So you’re about to change routines and you are coming off of a 5×5 or 3×5 type of strength workout… what next?
I wrote this 3 day upper lower workout routine in response to a reader request and I think this is a good fit for someone who is coming off of a lower rep scheme/strength only type of workout.
This routine focuses on a mid 8-10 rep range and is designed to help bring up lagging areas that can’t hold up to the pressure of the heavy sets. This is why a lot of people plateau and they don’t stop and address their weaknesses.
This routine is meant to be run for at least 12 weeks.
Goal Of This Routine
The goal of this 3 day upper lower workout routine is to build up weaknesses by using a moderate rep range of 8-10 on exercises. The exercises chosen will help increase strength, build up weaker muscles, and help you dial in on your form.
This routine is also great for anyone trying to build some quality muscle. I’ve had a lot of success building muscle and strength in the 8-10 rep range because it forces you to use heavier weights than you are used to when doing a pump type of workout.. but also get the pumps of the higher rep range.
That’s right… it’s all a mental challenge here.
Diet and Nutrition Tips
I would recommend going on a slow bulk for this routine to get the most out of it. It is easier to cut some fat afterwards than trying to make strength gains on a calorie deficit.
If you keep your weight consistent and need some tips to add calories into your diet, here are some of the best and healthiest ways to do so:
- Cream cheese
- Sour cream
- Whole milk
- Heavy cream
- Cheese on everything
- Protein shakes
- Peanut butter
- Olive oil
- Extra dressing
These all add flavor and healthy fats to your diet. Personally, I prefer adding calories through this means instead of going to McDonalds and smashing a few McDoubles.
You will feel better, have more energy, and your stomach will thank you.
Note: A little bit goes a long way, so be sure to know how many calories you are adding.
I always recommend food over supplementation because you will feel better overall eating a wide variety of whole foods than you will simply living off of supplements.
With that being said, this routine is designed to help your body recover from heavy sessions and any strains or pains you may have picked up along the way.
Recovery supplements I recommend:
MTS Nutrition Machine Fuel – The innovative MTS Nutrition is forging the way with great tasting (from personal experience) amazing products that are seriously making huge waves in the supplement industry. Machine Fuel is a great tasting intra-workout BCAA that you should check out. BCAAs are muscle sparing and are great when you are an endurance athlete.
Fish Oil – This is a tried and true supplement that will help with joint health, anti-inflammatory, and just an overall great supplement. This small investment can make a huge difference in how you feel on a daily basis. I highly recommend checking out the other benefits to fish oil.
Optimum Nutrition Micronized Creatine – One of THE most tested supplements, creatine helps with recovery and athletic performance. Many pre-workouts have creatine in them, but I recommend having another 5g daily. It is one of the cheapest supplements and the most effective.
Bio-Gro – While I haven’t used Bio Gro, I have many friends and acquaintances who do use it and tell me how much they like it. I will work on getting some and giving you an honest opinion at some point. Do some homework and try it out if it sounds good.
ZMA – I currently have ZMA on the way and I am excited. ZMA helps with getting a deeper sleep (think recovery) and is one of the ingredients in my beloved Bullet Proof from Muscle Pharm that was discontinued.
MTS Machine Whey Protein: 5lbs – Last but not least, protein. This stuff is golden.
Cardio and Conditioning
This routine will be paired with some HIIT/power type cardio which will be a great addition to your power work you’ll be doing.
Conditioning is important to overall health and will affect your strength and power production… don’t skip out.
Sample Cardio Schedule:
On Workout Days:
- Pre-workout: 10 minute low intensity warmup
- Post-workout: 15-20 minute HIIT training using any equipment
I recommend 2 days outside of the gym to do HIIT training. You do not have to go to the gym for this, in fact I recommend not going.
I recommend 15-20 minutes of HIIT training on off days.
You can use any type of exercise but here are a few that you may want to try out:
- Hill Sprints
- Vertical Jumps
- Box Jumps
- Jump Squats (basically vertical jump but hitting a squat depth before you jump)
Sample Workout Schedule
Pick any three days per week to train, but I recommend having 1 day in between training days and then 2 days in between each week like this:
- Monday – Upper Routine
- Tuesday – Off
- Wednesday – Lower Routine
- Thursday – Off
- Friday – Accessory Routine
- Saturday – Off
- Sunday – Off
This section is only applicable to the big compound lifts; the accessory movements will be your usual weights.
Depending what your rep scheme is, this will be a little different but I will break it down for you.. this isn’t meant to be scientific.
If you’ve been training in the 5-3 rep range:
- Start with ~75% of your working sets… round-up to the nearest usable weight (IE 196 = 200lbs)
If you’ve been training in the 8+ rep range:
- Go ahead and drop ~85% weight. This sounds like a huge reduction but you ramp up quickly.
- The weight you use should be challenging but you should not go until failure.
- Use this time to dial in form and treat every rep as if it is a PR. THIS is how you create good habits.
The progression scheme with this routine is simple: add weight or reps each week.
There will be a point in the 12 weeks where you struggle to add weight. When you do, cut back the weights 50% the next week and deload. You’ll come back much stronger than you were and you will be able to progress further.
3 Day Upper Lower Workout Routine
|Dumbbell Incline Bench Press||3||10|
|Seated Dumbbell Overhead Press||3||8|
|Lat Pull Downs||4||10|
|1 Arm Dumbbell Row||4||10|
|Seated Close Grip Row||3||AMAP|
|Stiff Leg Deadlifts||4||10|
|Seated Calf Raises||3||AMAP|
|Close Grip Bench Press||4||10|
|Cross Body Hammer Curls||4||10|
|Overhead Dumbbell Tricep Extension||3||8|
|Barbell Curls / EZ Bar Curls||3||8|
|Straight Arm Lat Pull Downs||4||10|
Okay so I lied, there are some exercises you go to failure with.. this will induce the growth. Unless it says ALAP/AMAP, do not try to go to failure.
- ALAP – As Long As Possible
- AMAP – As Many As Possible
- Be sure to use this time to focus on form and concentrate on staying in the groove
Leave any comments or questions below!
22 thoughts on “3 Day Upper Lower Workout Routine”
I really like this program coming off of an 8 week powerlifting routine…although I don’t powerlift anymore, I still do my old routines. Any ideas on how to add one more day aside from conditioning/cardio. I work 2 days on and 4 days off. On my 2 days on duty, I usually do an hour of cardio and stretching. Most of the time while on duty I also hit more accessories (arms/delts, and even strongman stuff as that is great for my job). Thanks and I’ll be starting this workout soon.
Since your job demands a lot of physical performance, you could add in some more “power” moves. Box jumps, sprints, plyometrics/bodyweight stuff. Think explosive work.
Medicine ball throws, 50% at full effort compound lifts for explosive strength, or any other exercise you can demand a lot of force will test your nervous system instead of your muscles.
You seem to be pretty active, so that would be the only other thing I think you would need. Be sure to get plenty of recovery, that’s where a lot of growth comes from.