logo
BoostcampPNG

The Ultimate Upper Lower Workout Split

Written by the Boostcamp staff
Mar 10,2024|16 min| 10105
blog-thumbnail

Dr. Swole’s secret to gains

There are so many workout routines out there such as the “bro split”, the push/pull/legs split, and so on. But, have you ever tried the upper lower split? It may seem somewhat silly, training the entire upper body muscles like the chest, the back, and the arms, in one session, and the entire lower body in another session, but Dr. Swole, a pro physique athlete, designed the ultimate upper lower workout you can find. It is one of his favorite splits, and helped him gain both strength and muscle mass, which is not something you see many workout programs doing, as many workout programs will focus on one or the other.

So, let’s take a look at Dr. Swole's workout and see why it is the ultimate upper lower workout split.

The Upper Lower Split Overview

upper body

The upper lower split (unsurprisingly) divides the body up into two different groups, the upper body and the lower body. On an upper body day, you will be training your chest, shoulders, back, biceps, and triceps. On the lower body you will be training the leg muscles, such as the glutes, the hamstrings, the quads, and calves. It is a 4 day workout split, meaning you will have 3 days a week that are dedicated to rest and recovery, which is where growth truly happens.

Now, it may seem like a lot to pack all of those muscle groups into a singular training session, however, Dr. Swole has split it up so you are not going to be overtraining, meaning that you will not be absolutely brutalizing yourself to the point of injury. He also split up the workouts to focus on both strength and hypertrophy. You may notice once we go over the program, that some of the exercises may not be placed where you think they would!

Let’s break down the workout. 

Upper Body Day 1

  • Bench Press: 1 heavy top set of 5-8 reps, 4 back down sets of 5-8 reps

  • T-Bar Row: 4 sets of 6-10 reps

  • Incline Dumbbell Fly: 3 sets of 10-15 reps

  • Neutral Grip Lat Pulldown: 4 sets of 10-15 reps

  • Tricep Rope Pressdowns: 3 sets of 10-15 reps

  • Cable Upright Row: 3 sets of 6-10 reps

  • Cable Lateral Raises: 2 sets of 8-12 reps 

Lower Body Day 1

  • Squats: 1 heavy top set of 5-8 reps, 4 back down sets of 5-8 reps

  • Romanian Deadlift: 3 sets of 6-10 reps

  • Bulgarian Split Squats: 3 sets of 8-12 reps

  • Leg Extensions: 3 sets of 10-15 reps

  • EZ Bar Curls: 3 sets of 8-12 reps

  • Rope Hammer Curl: 2 sets of 6-10 reps

  • Dumbbell Lateral Raise: 2 sets of 8-12 reps

  • Machine Calf Raise: 3 sets of 10-15 reps

Upper Day 2

  • Dumbbell Overhead Press: 1 heavy top set of 5-8 reps, 2 back down sets of 5-8 reps

  • Weighted Dips: 4 sets of 6-10

  • Weighted Chin-Ups: 4 sets of 6-10 reps

  • Cable Row: 4 sets of 8-12 reps

  • EZ Bar Skullcrusher: 3 sets of 8-12 reps

  • Cable Upright Row: 3 sets of 8-12 reps

  • Cable Lateral Raise: 2 sets of 12-20 reps

Lower Day 2 

  • Deadlift: 1 heavy top set of 5-8, 2 back down sets of 5-8

  • Front Squat: 3 sets of 6-10

  • Leg Press: 3 sets of 8-12

  • Leg Press Calf Raise: 5 sets of 8-12

  • Leg Curl: 3 sets of 10-15

  • Lying Bicep Curls: 3 sets of 6-10

  • Machine Preacher Curl: 2 sets of 10-15

  • Dumbbell Lateral Raise: 2 sets of 10-15

Dr. Swole's upper lower uses a variety of different compound exercises such as the deadlift and bench press, to really help build up strength and a solid foundation, as well as the inclusion of accessory movements like flyes and some isolation movements for different muscle groups. Another thing worth mentioning is that there is a good amount of volume to this workout split, but that does not mean you should slip up on the intensity. Now, you may also notice that Dr. Swole strays away from traditional upper lower split, as the upper body days do not include bicep training. Instead, the biceps are trained on lower body days. You also might notice that shoulders are trained every day, with lateral raises. This helps to keep you from training too much on your upper body days, and also forces you to hammer one of the biggest weak points for many people, which are the deltoids. That being said, this could be a great bodybuilding split, as you are not leaving any room for week points.

Dr. Swole also says that the frequency of training should include a rest day on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, but they are interchangeable. You don’t want to be sore going into your next training session however, as if you have sore biceps going into an upper body day, your pulling movements will be hindered.

One last thing to address is the strength and hypertrophy aspect of the program. If you take a look closely, each day of the upper lower workout program starts with a heavy compound, to keep your strength up, before going into higher volume hypertrophy based movements. You also get a taste of some good bodyweight movements, like pull-ups.

Pros and Cons of the Upper Lower Split

lower body

As with anything in life, there are pros and cons to the upper lower split. So, let's take a look at what they may be according to Dr. Swole.

Pros

  • Flexibility- Dr. Swole states that the upper lower split is very flexible, as you are only training four days a week so you are able to shuffle your workouts around as needed. If you are a busy person, you can switch around workouts and still stay on track!

  • Well Balanced- The traditional upper lower split favors the lower body. This is because you have more muscles to train in the upper body, so those workouts tend to get long, and you may not be getting the most out of the workouts. However, with Dr. Swole’s upper lower split, you are able to balance out the training sessions as biceps are on lower body days. This way, you are able to balance out the progression.

  • Good Fatigue Distribution- The upper lower program is split up enough that you get enough time to recover, and stress is distributed evenly throughout the workout.

  • High Frequency for Biceps and Side Delts: With the modifications from Dr. Swole, the biceps and side delts get attention when they are ready. With traditional splits, the bicep work comes after the back work, and they are already fatigued so will not perform as well. This is another reason why Dr. Swole has biceps programmed into the lower body days.

Cons

  • Triceps- Unfortunately, the triceps get trained on the same day as the pushing movements, so they may fall victim to the same issues as biceps when trained on a pulling day. 

Where to Find a Program

If you do not think the Dr. Swole Upper Lower Split is for you, that is no problem as you can find plenty of other ones. Finding a good workout program to help guide you is key. Keep in mind that good programs will help with your fitness journey, you would want to find a program that caters to your needs and guides you in the right direction, making sure that you are making the most gains. If you are looking to stay on track and continue with linear progression, then finding a good workout program is the key. Where do you look for a good workout program? Check out the Boostcamp App for some great programs.

Boostcamp is home to over 50 FREE workout programs that consist of strength, hypertrophy, or functional fitness, or both, from the push pull legs program all the way to upper lower, there are so many programs to choose from that can help fit your needs. However, with Boostcamp, you don’t have to just follow a pre-written program (although each program is written by a professional), you also can create your own program as well, and track your progress to make sure you are on the right track. That being said, when you are looking to incorporate some serious training to further your progress, then check out Boostcamp.

Wrap Up

Overall, the upper lower workout split is something that not everyone has considered, as the idea of training so many muscles in one session can be a turn off for many. However, Dr. Swole has crafted the ultimate upper lower split, that helps make sure no stone is left unturned.

Will you be giving it a try?

Be sure to follow Boostcamp on Instagram and subscribe on YouTube!