an upper body focused weekly routine for let’s say, three or four weeks at a time before you do a lower body focused one.
Or maybe you never do the lower body focused one because you have trained your lower body a lot. In the past and you did not train your upper body a lot and you’re trying to correct that or vice versa. And so then instead of walking you through the workouts like I did with the four day, considering how much time it would take to go through these and then go through the five day.
I think best is go over to legion athletics.com, search for upper lower split, and you can just see an example of an upper body focused three day routine. You can see an example of a lower body focused three day routine. If you are an experienced strength trainee and you have spent a fair amount of time programming workouts, you probably don’t need to.
See my templates, you probably can take what I’ve given you here and run with it, and if that’s the case, go ahead. Alright, now let’s talk about the five day upper lower split, which is overkill for beginners because no matter how you set it up, it’s going to involve a lot more volume for many major muscle groups than they need to do.
Every week to maximize muscle and strength gain. In the case of a beginner wanting to train five days per week, I would recommend either a full body setup, a body part setup, or a push pull legs with a little bit of extra body part work. So like a push workout, a pull workout, a legs workout, and then maybe a shoulders workout in an arms workout, and those shoulders and arms workouts are shorter and easier and are.
Just to get some extra volume into those smaller muscle groups to make sure that they are progressing as fast as they possibly can because the push pull legs workouts are going to make sure that the push muscles, the pull muscles, and the lower body muscles are developing as quickly as they can. Now, in the case of an intermediate or an advanced weightlifter, who needs to do more volume, To continue to gain muscle and strength.
The five day upper lower split can be great because you can rack up a lot of volume. Now, one other scenario just occurred to me that I would like to mention because it probably does apply to many people listening, if you are an intermediate or an advanced weightlifter who is cutting, and that means you cannot expect.
To gain any muscle and strength to speak of, you can then follow a routine that looks more like a beginner’s routine because now you’re just trying to do enough volume to maintain the muscle and strength that you have to burn some calories, to do enough strength training to get a result, but you are not putting in that.
Extra effort to try to make progress. You could take that time that you would’ve normally spent putting in that extra effort in your strength training, and you could put it into cardio, for example, which is going to help more considering your goal of maximum fat loss because cardio. Burns more calories so long as you are doing at least moderate intensity cardio.
It burns more calories per unit of time than strength training. So it’s a better use of time when you are cutting, trying to maximize fat loss to do a bit less strength training, do enough to enjoy your workouts and keep your routine and maintain your muscle and strength. But bit less than you would if you were lean bulking, for example.
And then use that time to do a bit more cardio because you’re just gonna burn more fat over time that way. Anyway, coming back to this five day upper lower split, the two most common ways to set it up are either with an upper body focus, sort of three upper body workouts. And two lower body workouts per week.
Usually it’s a Monday through Friday thing and you take the weekends off. Although some people do like to put a rest day usually. So in this case, if it were, let’s say it’s an upper body focus routine. So you’re doing three upper body workouts per week. You’re starting the week with an upper body workout, so you have upper, a lower, a rest after that.
Lower body workout, which is more difficult than the upper body workout. And then you do your upper body B, and then lower body B rest, and then do upper body C. And that helps maximize your performance in those upper body workouts. And if you wanted to focus on your lower body, you would just. Change it accordingly.
You would start with lower body A, and then you’d do upper body A, rest, lower body B, upper body B, rest, lower body C. And again, if you wanna see some actual workouts that I put together, legion athletics.com, upper lower split, check out the article. Well, I hope you liked this episode. I hope you found it helpful, and if you did subscribe to the show because it makes sure that you don’t miss new episodes.
And it also helps me because it increases the rankings of the show a little bit, which of course then makes it a little bit more easily found by other people. Who may like it just as much as you. And if you didn’t like something about this episode or about the show in general, or if you have, uh, ideas or suggestions or just feedback to share, shoot me an email, [email protected], muscle f o r life.com and let me know what I could do better or just, uh, what your thoughts are about.
Maybe what you’d like to see me do in the future. I read everything myself. I’m always looking for new ideas and constructive feedback. So thanks again for listening to this episode, and I hope to hear from you soon.