Trying to decide on the best approach to take with your hypertrophy training? I’ve got you covered. This article looks at the 4-day upper-lower hypertrophy split in detail, going over the pros and cons, plus a summary and frequently asked questions.

Let’s jump straight in.

upper-slower split review

What Is an Upper Lower Split?

Simple, on one day we focus on upper body exercises, whilst on another day we focus on lower body exercises. A really simple 2-day example might look like:

  • Day 1: Bench Press and Barbell Row
  • Day 2: Back Squats and Romanian Deadlifts

4 Day Upper Lower Split Structure

Day 1: Upper

Day 2: Lower

Day 3: Upper

Day 4: Lower

With a day’s rest between workouts 2 and 3, and two days’ rest between workouts 4 and 1. So a more filled out example might look something like this:

  • Monday: Bench Press and Barbell Row (Chest and Mid Back)
  • Tuesday: High bar Back Squat (Quads)
  • Thursday: Overhead Press and Pull-Ups (Shoulders and Lats)
  • Friday: Romanian Deadlifts (Hamstrings)

Of course, that’s only a very simple example, most hypertrophy programmes will have multiple exercises per day, typically anything from 3 to 6.

How Many Days a Week Should I do Upper Lower Split?

For this review, we’re looking at a 4 day upper lower split as it’s the most commonly used arrangement. But you could also do a 3-day upper lower split or a 5-day upper lower split if you prefer.

3-day upper/lower split

With a 3-day upper lower hypertrophy split you just alternate between the two workouts, so you essentially have a week A and week B format.

5-day upper/lower split

A 5-day upper lower hypertrophy split would basically just add an extra upper day, giving you more time to fit in extra upper body work.

  • Day 1: Upper
  • Day 2: Lower
  • Day 3: Upper
  • Day 4: Lower
  • Day 5: Upper

4 Day Upper Lower Split Pros

  • A 4-day split allows for a good balance of upper and lower body work
  • Muscle groups are always well recovered for each workout
  • 2x per week frequency is in line with evidence-based recommendations, and lets most people get a good amount of training volume per muscle group
  • Simple and easy to follow

4 Day Upper Lower Split Cons

  • Might not provide quite enough focus on muscle parts requiring specialisation
  • It can sometimes be hard to fit all upper body work into 2 days.
  • Smaller muscle groups like biceps or side delts may benefit from more sessions per week.

Looking for a Reliable Hypertrophy Programme?

Hypertrophy programme

I’ve put together a 17-week hypertrophy programme.

The programme is evidence-based and is designed with 3 distinct blocks of training that use different set and rep schemes, as well as different exercises, to maximise your muscle building.

It’s also designed with specific guidance so that you can adjust your amount of training to suit your recovery.

You can find out more about the programme here.

Summary: Is a 4-day upper lower split effective?

“The 4 day upper lower split hypertrophy structure is a solid and well-proven approach to building muscle. It is simple, easy to follow, allows for good recovery and provides most muscles with a great stimulus for growth.”

Frequently Asked Questions About the 4 Day Upper Lower Split

Is lifting 4 days a week enough?

For most people, yes, lifting 4 days per week is absolutely enough to see good hypertrophy results. This includes beginners as well as early and even late intermediates. However, if you’re an advanced trainee you’ll likely need more sessions per week in order to make progress.

Do I have to do an upper-lower split?

Of course not. You can split your days however you want. For example, a classic split might be back and biceps, chest and triceps, legs, shoulders and arms.

Which workout split is best?

Honestly, there’s no perfect split or best split for everyone. Some people will respond best to an upper lower split, whereas others might perform better on a push/pull/legs split. Some people will even respond best to a full body approach. It really depends on your experience, training level, recovery etc.

Next Steps

Alright, that’s enough reading for today, time for some action…

1) If you like the sound of a 4-day upper-lower hypertrophy split, then go and try one out for a few weeks. You can either find a free one online, create your own, or have a look at the programme I’ve designed.

2) If you want more training tips, workouts and programmes, feel free to join my mailing list.

3) And if you found this article useful, feel free to share.

‘Til Next Time


Strength coach

Alex Parry, MSc, BA

Alex is the Head content writer and Coach at Character Strength & Conditioning, as well as an Assistant Lecturer and PhD Researcher at the University of Hull.

His experience includes 7+ years within professional strength and conditioning, as well as working as a tutor & educator for British Weightlifting.