Upper/Lower 4 Day Gym Bodybuilding Split Workout

Reach your muscle building goals with this balanced 4 day training split that mixes heavy compound exercises, machines, cables and incorporates 3 second negatives.

Workout Summary

Build Muscle
Split
Beginner
10 weeks
4
45-60 minutes
Barbell, Bodyweight, Cables, Dumbbells, EZ Bar, Machines
Male & Female
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Workout Description

This is a muscle building workout that I have been using lately now that I am training more often at commercial gyms. It works well both with, and without a training partner. If training with a partner, I recommend keeping rest periods brief. After your partner's set is finished, you should waste little time before hitting your next set.

Each training day is balanced. You start by challenging major muscle groups with 3 sets of compound or taxing machine exercises. Next, you follow up by finishing a muscle group with a more isolation-style movement that typically focuses on the use of 3 second negatives. Lastly, you work smaller muscle groups with 3 sets each, using 3 second negatives when it makes sense.

Here is the training schedule:

  • Day 1 - Upper Body
  • Day 2 - Lower Body
  • Day 3 - Off
  • Day 4 - Upper Body
  • Day 5 - Lower Body
  • Day 6 - Off
  • Day 7 - Off

Intense Dumbbell Curls

Upper body training days

Upper body training days follow this scheme:

  • Chest - 3 sets, compound
  • Back - 3 sets, compound
  • Shoulders - 3 sets, compound
  • Chest - 2 sets, isolation or machine/moderate compound. Use 3 second negatives when it makes sense.
  • Back - 2 sets, isolation or machine/moderate compound. Use 3 second negatives when it makes sense.
  • Shoulders - 2 sets, isolation or machine/moderate compound. Use 3 second negatives when it makes sense.
  • Triceps - 3 sets, isolation or machine/cable exercises. Use 3 second negatives when it makes sense.
  • Biceps - 3 sets, isolation or machine/cable exercises. Use 3 second negatives when it makes sense.

Lower body training days

Lower body training days follow this scheme:

  • Quads - 3 sets, compound
  • Hamstrings - 3 sets, compound
  • Calves - 3 sets, taxing machine or isolation
  • Quads - 2 sets, isolation or machine/moderate compound. Use 3 second negatives when it makes sense.
  • Hamstrings - 2 sets, isolation or machine/moderate compound. Use 3 second negatives when it makes sense.
  • Calves - 2 sets, isolation or machine/moderate compound. Use 3 second negatives when it makes sense.
  • Abs - 3 sets, isolation or machine/cable exercises.
  • Abs, Lower Back or Obliques - 3 sets, isolation or machine/cable exercises.
Day 1
Upper Body
Exercise Sets Reps
Bench Press 3 6-12
Barbell Row 3 6-12
Seated Overhead Dumbbell Press 3 8-12
Pec Dec - 3 sec negative 2 10-12
V-Bar Lat Pull Down - 3 sec negative 2 10-12
Side Lateral Raise 2 10-15
Cable Tricep Extensions - 3 sec negative 3 8-12
Cable Curls - 3 sec negative 3 8-12
Day 2
Lower Body
Exercise Sets Reps
Squats 3 6-12
Stiff Leg Deadlifts 3 8-12
Standing Calf Raise 3 10-15
Leg Extensions - 3 sec negative 2 10-12
Leg Curl - 3 sec negative 2 10-12
Seated Calf Raise - 3 sec negative 2 10-12
Cable Crunch - 3 sec negative 3 10-12
Cable Pull Through w/Rope 3 10-12
Day 4
Upper Body
Exercise Sets Reps
Incline Dumbbell Bench Press 3 8-12
Rack Deadlifts - 3" to 5" off ground 3 5-8
Military Press 3 8-12
Machine Chest Press - 3 sec negative 2 8-12
Pull Ups or Machine Rows - 3 sec negative 2 8-12
Machine Shoulder Press - 3 sec negative 2 8-12
Dumbbell Curls - 3 sec negative 3 8-12
Machine Tricep Dip - 3 sec negative 3 8-12
Day 5
Lower Body
Exercise Sets Reps
Leg Press 3 10-20
Dumbbell Stiff Leg Deadlifts 3 8-12
Leg Press Calf Raise 3 10-15
Hack Squat 2 8-12
Seated Leg Curl - 3 sec negative 2 10-12
Seated Calf Raise - 3 sec negative 2 10-12
Planks 3 60 sec
Hyperextension 3 10-12

169 Comments+ Post Comment

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Posted Wed, 02/14/2018 - 16:12
Jason

Can you recommend a replacement lift for the rack pulls on Day 4? My facility doesn't have a squat rack. It does have a smith machine, can I do them on there? If so, can you elaborate how far off the ground I should raise it? 3-5" still seams like stiff leg deadlifts to me. Thanks man, great workout

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Thu, 02/15/2018 - 08:39
JoshEngland

Hi Jason,

I'd agree that rack pulls, when done with that amount of depth, would be more glute/hamstring focused depending on your height. There are few exercises that directly target the low back, and rightfully so. In real life, to avoid injury, pulls should be initiated through the heels and continue up the hamstrings and glutes to avoid low back injury.

That should be fine if you have no other alternative. If you're goal is to isolate your low back, I'd recommend raising the pins to a height more appropriate for your body type. You could also perform supermans or low back focused hyperextensions.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Tue, 02/13/2018 - 19:29
Benny

Should I use the same weight for each exercise for the duration of this program or add weight progressively? Or add reps over time and using the same weight?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Wed, 02/14/2018 - 11:14
JoshEngland

Hi Benny,

You can do either or to be honest. Do whichever form of progression you enjoy more and stick to it. So long as you are making your workouts more challenging over time, you'll see results.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Tue, 02/13/2018 - 12:00
Joseph

Whats the rest period?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Tue, 02/13/2018 - 12:22
JoshEngland

Hi Joseph,

Rest between 30-60 seconds in between sets and exercises.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Tue, 02/13/2018 - 10:58
Jason

On Day 4-upper body the second lift is Rack Deadlift, which I am assuming you mean rack pulls. If the bar is only 3-5" off the ground that is still going to use a lot of hamstrings and glutes, right? i am assuming this is meant to be a back exercise. Can you explain the purpose of this lift and the reasoning for 3-5" off the ground. Also, what would be a good replacement for this exercise if I do not have a rack? Thanks for the help

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Posted Sun, 02/11/2018 - 13:08
Gustav

Hi
I am 15 years old and I wonder wich program would you recommend to do after this one? I would like to build muscle :)

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 02/12/2018 - 08:53
JoshEngland

Hi Gustav,

At 15, don't worry about building muscle - that will come in time.

Focus on nailing down your form for each exercise.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Sat, 02/10/2018 - 17:13
Aidan

What do I do if I miss a workout one week?
Do I do it the day after?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 02/12/2018 - 09:00
JoshEngland

Hi Aiden,

Perform it the day after or skip it for the week - so long as you're performing the workout consistently most weeks, 1 miss workout won't hurt you.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Mon, 02/05/2018 - 22:54
James A.

How would you incorporate cardio into this plan? Like if you only had time for one 60-90 minute workout a day, would you substitute a rest day every once in a while for a cardio workout? Or would you try to attach a cardio session to one of the 4 training days (I'm assuming after upper body)?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Tue, 02/06/2018 - 08:52
JoshEngland

Hi James,

You can include cardio training into any day of the week. They form of cardio you do will depend on your personal preference and time able to commit. Personally, I simply walk the dog a couple of miles every day. So long as you are doing cardio, you'll experience the health benefits from it.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Sat, 02/03/2018 - 07:55
Christian Turcios

Do these exercises make me a chubby person double the size or would I lose weight

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 02/05/2018 - 09:40
JoshEngland

Hi Christian,

By themselves, neither. Paired with a calorie surplus, they'll lead to weight gain. Paired with a calorie deficit, they'll likely lead to fat loss.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Sat, 01/27/2018 - 09:30
Martin

Hi!
What program would you recommend do to after this one, if my goal is to build muscle and get stronger :)

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 01/29/2018 - 09:13
JoshEngland

Hi Martin,

Give this one a shot: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/phul-workout

Hope this helps!

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Posted Thu, 01/25/2018 - 23:05
Da

This question may have already been asked but, Would this work if done as an opposing muscle superset or would that be ineffective? Keep in mind that I’m not by any means training to compete in anything. I’m just an average guy who is a busy husband and father and wants to eat healthy and be active. I wanna look good, be stronger and build muscle but I’m not looking to be in any competitions. I only have Dumbbells, which has been addressed in a previous post of mine on this thread, and I’m also limited on time so that’s why I ask. Thank you for your time.

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Fri, 01/26/2018 - 15:39
JoshEngland

Hi Da,

Absolutely. Feel free to superset those exercises. I actually wrote a program with fellas like you in mind (linked below). However, it sounds like you may not have all of the necessary equipment needed.

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/fast-mass-program

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Posted Fri, 01/26/2018 - 18:59
Da

Spectacular! Thank you so much for this! I love this site, everyone is so helpful.

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 01/29/2018 - 08:51
JoshEngland

Hi Da!

You're welcome! We're happy to help!

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Posted Thu, 01/25/2018 - 08:08
deanpalewis@hot...

i’m assuming you can carry on this after 10weeks? and have you got a bit of freedom after you do your main compounds like can you just do isolations if you want or is better to do more compounds or is it even better to mix it up ? thanks i’m going to be starting this split!! looks so much better than full body

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Thu, 01/25/2018 - 08:49
JoshEngland

Hi Dean,

Yes, you can continue to use this split for however long you like. And yes, you're more than welcome to alter the template to better fit your needs and individual goals.

Hope this helps and best of luck!

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Posted Tue, 01/23/2018 - 20:49
Nikash

Is this a good program to start to build muscle if you just started going to the gym?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Wed, 01/24/2018 - 09:15
JoshEngland

Hi Nikash,

This program is an excellent option for those looking to build muscle.

However, if you're truly a beginner, I'd recommend checking some of these out:

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/beginner

Hope this helps!

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Posted Tue, 01/23/2018 - 05:06
Josh

Hi. Is this program for beginners or intermediate or advanced? I’ve been working out for nearly 3 years now. I’ve been looking for a better program that will suit my 4-day a week availability that will give me great results particularly on my shoulders and chest.

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Tue, 01/23/2018 - 08:45
JoshEngland

Hi Josh,

This program can definitely help you accomplish those goals.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Sun, 01/14/2018 - 12:24
shourya

Can i do it 5 times a week?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 01/15/2018 - 08:50
JoshEngland

Hi Shourya,

Sure, that should be fine if you feel you are still able to recover from your workouts given the additional volume.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Sat, 01/13/2018 - 05:36
Daniel

Can I do a 5x5 on the bench, deadlift and squat, I want to increase my strength, is it possible?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 01/15/2018 - 08:49
JoshEngland

Hi Daniel,

Sure, that should be fine.

You might even enjoy our phul program which incorporates some of that already: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/phul-workout

Hope this helps!

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Posted Fri, 01/05/2018 - 22:46
Da

I only have access to adjustable dumbbells. If I substitute out the bar and cable workouts for dumbbell variations would that still be efficient?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 01/08/2018 - 09:45
JoshEngland

Hi Da,

Yes, absolutely. You can alter this template to match the equipment you have available to use.

In the meantime, it looks like we should add a dumbbell only upper/lower to the website. I'll get the team on it :)

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Posted Mon, 01/08/2018 - 12:39
Da

Excellent! Thank you so much for your help. I already did the Upper yesterday with dumbbells I am for sure feeling it. Great workout.

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Wed, 02/07/2018 - 11:01
JoshEngland
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Posted Sat, 01/13/2018 - 18:12
Da

Yes! If you could add a Dumbbell only Upper/Lower split routine that’d be extremely helpful. Thank you!

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Posted Wed, 12/27/2017 - 23:09
Omar

Which workout program should I follow after finishing split worlout?

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Posted Tue, 11/28/2017 - 09:23
Lkas

Can cardio be done after each workout? If so how long for.

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Tue, 11/28/2017 - 16:56
JoshEngland

Hi Lkas,

Yes. And it will be dependent on your individual goals.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Wed, 10/04/2017 - 18:41
Bibo

I see many differences from the previous table as I started implementing the previous table ... Does this table achieve better results than the previous ??

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Posted Wed, 10/04/2017 - 11:19
Grey

Do you think it's alright to substitute flat dumbell press with barbell benchpress?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Wed, 10/04/2017 - 13:40
JoshEngland

Hi Grey,

Absolutely. It's fine to sub dumbbell bench press with barbell bench press.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Mon, 09/25/2017 - 12:15
Daniel aldgatecool

Is this better than a 5 day split for building muscle

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Tue, 09/26/2017 - 11:44
JoshEngland

Hi Daniel,

I believe I kind of answered your question on another page. If you have any other questions, please don't hesitate to reach out.

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Posted Sat, 09/23/2017 - 04:16
Sam

Hi, my age is 39 years old. I have been playing regularly for many years and I suffer from shoulder and back injuries. Can I do this program?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Tue, 09/26/2017 - 11:43
JoshEngland

Hi Sam,

Tough to say over the internet. I'd recommend working with a personal trainer one on one, even if it is only for a couple of sessions. Injuries tend to lead to muscle imbalances and faulty movement patterns. Without knowing how you perform each exercise, it's tough to recommend a program blindly without the risk of further or re-injury.

I'm sure this probably isn't the answer you were hoping for, but it is the best I can provide.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Sun, 09/17/2017 - 14:06
Pøssyslayer123

Hello sir. I am 15 and whey 150 kg pure muscle mass, is this program good for a girl around 30 kg?

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Posted Fri, 09/15/2017 - 03:34
Marcel

Im 17 and 280 pounds.....im sick of being the weight i am.would this be a good Starter routine to lose fat and gain muscle?if so how fast would i be loseing fat?not to important because i have the rest of my life lol.

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Posted Tue, 09/12/2017 - 16:26
Anwar

Hey, I'm 15, 171cm, 67kg, 19.4% bf, 30.5kg muscle mass and 13kg fat mass (most of them in my belly), is this program suitable for me to build muscle? been training for 3 months though and made a quite good progress but the gym coaches are demotivating me to pay for PT saying that I need PT to build muscle because if I workout alone I won't do any shit, so this will help me?
And, can I add some exercises for chest because I feel like they aren't enough for me?
Thanks in advance.

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Wed, 09/13/2017 - 08:51
JoshEngland

Hi Anwar,

At 15, you shouldn't concern yourself too much about building muscle. Your body isn't primed for it yet. It will be soon in the coming years.

For now, focus on getting the basics down. Learn how to do the lifts, educate yourself on proper nutrition and sound sleeping habits. These are what will eventually help you to maximize your genetic ability to build muscle.

Working with a trainer is a great option at your age, but you've got to find the right one. It is possible to build muscle without one, but they are very knowledgeable and can help you maximize your muscle building potential in the long run.

This program is simply a template. You're more than welcome to alter it however you see fit.

Hope this helps!