- Main GoalBuild Muscle
- Workout TypeSplit
- Training LevelIntermediate
- Program Duration10 weeks
- Days Per Week4
- Time Per Workout60-90 minutes
- Equipment RequiredBarbell, Bodyweight, Cables, Dumbbells
- Target Gender Female
- Recommended Supps
- Workout PDF Download Workout
Women can truly benefit from the increased training frequency that upper/lower workout programs provide.
A lot of this has to do with the fact that women must, often times, use lighter weight than men when training, and can recover a lot quicker than men can from their workouts1.
While full body workouts tend to be more beneficial for women, upper/lower programs have their place in women’s specific programming as well.
For those women who are strong and can put up significant amounts of weight, it can allow them more time to recover from their workouts. So, think of it as a more advanced approach to women’s specific weight training.
It can also be beneficial for intermediate-advanced women looking to break the monotony of full body workouts by performing training sessions with slightly higher volume to target their muscle groups.
Whatever your reasons for wanting to perform an upper/lower split, the one listed below is an excellent option to base your workout template around.
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10 Week Upper/Lower Workout Routine for Women Overview
Below you will find a weekly breakdown of the exercises you’ll perform for the next 10 weeks.
The program will consist of 4 weight training days. Two days a week will be upper body training days focused on building the muscles of the upper body. Two days a week will be lower body training days focused on building the muscles of the lower body.
Each training day will include some variation of glute training as many women have a difficult time activating their glutes (and want to build a better butt which involves frequent gluteal activation).
Keep rest periods relatively short, resting 2-3 minutes on strength based lifts and rep ranges and 30-45 seconds on accessory based lifts and rep ranges.
Weight progression will be highly individualized. Your goal, however, should be to increase the total amount of weight moved in each training session each week. This weight increase doesn’t have to be much, even 1lb weekly increases over time will add up the longer you perform a weight training program.
Monday: Upper (Strength Focused)
|1. Dumbbell Bench Press||4||6|
|2. Dumbbell Row||4||6|
|3. Standing Overhead Press||4||6|
|4. Chin Up||4||6|
|5. Plank||4||20 Secs|
|6. Hyperextensions (glute focused)||3||12-15|
Tuesday: Lower (Strength Focused)
|1. Barbell Squat||4||6|
|3. Reverse Lunges||4||6|
|4. Leg Press||4||6|
|5. Barbell Hip Thrust||4||6|
Thursday: Upper (Hypertrophy Focused)
|1. Incline Dumbbell Bench Press||3||12|
|2. Seated Cable Row||3||12|
|3. Seated Dumbbell Press||3||12|
|4. Lat Pull Down||3||12|
|5. Dumbbell Bicep Curl||2||12|
|6. Tricep Extensions||2||12|
|7. Single Leg Bodyweight Glute Bridge||3||12-15 Each|
Friday: Lower (Hypertrophy Focused)
|1. Goblet Squat||3||12|
|2. Romanian Deadlift||3||12|
|3. Bulgarian Split Squat||3||12 Each|
|4. Hack Squat||3||12|
|5. Barbell Glute Bridge||3||12|
Q. I’m a beginner, can I perform this upper/lower workout routine?
As previously mentioned, this workout was written with intermediate-advanced women trainees in mind.
If you are a true beginner, or even a causal lifter, you might be better off with a full body training routine like this one.
Q. How should I eat while performing this workout program?
Calorie intake and dietary recommendations will always vary from person to person making it nearly impossible to recommend a specific diet program for you to follow.
That being said, building muscle and losing fat all comes down to an energy balance equation at the end of the day. Start off by finding your calorie needs using our bmr calculator.
It’d be more ideal to perform this particular program in a calorie surplus – as you’ll be lifting heavier weight than you are normal used to. So, you would create a surplus by gradually adding in 100 calories to your bmr at a time (think 3-4 week periods) until you’ve reached your goal.
That’s not to say you can’t use this program to lose weight, it’s simply not as ideal. If fat loss is your goal, subtract 100 calories from your bmr at a time (3-4 week periods) until you’ve reached your goal.
These recommendations are of course highly generalized, but it is a good starting point to find your calorie needs and create a deficit or surplus without relying on drastic caloric changes.
Q. Can I substitute an exercise?
Yes, absolutely! However, you should keep these things in mind when doing so:
- It has to work the same target muscle group as the exercise you are subbing out.
- And ideally, it’d work that muscle group in a similar plane of motion as the one being subbed.
Q. What program should I do once the 10 weeks is up?
I always recommend people take a full week to deload after completing a workout program. This deload will help you with your recovery, allow you to reestablish some life balance, and map out your future goals.
Once you’ve figured out what your goals are, you can begin the search for a new program, return to the ideal full body style training, or come back to this program.
Q. How can I incorporate cardio into this workout routine?
I always recommend low intensity cardio with weight training. HIIT is often over glorified and low impact cardio, like walking, is often overlooked.
Walking is a fundamental movement most people don’t do enough of. And it’s the perfect sidekick to weight training as it is low impact by nature and can aid in muscle recovery.
So, feel free to add cardio to this program how you see fit, but my recommendation would be to walk/hike on your rest days.
Final Thoughts on the Upper/Lower Program for Women
This 10 week upper/lower workout program was designed for intermediate-advanced women trainees. It has a great balance of upper training days and lower training days to help them push more weight than they are normally used to.
Try it out for yourself and let us know how you like it and what results you obtain in the comments section below!
And, if you have any questions or would like specific exercise substitution recommendations, please feel free to leave us a comment in the comments section below!
If i wanted to replace Monday’s plank’s (i have a dedicated core day) with lateral raises to get in more shoulder work, would i do them for 6 reps as well or up the reps for isolated work?
Stick with 6 reps. It would help promote size by training with heavier weight. Just don't sacrifice form for the sake of weight.
Why aren't there any delt work or bicep/tricep focused movements included?
Seated DB Press are for shoulders. The Thursday workout has both curls and triceps exercises. If you feel you need more, you can add your own to the or find another program.
The programme Women's 10 week upper/ lower programme looks great. I can see the reps/sets for each excercise but do I complete each excercise with reps and sets and move I.e 3 sets of 12 reps then on to the next or do I do one set and move onto the excercises underneath repeating until 3 sets are completed . Thankyou
Perform all sets of one exercise before moving on to the next.
Thanks for this program it is awesome. I never thought I would look forward to lifting weights...
For rest times, which exercises are "strength based lifts" and require 2 minutes of rest?
Those would be the first two exercises in each workout, Erin. Rest two minutes between sets on those movements. Thanks for reading M&S!
I'm really looking forward to starting this programme, because it seems like the best one for my goal (build muscle) and fitness level (intermediate). I also like the spread focus on Upper and Lower body. However, I have trouble planning the exact days as adviced into my schedule.
- Is it smart to combine 2 workouts in 1 day - for example, Strength Upper and Hypertrophy Lower in 1 day? Or the 2 Hypertrophy workouts in 1 day?
- If I keep the programme spread over 4 days, but plan them on different days, what do you advice - just keep enough rest days to recover for the upper as well as the lower body?
Hope you can help, thanks in advance!!
You can swap the days as you need to based on your schedule, Lisa. I don't suggest combining two workouts into one, though. That is a lot of training. Do the four workouts on whatever days you need to. Just make sure you keep enough rest days to recover as you suggested.
Thanks for reading M&S!
Thank you Roger! Starting this Monday :-D
Hi- question on the weight progression recommendation. Increasing weight weekly seems quick since only Increasing by a pound is next to impossible with equipment options. Would bumping up the weight 1 set at a time be recommended or not enough? Also, do you recommend a rep range to help increase weight/load weekly?
Bumping up one set at a time would work for you, Danielle. As for rep range, you could add 2 reps for each exercise and try to achieve that before going up.
For example, if the workout calls for 12 reps, then shoot for 12-14. Once you get 14, then go up. Hope this helps!
I’m on week 8 of this program and I’m absolutely loving it! Any suggestions for the next program to do? I like the 4 day split and would like to focus on hamstrings/glutes a bit more without loosing upper body strength.
Thanks for the free program!
It is what we're here for, Lollie. We're grateful you come to M&S for your workout needs.
This one should be a good one for you. The only suggestion I would make is to add your two favorite glute exercises for the lower body workouts. Do three sets of 8-12 reps for each.
For organizational reasons I have to go from training for 5 days, 30-40 minutes every day of the week, to training for 3 or 4 days at the most, also 30-40 minutes. How can I do it so that reducing a day or two does not affect the results? Muchas gracias!! Saludos desde Zaragoza, España! Rebeca.
Hi, Rebeca. Actually, you may not notice a reduction at all. Matter of fact, it may actually improve because you have the extra time to recover. Just make sure you give it all you got when you do train, and you should feel good about the results.
Thank hoy very much for your answer, Roger!Really, you has helped me to look it whith other perspective!
This program looks fantastic. I can't wait to try it. I'm glad there are glute exercises each time. This is a problem area for me but is improving. I'm 61 yrs old, an experienced lifter, and a retired physical therapist. I'm relatively new to the progressive overload concept of training but I like it a lot. My goal is to build lean muscle tissue and lose the stubborn squishy fat that many years on a vegetarian diet gave me.
I weigh 119 lbs and eat daily 1650 calories, with one cheat meal Saturday night, lol! I'm making progress with muscle building, slow but steady. I do 1 gr protein per pound of body weight and I take Perfect Aminos by Body Health which has helped me tremendously. Any other recommendations I would greatly appreciate.
I'll use this plan but I hate that there are glute exercises on upper body days so I probably won't do these x)
Hi, first thank you for this workout. I’ve had great results following your programs. I just took creatine for the first time today as recommended per this routine, i only took 5g because i wasn’t sure what to expect. I noticed it made me dizzy even though i had it with a big breakfast and i also didn’t feel empowered. Kind of felt like it hindered my workout a bit. Any thoughts? Thank you
I've never known anyone that ever mentioned dizziness as a side effect of creatine. So, my suggestion would be to speak to your doctor about it.
What I can say is that creatine is mainly for recovery, not pre-workout energy. It also will take a few weeks before you see the results. If you were looking for energy, a pre-workout supplement with caffeine would've been the best bet.
I just finished your 6 week (5 day/week) training for women program that focused on 3 days a week for the lower body and this program only has two days. I saw great results with the 3 days, so my question is, would i lose muscle mass if i cut down to 2 days ?
No, Laura. You shouldn't lose any muscle mass. Make the two days count, and you'll be fine.
Hello from NZ.
Its so refreshing to see that you have responded to all the questions,even as latest as the last few months.
I am currently in lockdown, and training at home. I have a few loose equipments ( barbells, dumbbells, KB , bench) so wondering what would exercise would i substitute for
1) chin ups
2) leg press
3) Lat pull down
4) seated cable row
5) Hack squat
6) Incline db press
Hello to NZ! We're doing our best with the comments and questions. Hopefully they will be answered quickly going forward.
2) Single Leg Squat
3) If you can buy a band, do pulldown with those, if not, single arm pullover with a dumbbell.
4) Dumbbell Row on the Bench
5) Jump Squats with Kettlebell
6) Floor Dumbbell Press. Press the weight up over the face area to target the upper pecs more. You can also do pushups with your feet elevated.
Can I do this schedule in 3 days :
fro example :
sat : upper 1
mon: lower 1
wed: upper 2
and in the second week :
sat : lower 2
mon: upper 1
wed : lower 1
and go on ..
is it possible ?
It's best to follow the program as written to maximize results.
Hi, can anyone recommend an alternative to the glute hyperextension? Don’t have access to the machine. Can I just do glute bridges instead?
Hey FB - yes you can
Is this a good follow up routine to https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/best-full-body-workout-routin.... I am 6 weeks in and have started to see results and progression. Thank you!
Hey Emily - yes, you can do this program after the one you're currently doing!
Hi! I have lost weight and now tying to tone while trying to loose my last 5 to 8 pounds too. Is this a good workout or is there another women’s workout you suggest. I have all the equipment just not cables. I also do 10000 steps a day on the treadmill. Usually walking them at a fast pace for an hour in the mornings .... thanks
Hey Sabina - diet plays the largest role in fat loss. What does your diet look like?
can you do this as a guy or will somethings have to change?
Hey Jimmy - yes, you can do this workout.
Just started following this program as got into a bit of a rut doing same workout each day my ultimate goal is to build muscle whilst still trying to achieve fat loss which I know can be tricky and relies a lot on diet, some wondered if doing cardio on Wednesdays and weekends would be OK and not jepodise muscle gain? Would appreciate any advice on how to incorporate cardio into program, I know not to do cardio before weight training but wondered how could still bring it in without counteracting muscle building thanks so much
Hey Natalie - I would add in 30-45 minutes of cardio after the upper body days. I would avoid doing cardio after your lower body workout as your legs will already be exhausted. I would stick to 2-3 days of cardio per week.
If I have the time, can I do the lower workout on the same day as I do the upper? So that way in one week I do 3 days (strength-hypertrophy-strength and so on).
Hey Farwah - it is recommended to follow the program as written.
Thank you for answering my question. I definitely need that 2-3 minute rest for sure. So is the last set done to failure on both Strength and Hypertrophy days? I always try to go to failure but I want to make sure that I go the way this is laid out.
Hi Angela - here's an article about training to failure that you might find useful: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/complete-guide-to-training-to...
Hi! I really want to start this program today but I am a little confused on the rest in between sets. So is it 2-3 minutes after one set or after one completed round (4 sets) I apologize if you have answered this already. I never usually go longer than a minute rest after 1 set. If I can I like to go every 30 sec. I keep reading that part in the instructions but I am little confused. 2-3 minutes feels so long.
Hey Angela - 2-3 mins we recommended on the strength based lifts only to allow for your body ample time to recover before the next lift. Hypertrophy lifts rest will generally be around 30-60 seconds. If you feel like you're resting to long and you've had enough time to recover, jump back into the next set.
Does it matter if I do the Hypertrophy days before my strength days? I skipped two workout days so now my order is a little messed up
The idea behind starting your week with strength training is so that your muscles are fresh for the heavier weights. Also your muscles will still be recovering when you lower the weight for your hypertrophy days. Try to keep your workouts in order, but if you miss a day just keep going on schedule and try not to miss any next week!
On your strength days, you'll be using roughly 90% of your 1RM. For hypertrophy, around 75-80% of your 1RM.
Thank you!! I have been liking this program, though I have gotten behind twice now and I am on week 6 even though I started 8 weeks ago. I am trying my best.
Can you clarify how different the weight is supposed to between strength day and Hypertrophy day?
Would this program be appropriate for someone with only 6 months of strength training? My current stats from the StrongLifts program are squat: 160lbs (3rm), deadlift: 160bs (3rpm), bench: 70 lbs (5rm), OHP: 65lbs (3rm). Im starting to get tired of squatting 3x a week and i'm looking to add some accessory work. Is this program enough to maintain my strength gains or should I stick to a full body program?
Hey Sophie - Yes this workout is a good one to do with your current progress!