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Critique This Novice Upper/Lower Plan

Please critique my upper programme, designed for the more advanced novice/early intermediate. This programme utilizes both heavy and light training for each day. Progress is either adding reps on the 2x10-12 exercise or weight (1kg - 2.5kg) and the same on the heavy 3x5 exercises.

I understand full body is best and more effective for the novice, but the upper lower allows a little more variation and teaches the lifter different variations of exercises.

I am currently studying and training to become a fitness instructor and personal trainer, so any advise would be greatly appreciated.

Day one

Heavy bench light press

Bench press/floor press 3x5
Bent over row 3x5
Press variation 2x10-12 (landmine prese, db press, bar)
Lateral pull downs 2x10-12 (close grip or wide)
Triceps 2x8-10
Face pull 2x10-12

Heavy squat light deadlift variations

Front or back squat 3x5
Romanian deadlift/stiff leg 2x8-10
Calf exercise 2x10-12
Weighted plank

Heavy press light bench variation

Overhead press 3x5
Weighted chins 3x3-5
Bench variation 2x10-12 (incline,floor,db,barbell)
Row variation 2x10-12 (seated cable, db, barbell)
Bicep exercise 2x8-10
Side lateral raises 2x10-12

Heavy deadlift light squat

Deadlift 1x5
Squat variation 2x8-10
Leg curls 2x10-12
Weighted ab exercise.

Press variation

Dumbell press
One arm landmine press
Seated press

Bench variation

Db bench or floor press
Barbell bench or floor press
Incline dumbell or barbell press

Row variation

Seated cable row
Barbell row
Dumbell row

Lateral pull down

Wide grip
Close grip
Palms facing in or out.

Either of these similar but better…

Read 10 Dan John articles, especially ‘Southwood’ and 40 years of insight

Are you getting a certification or a degree? If it’s the former, buy yourself an anatomy textbook and a physiology textbook. If it’s the latter, you should be learning this stuff anyways.

Strive to understand:

  • Origins, insertions and actions of muscles of the upper arms, shoulders, chest, back, abdominal wall, hips and thighs
  • The three energy systems
  • Physiology of breathing and gas exchange
  • Physiology of heart rate, stroke volume and blood pressure regulation

Additionally, go to Khan Academy or something (if it isn’t covered in your physiology textbook) and cover the basic structure of the macronutrients, and a video explaining how they are broken down, utilised and stored. This will give you a much better bullshit detector when it comes to nutrition.

The textbooks we used in university (Bachelor of Physiotherapy) were:

  • Gray’s Anatomy for Students, 6th Ed.
  • Human Physiology: From Cells to Systems, 9th Ed.

Now, my response is very biased to understanding the basic sciences, as that’s the part of this that I find most interesting. Undoubtedly, my greatest shortcomings are that I’m an awful businessman and not the best communicator, so at some point working on those is highly beneficial too. In fact, it’s probably more beneficial than everything I just listed when it comes to achieving financial success.


Your programming is mostly fine. I would recommend adding one single-leg exercise to your heavy squat day and one loaded carry exercise to your heavy deadlift day.

Not bad at all, don’t overthink it to much. Ideally you should get strong enough that you can progress on to a push/pull/leg split within a couple of months.

Looks like a hit and run post but is this all one day??? I only see “day 1”

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