The Ultimate Upper Lower Workout Split
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 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.
So, let’s take a look at this upper lower workout split.
The Upper Lower Split Overview
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, back, shoulders, biceps, and triceps. On the lower body you will be training glutes, hamstrings, 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.
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. 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 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
Now, you may 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.
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
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.
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.
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
Now, you may be wondering where exactly to find a good upper lower workout program, and we have you covered. Right on the Boostcamp App, you can find over 50 free workout programs written by some of the best coaches around (Dr. Swole being one of them). Amongst those programs, is the upper lower workout split.
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?