12-Week Upper Lower Split for Beginners Only with PDF

Upper Lower Split for Beginners

Building muscle safely and effectively requires a training program, especially when you’re starting out.

An exercise program will allow you to train in an organized way and help you achieve your fitness goal.

In this article, I’ll share the ultimate 12-week workout plan for beginners who want to build muscle and strength and shape their physique.

This plan is based on an upper-lower split, which involves training the upper and lower body in alternate sessions.

Upper-lower split is a simple and effective physique development exercise regime.

It allows you to train every muscle group effectively and ensures you’ll have decent recovery time between workouts so you can put your best effort into each session.

Program Description

This 12-week program is divided into three phases, four weeks each.

In the first phase, you’ll train three times weekly (two upper body days and one lower body day). It includes mostly gym machine exercises that will build your basic strength and prepare you for free-weight exercises.

The second phase involves training four times weekly, two sessions each for the upper and lower body. With one additional leg day, this phase allows you to equally focus on the upper and lower body and build a muscular physique.

The last phase includes five sessions per week, three for the torso and two for the legs. With five sessions per week, this phase will continue challenging your muscles to work hard for four consecutive weeks.

This ultimate routine will help you bolster your fundamental strength, build lean mass, enhance your bodily appearance, and scale your fitness to the next level.

Split TypeUpper-Lower Split
Program Duration12 Weeks
Workout GoalPhysique Development
Experience RequireNone (Beginners)
Sessions/Week3-5 Days
Duration/Session60-75 minutes
Target GenderMale and Female

12-Week Muscle-Building Upper Lower Split for Beginners

Beginner Upper Lower Split

Instructions to Follow The Workout Plan

  • Warm-up: I suggest doing some cardio and dynamic warm-up exercises to increase your body temperature and prepare your muscles for an effective resistance training session. For example, you can do kettlebell swings, push-ups, the world’s greatest stretch, and light sets for any exercise you’re to perform.
  • Rest between sets: I recommend keeping the rest time between sets as short as possible. Short rest periods, such as 30-60 seconds, have proven effective for muscular hypertrophy.
  • How heavy should you lift? You can lift as heavy as your muscles allow as long as you maintain the form and intensity during the workout.
  • Increase the load over time: Increasing the load over time will continue to push your muscles to work hard and grow simultaneously.
  • Maintain proper form: Ensure you perform each exercise with proper form. I recommend checking step-by-step instructions on YouTube before doing all exercises.

Week 1 to 4

You’ll start your program with a three-day split—two sessions for the upper body and one for the lower body.

  • Day 1 – Upper Body
  • Day 2 – Lower Body
  • Day 3 – Upper Body
  • Alternate Day Off

This split will run for the first four weeks, and then we’ll increase it to one session after the fourth week.

This three-day upper-lower split will bolster your fundamental strength and progress your fitness for the coming weeks.

Rest for 2 minutes between sets.

Day 1 – Upper Body

ExerciseTarget MuscleSets x Reps
Seated Pec Deck FlyChest3 x 15
Smith Machine Overhead PressShoulder 3 x 15
Incline Machine Chest PressChest3 x 15
Machine Lateral RaiseShoulder3 x 12
Triceps Rope Press DownTriceps 3 x 15

Day 2 – Lower Body

ExerciseTarget MuscleSets x Reps
Seated Leg ExtensionQuadriceps3 x 15
Machine Leg PressQuadriceps 3 x 15
Lying/Seated Leg CurlHamstrings3 x 15
Dumbbell Goblet SquatQuadriceps3 x 12
Calf RaisesCalves 3 x 15

Day 3 – Upper Body

ExerciseTarget MuscleSets x Reps
Pull-upsBack3 x Failure
Front Lat PulldownBack 3 x 15
Seated Cable RowBack3 x 15
Reverse FlyUpper Back3 x 15
Dumbbell Biceps CurlBiceps3 x 12

Week 5 to 8

The second phase involves four training sessions, two each for the upper and lower body.

It has one additional day for leg workouts than the previous phase.

  • Monday – Upper Body
  • Tuesday – Lower Body
  • Wednesday – OFF
  • Thursday – Upper Body
  • Friday – Lower Body
  • Saturday – OFF
  • Sunday – OFF

This phase involves performing moderate reps (10-12) with a shorter rest period than the first phase.

Taking shorter rest between sets keeps your muscles warm and increases metabolic stress, one of the factors of muscle growth.1 de Salles BF, Simão R, Miranda F, Novaes Jda S, Lemos A, Willardson JM. Rest interval between sets in strength training. Sports Med. 2009;39(9):765-777. doi:10.2165/11315230-000000000-00000

After completing this split, you’ll be stronger and prepared for more challenging workouts.

Rest for 90 seconds to 2 minutes between sets.

Monday – Upper Body

ExerciseTarget MuscleSets x Reps
Seated Pec Deck FlyChest3 x 12
Incline Dumbbell Bench PressChest3 x 12
Machine Flat Bench PressChest3 x 12
Dumbbell Front RaisesShoulder3 x 10
Unilateral DB Lateral RaisesShoulder3 x 10
Bar Push DownTriceps3 x 15

Tuesday – Lower Body

ExerciseTarget MuscleSets x Reps
Seated Leg ExtensionQuadriceps3 x 15
Machine Leg PressQuadriceps 3 x 15
Lying/Seated Leg CurlHamstrings3 x 15
Dumbbell LungesQuadriceps3 x 12
Calf RaisesCalves 3 x 15

Thursday – Upper Body

ExerciseTarget MuscleSets x Reps
Pull-upsBack3 x Failure
Front Lat PulldownBack3 x 12
Seated Cable RowBack3 x 12
Single-arm DB RowBack3 x 10/arm
Reverse FlyUpper Back3 x 12
Concentration CurlBiceps3 x 12

Friday – Lower Body

ExerciseTarget MuscleSets x Reps
Dumbbell Front SquatQuadriceps3 x 15
Lying/Seated Leg CurlHamstrings3 x 15
Cable Pull ThroughPosterior Chain3 x 12
Calf RaisesCalves 3 x 15

Week 9 to 12

In the last phase, there will be one additional session for the upper body workouts, meaning you’ll do five sessions instead of four – three sessions for the torso and two for the legs.

  • Monday – Upper Body
  • Tuesday – Lower Body
  • Wednesday – Upper Body
  • Thursday – OFF
  • Friday – Lower Body
  • Saturday – Upper Body
  • Sunday – OFF

It involves performing a lower number of reps with a heavy load. The heavy load challenges muscles to work hard and helps enhance strength and muscle growth.

Rest for 60 seconds to 2 minutes between sets.

Monday – Upper Body

ExerciseTarget MuscleSets x Reps
Seated Pec Deck FlyChest3 x 12
Incline Dumbbell Bench PressChest3 x 12
Machine Flat Bench PressChest3 x 12
Dumbbell Front RaisesShoulder3 x 10
Single-arm Lateral RaisesShoulder3 x 10
Crossbody Cable ExtensionTriceps3 x 15

Tuesday – Lower Body

ExerciseTarget MuscleSets x Reps
Dumbbell LungesLower Body3 x 10/arm
Seated Leg ExtensionQuadriceps3 x 15-20
Machine Leg PressQuadriceps3 x 15-20
Lying/Seated Leg CurlHamstrings3 x 15-20
Calf RaisesCalves3 x 20-30

Wednesday – Upper Body

ExerciseTarget MuscleSets x Reps
Pull-upsBack3 x Failure
Front Lat PulldownBack3 x 8-12
Seated Cable RowBack3 x 8-12
Chest Supported RowBack3 x 10-12
Reverse Machine FlyUpper Back3 x 10-12
Barbell CurlBiceps3 x 10-12

Friday – Lower Body

ExerciseTarget MuscleSets x Reps
Smith Machine Back SquatLower Body3 x 8-12
Step-upLower Body3 x 10/leg
Romanian DeadliftPosterior Chain3 x 8-10
BW Glute BridgeGlutes3 x 12-15

Saturday – Upper Body

ExerciseTarget MuscleSets x Reps
Overhead PressShoulder3 x 10-12
Close Grip Bench PressTriceps3 x 10-12
Single-arm DB RowBack3 x 10/arm
One-arm KickbackTriceps3 x 10/arm
Hammer CurlBiceps3 x 10-12

The Fitness Phantom Nutritional Tips for Beginners

If you’re a beginner and lean, you’ll see some noticeable gain in a few months, even without focusing much on diet.

However, if you want to achieve optimal results, I suggest you also focus on your diet.

I recommend including pre- and post-workout meals in your regime to improve your performance and encourage muscle growth.

A good pre-workout meal can have anything that is rich in protein and healthy carbs and easy to digest.

For example, you can eat a protein bar, smoothie, banana, Greek yogurt, or oatmeal. Whatever you consume, make sure you have your pre-workout meal 1 to 2 hours before the training, depending on what kind of food you consume.

A post-workout meal should have a good amount of protein and healthy carbs. For example, you can have white or whole eggs, oatmeal, roasted chicken, banana, whey isolate, etc. The sooner you consume a post-workout meal after the workout, the better for your muscles to rebuild and growth.

If you want an efficient diet plan, then I suggest consulting a nutritionist for a customized diet program based on your needs.

Download The Upper Lower Split PDF for Beginners

References

Share This Blog

Picture of Murshid Akram

Murshid Akram

I’m a personal trainer, fitness blogger, and founder of thefitnessphantom.com. I help people achieve their best shape through my science-based and practical workout programs.
Picture of Murshid Akram

Murshid Akram

I’m a personal trainer, fitness blogger, and founder of thefitnessphantom.com. I help people achieve their best shape through my science-based and practical workout programs.
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

0 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

About Me

I’m Murshid Akram, a personal trainer, fitness blogger, and founder of thefitnessphantom.com. I primarily design workout plans and share science-based and practical information that can help you become stronger, functional, and healthier.

Recent Posts

Sign up for our Newsletter

Sign up for practical, helpful, and unique content that can help you elevate your fitness.

SEARCH YOUR WORKOUT​

You can also use this search box to find your workout​

Search