3 Day Upper / Lower Splits: The Ultimate Guide!


3 Day Upper Lower Split

The upper body / lower body split is one of the greatest and most popular training splits of all time. The idea is simple: you train your entire upper body on one day and your entire lower body on another day.

In my experience the 3 days per week upper / lower split is one of the most underrated ways to train. Many of the world’s best bodybuilders and powerlifters such as David Henry and Julius Maddox use this split to build size and strength.

If you want to get big and strong then the 3 day upper / lower split is for you!

Introduction

  • Part 1: Westside Barbell Training
  • Part 2: Charles Poliquin Style Programming
  • Part 3: Dante Trudel’s DC Training
  • Part 4: Josh Bryant Style Programming

In this comprehensive guide I will teach you everything you need to know about how to build muscle mass and strength using the 3 day upper / lower split.

The classic upper / lower split is easily one of the best training splits ever invented. The idea is simple: you train your entire upper body in one workout and your entire lower body in another workout.

There are three main versions of the upper / lower split:

  • The 4 day upper / lower split
  • The 3 day upper / lower split
  • The 2 day upper / lower split

Each of these training splits has their own advantages and disadvantages. However, in my opinion the 3 day upper / lower split is probably the best all-around choice for most trainees. Here is what your weekly workouts might look like:

Week #1

  • Monday: Upper Body
  • Wednesday: Lower Body
  • Friday: Upper Body

Week #2

  • Monday: Lower Body
  • Wednesday: Upper Body
  • Friday: Lower Body

With the 3 days per week upper / lower split you are training body parts once every 4-5 days. This moderate training frequency is a favourite of the world-class strength coach Charles Poliquin. It works EXTREMELY well for a large percentage of the training population.

You get plenty of rest between workouts for each body part so you can use a lot of volume and intensity during your workouts. However, the frequency is high enough that productive workouts add up really quickly.

In my experience beginners, intermediates AND advanced trainees can all make awesome progress with this split.

The IFBB professional bodybuilder David Henry made some of the best gains of his life training 3 days per week using a modified upper / lower split. The bench press world champion Julius Maddox also gets his best results training his upper body once every 5 days.

Just take a look at Julius bench pressing 782 pounds:

Talk about incredible! If training 3 days per week works for David Henry and Julius Maddox then maybe it will work for you too. In this comprehensive guide we are going to take a look at 4 of the most popular training programs that use the 3 days per week upper / lower split:

  • Part 1: Westside Barbell Training
  • Part 2: Charles Poliquin Style Programming
  • Part 3: Dante Trudel’s DC Training
  • Part 4: Josh Bryant Style Programming

I have to warn you that these are advanced programs designed for advanced trainees. You need at least 1-2 years of hardcore training experience before you attempt any of these programs.

If you are experienced enough then these 3 days per week upper / lower split programs will help you build size and strength faster than you ever thought possible.

Note: if you have any trouble reading the routines presented here then check out this article on how to read a training program. Now let’s get down to business…

Part 1: Westside Barbell Training

The Westside Barbell training program is one of the most popular powerlifting training programs in the world. The official Westside Barbell training program uses a 4 days per week upper / lower split. Check it out:

The Official Westside Barbell Training Schedule

  • Sunday: Dynamic effort bench press
  • Monday: Max effort squat / deadlift
  • Wednesday: Max effort bench press
  • Friday: Dynamic effort squat / deadlift

You train the squat, bench press and deadlift twice per week using a combination of “max effort” workouts where you lift ultra-heavy weights and “dynamic effort” workouts where you lift lighter weights explosively.

The original Westside program works AWESOME for people with above average recovery ability. There’s just one problem: most people can’t recover from the original Westside split!

In fact the 4 days per week Westside Barbell program runs most people into the ground within 1-2 months! This is especially true when it comes to training the lower body.

Most trainees find that they cannot recover from 2 hard lower body workouts per week. It is just too hard on their lower backs and their central nervous systems to recover. Fortunately  there are ways to modify the original Westside program to make it easier to recover from.

One of the best strategies is to train Westside style using a 3 days per week upper body / lower body split. For example:

Week #1

  • Monday: Dynamic effort bench press
  • Wednesday: Max effort squat / deadlift
  • Friday: Max effort bench press

Week #2

  • Monday: Dynamic effort squat / deadlift
  • Wednesday: Repeat!

You just continue rotating through your workouts so you would perform your dynamic effort bench press workout on Wednesday of week 2. Then on Friday of week 2 you would perform your next max effort squat / deadlift workout etc. Almost everything else about the Westside program stays the same.

This 3 days per week Westside program works AWESOME for a lot of powerlifters.

One of the biggest reasons this split works so well is the lower body training frequency. You are training squats and/or deadlifts once every 4-5 days instead of once every 3-4 days with the original Westside training split. This makes the program much easier to recover from.

You can also use a lot more training volume per workout without having to worry too much about recovering between workouts.

Here are some sample Westside Barbell workouts featuring the 3 day upper / lower split. Check it out:

Sample Westside Dynamic Effort Bench Press Workout

  • A1: Dynamic effort bench press with chains and bands, 9 x 3**, X/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • B1: 3-board press against bands, 2 x 5, 2/1/X/0, 120 seconds rest
  • C1: 30 degree incline DB press, 2 x 20-30****, 1/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest
  • D1: Standing rope cable pushdowns, 4 x 10-12, 3/0/1/1, 60 seconds rest
  • E1: Lat pulldown (narrow / neutral grip), 4 x 8-10, 2/0/1/0, 60 seconds rest
  • F1: Seated cable rope face pull, 4 x 12-15, 3/0/1/1, 60 seconds rest

**Perform 3 sets with a shoulder-width grip, 3 sets with a medium grip and 3 sets with a wide grip.

****Perform 2 sets all the way to concentric muscular failure. Use the same dumbbells for both sets.

You can click right here for a great video of the dynamic effort bench press with chains and bands or click right here for a great video of the 3-board press against bands.

Sample Westside Max Effort Squat / Deadlift Workout

  • A1: Deficit conventional deadlift (2 inch deficit), 3 x 1**, X/0/X/0, 240 seconds rest
  • B1: Safety squat bar low box squat (narrow stance / heels flat), 2 x 6, 2/1/X/1, 120 seconds rest
  • C1: Glute ham raise (holding DB at chest), 4 x 8-12, 3/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • D1: 45 degree back extension (with band tension), 4 x 7-10, 2/0/X/2, 60 seconds rest
  • E1: Forward sled drags, 4 x 100 feet, 60 seconds rest

**Perform 3 sets at 85%, 93% and 100% of your estimated 1-rep max for that day. Perform these singles after a good warm-up on this exercise.

You can click right here for a great video of the 2-inch deficit deadlift or click right here for a great video of the safety squat bar low box squat.

Sample Westside Max Effort Bench Press Workout

  • A1: 30 degree incline bench press (shoulder-width grip), 3 x 1, 1/0/X/0, 240 seconds rest
  • B1: Floor press (medium grip), 2 x 15-25****, 2/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest
  • C1: JM press, 3 x 10-12, 2/0/1/0, 60 seconds rest
  • D1: Standing overhead rope cable extensions, 3 x 15-20, 1/0/1/0, 60 seconds rest
  • E1: Seated machine row (neutral grip), 4 x 10-12, 2/0/X/2, 60 seconds rest
  • F1: Seated DB hammer curls, 4 x 10-12, 2/0/1/0, 60 seconds rest

**Perform 3 sets at 85%, 93% and 100% of your estimated 1-rep max for that day. Perform these singles after a good warm-up on this exercise.

****Perform 2 sets all the way to concentric muscular failure. Use the same weight for both sets.

You can click right here for a great video of the 30 degree incline bench press or click right here for a great video of the floor press.

Sample Westside Dynamic Effort Squat / Deadlift Workout 

  • A1: Dynamic effort box squat against bands (medium or wide stance / heels flat), 8 x 2, 1/1/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • B1: Dynamic effort sumo deadlift against bands, 4 x 1, X/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • C1: Dynamic effort conventional deadlift against bands, 4 x 1, X/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • D1: Reverse hyperextension, 4 x 12-15, 1/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • E1: 90 degree back extension (barbell on back), 4 x 6-8, 2/0/X/2, 60 seconds rest
  • F1: Hanging leg raise, 4 x 10-12, 2/0/1/0, 60 seconds rest

You can click right here for a great video of the dynamic effort box squat against bands or click right here for a great video of the sumo deadlift against bands.

These sample Westside Barbell workouts feature a large number of exercises. Don’t worry, you are only training three days per week so you should have no problems recovering from them. These workouts work AWESOME for anyone with below-average to above-average recovery ability.

If you are a true hardgainer then you are probably better off trying a 2 days per week Westside program. I talk a lot about it in my article on the 2 days per week upper / lower split.

If you want to learn more about the Westside Barbell training program then check out these 2 articles:

Everything you need to know about the Westside Barbell program is in these articles.

Part 2: Charles Poliquin Style Programming

Charles Poliquin was one of the greatest strength coaches the world has ever seen. He trained Olympic gold medalists in 24 different sports and countless professional athletes.

Charles was a true rebel when it came to strength training. Charles believed that most trainees do best training body parts about once every 5 days.

It didn’t matter if it was the shot put gold medalist Adam Nelson or the greco-roman wrestling gold medalist Helen Maroulis – almost all of his athletes trained body parts once every 5 days.

Charles sometimes used the 3 days per week upper / lower split with his athletes. For example:

Week #1

  • Monday: Upper Body
  • Wednesday: Lower Body
  • Friday: Upper Body

Week #2

  • Monday: Upper Body
  • Wednesday: Lower Body
  • Friday: Upper Body

One of the reasons Charles liked the classic upper / lower split is it allows you to train antagonistic body parts together. Here are some of the antagonistic body part groupings that Charles used with his athletes:

  • Chest / Back
  • Biceps / Triceps
  • Quads / Hamstrings
  • Chest / Biceps
  • Back / Triceps

For example Charles might have his athletes perform a set for their chest, rest 1-2 minutes, perform a set for their upper back, rest 1-2 minutes and perform another set for their chest etc.

Antagonistic body part supersets have many advantages. They help you recruit more muscle fibers in your target muscle groups, they improve your muscular endurance throughout your workout and they let you double the amount of work you perform in a given period of time.

Talk about an awesome training method!

There are a ton of different ways that you could perform an upper body or lower body workout using antagonistic body part supersets. Let’s take a look at 2 different routines: 1 hypertrophy routine and 1 strength routine.

One of Charles Poliquin’s favourite methods for boosting muscular hypertrophy was regular supersets. Supersets are pretty simple: you perform 2 exercises for the same body part back-to-back with only 10 seconds rest between sets.

Supersets are great for boosting size because they make your muscles work longer by prolonging the time under tension of the set.

Here are some Poliquin-style upper body and lower body hypertrophy routines featuring supersets. Check it out:

Charles Poliquin Upper Body Hypertrophy Routine

  • A1: 30 degree incline DB press, 4 x 8-10, 2/1/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • A2: Lat pulldown (medium / neutral grip), 4 x 10, 2/1/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • B1: Hammer strength overhead press, 3 x 12-15, 3/0/1/0, 10 seconds rest
  • B2: Seated DB Poliquin lateral raise, 3 x 12-15, 3/0/1/0, 120 seconds rest
  • B3: Seated cable row (v-handle), 3 x 12-15, 2/0/1/2, 10 seconds rest
  • B4: Nautilus pullover machine, 3 x 12-15, 3/0/1/1, 120 seconds rest
  • C1: Flat DB extensions, 3 x 10-12, 2/0/2/0, 30 seconds rest
  • C2: 45 degree incline DB curls (supinating grip), 3 x 10-12, 2/0/2/0, 30 seconds rest

Charles Poliquin Lower Body Hypertrophy Routine

  • A1: Back squat (narrow stance / heels elevated), 4 x 8-10, 2/1/X/1, 60 seconds rest
  • A2: Bilateral lying leg curl (feet plantarflexed / pointing in), 4 x 6-8, 3/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • B1: 45 degree leg press, 3 x 12-15, 3/0/1/0, 10 seconds rest
  • B2: Seated leg extension machine, 3 x 12-15, 3/0/1/0, 120 seconds rest
  • B3: Bilateral seated leg curl (Poliquin method** / feet pointing straight), 3 x 10-12, 3/0/1/0, 10 seconds rest
  • B4: Romanian deadlift, 3 x 10-12, 3/0/1/0, 120 seconds rest

**Dorsiflex your ankles (point your toes towards your shins) on the concentric range and plantar flex your ankles (point your toes away from your shins) on the eccentric range. This will help you to eccentrically overload your hamstrings.

These 2 workouts feature a ton of different exercises and training volume. You are performing 26 total sets in the upper body workout and 20 total sets in the lower body workout. Keep in mind that all of these sets are “working sets” using relatively heavy weights. Talk about a lot of training volume!

Don’t worry, if you are using the 3 day upper / lower split then you should have no problem recovering from these routines.

If you are a bodybuilder looking to pack on some muscle mass then these routines are a great choice. If you are more interested in building strength then you have to try some Charles Poliquin style cluster sets.

Poliquin cluster sets are simply unbeatable for building maximal strength. The goal is to perform 5 sets of 5 reps using your 3-rep max. No – that was not a typo! You really are going to perform 5 sets of 5 reps with your 3-rep max. The trick is you are going to rest for 15-20 seconds in between every rep.

Here is what a Poliquin cluster set should look like:

  • Perform your 1st rep, rest 15-20 seconds
  • Perform your 2nd rep, rest 15-20 seconds
  • Perform your 3rd rep, rest 15-20 seconds
  • Perform your 4th rep, rest 15-20 seconds
  • Perform your 5th rep, 2-4 minutes, repeat!

In case you are more of a visual learner here is a picture-perfect demonstration of Charles Poliquin style cluster sets:

Cluster sets is definitely one of the most demanding training methods to recover from. They work extremely well when paired with the 3 day upper body / lower body split because you have plenty of rest days to help with your recovery.

Here are some sample upper body and lower body Poliquin cluster set workouts that you may want to try. Check it out:

Charles Poliquin Upper Body Strength Routine

  • A1: Decline bench press (shoulder-width grip), 5 x 5**, 4/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest
  • A2: Sternum pull up (wide / overhand grip), 5 x 5**, 4/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest
  • B1: 60 degree incline DB press, 3 x 6-8, 3/2/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • B2: Barbell dead stop row, 3 x 10-12, 2/1/X/0, 60 seconds rest

Charles Poliquin Lower Body Strength Routine

  • A1: Front squat (medium stance / heels flat), 5 x 5**, 4/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest
  • A2: Unilateral kneeling leg curl (Poliquin method**** / feet pointed out), 4/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest
  • B1: Triple jumper’s step up (barbell on back), 3 x 6-8, 2/1/1/1, 60 seconds rest
  • B2: 45 degree back extension (holding barbell w/ snatch grip), 3 x 6-8, 2/0/1/2, 60 seconds rest

****Dorsiflex your ankles (point your toes towards your shins) on the concentric range and plantarflex your ankles (point your toes away from your shins) on the eccentric range. This will help you to eccentrically overload your hamstrings.

If you are going to use this routine then you MUST think about exploding the weight up on every rep. You want to treat these reps like “speed reps” where you lift them as explosively as possible!

If you have the guts to perform these workouts for 3-4 weeks then your strength is guaranteed to shoot through the roof.

Part 3: Dante Trudel’s DC Training

DC Training is a low-volume / high-intensity bodybuilding training program invented by Dante Trudel. Most bodybuilders believe that you have to lift 4, 5 or even 6 days per week in order to build as much muscle mass as possible.

Dante Trudel believes that this is unnecessary. In fact, Dante believes that one of the best ways to build muscle mass is using a 3 days per week upper body / lower body split. If you are a bodybuilder and want to use the 3 day upper / lower split then DC Training might be your best bet.

Dante Trudel has his bodybuilding clients rotate through 3 different upper body and lower body workouts over the course of 2 weeks. For example:

Week #1

  • Monday: Upper Body Workout #1
  • Wednesday: Lower Body Workout #1
  • Friday: Upper Body Workout #2

Week #2

  • Monday: Upper Body Workout #2
  • Wednesday: Lower Body Workout #3
  • Friday: Upper Body Workout #3

Starting on week #3 the whole cycle starts repeating itself. For example on Monday of week 3 you would repeat your “upper body workout #1” and try to hit a personal record on all of your exercises.

Let’s use an example to make this easier to understand. Let’s say your 3 favourite chest exercises are incline dumbbell presses, incline bench presses and flat machine presses.

You would perform incline dumbbell presses on your 1st upper body day, incline barbell presses on your 2nd upper body day and flat machine presses on your 3rd upper body day. Then when you repeat your 1st upper body workout you would try to hit a new record on incline dumbbell presses etc.

Here is how the different body parts are trained on the upper body and lower body training days in DC Training:

Upper Body DC Training Template

  • Exercise #1: Chest
  • Exercise #2: Shoulders
  • Exercise #3: Triceps
  • Exercise #4: Back Width
  • Exercise #5: Back Thickness

Lower Body DC Training Template

  • Exercise #1: Biceps
  • Exercise #2: Forearms
  • Exercise #3: Calves
  • Exercise #4: Hamstrings
  • Exercise #5: Quadriceps

As you can see Dante likes his trainees to train biceps and forearms on their lower body day. Other than that this is a classic upper body / lower body template. For each body part you are going to pick 1 exercise and perform 1 all-out working set.

For most body parts you are going to perform a rest-pause set. Here is the exact protocol for a DC-style rest-pause set:

  • Train to failure in the 6-12 rep range, rest 20-30 seconds
  • Train to failure again using the same weight, rest 20-30 seconds
  • Train to failure a 3rd time with the same weight, done!

Basically a rest-pause set is three separate sets performed to failure with short rest periods in between each set. Rest-pause sets are incredibly effective for building both muscular size and strength.

With DC Training you don’t perform rest-pause sets for every body part. Here are a few body parts where you should perform straight sets only:

  • Back thickness (1-2 straight sets in the 4-10 rep range)
  • Forearms (1 straight set of 8-12 reps)
  • Calves (1 straight set of 7-10 reps)
  • Quadriceps (1 straight set of 4-8 reps, then the “widowmaker”)

If you are paying attention then you should be asking yourself “what the heck is a quadriceps widowmaker?” I’m glad you asked!

The widowmaker is Dante’s version of a 20-rep “breathing squat.”

The basic idea is to perform 20 reps with your 10-rep max on the back squat. First you perform 10 reps with your regular 10-rep max. The 10th rep should be very difficult but you will make it. Then you lock out your legs and take in several deep breaths.

Once you feel recovered you squat back down and knock out an extra 1-3 reps. This process is repeated until you perform 20 total reps.

For inspiration here is Tom Platz squatting an unbelievable 530 pounds for 23 reps!!

Talk about a widowmaker! OK, let’s review. For most body parts you are going to pick 1 exercise and perform 1 all-out rest-pause set. For some body parts like back thickness and quads you will perform 1-2 straight sets instead.

For most body parts you are going to perform a very painful static stretch immediately after your 1-2 working sets. Dante Trudel calls these “extreme stretches.” They may look a little weird but they are incredibly effective for boosting muscular size and strength.

Here are some good stretches for the body parts that you are supposed to stretch:

Upper body extreme stretches

Lower body extreme stretches

For other body parts like back thickness you don’t have to perform any stretches. OK, you should have a decent idea of how to perform DC Training.

Now let’s take a look at a sample training routine! Remember, these workouts are performed using a 3-day upper / lower split. You are only performing 3 total workouts per week. Check it out:

Upper Body #1

  • A1: Flat DB press, 1 x 20-30 RP**, 3/0/X/0, rest as needed
  • B1: Nautilus machine overhead press, 1 x 11-20 RP**, 2/0/X/0, rest as needed
  • C1: Decline ez-bar extension (to forehead), 1 x 11-20 RP**, 2/1/X/0, rest as needed
  • D1: Rack chins, 1 x 11-20 RP**, 3/1/X/0, rest as needed
  • E1: Barbell bent over row, 2 x (8-10, 10-12), 2/0/X/0, 3 minutes rest

**Performed as a rest-pause set.

Lower Body #1

  • A1: 30 degree incline DB curl (supinated grip), 1 x 11-20 RP**, 2/0/X/0, rest as needed
  • B1: Bilateral cable reverse curl, 1 x 8-12, 2/0/X/1, rest as needed
  • C1: Leg press calf raise, 1 x 7-10, 5/10/X/1, rest as needed
  • D1: Bilateral seated leg curl (feet plantar flexed / pointing out), 1 x 11-20 RP**, 2/0/X/0, rest as needed
  • E1: Back squat (narrow stance / heels flat), 2 x (4-8, 20****), 3/0/X/1, 4 minutes rest

**Performed as a rest-pause set.

****Performed as a DC-style widowmaker set for quads.

Upper Body #2

  • A1: 30 degree barbell incline press, 1 x 11-20 RP**, 2/0/X/0, rest as needed
  • B1: Seated DB overhead press, 1 x 20-30 RP**, 2/0/X/0, rest as needed
  • C1: Hammer strength dip machine, 1 x 15-25 RP**, 3/0/X/0, rest as needed
  • D1: Hammer strength pulldown (supinated grip), 1 x 11-20 RP**, 2/1/X/0, rest as needed
  • E1: T-bar row, 2 x (8-10, 10-12), 2/0/X/0, 3 minutes rest

**Performed as a rest-pause set.

Lower Body #2

  • A1: Preacher ez-bar curl (wide / supinated grip), 1 x 11-20 RP**, 2/0/X/0, rest as needed
  • B1: Standing DB pinwheel curl, 1 x 12-20, 2/0/1/0, rest as needed
  • C1: Standing machine calf raise, 1 x 7-10, 5/10/X/0, rest as needed
  • D1: Sumo leg press, 1 x 11-20 RP**, 2/0/X/0, rest as needed
  • E1: Leg Press, 2 x (6-10, 20**), 2/0/X/0, 4 minutes rest

**Performed as a rest-pause set.

****Performed as a DC-style widowmaker set for quads.

Upper Body #3

  • A1: Hammer strength incline press, 1 x 11-20 RP**, 2/0/X/0, rest as needed
  • B1: Standing barbell overhead press, 1 x 11-20 RP**, 2/0/X/0, rest as needed
  • C1: Bench press (shoulder-width grip), 1 x 11-20 RP**, 2/0/X/0, rest as needed
  • D1: Lat pulldown (wide / overhand grip), 1 x 11-20 RP**, 2/1/X/0, rest as needed
  • E1: Rack pull (mid-shin height), 2 x (6-8, 10-12), 2/1/X/0, 4 minutes rest

**Performed as a rest-pause set.

Lower Body #3 

  • A1: Seated alternating DB curl (supinating grip), 1 x 11-20 RP**, 2/0/X/0, rest as needed
  • B1: Preacher ez-bar curl (narrow / pronated grip), 1 x 12-20, 2/0/X/0, rest as needed
  • C1: Machine hack squat calf raise, 1 x 7-10, 5/10/X/1, rest as needed
  • D1: Bilateral lying leg curl (Poliquin method*** / feet pointing straight), 1 x 11-20 RP**, 2/0/X/0, rest as needed
  • E1: Machine hack squat (medium stance), 2 x (4-8, 20****), 3/0/X/1, 4 minutes rest

**Performed as a rest-pause set.

**Dorsiflex your ankles (point your toes towards your shins) on the concentric range and plantar flex your ankles (point your toes away from your shins) on the eccentric range. See the video below for more details.

****Performed as a DC-style widowmaker set for quads.

If you want to learn more about DC Training then check out the following article:

DC Training is definitely one of the strangest and most effective bodybuilding training programs ever invented. It is also the most famous training program of all time to use the 3 day upper / lower split. If nothing else Dante proved to the world that you CAN build maximum muscle mass training 3 days per week!

Part 4: Josh Bryant Style Programming

Josh Bryant is one of the world’s best strength coaches. He personally trains many of the world’s best powerlifters including Julius Maddox and James Strickland.

Josh Bryant uses a TON of different training splits with his powerlifting clients. However, one of his favourite training splits to use is the 3 days per week upper body / lower body split.

Josh has his clients rotate through 4 different workouts: a bench press workout, a bench press accessory workout, a squat workout and a deadlift workout.

Here is how Josh Bryant organizes his clients’ workouts:

Week #1

  • Monday: Bench press workout, accessory work
  • Wednesday: Squat workout, accessory work
  • Friday: Bench press accessory workout

Week #2

  • Monday: Deadlift workout, accessory workout
  • Wednesday: Repeat!

Starting on Wednesday of week 2 the cycle repeated itself. This is an incredibly effective way to train because you are hitting the big powerlifting exercises once every 4-5 days or so.

Over the years Josh found that this “moderate” training frequency works really well for a lot of trainees. In fact the world’s strongest bench presser Julius Maddox trains this way for all of his bench press competitions!

Let’s take a closer look at how Julius trains for his bench press world records. Julius breaks up his powerlifting meet prep cycle into 3 separate training blocks that last 1 month each.

Each training block consists of 2 heavy bench press workouts and 1 “deload” workout. For example:

Month #1

  • Day 1: Bench press 1 x 3
  • Day 11: Bench press 1 x 3
  • Day 21: Bench press deload

Month #2

  • Day 31: Bench press 1 x 2
  • Day 41: Bench press 1 x 2
  • Day 51: Bench press deload

Month #3

  • Day 61: Bench press 1 x 1
  • Day 71: Bench press 1 x 1
  • Day 81: Bench press deload

Month #4

  • Day 91: Competition Day!

For his main bench press workouts Julius works up to a heavy single, double or triple in the bench press. Then Julius moves onto his supplementary and accessory bench press exercises. Let’s take a look at one of Julius’ full bench press workouts. Check it out:

Julius Maddox Heavy Bench Press Workout

  • A1: Bench press (competition grip), 1 x 3, 1/1/X/0, 240 seconds rest
  • B1: Bench press (competition grip), 2 x 10**, 1/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest
  • C1: Unilateral cable tricep pushdown (supinated grip), 3 x 15-20, 1/0/1/0, 120 seconds rest
  • D1: Lat pulldown (wide / overhand grip), 3 x 25-30, 1/0/1/0, 120 seconds rest

**Performed w/ 58% of the weight you used for your heavy triple on the bench press

You can click right here to see a video of Julius Maddox’s heavy bench press workout.

This may not seem like a lot of volume. Keep in mind that Julius bench pressed over 700 pounds in this video! Julius has so much fast-twitch muscle tissue in his upper body that he doesn’t need a lot of training volume to continue making gains.

For Julius this short workout was more than enough to get the job done.

Julius performs these heavy bench press workouts about once every 10 days. In between his heavy workouts he does a bench press accessory workout. The purpose of this workout is to train his bench pressing muscles without beating himself up too much.

Let’s take a look at one of Julius’ bench press accessory workouts. Check it out:

Julius Maddox Accessory Bench Press Workout

  • A1: JM push ups, 10 x 25, 1/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • B1: Flat DB press, 2 x 20, 1/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • C1: Standing “ITY” raises, 3 x 5, 1/0/1/0, 60 seconds rest
  • D1: Overhead press w/ earthquake bar, 6 x 15, 1/0/1/1, 60 seconds rest

You can click right here for a great video of Julius Maddox’s accessory bench press workout.

As you can see Julius Maddox focuses on some key accessory exercises during his accessory bench press day. This is a relatively easier workout designed to help build muscle mass and attack weak muscle groups. Josh uses this strategy with a LOT of his powerlifting clients.

When you are using a 3 days per week upper body / lower body split you can afford to train a little heavier on your bench press accessory day because you are only training your upper body once every 4-5 days.

If you are looking for a good powerlifting or bench press program then I strongly recommend you try the Josh Bryant powerlifting program together with a 3 days per week upper / lower split.

If you want to learn more about the Josh Bryant powerlifting program then check out any of the following articles:

Josh Bryant is the real deal. He might be the greatest powerlifting coach in the world today besides Louie Simmons.

Conclusion

3 Day Upper Lower Split

The 3 days per week upper body / lower body split is an incredible way to train. Almost anyone reading this article can make AWESOME progress training 3 days per week like this.

If your primary goal is to get stronger then running a 3 days per week Westside Barbell program or a 3 days per week Josh Bryant style program would be a great idea.

Instead if you just want to get as jacked as possible then DC Training is a great choice. With DC Training you only have 3 total workouts per week but you will build muscle mass at a ridiculous pace.

If you want to learn more about upper body / lower body splits then check out the following articles:

These articles should give you plenty of ideas on how to setup your next training routine to build slabs of new muscle tissue and get freaky strong.

“The hardest thing for a human being to do is change. You have to be willing to change.”

Thank you for reading and I wish you the best of luck on your strength training journey!

Dr. Mike Jansen

I am the creator and owner of Revolutionary Program Design. I help advanced athletes take their training to the next level and achieve results they never imagined possible.

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