4-5 Day Workout for Building Muscle & Strength

This workout is perfect for anyone coming off a long shredding phase and looking for a workout to help you build back some of the strength and muscle lost.

Workout Summary

Increase Strength
Split
Intermediate
8 weeks
4
60-75 minutes
Barbell, Bodyweight, Cables, Dumbbells, EZ Bar, Machines
Male & Female
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Workout Description

Coming off a shredding phase and looking to build back some of the strength you lost while adding muscle size simultaneously?

The following workout was written just for you.

The workout is an 8 week program that uses an upper/lower workout split.

The majority of lifts are compound movements in the 2-8 rep range. Each day also has some isolation exercises that fall more into the muscle hypertrophy rep range of 8-20.

The goal is to start out using a higher rep range on your heavy lifts as you gradually increase the weight up until you are ready for a heavy triple and a heavy double. This not only promotes muscle growth, but also aids in preventing injury and CNS fatigue by not taking each lift to a heavy max out single.

For those of you wanting to add in a 5th workout day, there is an optional Upper C workout that can be performed during the week. This workout focuses more on isolating the arms and shoulders.

For rest periods, on all sets greater than 5 reps limit rest to 1 minute. For all sets less than 5 reps, rest for 3 minutes prior to performing your next set.

Lower Workout A

Exercise Sets Reps
Barbell Back Squat 5 8, 6, 5, 3, 2
Trap Bar Deadlift 5 8, 6, 5, 3, 2
Leg Extension 3 15-20
Leg Curl 3 15-20
Seated Calf Raise 4 20-25

Upper Workout A

Exercise Sets Reps
Chest Supported Row 5 8, 6, 5, 3, 2
Bench Press 5 8, 6, 5, 3, 2
Pull Up 4 8-12
Seated Cable Row 3 12, 10, 8
Standing Overhead Press 4 12, 12, 10, 8

Lower Workout B

Exercise Sets Reps
Front Squat 5 8, 6, 5, 3, 2
Romanian Deadlift 5 8, 6, 5, 3, 2
Lateral Lunge 3 10-15
Hyperextension 4 10-15
Standing Machine Calf Raise 4 20-25

Upper Workout B

Exercise Sets Reps
Overhead Press 5 8, 6, 5, 3, 2
Machine T-Bar 5 8, 6, 5, 3, 2
One Arm Dumbbell Row 4 12, 10, 8, 8
Chin Up 3 8-12
Dumbbell Incline Bench Press 4 12, 12, 10, 8

Optional Upper C

Exercise Sets Reps
Close Grip Bench Press 5 8, 6, 5, 3, 2
Overhead Cable Tricep Extension 4 12, 12, 10, 8
EZ Bar Curl 5 8, 6, 5, 5, 5
A1. Incline Dumbbell Curl 2 12
A2. Preacher Dumbbell Curl on Incline Bench 2 12
Lateral Raise 3 10-12
Reverse Pec Dec 3 10-12

As far as progression goes, my recommendation would be to perform the 4 day split for 8 weeks. Each workout, try to increase the total amount of weight used. After 8 weeks, you can perform the program again incorporating the 5th day as an added form of progression.

On bodyweight exercises, increase the number of reps. Once you are able to complete all of the higher end of reps listed, add weight to the exercise. On lateral lunges, for example, you can perform them holding a dumbbell in a goblet fashion.

If you struggle to perform pull ups and chin ups for 8 reps, begin by performing them to failure and finish the rest of the set by performing eccentric only pull ups and eccentric only chin ups.

If you’re concerned about abdominal isolation work not being present in the program, you can include them in your variation of this program. Simply tack on an abdominal exercise to the end of each workout (preferably targeting a different function of the abs each time).

Additionally, heavy row variations are performed as chest supported exercises to cut down on the amount of stress on the lower back. If you feel like you can handle heavy non-supported variations, you're more than welcome to substitute them in instead.

If you have any further questions about the workout program, please feel free to leave them in the comments section below for us to answer.

17 Comments+ Post Comment

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Posted Sat, 02/16/2019 - 22:10
Ryan Cherry

I just finished a push pull legs split. I am looking for a little more efficiency with twins on the way, so an upper lower split seems logical. I have to admit I love Arm day... I am curious about something similar to what you put (volume wise) with Arm work being indirect with the two upper workouts. I can knock out a decent arm workout at home for the 5 th day. Sorry, I know I have a million questions...

Day 1: Upper (chest, Back, shoulders)
Day 2: lower
Day 3: Rest
Day 4: Upper (chest, Back, shoulders)
Day 5: lower
Day 6: Arms (just Biceps and triceps )
Day 7: rest

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 02/18/2019 - 10:13
JoshEngland

Hi Ryan,

Congrats on the twins! Yes, that'd be a solid split imo.

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Posted Mon, 02/18/2019 - 12:30
Ryan Cherry

Thanks so much man

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Posted Fri, 12/07/2018 - 16:48
Konstantinos

Hello everyone,
I would be grateful if you could answer my question. I am having exercise in gym 4 times per week in which i do only team programmes (cross training, functional training, tabata), because i am bored of the usual training with weights etc..do you believe that i have a holistic exercise for my body and that is enough or i will have to do training with the usual weights, too?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 12/10/2018 - 10:21
JoshEngland

Hi Konstantinos,

As long as you're exercises regularly and enjoying the exercise you perform, I'd say you have a good routine.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Mon, 12/10/2018 - 10:27
Konstantinos

Hello and Thank you for your answer. I Just ask that because in my previous count of fat, the results have shown that i have lost muscle mass instead of fat, so they told me to put in my weekly programme the classic training with weight. Do you think that it is necessary and how can i gain muscle mass and lose weight? I will appreciate it if you could give an answer. Thank you!

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 12/10/2018 - 14:05
JoshEngland

Hi Konstantinos,

Yes, weight training will help. Doesn't have to be this particular program, you might find full body workouts beneficial to fit into your schedule.

Also, I'd recommend ensuring you're eating enough protein if your goal is fat loss. Dietary protein will help preserve muscle mass during weight loss phases.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Mon, 12/10/2018 - 15:28
Konstantinos

Thanks for that. I Just ask you because i want to inderstand some things. I Just Wonder what the main advantage of adding in my weekly routine the classic exercise with weights, because the team programmes that i follow, for example the functional training has to do with exercise in Full body and has kettlebell, trx and weights inside. So, why do i have to add the classic exercise with weights if we suppose that functional training exercise the whole body?and why is there this opinion that someone Who makes team programmes such as Cross training, functional and Tabata should also add the classic training with weight? Could you explain me that? I would be grateful. Also, a Last question. Some people say that someone doesn't have to do more than 3 or 4 days per week exerxise in order for not losing muscle mass and have the muscles the rime to get rest in order not to lose muscle mass. Do you think is a right opinion or there is no problem? Thank you in advance.

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Posted Sun, 10/28/2018 - 01:24
Claude

Hi Josh, I need some resistance training. My history has mainly been karate and some intense cardio. About 6 months ago the easy option for me was BodyPump and I've been consistent with 3 classes a week. Whilst there have been some results (mainly fat loss) I'm starting to get some overuse injuries as I've upped the weight. At my age (57) these take too long to heal! This workout looks like a good way to transition out of the high-rep stuff into strength building - which is what I want for my karate anyway. Is this a reasonable conclusion?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 10/29/2018 - 09:15
JoshEngland

Hi Claude,

I don't have a whole lot of experience working with folks in your demographic - but I would think an altered variation of this routine that matches your recovery rate would be a good option.

I'd recommend starting out with 2 sessions per week and seeing how you felt from there (1 upper and 1 lower). If you feel good you can add a third session and rotate between upper and lower days. If you still feel you can do more, you could increase to 4 days per week - but my guess is that with your experience and age, 2-3 sessions should be plenty.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Mon, 10/29/2018 - 17:21
Claude

Thanks Josh. Good advice on the recovery. The muscle growth is really just a healing process and I do need to be conscious that it is slower for me these days.

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Posted Mon, 10/15/2018 - 11:14
Ron

Why is there so much more back work than chest/shoulder? Each upper day has 3 back exercises compared to 1 each for chest and shoulders?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 10/15/2018 - 14:10
JoshEngland

Hi Ron,

For postural gains - most focus too heavily on their chest and not enough on their back. Give it a shot for a phase and check your V-taper progress.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Sun, 10/14/2018 - 21:56
Merrin

Is this a good program to do after the 10wk upper / lower for women workout? https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/10-week-upper-lower-workout-f...
I’m looking to build muscle and am nearly at the end of the 10 wk program so keen to see what I should do next.

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 10/15/2018 - 14:10
JoshEngland

Hi Merrin,

Sure! This would be a good program to transition into after that one.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Sat, 10/13/2018 - 00:52
Zachary Brown

is there a reason this workout doesn't really focus on the chest. The two upper body days seem to be a lot more back focused.

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 10/15/2018 - 14:09
JoshEngland

Hi Zachary,

For postural gains - most focus too heavily on their chest and not enough on their back. Give it a shot for a phase and check your V-taper progress.

Cheers!