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Beginner Upper & Lower body Split


Hey guys, please give me your opinion on this upper & lower body split, intended for a complete beginner.

Lower Body 1
Back Squats 5 x 5 +2,5 kg each training session

Upper Body 1
Inverted Bodyweight Row 3 x Failure
Bench 5 x 5 +2,5 kg each training session
Pushups 3 x Failure

Lower Body 2
Deadlift 2 x 5 +5 kg each training session
Back Squats 5 x 5 +2,5 kg each training session

Upper Body 2
Pullups 3 x Failure
Overhead Press 5 x 5 +2,5 kg each training session
Barbell Curls 3 x 12 +1 kg each training session
Reverse Fly 3 x 12 +0,5 kg each training session

1 Kg = 0,453 lbs, therefore 2,5 kg is roughly equal to 5 pounds.

I've been borrowing a good bit from Stronglifts 5x5, as you see this split still has lots of squatting.

So, what ya think? If u were a beginner, could you see urself going with a split like this instead of a full-body workout?
Would there be anything you'd change about that split?


Sounds good. Standing presses may suffer due to core fatigue after dead-lift day. Personally i'd switch inverted rows for db rows, specifically kroc rows. Add weight to the pullups once you can manage 3x8. If you really wanted to have some fun, you could treat them as a heavy exercise and do a ramped 5x5. Are your squats ramped or straight sets?


As a beginner your best bet is to stick 100% to a pre written program.

If you like 5X5 then stick to the template exactly as outlined until it stops working. I love the upper/lower 4 day split myself and am currently using WS4SB by Defrance which is working wonders.

I would recomend you have a look at it, but what ever you do decide on. Do it too the letter and do it for at least 6 months:)


@ J.Moran: Good point about the standing presses and deadlifts, im gonna do the deadlifts on Tuesday then.
I'm also gonna do the kroc rows instead of the inverted rows. I think I'm gonna go to 3x8 with the pullups and then do the ramped 5 x 5 with added weight.
My squats are intended as straight sets, but the more I read the more ramped sets seem to make sense.
Kinda thinking about changing all my sets to ramped sets now, if that makes any sense.

When u do ramped sets, how much lbs do you add each set? I was thinking 5 lbs each set... for a ramped 5x5 Bench with 150 lbs in the final set I'd do a warmup of 3x70, 3x100 and a training set of 5x130, 5x135, 5x140, 5x145, 5x150

So that'd be the modified training plan:

Lower Body 1
Deadlift 2 x 5 +5 kg each training session
Back Squats 5 x 5 +2,5 kg each training session

Upper Body 1
Kroc Row 5 x 5 +2,5 kg each training session
Bench 5 x 5 +2,5 kg each training session
Pushups 3 x Failure

Lower Body 2
Back Squats 5 x 5 +2,5 kg each training session

Upper Body 2
Pullups going for 3 x 8, after I reach this: ramped 5x5 with +2,5 Kg each training session
Overhead Press 5 x 5 +2,5 kg each training session
Barbell Curls 3 x 12 +1 kg each training session
Reverse Fly 3 x 12 +0,5 kg each training session

@ Oregand: I've heard only good things about WS4SB, but isn't it Upper Heavy, Lower, Upper Rep instead of a 4day upper & lower body split? I've been doing Stronglifts 5x5 for 3 months a while ago with decent progress, was planned on staying on it until I'd stall regularly but I got off the track after having a flu twice in 2 weeks and failed to get back to it until now.
Gonna stay on this until it stops working tho... but I believe with this split I should easily be fine for 9-12 months. Maybe at some point I'll add some triceps kickbacks or w/e.
Anyways, I think for me its easier to stay on track when I'm training more times a week with shorter training sessions than only a few times a week with long training sessions.
So training 4x a week 45 minutes should be better than 3x a week 60 minutes for keeping my training motivation alive.

Another reason why I'd prefer to use a costumized training program is that, like most western people, I have somewhat of a rounded back/forward shoulders due to being mostly sedentary - so I'm putting a bit more focus on pulling exercises by always doing the rows and pullups first on upper body days and adding the reverse fly.


go read Kingbeefs thread in the bodybuilding section and pick one of those routines.

your routine is not very good... and by not very good i mean terrible.


I was going to type out a bunch of crap, but gregron has it right.


There is a good four day split about halfway down the first page.


@gregron: I'm gonna use a homegym and it doesn't look like u can do any of those in a homegym... The four day split mentioned by atg410... eh, so much isolating exercises for a beginner seem a bit extreme to me. Maybe later on, and then I'll have to replace the machine stuff with similar free weights exercises.

I actually like the approach of the 5x5 programs of squatting multiple times a week and using compound exercises. However lately they get criticized for overempathizing squats and I think thats a valid point. Now I see lots of programs for beginners that only include squatting on 1 day of the week.
Eh, perhaps there is some middle ground between squatting on 1 day of the week and squatting on 3 days of the week... such as, say, squatting 2 days of the week.

I don't quite see how it actually can be terrible given that it borrows heavily from stronglifts, rippetoes etc in exercise selection, repetition ranges and planned progress - programs that people have made good gains with. Maybe if you'd explain..


I'll critique you're "more modified routine" since I'm assuming thats the one you want to/are using?

first off in your two upper body days combined you're only doing one exercise for chest.(pushups dont count)

on your two upper body days combined you only have one vertical pulling exercise and horizontal pulling exercise

You've got nothing in there for your calves. Are you going to be doing stiff leg DL's to hit your hamstrings more?

You've got nothing in there for triceps except what stimulation they get from pressing (which can be very minimal depending on your technique)

You're just lacking quite a bit IMO. I dont know what kind of equipment you're "homegym" actually has so I dont know what other things you could be adding in.


"so much isolating exercises for a beginner seem a bit extreme to me"

What the fuck does that even mean?? How is it "extreme" to train all of your muscle groups adequately?

The routine you created is pretty bad, and you stated that you are a complete beginner, so why are you brushing off the advice being given by more experienced members?

I would definitely echo the suggestion to do one of the routines from Kingbeef's thread if you want to begin bodybuilding.

What equipment do you have available with your home setup?

Is a gym membership possible?


Personally I would put some more variety in your exercise selection.
If you are limited by equipment and are making gains, keep doing what your doing.
All things considered your Split isn't all that bad.
I've seen far worse workouts posted by new members with 6 days a week training and 6+ exercises per workout.

Regarding ramping, the amount of weight you add for each set depends on your strength levels. If you max 5 rep bench is 150 then perform the following:

A 300lb max may look like this:


There are many places offering $10-20/month. Do it.


Thanks, thats useful critique.
Yeah, I'd use the modified one after the critique from J.Moran.
Imho there seem to be guys who react very well to doing mostly compound lifts, while others progress better when isolating every muscle.
From what little experience I have my body seems to react fairly well to compound lifts, especially the triceps - hence why I'm not isolating them yet (I'm aware that this may change over time and then I'll have to add some isolating exercise for triceps).

Calves are another muscle group that I'd like to observe before isolating it. If they wont grow from squats alone, I'll certainly be isolating them (I remember theres a few "calves to cows"-programs in the article section on here).

About the only 1 exercise for chest and only 1 vertical + 1 horizontal pulling exercise thing... so you'd suggest doing chest + vertical & horizontal pulling twice a week?
I can see how that'd make sense, given that I'm already squatting twice a week I might just as well work my chest and back with equal intensity so it'll be balanced, right?
Not too sure about what exercises to choose for this then though.
I suppose you'd advice against just benching, rowing and doing pullups twice a week?

Also, I'd not be sure about the risk of elbow tendinitis when doing bench rows and pullups twice a week - already had elbow tendinitis two times in the last 5 years (from other sports). Hurts like fuck and lasts for at least 3-6 months, last time only healed over since 3 months ago too.

Equipment available in my home gym:
- Pull up bar
- Dumbbells
- Barbells
- EZ Bar
- Bench wich can be set up as a flat, multiple incline positions and as a seated bench with back rest
- Bar rest/safety for barbell benching (keeps the bar from crushing my chest/throat if I'll ever fail an attempted PR, its also from where I start my bench... so this means the barbell starts from the low position instead of from the high one, I can't imagine this being a problem tho.)
- Squat rest/safety (same thing as with the Bench, this means I start from the low position)
- About 400 kg (= ~900 lbs) of weights... suppose I'm set for a while. :slightly_smiling:

"What the fuck does that even mean?? How is it "extreme" to train all of your muscle groups adequately?"
Its not extreme to train all of your muscle groups adequately, but according to a lot of the coaches on this site for beginners compound exercises work fine for that.
I'm obviously not opposed to isolating muscles - It just doesn't look to me like theres a need to "isolate & exterminate" every single muscle right from the beginning in a lifters training to train them adequately. But I'm aware that theres more than 1 school of thought on this...

"why are you brushing off the advice being given by more experienced members?" Err what?
1.) Last I've checked I did use the advice given by J.Moran.
2.) I'm not "brushing off" the advice given by gregron. I've explained I can't do those workouts due to not having access to a gym and asked whats so bad about my workout since going by my knowledge so far it should have a decent deal of "good" things.

"I would definitely echo the suggestion to do one of the routines from Kingbeef's thread if you want to begin bodybuilding." Bodybuilding isn't quite my goal. (Yeah I know... another one of these "functional strenght" guys! Ugh! :P)
More strength (useful for my martial arts training), added mass (= more power behind punches, etc) and increased health are my main goals... tho I certainly do care about looks, I wouldn't call what I'm doing bodybuilding.

Got it. Thanks for the example!
Variety, okay such as what? Incline bench? Some more dumbbell exercises?


I'm kinda still a beginner myself, but I see a lot of the new guys falling into the flawed logic that if you do compound exercises you can't do isolation lifts until you are "stronger."

A lot of people seem to think that doing isolation exercises is going to be detrimental to getting strong(er), when actually the exact opposite is true.

Your body doesn't see "compound" or "isolation" movements... it simply uses the easiest means to accomplish whatever task is at hand.

How do you expect some of the smaller muscles in your body to grow if you don't train them directly? The larger, stronger muscles are always going to compensate for the smaller, weaker muscles. The only way to really hit them is by doing isolation exercises.

Don't worry... your strength gains in your compound lifts are not going to magically drop by 50 lbs. just because you decided to do some calf raises or shoulder work. In fact, your main lifts might even go up after you've been training those smaller muscles for a bit. In any case, there's absolutely NO REASON not to do isolation exercises... unless you don't want to be bigger, faster, and stronger in less time.


Also, you mentioned "functional strength" in relation to body building...

How is it that body builders don't have "functional strength"? Are you suggesting the multitude of people on this site benching 170+ kg or deadlifting 250+ kg don't have "functional strength"? Those muscles that body builders don't just magically turn off when they aren't being used to lift weights in the gym. Any muscular gains made anywhere on your body will be "functional"

Strength and bodybuilding go hand in hand. You definately won't see any serious body builders using 25 lbs. dumb bells for curls, or just one plate on each side of the bar for squats. You have to be strong to get big muscles!


I was positive that my remark on "functional strength" made it clear that I'm actually NOT in the "do 1-legged squats on bosu balls - it'll make u strong, unlike those bloated weak bodybuilders!!!" camp, but I guess it can be hard to tell sarcasm over the Internet.
strong = big muscles | big muscles = strong. Yeah, I know that. Why does everyone assume that anyone who starts a thread in the beginners forum is retarded? Seriously.


Just noticed I didn't respond to the stiff leg DL's.
Was intending to do regular DL's but I suppose stiff legged ones would be better eh?

Another idea just hit me... I can do Glute Ham Rises. like this: http://www.kvusa.com/wl/floorghr.htm Dunno about adding them tho - opinions?


L-O-L thank you for that

Definitely, great exercise.

A typical setup will be 1-2 compound lifts followed by 2-4 isolation exercises.

You should also check out squatting on a "fitness" ball :wink:


I initially began lifting weights to supplement my martial arts training, however it wasn't until later that I realized it was a mistake to think that the way you lift for bodybuilding, and the way you lift to improve athletic function, were somehow completely different.

The dichotomy is created by a bunch of guys looking the sell shit. That's the honest truth.

If no one ever told you there was a difference, and you never read a single internet or magazine article on the subject, yet you knew that big strong guys lifted weights, and you wanted to get bigger and stronger to improve your martial arts skills... ask yourself what would you do?

Weight training isn't going to add some special element to your skillset that martial arts training won't. Unless you are literally a weight lifter, and the lifts you do are the skills of your sport that you practice daily, what weight training (coupled with diet) will do for a fighter is build muscle mass, because as we all should know force=(mass)x(acceleration).

The velocity you generate and your ability to recruit those muscles during a punch or a kick are dependent on your martial arts training more than anything. Being struck at the same velocity by a 140lb man with a 14inch arm will be drastically different than a punch from a 215lb man with an 18inch arm.

Bodybuilding is a sport or hobby in which we try to build as much muscle mass as possible, as quickly as possible. For that reason, through trial and error, bodybuilders obviously do it better than anybody else, and when we recommend you do a bodybuilding routine to build mass, we aren't suggesting you get on stage wearing a thong covered with oil. It's simply a fact that the fastest way to build muscle mass is to do what a bodybuilder does.