Illustration of a bodybuilder doing a 4-day workout split routine to gain muscle mass.

The Best 4-Day Workout Splits for Building Muscle

4-day workout splits are my favourite for intermediate lifters. 3-day splits are almost always better for beginners, but once you get to an intermediate level, adding a fourth day makes your workouts easier and stimulates more muscle growth.

When Marco was coaching professional and Olympic athletes, he would put them on 4-day splits during their offseason to help them bulk up. These people had the highest-performing bodies in the world, and they would lift 4 days per week.

You’ve got a few options. You could do a bodybuilder’s “Bro Split,” an athlete’s Upper/Lower Split, or you could try a slightly more unusual approach I’ve been using for the past 4 years with clients.

Before and after illustration of a man building muscle and losing fat (body recomposition) with a 4-day workout split.

How to Design a 4-Day Split

Training splits are a way of dividing up exercises to work your muscles hard enough, often enough. Let me quickly cover some of the factors to consider. That way, you understand what’s going on when we talk about the best 4-day workout routines.

There are plenty of ways to satisfy all these requirements, ranging from 2-day full-body routines to 6-day split routines:

What makes 4-day splits special is that they spread the workload so nicely throughout the week. For most intermediate lifters, the workouts are strenuous but manageable, the training volume is perfect, the frequency is ideal, and you still get plenty of rest days.

Illustration of a man doing the weighted dips exercise.

Are 4-Day Splits Good for Building Muscle?

Most research shows that 4-day splits can stimulate slightly more muscle growth than 2-day splits (study) and 3-day splits (study). They also have a long history of being used in bodybuilding and strength training. As I mentioned above, Marco would use them with professional and Olympic athletes.

I personally like them, too. 4-day splits helped me bulk from 180 pounds to 205 pounds. They brought my deadlift from 405×1 to 405×8. They brought my bench press from 250 to 315. They can be incredibly effective.

Illustration of a bodybuilder doing the leg press.

The 4-Day Upper/Lower Split

When I first met Marco, he had just finished studying under Eric Cressey, the head strength coach for the New York Yankees. Marco was working as the strength coach for his university football team and our Canadian Olympic rugby team. He adjusted the routines to suit the situation, but Upper/Lower Workout Splits were a staple of his, especially when his clients were trying to bulk up in the off-season.

Upper/Lower splits put half the emphasis on your lower body, giving you plenty of time for squat and deadlift variations. Those are two of the most important movement patterns for improving athletic performance. They’re also two of the best exercises for stimulating overall muscle growth.

You’ve also got two of each workout. That means you could use undulating periodization, doing lighter and heavier versions of each workout, training for both size and strength at the same time.

And you can put the rest days wherever you like, training on whichever 4 days you want to train on. Here’s the classic schedule:

Here’s a simple example of what a 4-day upper/lower split might look like:

Lower-Body Workout 1

Deadlifts4 sets5 reps
Squats4 sets5 reps
Leg Press3 sets8 reps
Step-Ups3 sets10 reps

This is the heavier lower-body day, so the main emphasis is on getting strong at squats and deadlifts. The leg press gives your quads some extra volume. Step-ups are a similar movement pattern to the deadlift, but they train your legs unilaterally—an important part of training for sports performance.

Upper-Body Workout 1

Bench Press4 sets6 reps
Weighted Chin-Ups4 sets6 reps
Overhead Press3 sets8 reps
T-Bar Rows3 sets8 reps

This is the heavier upper-body day, with the emphasis on getting stronger at the bench press, chin-up, and overhead press. The T-bar row gives your back some extra volume, speeding up its growth.

Lower-Body Workout 2

Leg Press4 sets12 reps
Romanian Deadlift3 sets12 reps
Split Squats3 sets12 reps
Calf Raises3 sets15 reps

This second lower-body workout is designed to stimulate muscle growth in your lower body. We’re training the same movement patterns, but we’re choosing exercise variations that make it easier to train in a moderate rep range.

Upper-Body Workout 2

Pull-Ups3 setsAMRAP*
Push-Ups (or Dips)3 setsAMRAP
Dumbbell Press3 sets12 reps
Dumbbell Row3 sets12 reps
*AMRAP: As Many Reps As Possible

This second upper-body workout is designed to bulk up your upper body. It starts with pull-ups and push-ups, both of which improve your core strength along with your pulling and pressing muscles. The dumbbell press and row will add some extra volume while training your arms unilaterally.

The 4-Day Push/Pull Split

The 4-day push/pull workout is similar to the upper/lower routine. The difference is that instead of dividing your workouts between your upper body and lower body, you divide them between pushing and pulling movements.

Pushing exercises include:

  • Front squats for your quads.
  • The bench press for your chest.
  • The overhead press for your shoulders.
  • Skull crushers for your triceps.
  • Neck extensions for your neck.

Pulling exercises include:

  • Deadlifts and barbell rows for your posterior chain.
  • Chin-ups for your upper back.
  • Biceps curls for your biceps.
  • Neck curls for your neck.
  • Forearm curls for your forearms.

4-day push/pull workout routines are pretty flexible, but most of them are scheduled like this:

  • Monday: Push Workout 1
  • Tuesday: Pull Workout 1
  • Wednesday: Rest
  • Thursday: Push Workout 2
  • Friday: Pull Workout 2
  • Saturday: Rest
  • Sunday: Rest

Here’s a simple example of how a 4-day push/pull routine might look:

Push Workout 1

Squats4 sets8 reps
Push-Ups4 setsAMRAP*
Overhead Press3 sets10 reps
Overhead Triceps Extension3 sets12 reps
Lateral Raise3 sets12 reps
*AMRAP: As Many Reps As Possible.

This first push workout focuses on squats and horizontal presses (chest), with a secondary emphasis on your shoulders and triceps.

Pull Workout 1

Conventional Deadlift3 sets6 reps
T-Bar Rows3 sets10 reps
Biceps Curl3 sets10 reps
Reverse Fly3 sets15 reps

This first pull workout focuses on deadlifts and horizontal pulls (upper back + spinal erectors), with a secondary emphasis on your biceps and shoulders.

Push Workout 2

Overhead Press4 sets8 reps
Leg Press3 sets6 reps
Close-Grip Bench Press3 sets10 reps
Skull Crushers3 sets12 reps
Neck Extensions3 sets12 reps

The second push workout focuses on vertical pressing (shoulders), with a secondary emphasis on your quads, chest, triceps, and neck. You can swap the neck exercise for another exercise if you don’t want to build a bigger neck.

Pull Workout 2

Weighted Chin-Up3 sets6 reps
Romanian Deadlift3 sets8 reps
Barbell Curl3 sets10 reps
Neck Curl3 sets15 reps
Forearm Curl3 sets15 reps

The second pull workout focuses on vertical pulls (upper back + lats) and does a better job of working your hamstrings. There’s a secondary emphasis on your biceps, forearms, and neck. You can swap the neck exercise for another isolation exercise.

Illustration of a bodybuilder doing a 4-day Bro Split workout routine.

The 4-Day Bro Split

The most popular 4-day split is the Bro Split. It focuses on aesthetics instead of athletics. It’s the default routine for most casual bodybuilders. It’s a push/pull/legs routine with an extra arm day. It’s usually scheduled like this:

This split is often criticized for not training your muscles often enough. After all, if you only train each muscle once per week, those muscles will only grow for 2–4 days of the week. However, if you’re clever about it, you can sneak some arm exercises into your push and pull days, and you can sneak some pushing and pulling into your arm day.

Here’s a basic example of what a 4-day Bro Split might look like:

Workout 1: Chest Day

Bench Press4 sets8 reps
Overhead Press3 sets10 reps
Overhead Triceps Extension3 sets12 reps
Lateral Raise3 sets12 reps

The bench press is amazing for your chest and good for your front delts. The overhead press is even better for your front delts. It also works your side delts. Overhead triceps extensions are for your triceps—especially the long head. Lateral raises ensure that your side delts get worked hard enough to grow.

Workout 2: Back Day

Deadlifts3 sets5 reps
Chin-Ups3 setsAMRAP*
Biceps Curls3 sets10 reps
Reverse Flyes3 sets15 reps
*AMRAP: As Many Reps As Possible.

Deadlifts work your hips, hamstrings, and entire back. Chin-ups work your back again, this time putting more emphasis on your lats. Biceps curls are great for your biceps, especially after chin-ups. Reverse flyes are for your rear delts.

Workout 3: Leg Day

Squats3 sets6 reps
Good Mornings3 sets8 reps
Standing Calf Raises3 sets15 reps
Hanging Leg Raises3 setsAMRAP

Squats are great for your quads and hips. Good mornings work your hamstrings and spinal erectors. Standing calf raises are great for your calves. Hanging leg raises are one of the best ab exercises.

Workout 4: Arm Day

Close-Grip Bench Press3 sets8 reps
Rows3 sets12 reps
Overhead Triceps Extensions3 sets12 reps
Biceps Curls3 sets12 reps
Forearm Curls3 sets15 reps

Arm Day has more exercises, but the exercises tend to be easier. The close-grip bench press works your chest and shoulders but puts even more emphasis on your triceps (lateral and medial heads). Rows are great for your upper back, brachialis (under your biceps), and forearms. Overhead extensions are for the long head of your triceps. Biceps curls are perfect for your biceps. Forearm curls hit the forearm muscles the rows missed.

The 4-Day Outlift Split (My Favourite)

This is how we built the 4-day Outlift workout routine. It has a full-body workout, a lower-body workout, and two upper-body workouts. That allows you to train your favourite muscles up to 3 times per week, keeping them growing all week long. It also gives you more freedom to do supersets, helping to keep your workouts more efficient.

  • Monday: Full-body workout
  • Tuesday: Rest
  • Wednesday: Upper-body workout 1
  • Thursday: Rest
  • Friday: Lower-body workout
  • Saturday: Upper-body workout 2
  • Sunday: Rest

You can shuffle the workouts around to best fit your schedule, but ideally, you’d have a rest day between the first and second workouts. That way, each muscle has at least two days to recover before being trained again.

In my humble opinion, this is the best overall 4-day split for gaining muscle and strength. If you want to emphasize your legs, you can train them even more frequently than with an Upper/Lower Split. If you want to emphasize your upper body, you can work it even harder than with a Bro Split. We built those customization options into the program, allowing you to pick what you want to focus on from dropdown menus.

Here’s a basic example of what a 4-day Outlift Split might look like:

Full-Body Workout

Squats3 sets6 reps
Good Mornings3 sets9 reps
Biceps Curls3 sets10 reps
Neck Curls3 sets20 reps

Squats are great for your quads and good for your hips. Good mornings are great for your lower back, hips, and hamstrings. Biceps curls are perfect for your biceps. Neck curls will bulk up your neck. You can swap the neck curls for any isolation exercise.

Upper Body Workout 1

Bench Press3 sets8 reps
Rows3 sets12 reps
Overhead Triceps Extensions3 sets12 reps
Neck Extensions3 sets20 reps

The bench press is great for your chest and good for your shoulders. Rows are great for your upper back and lats. Overhead extensions are the best exercise for your triceps. Neck extensions will bulk up the back of your neck. You can swap the neck extensions for any isolation exercise.

Lower-Body Workout

Deadlifts3 sets7 reps
Squats3 sets9 reps
Hanging Leg Raise3 setsMax Reps
Neck Curls3 sets20 reps

Deadlifts will bulk up your entire posterior chain, from your hamstrings to your traps. Squats balance them out, working your quads and glutes. Hanging leg raises work your abs. Neck curls can be swapped out for any isolation exercise.

Upper-Body Workout 2

Chin-Ups3 setsAMRAP*
Overhead Press3 sets7 reps
Dips3 setsAMRAP
Lateral Raises3 sets12 reps
*AMRAP: As Many Reps As Possible.

Chin-ups are perfect for your upper back and lats. The overhead press is great for your front delts and good for your side delts. Dips are fantastic for your chest and good for your triceps. Lateral raises give your side delts some extra attention.


4-day workout routines aren’t the only good training split for intermediate lifters—you could do 3 harder workouts or 5 easier ones—but they often make for the best default, especially when you’re serious about building muscle or striving for body recomposition.

If you’re training for athletic performance, I recommend an upper/lower split. They’re better for bulking up your legs. If you’re trying to gain muscle and strength, I recommend the Outlift Split (full/upper/lower/upper), but Bro Splits are also quite good.

The Outlift Intermediate Hypertrophy Training Program (4-Day Split)

If you want a fully optimized 4-day workout split, check out our Outlift Intermediate Hypertrophy Program. It includes a 15-week customizable workout routine with guided progressive overload. It also comes with a full hypertrophy training guide. I think you’d really like it.

It isn’t quite the same routine as the one we outlined in this article. It has the same structure, but we’ve gotten more creative with the programming. The first phase is loosely inspired by classic bodybuilding, the second by modern natural bodybuilding, and the third uses undulating periodization, as many powerbuilding programs do.

Shane Duquette is the co-founder of Outlift, Bony to Beastly, and Bony to Bombshell. He's a certified conditioning coach with a degree in design from York University in Toronto, Canada. He's personally gained 70 pounds and has over a decade of experience helping over 10,000 skinny people bulk up.

Marco Walker-Ng is the co-founder and strength coach of Outlift, Bony to Beastly, and Bony to Bombshell, and is a certified trainer (PTS) with a Bachelor's degree in Health Sciences (BHSc) from the University of Ottawa. His specialty is helping people build muscle to improve their strength and general health, with clients including college, professional, and Olympic athletes.

How to build 20 to 30 pounds of muscle in 30 days. Even if you have failed before


  1. Farhan Hussain on November 22, 2020 at 1:50 pm

    Hi Shane, 4 days workouts are quite useful. Many strength/powerlifting programs are also based on 4 days a week.

    You have discussed full body + upper lower combination above. However, in both the full body days, I could not find upper body pressing and pulling. Is there any reason for this?

    What I have known till now is that, to qualify as a full body workout, there has to be at least one exercise each for upper body pulling, upper body pressing, and one lower body exercise.

    • Shane Duquette on November 22, 2020 at 2:25 pm

      Hey Farhan, yeah! I’ve seen a lot of strength, powerlifting, and powerbuilding programs using 4-day routines, with upper/lower splits seeming the most common.

      The first full-body day includes front squats, good mornings, and curls, both of which train the upper back, albeit isometrically. You’re correct that there’s no pressing, but that’s okay—we’re only aiming for a frequency of 2–3 times per week. The second full-body day includes the bench press and barbell row, which are absolutely upper-body pressing and pulling movements. And then, of course, we have more upper-body pressing and pulling on the upper-body day, which is how we hit our frequency of 2–3 times per week for all of those muscles.

      As for what counts as a full-body workout, I think the idea is train most of the muscles in our bodies. I mean, if you have a full-body workout consisting of a squat, bench press, and barbell row, it satisfies your definition, but there’s nothing for the hamstrings, biceps, neck, calves, abs, and so on. Similarly, our sample full-body workouts don’t train every muscle enough to provoke growth, but they do train a wide variety of muscles throughout our bodies. But this is just semantics. We could just call them a most-body workouts instead of full-body workouts 😛

      Also, keep in mind that these are just samples. It’d be fair to look at that routine and want more pulling movements, say. In that case, you’d swap or add those pulling movements in 🙂

  2. Farhan Hussain on November 23, 2020 at 5:46 am

    Yes Shane, I like your using the term “most body workout” it gives more accurate picture. In fact most of the full body workouts we see on internet or texts are infact most body in nature.

    Shane, can we replace neck curls with shrugs? Do these work same muscle?

    Secondly, I have a feeling that whenever squats and deadlifts or their variations are used in an upper-lower split, the program no longer remains an upper-lower. Reason is that squats and deadlifts, although primarily lower body lifts, heavily engage upper body. Deadlifts directly and actively engage traps and arms whereas squats use them passively. Lats are also under significant load in both. Spinal errectors are almost equally used in both. So I believe it interferes with recovery from upper body workouts.

    I think pull-push split is more realistic because squats being lower body push goes with pressing days and deadlifts being lower body pulls merge into pulling days.

    How do you see this.

    • Shane Duquette on November 23, 2020 at 8:42 am

      Yes, you’re right. All of the names for workout types are approximations. When you do a pull workout, say, doing chin-ups or pullovers, then you work the long head of your triceps, which pulls your elbow back towards your torso. So you’re working a “push” muscle, you know? Same with leg workouts, where you often wind up working your spinal erectors and traps. So a full-body workout is a most-body workout, a pull workout is a mostly-pull workout, a leg workout is a mostly-leg workout, and so on. But that’s okay. When programming workouts, we need to keep those things in mind, but that doesn’t invalidate the idea of focusing some workouts more on some muscles than others.

      For your example, talking about spinal erector fatigue, that can happen. If you do a deadlift one day and you’re training your upper back the next day, yeah, you might want to do chest-supported t-bar rows instead of barbell rows to spare your spinal erectors. Or chin-ups. Or lat pulldowns. That kind of thing.

      Push/pull splits can work, too. There are a lot of good ways of organizing splits.

      Neck curls and shrugs work different muscles. Neck curls work the sternocleidomastoid muscles, which are the muscles along the front of your neck, which make your neck look thicker. The shrug works the upper traps, which are the muscles that connect your shoulders to your neck, making your shoulder girdle look more muscular. A good neck routine should include lifts for both of those muscles, as well the spinal erectors on the back of your neck, which you can train with neck extensions.

      • Farhan Hussain on November 23, 2020 at 1:06 pm

        Thanks a lot Shane, for the detailed reply. Appreciated.

        • Shane Duquette on November 23, 2020 at 1:27 pm

          My pleasure, Farhan! I hope it helps.

          • Farhan Hussain on November 23, 2020 at 1:41 pm

            Yes sure.

  3. Thomas on November 25, 2020 at 4:50 am

    Hi Shane, love the program.
    I find the workout #2 the least tiring, while workout #3 and #4 the most tiring. So now I am doing workout #1 and #2 without rest day in between, and workout #3 and #4 with rest day in between.
    #1 and #2 are a bit fatiguing for the lower back but it is manageable.
    #3 and #4 are very fatiguing for the lower and upper back so i prefer to put a day of rest so to maximize the performance.
    Wondering if anyone else does it this way..

    • Shane Duquette on November 25, 2020 at 9:53 am

      Hey Thomas, so glad to hear that you’re liking the Outlift Program! 😀

      Yeah, it’s okay to schedule the workouts that way. And I hear you about workout 3 being hard enough on the spinal erectors that an extra day of rest can make sense.

  4. JK on November 26, 2020 at 12:48 pm

    Hi, I’m doing a 4 day training routine but slightly different than the ones you’ve described (duh there are so many possibilities no way you could list all of them). But I’m just wondering what you think about it 🙂

    Day 1 : Turkish getup 10 min, front squats 3×8, dumbbell rows 3×8, standing pullover 3×6, alternating dumbbell curls 3×12

    Day 2: Kettlebell swings 10×10, kettlebell clean & press 3×6, bench press 3×10, dumbbell fly 3×10, skullcrusher 3×10

    Day 3: rest

    Day 4: repeat day 1

    Day 5: repeat day 2

    Day 6 and 7: rest

    Thx for any kind of answer 🙂

    • Shane Duquette on November 26, 2020 at 3:17 pm

      Hey JK, that routine sounds really cool!

      The Turkish get-ups, kettlebell swings, and kettlebell clean and presses aren’t hypertrophy lifts. They aren’t ideal for building muscle. But they’re great for developing athleticism, power, and general strength. They’re great movements. And you’ve got a great selection of good muscle-building and strength lifts there, too. Looks great.

  5. Farhan Hussain on November 27, 2020 at 2:09 am

    Hi Shane, if given a choice, do you think 4 days a week would yield better results than 3 days a week provided that you keep all other parameters the same ie choose same big lifts, reps, sets, intensity, etc. for both options?

    • Shane Duquette on November 27, 2020 at 7:34 am

      Hey Farhan, fair question.

      I think the main advantage of adding a fourth day is that it spreads the training volume out over an extra day. For an oversimplified example, let’s say that the ideal number of sets per week for your muscles is 10. Is that easier to fit into a 3-day routine or a 4-day routine? And which gives you better workouts, where you have enough energy to do each set with good effort?

      For a beginner or early intermediate, oftentimes 3-day workouts are better for that. There’s a bit less soreness to juggle, rest times can be shorter, the ideal volume isn’t that high, and most beginners aren’t trying to juggle a bunch of isolation lifts for lagging muscle groups (calf raises, forearm curls, etc). 3 intense workouts per week works very well.

      But when those workouts get difficult, yeah, I think there can be a real muscle-building advantage to adding a fourth day, especially if you’re trying to bulk up almost everything at once. Maybe as an intermediate, you only have enough energy to manage 3–5 exercises per workout, and doing them takes a full hour. In that case, a 3-day routine allows for 9–15 sets overall, whereas a 4-day routine allows for 12–20. That can be a real advantage. And if the sets you’re adding in are, say, 4 sets for your neck, then the 4-day routine is allowing you to bulk up an area that you didn’t have time for with the 3-day routine.

      With that said, if you prefer training 3 days per week (as I do), then you can simply do specialization phases. Scale back the volume on some muscle groups to make room for others. For example, spend 3 months focusing on your chest and bench press while making slower progress on everything else, then spend a couple of months building bigger arms while scaling back the chest training, and so on.

      So, yes, if you’re an intermediate lifter and you have the time for it, 4-day routines can offer an advantage. But if you aren’t doing extra exercises or sets, or if it isn’t giving you more energy, then that advantage disappears.

      • Farhan Hussain on November 27, 2020 at 7:48 am

        Thank you so much Shane , for the detailed response. It clears up my confusion.

        3 intense workouts leave me exhausted, adding 4th day for some easier stuff and isolation work for lagging parts is good idea.

  6. Giovanni on November 27, 2020 at 7:04 am

    the article contains your answer already. They are the same. But four days are less tiring

    • Farhan Hussain on November 27, 2020 at 7:41 am

      Hi Giovanni, I actually mean 3 days per week split routine vs 4 days a week split routine. Article has discussed 3 days per week full body routines.

      • Shane Duquette on November 27, 2020 at 7:46 am

        Oh, oops, I answered your question incorrectly then. 3-day routines are good but they aren’t ideal. 4-day splits are better. We’ve got an article discussing 3-day split routines here.

        • Farhan Hussain on November 27, 2020 at 7:50 am

          That’s okey Shane, no problem, I shall check the linked article shortly.

  7. Shawn on January 3, 2021 at 1:13 pm

    Hi Shane! Loving the article! I’ve got a few questions regarding the full body + upper/lower routine if you dont mind.

    1. As a intermediate lifter, are 4 workout exercises per session enough? Because to my understanding, it’s usually at least 5-6 workouts.
    2. I usually find it easier if I just round up the reps to 10 but I would genuinely like to know is there a reason behind certain workouts being less than 10 reps? IE: deadlift, bench press etc…

    Thanks in advance for the reply Shane!

    • Shane Duquette on January 3, 2021 at 1:53 pm

      Hey Shawn, thank you!

      You’re asking if doing 4 exercises per workout is enough for an intermediate lifter? We often use more exercises for beginners, fewer for intermediates. Beginners aren’t as good at activating their muscles, aren’t as strong, don’t have as much muscle, and so they don’t need to rest as long between sets and don’t get as fatigued. For stronger lifters, though, they often need to do more warm-up sets and they may need to rest 3–5 minutes between each exercise, and so doing more exercises each workout can really start to drag. It’s up to you, though. You can do more if you have the time and energy for it.

      10 reps per set is great, yeah. No problem with that. We normally do fewer reps on the bigger lifts just to make it a bit easier. Squats and deadlifts can get pretty tough when you do them for 10+ reps. They still work great, though.

  8. Johan Salvador on March 7, 2021 at 12:49 pm

    Hi, I was wondering weather this should be done with heavy weight or moderate? I don’t think it states this in the article. I know usually with hypertrophic exercises it’s preferred not going heavy.

    • Shane Duquette on March 7, 2021 at 2:03 pm

      Hey Johan,

      We gave some sample rep ranges and we recommend bringing your sets near failure. From that, you can tell how heavy to lift.

      So with something like this:

      Front Squat: 4×8 for your chest.

      What we’re recommending is doing 4 sets of 8 repetitions with a weight that you can do around 10 reps with. That’s probably around 75% of your 1-rep max, which isn’t TOO heavy.

  9. Jason on March 23, 2021 at 12:18 pm

    Hi Shane,

    In the listing of the 1st 4 day workout (4-DAY FULL-BODY SPLIT) it shows the following:

    (Workout 3): Incline Bench Press: 3×8 for your glutes and hamstrings.
    (Workout 4): Chin-Up: 3×8 for your glutes and hamstrings.

    I think the muscles worked descriptions are incorrect. However before I start the workout I want to make sure the descriptions are the incorrect item and not the workout. I.E. the exercise names are mistakes but the descriptions are correct.

    Hope that makes sense and not trying to nitpick I just want to do the exercises exactly as they are listed.

    • Shane Duquette on March 23, 2021 at 1:29 pm

      Are you telling me that you don’t aren’t using your glutes and hamstrings to do the bench press and chin-ups?

      I’ve updated the article to be more clear, though.

      • Jason on March 23, 2021 at 3:07 pm

        The way I have been known to cheat on heavy weight exercises its a distinct possibility lol.

        Thank you for clarifying before I started!

        • Shane Duquette on March 23, 2021 at 6:15 pm

          And I’m sorry for the mistake! I switched around the exercises but forgot to switch the descriptions :S

  10. Derrick on October 12, 2021 at 9:42 am

    Thank you so much for this (and all) your wonderful information. I have a quick question/problem and would like advice:

    I only have four days a week available to go to the gym BUT they’re four consecutive days. There’s no way for me to change that. How can I best work out for size with that schedule? Fortunately, I can use the other three days to do body weight and pull up bar stuff, if that helps.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    • Shane Duquette on October 12, 2021 at 11:25 am

      Hey Derrick, I think you’re in a pretty good place. You can still do most of these splits. Upper/lower is probably the best for you since you’d work your muscles twice per week and have a day of rest before working the same muscles again. And then if you wanted, you could toss in a bodyweight workout in the middle of that 3-day period.

      • Derrick on October 12, 2021 at 12:47 pm

        I really appreciate your time. I’m happy because that was exactly my thought too! So I must be learning. Haha, thanks again!

  11. Abdullah on November 28, 2021 at 2:53 pm

    hey, so i started lifting 2 weeks ago and i needed a program that fits for me
    17 year old, 60kg, can only do 4 times a week. Its a bit similar to this one
    So i created one for my own (pls give it a look) as an upper lower split that is time efficient, all the supersets are just to save time because the equipment is next to each other
    Is this a good routine for bodybuilding? i want a balanced physique but i dont care about the glutes, i also want to improve my dips, pullups and pushups numbers
    thx for the help (ignore the the weight pls i know im weak)

    cycle: Week 1-2: RPE 7 (2 rep in the tank for sure)
    Week 3-4: RPE 7.5 (1 rep in the tank, maybe 2)
    Week 5-6: RPE 8 (1 rep in the tank, failure at the last set)
    deload: RPE 6 with half the weight
    –Tuesday: Torso day–
    pushups/dynamic stretching as warm up
    superset: 1min rest in-between
    bench press 3×6-10 30kg 2-3min rest chest, front delts
    reverse pec deck fly 3×10-15 rear delt
    superset: 1.5min rest in-between
    Egyptian lateral raises 3x 10-15 side delt
    pullups 3 sets AMAP
    superset: 1.5min rest in-between
    t bar 45dergee row 3×6-15 15kg back
    lat pulldowns 3×8-15 45kg
    dumbbell slight incline press 3×8-12 12kg/ 3 sets of dips AMAP

    –Wednsday: Limps–
    chin ups/dips superset as warm up
    Front squat 3×6-12 40kg 2.5min rest
    Deadlift 3×6-12 0kg 2.5min rest
    superset: 1min rest in-between
    Seated Calf raise 4×12-20 15kg
    Leg extensions 3×10-16 20kg
    superset: 1min rest in-between
    Ez-bar bicep curl 3×8-16 5kg
    Ez-bar skullcrushers 3×8-16 5kg
    Leg curls 3×8-14 25kg 2min rest

    superset: 1min rest in-between
    Chin ups 3xAMAP Tricep pushdown 3×12-16 25kg
    Pushups 2xAMAP

    3. –Friday: Torso day–
    pushups/dynamic stretching as warm up
    superset: 1.5min rest in-between
    chest supported row 3×6-15 15kg back
    lat pulldowns 3×8-15 45kg
    superset: 1min rest in-between
    bench press 3×6-10 30kg 2-3min rest chest, front delts
    reverse pec deck fly 3×10-15 rear delt
    superset: 1.5min rest in-between
    DB lateral raises 3×10-15 6kg side delt
    pullups monkey bar 3 sets AMAP
    dumbbell slight incline press 3×8-12 12kg/ 3 sets of dips AMAP 4. –Saturday: Limps–
    chin ups/dips superset as warm up
    Deadlift 3×6-12 0kg 2.5min rest
    Front squat 3×6-12 40kg 2.5min rest
    calf press 4×12-20 45kg 1.5min rest
    Leg extensions 3×10-16 20kg 2min rest
    superset: 1min rest in-between
    Ez-bar skullcrushers 3×8-16 5kg
    Ez-bar bicep curl 3×8-16 5kg
    Leg curls 3×8-14 25kg 2min rest
    superset: 1min rest in-between
    Chin ups 3xAMAP
    Tricep pushdown 3×12-16 25kg
    Pushups 2xAMAP

  12. ech on February 1, 2022 at 11:23 pm

    I like working out 4 days per week, but I don’t understand the point of splits. Wouldn’t it be better to spread similar exercises out more? For example, consider these two days from the upper/lower split example:

    1: squat, rdl, leg extension, leg curl
    2: bench, skull, row, curl

    I think I could do more weight on the skull crushers if I swapped with leg extensions and did them on day 1, rather than doing them right after bench.

    But, this idea of doing similar exercises all at once seems very popular, with one well-known programming author actually recommending bench, press, weighted dips, overhead tricep extensions in the same workout. This makes the extensions at the end really hard.

    What is the point? Is there a benefit to getting one part really tired even if it means less volume (weight x reps) overall?

    • Shane Duquette on February 2, 2022 at 8:42 am

      Hey Ech, that’s a good question, yeah.

      First off, your example is still a split. A split is any routine where the exercises are different from workout to workout. Most full-body routines are full-body “splits” because each full-body workout is at least slightly different. That includes the classic ones like Starting Strength.

      Back in the old days of natural bodybuilding, though, you did have some guys who did the same exercises every workout. If I recall correctly, the famous Steve Reeves workout was a single workout that he’d do every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Same exercises, rep range, and sets. He’d just progressively overload the exercises as he got bigger and stronger.

      The reason that the bench press and skull crushers go well together is that the bench press works the mid-chest and front delts fairly completely, but it doesn’t do a great job of working the long heads of the triceps or the lateral delts. So what you can do to make up for that is to include some triceps extensions and lateral raises alongside the bench press. That should get you about twice as much growth in your triceps and side delts from that workout.

      You’re right that doing the bench press will reduce the weight you can lift on your triceps extensions, but that’s not the end of the world. In fact, for a lot of people, that’s a good thing. Doing skull crushers as the first exercise for your triceps can be hard on your elbows, especially if you haven’t warmed them up yet. Doing them after the bench press often feels a lot better.

      If you’re only working out 3 days per week, you’ll want to hit most muscles most workouts. That way you’re training all of your muscles 2–3 times per week, keeping them growing all week long. When you’re training 4 days per week, body-part splits make more sense. That way you can give your muscles time to recover while you train other muscles. For instance: lower body one day, upper body the next.

      Finally, the more sets you do per muscle group, the more muscle growth you’ll stimulate, at least to a point. For example, let’s say that doing 6 sets for your chest each workout stimulates more muscle growth than doing just 3 sets. To get those 6 sets, you could do 6 sets of the bench press. But you’d get more balanced muscle growth if you did a wider variety of exercises. Maybe that means doing 3 sets of the bench press followed by 3 sets of push-ups or dips.

      But I generally agree with you that doing several similar exercises in a row can be a waste of time. I wouldn’t tell someone to do the bench press, then the dumbbell bench press, and then push-ups. That’s too much for the same area of the chest. I’d rather see someone do an incline bench press (for the upper chest and front delts), then dips (for the lower chest), and then triceps extensions (for the triceps).

      I hope that makes sense. I’m happy to clarify anything 🙂

      • ech on February 5, 2022 at 2:08 am

        Thanks! OK good point, I worded my question wrong: what I mean to ask is why not take exactly the exercises/sets/reps & days you would do with e.g. a 4 day upper/lower split and just “spread them out” into a 4 day full-body split?

        Incline, dips, and extensions makes sense! In fact I added overhead extensions instead of just presses because of your advice about this elsewhere on the site.

        But: wouldn’t you be able to lift more if you spread those out on different days? If I do extensions after incline & dips in the same workout, I would think I won’t be able to do as much weight on my extensions as I would if I did them after squatting instead. You mentioned recovery: is it better to rest a given muscle group and do all the sets for it 2x per week?

        • Shane Duquette on February 10, 2022 at 9:47 am

          As a general rule of thumb, it helps to give your muscles time to recover before training them again. That’s why body-part splits are so popular with people who train more than 3 days per week. What you’re describing is a higher frequency of training, where some muscles are trained two days in a row. That’s okay. You just need to be more mindful of recovery. I wouldn’t use a 4-day full-body split as a default, but it can absolutely work 🙂

          In most of our workouts, we do compound lifts before isolation lifts. And you’re right, by the time we get to our biceps curls and triceps extensions, we’ve already worked our biceps and triceps with chin-ups, rows, bench presses, and chin-ups. That means we won’t be as strong on those isolation lifts. That doesn’t seem to have a big impact on hypertrophy, though. Plus, with triceps extensions, it seems to be friendlier on our joints.

          If you want to do your curls and extensions on different days or earlier in the workout, that’s totally fine. But if you’re training those muscles 4 days per week, you might be training them in a fatigued state. Their strength might suffer because they aren’t fully recovered from yesterday’s workout. But that depends. It can be a good approach. And if you had the specific goal of getting stronger at biceps curls, it might help to do biceps curls first in some workouts.

          As a default, we recommend training your muscles 2–3x per week. But 4–6x is fine in some cases. It depends. I just wouldn’t use high-frequency splits as a default. It’s much harder to manage recovery, especially in your joints and tendons.

  13. Andrew on June 12, 2022 at 9:53 am

    Good afternoon Shane. I have trained for some years and I know more isn’t always best but I am again looking into changing my program going from alternative upper/lower Inc weekends. Looking at a push/pull working each twice a week but I feel I need more back and also quad work. What would you recommend.


  14. Joshua on June 20, 2022 at 2:48 am

    Hi Shane,
    Do you have any recommendations for accessories (1-2) for the 4-day push/pull split (last one you recommended)?

  15. Abraham on August 30, 2022 at 11:54 pm

    Hi Shane,
    Why Is there only one chest movement in the 4-day upper/lower split?

    • Shane Duquette on September 6, 2022 at 11:01 am

      Hey Abraham, good question! These are just supposed to be minimalistic templates that you can use as a base. You can add extra exercises or volume on top. That wasn’t clear, though, so I’ve added a section on it. In our programs, we usually do this by having dropdown menus where you pick from a variety of suitable lifts. That way you can build on the foundation in a way that suits your body and your goals.

      Upper/lower routines are usually favoured by people who are trying to prioritize lower-body growth. Maximizing chest growth usually isn’t usually the focus. If you wanted to do an upper/lower routine with more chest emphasis, though, you can add in extra chest work. Think of adding exercises like dips, push-ups, incline bench presses, chest flyes, or some chest presses on a chest press machine. You could add one lift to each upper-body workout.

  16. Josh on September 23, 2023 at 2:44 pm

    If you had to pick one of the above routines to start back after injuries and losing 35 pounds, which of these would you pick to get a little size back the quickest?
    Thanks and God bless

    • Shane Duquette on September 23, 2023 at 3:23 pm

      Oi, sorry to hear about the injuries, Josh!

      Bro Splits can be incredibly fun, but if you’re looking to regain a bunch of lost muscle mass, I think you’ll do better with heartier workouts and a higher training frequency. I think the last split—the hybrid split—would work best. It also happens to be my favourite. (It’s the one we use in our Outlift Bulking Program.)

      All of them will serve you well, though. If you prefer another, that’s okay. There’s more than one right answer.

  17. Darren on October 14, 2023 at 3:14 pm

    Looks like this article just got an update, which is cool. I had read a previous version of this article and started honing in on the lower/upper 4 day split. I’m a tennis player and my legs are skinnier than my upper body, so I like the even distribution. I also like to take weekends off of lifting so I prefer the way the lower/upper split can be done on 4 weekdays.

    I just bought the Outlift program with the lower/upper 4-day split in mind. The spreadsheets seem more sophisticated than the b2B ones, which were already pretty good, so that’s exciting. I’ll admit, though, that I was a bit disappointed to discover that there’s only one four day split in the Outlift program, the full/full/lower/upper. Granted, I can reorganize the program and modify the spreadsheets on my own, but I wish the program itself came with the lower/upper split built in.

    • Shane Duquette on October 14, 2023 at 3:34 pm

      Hey Darren,

      Yep! I just updated the article. The recommendations are the same, but I think it’s quite a bit clearer now.

      Upper/Lower splits are great. We’ve been thinking about making one. It’s tricky to make a program for athletic performance, though, because every sport is different. For example, rugby players benefit from having powerful legs, whereas gymnasts benefit from having lighter legs. Tennis seems to be somewhere in the middle. Looking at the top players, their legs aren’t anywhere near as muscular as a rugby player’s. Still strong, though.

      You can do the full/full/lower/upper on the same days as you’d do an upper/lower split. If you swap push-ups for the dumbbell press on Day 1 (using the dropdown menu), you can do the 2 days back-to-back without any issues at all.

      I hear you. The Outlift program is one program, not a bundle of different programs. It has a 3-day, 4-day, and 5-day workout routine, and each of those routines has an easy and hard mode, and each is customisable, but they’re all using the same methods, working towards the same goals. If we make an Upper/Lower program, we’d build it around improving overall athletic performance, and it would have a whole different guide, different programming style.

      Let me know if there’s anything I can do to help. I hope none of what I said was misleading. The article explains which split the Outlift Program uses, but maybe that isn’t clear enough.

      • Darren on October 14, 2023 at 5:30 pm

        Thanks for the speedy reply, Shane. This version of the article is indeed very clear that Outlift uses the full/full/lower/upper 4-day split. I’m not sure it was as clear in the previous version. I figured that the customizable nature of Outlift meant I’d be able to select from the different kinds of 4-day workouts you recommend. That said, I have no problem tinkering in excel and think that I’ve learned enough from these articles to adjust Outlift to a lower/upper split. If you or Marco think there are specific things I should be aware of when doing that, given the specific flow of Outlift’s phased approach, please holler back.

        P.S. My legs are at very low risk of becoming too big 😉

        • Shane Duquette on October 14, 2023 at 5:35 pm

          Hah! My legs are low-risk as well.

          You can absolutely adjust the program as you see fit. I’m happy to help if you have questions. Tinkering with programs is one of the great joys of life. And unlike with tequila, the next-day soreness stops below the neck.

          Also, we have an unconditional refund policy on everything we sell. If you decide the program isn’t for you, just let me know.

  18. Leroy on November 4, 2023 at 2:40 am

    Hi Shane.
    I have just started going to the gym regularly. I mostly succeed at getting there 4 times a week, but because of work and family commitments I can only go 4 consecutive days (Tues-Fri). What split would you recommend? A bro split skipping the rest day in the middle?

    • Shane Duquette on November 4, 2023 at 9:37 am

      Hey Leroy, props for getting into a good lifting routine.

      Yeah, a Bro Split can work well when you’re training 4 days in a row, especially if you want big arms. Upper/Lower and Push/Pull splits could work, too. They’re usually a big better for gaining strength and improving athletic performance. All 3 are equally good for gaining overall muscle size.

      Since you have 3 rest days after the last workout of the week, feel free to push that workout a bit harder if you want. You could increase the volume a bit or take your sets closer to failure. Totally optional.

  19. Sepand on January 15, 2024 at 5:10 am

    Is there a mistake with the full body workout 2 in the outlift version? Because it looks like an upper day workout. Bench press, rows, overhead triceps Extensions, neck. Isn’t that just another upper body workout?

    So it’s one full body, two upper body, and one lower body workouts. No?

    • Shane Duquette on January 18, 2024 at 10:55 am

      Oi, you’re right. Thank you. I fixed it.

  20. Gidz Fitness on January 28, 2024 at 12:09 am

    Hi Shane.

    How much to get the intermediate and full version of



  21. Dan on May 7, 2024 at 11:02 am

    Hey Shane,

    Great article.

    What about this sort of 4 x Upper/Lower Routine by AWorkoutRoutine (slightly adapted for myself)

    Upper Body A
    Flat Bench Press 3 x 6-8
    Hammer Row 3 x 6-8
    Incline Dumbbell Press 3 x 8-10
    V-Bar Pulldown 3 x 8-10
    Lateral Raise 3 x 10-15
    Dumbbell Curls 3 x 10-15
    Tricep Pushdowns 3 x 10-15

    Lower Body A
    Romanian Deadlift 3 x 6-8
    Bulgarian Split Squat 3 x 8-10
    Leg Curls 3 x 10-15
    Calves 4 x 15-20

    Upper Body B
    Pull Ups 3 x 6-8
    Seated OHP 3 x 6-8
    Seated Cable Row 3 x 8-10
    Flat Dumbbell Press 3 x 8-10
    Dumbbell Flyes 3 x 10-15
    Ez Curls 3 x 10-15
    Ez Skulls 3 x 10-15

    Lower Body B
    Leg Press 3 x 8-10
    Leg Extensions 3 x 10-15
    Seated Leg Curls 3 x 10-15
    Calf Press 4 x 10-15

    I love this program, but some weeks due to young family and work commitments, I might have to do 3 days in a row Such as Lower A, Upper B, Lower B – So only a days rest in between 2 lower sessions….They’re not high volume as you can see, do you see that being an issue only having a days rest?

    • Shane Duquette on May 7, 2024 at 11:56 am

      Thanks, Dan!

      I like a A Workout Routine. I think Jay’s intermediate programming is solid. I think your version of that Upper/Lower Split looks great.

      Shifting rest days around shouldn’t be a problem. You’re still getting enough stimulation and recovery. (You could even do two full-body workouts in a row without much downside (according to most research, anyway). Alternating between upper and lower days is arguably even better.

      I usually train with a volume similar to that. If you’re gaining strength, you’re making progress. If you’re maintaining your strength, you’re maintaining your progress. If you want faster progress than you’re making, you could eat more food and/or add more volume.

      If your fatigue is accumulating, or if you’re starting to ache, or if your strength starts going down, you might need to cut back on the volume to improve recovery.

  22. Dan on May 7, 2024 at 1:07 pm

    Thanks Shane.

    Yeah love Jay’s no-nonsense approach, wish he wouldn’t be so anonymous though! lol

    Yeah I’ll run if for a few months and see how it goes. Most weeks I should be able to do 2 on, 1 off, 2 on, 2 off repeat.

    Keep up the great work, appreciate all your articles.

    • Shane Duquette on May 7, 2024 at 1:29 pm

      Thank you, man!

      I hear you. I think putting your real name and face out there makes you more accountable for what you say. You’re putting your personal reputation on the line.

      And in the fitness industry, for better and worse, I think it helps to show that you do you what you preach. Even if you don’t look like a fitness model, I think that’s valuable to show, too. Not every expert looks like a natural bodybuilder, and that’s great. I wish we saw more of that.

      I understand the arguments for staying more anonymous, though. I wonder if someone like Jeff Nippard or Jeremy Ethier can walk around without people constantly coming up to them. I could see that being frustrating if it’s happening too often.

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