by Tony Gjokaj February 10, 2021 4 min read

One thing I have learned about science in the fitness world is that it simplifies. It makes things less complicated.

It allows you to get minimalistic with your training, cutting out some of the overwhelming complications of exercise.

In this post, we are going to give you a minimalistic upper/lower body split. Once you finish reading this post, you will have an evergreen training process that you can use for the rest of your fitness journey.

Let's dive in!

Upper-Lower Rundown

Before we get into the training program, I wanted to give you information on how the program is laid out.

This program is laid out based on key terms that target our major muscle groups through specific movement patterns.

In following these exercises in this direction, you will have a program layout that you can use forever, as I continue to do.

If you'd like to skip the key terms and get to the TLDR version, scroll down to the section called "The Minimalistic Upper/Lower Split".

This minimalistic training split can be utilized 4-6 days per week (depending on how experienced you are in training).

We will utilize it as if it was a 4 day a week program that targets each major muscle group two times per week.

Workout Key Terms

In most of our workout splits, we typically utilize terms that mean specific movement patterns. In each section, we will breakdown what each key term means, and the exercises that they are typically for.

Upper

Horizontal Push

A Horizontal Push is any exercise that utilizes direct chest work. These exercises consist of the following:

  • Bench Press (Flat Bench or Decline)
  • Push Ups
  • Chest Flys

Horizontal Pull

Horizontal Pulls consist of any back exercises that revolve around a rowing movement. These exercises are the following:

  • Weighted Rows
  • Chest Supported Machine Rows
  • TRX Rows

Vertical Push

Vertical Push exercises are any type of shoulder-focused movement. These exercises are the following:

  • Overhead Presses (Seated or Standing)
  • Incline Bench Presses

Vertical Pull

Vertical Pulls are any back-focused exercise that moves the lats up and down. These consist of the following:

  • Pull Ups or Chin Ups
  • Lat Pulldown

Bicep Exercises

Bicep exercises consist of any exercises that curl your biceps. In training the biceps optimally, this is what we would do:

  • Curls in front of your torso: Preacher Curls
  • Curls behind your torso: Incline Dumbbell Curls
  • Curls that bring biceps in front of you: Standing Curls

Tricep Exercises

Tricep exercises consist of any exercises that extend your triceps. In training the triceps optimally, this is what we target these muscles:

  • Extensions above your head: Overhead Extensions
  • Extensions pushing downwards: Dips or Tricep Extensions
  • Extensions pushing your triceps back: Tricep Kickbacks

Lateral Raise or Trapezius Variations

Lateral Raises consist of any deltoid exercise that allows you to bring your arms out laterally.

Trapezius Variations consist of any exercise that targets the Trapezius muscles. These could be exercises like a dumbbell shrug or Farmer's Walk.

Rear Delt Exercises

Rear Delt exercises consist of any shoulder movement that targets the rear deltoid muscles. These exercises consist of the following:

  • Rear Delt Fly
  • Face Pulls

Lower

Squat Variation

Squat Variations are any dumbbell or barbell exercise that targets the quadricep muscles by squatting down and standing up.

These exercises consist of the following:

  • Squat
  • Front Squat
  • Zercher Squat

Deadlift Variation

Deadlift Variations are any dumbbell or barbell exercise that targets the hamstrings through a standing variation.

These exercises consist of the following:

  • Conventional or Sumo Deadlifts
  • Romanian Deadlifts or Straight Legged Deadlifts (Barbell or Dumbbell)

Glute Exercises

Glute Exercises consist of any movement that kicks your legs back or thrusting your glutes upwards.

These exercises consist of the following:

  • Rope Pull Throughs
  • Glute Bridges
  • Hip Thrusters
  • Glute Kickbacks

Quadricep Isolation Exercise

Quadricep Isolation exercises consist of any front of thigh exercise that isolates that specific muscle group.

These exercises consist of the following:

  • Leg Extensions
  • Leg Press
  • Hack Squat

Hamstring Isolation Exercise

Hamstring Isolation exercises consist of any back of thigh exercise that isolates that specific muscle group.

These exercises consist of the following:

  • Leg Curls (Standing or Lying)
  • Light Dumbbell Deadlifts
  • Glute-Hamstring Raises

Abdominal Exercise

Abdominal exercises consist of every ab exercise you can fathom.

These abdominal exercises consist of the following:

  • Crunches
  • Leg Raises
  • Ab Rotations
  • Planks

I like to prioritize ab rotation movements because that plane of motion is typically underworked.

We also include abdominal exercises on our lower body days so that they don't impede our heavier leg exercises.

Calf Exercise

Calf Exercises consist of any movement that targets the calves in isolation. These consist of the following:

  • Standing Calf Raise (Machine or Barbell)
  • Seated Calf Raise
  • Calf Jumps

The Minimalistic Upper/Lower Split

We are going to give you an example of a minimalistic 4 day Upper/Lower training split.

This program will target every major muscle group 1-2 times per week.

For Reference: 3-4x6-10 = 3 to 4 sets of 6 to 10 reps

Upper (A)

  • Bench Press 3-4x6-10
  • Dumbbell Row 3-4x8-12
  • Shoulder Press 3x8-12
  • Pull Ups 4x10
  • Lateral Raises 2x15-20
  • Barbell Curl 3x10-15
  • Tricep Rope Extensions 2x15-20
  • Face Pulls 2-3x15-20
  • Optional Bicep or Tricep Exercise 2x15-20

Lower (A)

  • Squat 3x6-8
  • Romanian Deadlift 3x10
  • Glute Kickback 3x10-15
  • Leg Press 3x10-15
  • Seated Leg Curl 3x10-12
  • Hanging Leg Raises 3-4x10-12
  • Standing Calf Raise 3x10-15

Upper (B)

  • Overhead Press 3-4x6-10
  • Chest Supported Machine Row 3-4x8-12
  • Dips 3x8-12
  • Lat Pulldown 3x10-12
  • Barbell Skull Crushers 3x8-12
  • Preacher Curls 2x15-20
  • Rear Delt Fly 2x15-20
  • Optional Bicep or Tricep Exercise 2x15-20

Lower (B)

  • Deadlift 3x6-8
  • Front Squat 3x10
  • Rope Pull Throughs 3x10-15
  • Leg Extensions 2x15-20
  • Lying Leg Curl 3x10-12
  • Roman Chairs 3-4x10-12
  • Seated Calf Raise 3x10-15

Minimal and Optimal

Minimal workouts... optimal results.

Now you have a layout that you can utilize for years to come if you would like. If you went through reading the key terms, you will see that you can even change things up to turn the program into a calisthenic or at home workout.

The possibilities are endless for this layout.

If you'd like more information about training muscle groups optimally, you can sign up to our newsletter and get a free download to our Muscle Compendium eBook. This 70+ page eBook is packed with knowledge and scientific research to target your muscles.

You can sign up to our newsletter from this link, or the graphic below.

If you have any other questions or comments, feel free to email me at tony@reforgedperformance.com, or direct message us on Instagram.

Until next time!

Tony Gjokaj
Tony Gjokaj

Tony is the Owner of Reforged Performance Nutrition. He is a PN1 Certified Nutrition Coach and has been in the fitness space for over a decade. His goal is to help bridge the gap between physical & mental health through fitness.



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