Build muscle with this upper/lower workout for women. It combines lower rep ranges with higher rep ranges on both upper & lower days to maximize your results!
Workout Summary

Workout Description

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)

Exercise Sets Reps
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)

Exercise Sets Reps
1. Barbell Squat 4 6
2. Deadlift 4 6
3. Reverse Lunges 4 6
4. Leg Press 4 6
5. Barbell Hip Thrust 4 6

Thursday: Upper (Hypertrophy Focused)

Exercise Sets Reps
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)

Exercise Sets Reps
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

FAQs

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:

  1. It has to work the same target muscle group as the exercise you are subbing out.
  2. 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!

84 Comments
Shahad
Posted on: Thu, 08/12/2021 - 05:23

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 ?

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Marina
Posted on: Fri, 08/13/2021 - 09:36

Shahad -

It's best to follow the program as written to maximize results.

FB
Posted on: Sat, 07/24/2021 - 01:55

Hi, can anyone recommend an alternative to the glute hyperextension? Don’t have access to the machine. Can I just do glute bridges instead?

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Abigail
Posted on: Mon, 07/26/2021 - 11:39

Hey FB - yes you can

Emily
Posted on: Thu, 04/29/2021 - 14:09

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!

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Abigail
Posted on: Fri, 04/30/2021 - 09:32

Hey Emily - yes, you can do this program after the one you're currently doing!

Sabina Mucci
Posted on: Mon, 01/18/2021 - 21:52

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

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Abigail
Posted on: Tue, 01/19/2021 - 09:07

Hey Sabina - diet plays the largest role in fat loss. What does your diet look like?

Jimmy P
Posted on: Sat, 01/09/2021 - 21:27

can you do this as a guy or will somethings have to change?

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Abigail
Posted on: Mon, 01/11/2021 - 13:39

Hey Jimmy - yes, you can do this workout.

Natalie
Posted on: Wed, 10/14/2020 - 05:25

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

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Abigail
Posted on: Wed, 10/14/2020 - 10:38

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.

Farwah
Posted on: Mon, 09/21/2020 - 10:21

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).

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Abigail
Posted on: Thu, 09/24/2020 - 09:33

Hey Farwah - it is recommended to follow the program as written.

Angela
Posted on: Thu, 09/03/2020 - 17:00

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.

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Abigail
Posted on: Thu, 09/24/2020 - 09:32

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...

Angela
Posted on: Tue, 09/01/2020 - 03:27

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.

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Daniel
Posted on: Tue, 09/01/2020 - 15:32

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.

Maria
Posted on: Wed, 07/08/2020 - 16:42

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

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Yoshi
Posted on: Mon, 07/20/2020 - 12:45

Hey Maria

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!

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Yoshi
Posted on: Mon, 08/10/2020 - 11:31

Hey Maria

On your strength days, you'll be using roughly 90% of your 1RM. For hypertrophy, around 75-80% of your 1RM.

Maria
Posted on: Tue, 08/04/2020 - 11:45

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?

Sophie
Posted on: Wed, 06/03/2020 - 16:55

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?

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Yoshi
Posted on: Mon, 07/20/2020 - 12:54

Hey Sophie - Yes this workout is a good one to do with your current progress!

Marie
Posted on: Mon, 05/25/2020 - 18:21

Hello.

I am soo happy I found this routine, thank you for posting it for free. I am very excited to try this once the gym opens up.

cathy
Posted on: Sat, 04/04/2020 - 17:50

What is the difference between strength focused workouts and hypertrophy workouts?

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Daniel
Posted on: Tue, 05/05/2020 - 16:16

Hey Cathy - strength workouts are focused on getting stronger and hypertrophy workouts are focused on growing muscle fibers. Generally speaking, strength workouts tend to focus more on explosive style training with low reps while hypertrophy workouts are usually in the 10-12 rep range.

emma
Posted on: Sun, 02/16/2020 - 11:32

should i add more isolation exercises at the end of the workout or do i not need to?

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JoshEngland
Posted on: Tue, 02/18/2020 - 09:54

Hi Emma,

It depends on your goals and what you're hoping to achieve. All of these workouts are simply templates. They need to be modified based on your individual needs - so feel free to do so.

Claudia
Posted on: Sun, 01/12/2020 - 09:20

I’ve been doing this work out for a while, and I’ve been enjoying it. Do you think it would be affective to add a separate glute isolation day? So a 5 day split instead of 4?

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JoshEngland
Posted on: Mon, 01/13/2020 - 10:22

Hi Claudia,

That would definitely be an effective way to stimulate muscle growth in your glutes if that is your goal. And it should be completely fine to do so long as you structure your week to ensure you have a day of rest in between each lower body and glute focused day.

Shanta
Posted on: Wed, 11/13/2019 - 17:38

I'm excited to try this! I did the upper strength yesterday and even doing all the exercises it only took me about thirty minutes. Is this normal? I usually like to work out a little bit more; not to the point of over exertion but enough to feel like I'm doing enough to progress.

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JoshEngland
Posted on: Thu, 11/14/2019 - 10:06

Hi Shanta,

That workout is definitely possible to only take 30 mins.

You'll be getting a good workout in and will progress if you continue to focus on your strength week after week.

If you feel you need more, you're more than welcome to add in more work. These templates are just that, template. They are not individualized to meet the specific needs of any one individual.

Brittney smith
Posted on: Sat, 10/26/2019 - 22:46

Do you perform all 4 sets of the individual exercise before moving onto the next exercise? Or do you perform all the individual exercises for the day and then rest before performing the next set?

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JoshEngland
Posted on: Mon, 10/28/2019 - 09:12

Hi Brittney,

Perform all of the sets before moving on to the next exercise.

Mandie
Posted on: Sun, 09/01/2019 - 20:49

Also! I prefer to do cardio before, would a low speed on the stair master for 20 min before each work out be okay. I feel it helps pump me up.

Thanks again!!

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JoshEngland
Posted on: Tue, 09/03/2019 - 11:52

Hi Mandie,

I'd recommend doing it after if possible. There are better ways to warm up and get pumped for your workouts than performing cardio which may take away from your ability to crush your weight training sets.

Mandie
Posted on: Sun, 09/01/2019 - 20:44

I am definitely starting this program tomorrow. What would be recommend to do if I prefer to work out 5 days . On wed would the stair master along with light machines be ok?

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JoshEngland
Posted on: Tue, 09/03/2019 - 11:51

Hi Mandie,

Yes, that should be fine.

Zoe
Posted on: Thu, 08/22/2019 - 16:37

Hi
I am considering to try this workout out, however I fail to see when to train your abs? Do you just pick out an exercise for the abs and put it into the program for either upper body or the lower body days?
And if you can't do a chin up, is it possible to change that exercise to something else? A lat pulldown perhaps?

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JoshEngland
Posted on: Fri, 08/23/2019 - 09:59

Hi Zoe,

You can include ab training into this program if you wish. My recommendation would be to alternate between 1 plank variation and pallof press variation and 1 crunch variation 2-4 times per week.

For the chin ups, my recommendation would be band or machine assisted chin ups or eccentric only chinups. If neither of those are an option, a pull down variation would be suitable as well.

Zoe
Posted on: Fri, 08/23/2019 - 13:06

Alright, thank you, I will try that out! Thanks for a fast reply
Best regards,
Zoe

Lili
Posted on: Mon, 08/19/2019 - 11:49

Since its low reps..do you just do higher weight?

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JoshEngland
Posted on: Tue, 08/20/2019 - 13:52

Hi Lili,

Yes, you'll want to use a heavier weight that is challenging for that particular rep range.

Anne Mirandola
Posted on: Thu, 08/15/2019 - 17:56

I am about to start this routine but that Lower Strength day looks brutal! Would it be suitable to move one big compund lift to Lower Hypertrophy day instead? Maybe Deadlifts? Swap out for one hypertrophy exercise? Or just suck it up and do it, lol?

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JoshEngland
Posted on: Fri, 08/16/2019 - 16:30

Hi Anne,

Yea, it is a lot. You could definitely alter the program in that way to assist with the heavy workload on that particular day.

dianasalehrosa
Posted on: Tue, 08/13/2019 - 19:33

thank you for create this workout,make me push my self to lift more heavy than i used to.

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JoshEngland
Posted on: Wed, 08/14/2019 - 11:29

Happy to hear that! Congrats on your progress!

Julie Hanson
Posted on: Tue, 06/18/2019 - 18:34

I just completed this 10 week workout program. I love the results. I am wanting to try another workout that is listed on the website but I'm needing some guidance.
I'm thinking of trying a full body workout, instead of split. I would still like to get stronger, and maybe a little more muscle definition .
Any recommendations?

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JoshEngland
Posted on: Wed, 06/19/2019 - 12:35

Hi Julie,

Congratulations on completing the workout! Full body would be a solid workout style to transition into. I think you might like this one: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/best-full-body-workout-routin...

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