T Nation

Novice Upper/Lower Strength Split


I’ve tried Starting Strength a twice in the last year, both times giving up after a few months. I really like the program, but both times life got in the way. My weekend day was fine, but the sessions during the week were too long (family/9-6 job) and I couldn’t set aside enough time, especially on Power Clean days. Ended up stalling and resetting a lot because my training was hit or miss.

I’m starting back up a third time, but I think a four day split, with two on the weekends, shorter sessions would work better, and optional accessory work if I have time, would work better. I’d like to keep my weekday sessions to 45 minutes so I can lift over lunch. Any advice here would be greatly appreciated.

My current stats are:
Age: 32
Weight: 92kg
Squat (working set): 105 – progress still going good
Power Clean: 70 – still going good. Weight more due to technique than strength.
Deadlift: 125 – really starting to struggle to break the floor here.
Bench: 66 (bleh) – very slow, but steady progress. Started at 52kg and completed ~20 bench sessions.
Press: 45 (bleh) – very slow progress. Started at 32kg and completed ~20 press sessions.


Squat 3x5
PC 5x3
Accessory: Front Squat 2x8

Bench: 3x5
Press: 3x5
Accessory: Dips 2x8

Squat: 3x5
Deadlift: 1x5
Accessory: RDL 2x8

Press: 3x5
Bench: 3x5
Accessory: Pull up 2x8


Progression to SS is Madcow.

Be consistent. If you are not consistent, the program is irrelevant.

Make it a priority or dabble. Don’t care which. But, if you dabble, do not expect great results. Lack of time is an excuse, not a reason.

Any upper/lower wil work.


I’m a bit confused here. You were training 3 days per week and had trouble doing all the sessions so your solution is to add more sessions?

I think you’ll be better off doing either a 2 day per week program or if you want to stick with the Rip flavour do The Texas Method split as following:

Bench/Overhead Press* 5x5
Deadlift 1x5
Optional Accessory work

Squat 5x5
Optional Acessories

Light front squat (or regular squat) 2x5
Bench/Overhead Press* 3x5 (90% of previous week)
Chins 3x AMRAP (leave 2 in the tank)
Back Ext 3x10

Squat 1x5
Bench 1x5
Power Clean 5x3

*Alternate the press weekly. Ie.
Week 1: Saturday - bench, Tuesday - overhead, Thursday - bench
Week 2: saturday - overhead, Tuesday - bench, Thursday - overhead

You’ll find the sessions go fairly quickly, especially Tuesday


The problem was the length of the sessions during the work week, especially for the power clean day. I’m trying to spread the volume over more days, and with more of that volume on the weekend (i.e. putting cleans in Saturday).


Consider thr Texas Method split above. You’ll probably knock both weekday sessions over in 20-30 minutes



Now, in terms of how to make that work I think exactly which program you use will have an effect. Some are easier to fit around life than others (I’m also an early 30s family man, although I work shifts).

A great pick is 531 because of can pretty much go:

  • I have time. Sweet. Do my 531 sets, do my accessories and assistance; or

  • I’m a bit short of time. Oh well, I’ll do my 531 sets and as much of my accessories and assistance as I can fit in; or even

  • I’ve got fuck all time. Shit. I’ll just do my 531 sets and get out.

I can imagine something like Texas Method or Madcow being a bit harder to make fit like that.


I’m going to do my best to give advice as far as making time goes. I am not a family man and simply don’t know what that life is like so my apologies if what I say can’t work with that lifestyle.

As previously said, consistency is key, making it a habit to the point where you don’t even have to try hard anymore. If something is important to you, you will make time for it. Currently in college (I know, not nearly as busy a life as the work sector or family life) and even during a heavy finals week when time seems to be fleeting, I still get my gym time in. When I was in the Marines, on deployment my friends and I would squeeze gym time any hour we could get. That meant sacrificing our rare free time after or before patrols to go to the gym. I hated it at first, it meant skipping out on calling family, laying in my cot, but it eventually became second nature. If that means you gotta wake up early, or skipping out on some quiet “me” time, well as my friend used to say, “sacrifices must be made!” Hope this helps.