Creating an upper/lower split

Creating an upper/lower split

When I posted a full body workout routine last week, I received a number of requests to also design a sample upper/lower body part split routine. As always, I’m happy to oblige!

I believe the ideal number of days to lift weights per week is four. My opinion has been different in the past, and I’m sure it will change in the future, but for now four is my magic number. When someone has time to lift four days per week, I recommend two upper body and two lower body days. This is my favourite approach with my own training as well.

You can create an upper/lower body split which is more bodybuilding-centric in nature. For example, with two leg days, one day could focus on quads only, while the other trains hamstrings and glutes. Upper body day one can be something like back and biceps, while the second session may focus on chest, shoulders and triceps.

Personally, I like to think of the body as a complete working entity, and not a collection of individual parts, so I prefer to hit all the muscles of the upper or lower body together in each workout. This means that for an upper body day, for example, I will perform a couple of exercises each for my chest, back and shoulders. This also leaves very little time for isolation work – I don’t think you should be worried about bicep curls until you can perform a few sets of unassisted chin-ups.

There will be no tricep kickbacks on my watch!

There will be no tricep kickbacks on my watch!

Just as with full body routines, begin each workout with a compound lift in a lower rep range. Then move on to your accessory exercises, using a mixture of pushing and pulling exercises to hit all the muscles of either the upper or lower body.

Always alternate upper and lower body days to give your body enough time to recover. The typical training routine I’ve been following for the past six months (excluding the time spent recovering from my accident!) is as follows:

Monday: lower body (usually based around heavy lifts)
Tuesday: upper body (usually based around heavy presses)
Wednesday: off
Thursday: lower body (usually higher reps and more plyometrics)
Friday:Β upper body (usually focused on chin-ups and other pulling exercises)
Saturday: dancing!
Sunday: off

Easy. Here is a week’s worth of workouts you can perform as an upper/lower body split. I have used last week’s full body workout as a template, mostly to show you how easy it is to switch between the two if you need to!


Do you prefer full body or split workouts?

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