Upper Lower Split Workout For Optimal Muscle Growth

Upper lower split is designed to increase workout intensity in each training session. So you will load each muscle group more than you would in a total body workout.

When doing total body split for a while, you will notice your trainings are getting harder and harder. Your workouts are getting longer and longer.

When you spend more than 1.5 hours in a single workout, it’s time to consider a change. Switching to an upper lower split might be exactly what you need.

It will help you reduce the time you spend on each workout and enable you to train harder in each training session.

Upper lower split will help you target different muscle groups in each training session.

On an upper workout day, you will work on the chest, upper back, shoulders, triceps and biceps. On a lower workout day you will work on your legs and your core muscles.

Upper lower frequency and volume

When you compare various splits you will want to have some concrete parameters by which you can compare. This is important so you can come to an informed conclusion which split is the most appropriate for you.

You can start by comparing frequency and volume between different workout splits.

Frequency – number of times you hit each muscle group per week.

According to scientific studies, you should train each muscle group twice per week for optimal hypertrophy. This will ensure an optimal stimulus for muscle growth.

When you create your weekly training schedule keep in mind that each muscle group should be trained twice per week.

Volume – how hard you load your muscles.

Basic formula for volume is Volume = Sets x Reps x Weight. However, volume expressed purely in numbers might be misleading.

It’s very different if you perform your reps fast or slow. It also depends on the range of motion.

If you do your reps fast and with reduced range of motion, you can perform 20 reps in a set. If you do it slowly, concentrating on prolonging the eccentric part of the movement you might do only 10 reps in a set.

This is why you will always have to compare numbers that require the same difficulty for each exercise.

Frequency and volume comparison between total body, upper lower and push pull legs splits

Upper Lower Split: Frequency and Volume
Frequency and Volume Graph

When comparing total body, upper lower and push pull legs splits, you can see that total body gives you the most frequency. That means each muscle group is targeted the most times per week.

Push pull legs split will give you the most volume. When you add all exercises you perform in a week you will see that the push pull legs will hit your muscles harder than other splits

In comparison upper lower split lays right in the middle.

Is an upper lower split good?

Upper lower split is good for developing strength and muscle mass. It’s great because you don’t train upper and lower body in same training session.

You will work your upper body in one workout and your lower body in another separate workout.

Upper lower split is flexible and easy to follow. It will work your muscles hard and give you enough time to recover between training sessions.

But expect to spend more time on your upper day compared to push pull legs training sessions. It’s easy to guess – because the upper portion of the training is split in 2 different sessions in a push pull legs workout split.

When compared to total body training it will help you work harder in each training session. At the same time, your trainings will be shorter. In conclusion, you will do more work in less time per each muscle group in each training session.

Is upper lower 4 day split good?

Upper lower 4 day split is great for building muscle and strength. It will help you easily plan your workout week.

If you want to do 4 training sessions per week, upper lower split is an excellent option.

It’s recommended that beginners start with 3 total body trainings per week when they start working out. When you switch to an upper lower training split you will instantly get much more work done per week.

This will help you progress faster and build more strength and muscle in the process.

Here is an example of a 4 day upper lower split:

  • Monday: Upper
  • Tuesday: Lower
  • Wednesday: Rest
  • Thursday: Upper
  • Friday: Lower
  • Saturday: Rest
  • Sunday: Rest

When you are planning your workouts it’s not just about proposed schedules. You have your life running with or without training. So, when you plan your workouts you should also consider how they fit your life.

In my case, I wanted to be with my family on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. My wife is working in the morning on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so we want to be together in the afternoon on those days.

We also want to spend our Sundays together. So I scheduled my upper lower training to accommodate my family life.

Here is an example of my 4 day upper lower split schedule:

  • Monday: Upper
  • Tuesday: Rest
  • Wednesday: Lower
  • Thursday: Rest
  • Friday: Upper
  • Saturday: Lower
  • Sunday: Rest

Should beginners do upper lower split?

Beginners can do upper lower split training. However, the upper lower split is better suited for advancing beginner and medium athletes.

It would be more beneficial for absolute beginners to start with total body training 3 times per week. After at least 6 months of training, beginners might try upper lower split or push pull legs.

The main reason is the workload per each training session. Yes you can adjust the number of sets and reps and difficulty of each exercise. However, I believe when you start, you should try to do workouts targeting all muscles in your body in one training session.

This will help you develop mind muscle connection faster. So, when you progress to more difficult trainings you will adapt much more easily.

It will be especially beneficial when you start to train various skills like handstand, cartwheel, front and back lever, human flag and muscle up.

When you reach this advanced level you will have to be aware of position and movements of each part of your body. This is crucial if you want to be able to perform those exercises. It will require precision and accuracy and will help you avoid injury.

I was doing total body workouts for the first 2 years when I started. After 2 years I introduced upper lower splits. This helped me increase workload per training and reduce time per each training session.

What is the best workout for upper body?

The best workout for upper body will target main upper body muscle groups. It will also keep your training session up to 1.5 hours max including warm up and cool down.

Upper workout primary muscles worked:

  • Chest
  • Triceps
  • Shoulders
  • Upper back
  • Biceps

Here’s an example of an upper workout:

  1. Chest
    • 3×8-12 push ups
  2. Triceps
    • 3×5-10 dips
  3. Shoulders
    • 3×8-12 power pushaways
  4. Upper back
    • 3×3-8 pull ups
  5. Biceps
    • 3×3-8 chin ups
  6. Rear delts
    • 3×8-15 band face pulls

What is the best lower body workout?

The best lower body workout will help you develop all your leg muscles, your abs and your lower back. It should not exceed 1.5 hours together with warm up and cool down routines.

Lower workout primary muscles worked:

  • Quads
  • Hamstrings
  • Glutes
  • Calves
  • Abs
  • Lower back

Here’s an example of a lower body workout:

  1. Quads and glutes
    • 3×8-15 squats
  2. Abs
    • 3×5-10 hanging knee raises
  3. Calves
    • 3×8-15 calves raises
  4. Abs
    • 3×8-15 laying leg raises
  5. Hamstrings and glutes
    • 3×8-12 single leg hip thrusts
  6. Lower back
    • 3×8-15 superman lifts

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