The ULPPL workout split is a popular 5 day workout routine for building muscle and strength. This split maximizes the frequency and volume of your training routine, working each muscle group twice per week. Compared to the 5 day bro split, a ULPPL split can help advanced trainees more efficiently build muscle.
Problems with the bro split
The bro split structures your workout routine so you work one muscle group per day. This split allows you to concentrate on a major muscle group on each training day and means, roughly speaking, there’s a full week of recovery time before you hit the same muscle group again.
A typical bro split might look something like this:
- Monday – Chest
- Tuesday – Shoulders
- Wednesday – Legs
- Thursday – Back
- Friday – Arms
Bro splits are a simple and flexible workout routine, allowing you to safely combine different exercises without compromising recovery time. This makes them a popular choice for many strength training beginners.
This way of training, however, has a major drawback. The fact you are hitting only one muscle group each day means you are minimizing your training frequency.
Muscle growth is driven by a process called muscle protein synthesis. Studies show that the protein synthesis process peaks 24 hours after you exercise and returns to normal after about 36 hours. Since a bro split waits a full week before hitting the same muscle group again, it leaves a lot on the table!
You can see then how a bro split constrains your training frequency and overall volume, and makes it difficult to progress if you are at an advanced level of training.
Structure of the ULPPL split
The ULPPL (upper-lower, push-pull-legs) split divides your workouts into five types of exercise: upper body, lower body, push exercises, pull exercises and legs.
In this type of split, you work chest muscles both on upper body and push days, back muscles on lower body and legs day, etc. In other words, you hit each muscle group twice during the week, increasing the frequency and volume of your workout routine.
This increase in frequency and volume is the key advantage of ULPPL over bro splits, since it promotes greater muscle hypertrophy and uses your training time more efficiently.
A typical ULPPL split will be structured like this:
- Day 1 – Upper body day: Chest, back, shoulders, biceps and triceps.
- Day 2 – Lower body day: Quads, hamstrings, glutes and calves.
- Day 3 – Rest day.
- Day 4 – Push day: Chest, shoulders and triceps.
- Day 5 – Pull day: Back, biceps and rear delts.
- Day 6 – Leg day: Quads, hamstrings, glutes and calves.
- Day 7 – Rest day.
Why train 5 days per week?
If you are at an intermediate or advanced level of training, a 5 day split can enable you to increase your training volume. This in turn can lead to fast improvements to your muscle growth and strength. If you are a beginner, or have limited time to workout through the week, a 5 day split is probably not a suitable routine for you.
Compared with a 3 day full-body routine or 4 day push/pull splits, a 5 day split can adds volume without overtraining any particular muscle group. But a 5 day split needs careful planning to ensure you have adequate recovery time between workouts.
Bodybuilders in particular can benefit from 5 day training, since their goals are to gain muscle mass and build a sculpted and well-defined physique. This requires a high volume of weight-lifting exercises throughout the week and a 5 day split makes it easier to achieve the balance.
Tips for the ULPPL split
Don’t forget to include some abs training into your routine! Strong abs can increase your core strength and trunk stability, which is beneficial in other exercises. Add a 10 minute abs session at the end of 1-2 workouts each week (usually including leg day).
Simple exercises like planks, crunches, leg raises and rollouts are all great choices to train your abs.
Avoid training your abs on consecutive days, since your muscles need time to rest and recover.
Rest between sets
Allow 2-3 minutes of rest between sets for your muscles to recover and to prevent injuries.
When lifting heavier weights with a lower rep range, you will need a longer rest period than with high-rep, low weight exercises. Compound exercises typically need a longer rest period than isolation exercises.
MacDougall, J. D., Gibala, M. J., Tarnopolsky, M. A., MacDonald, J. R., Interisano, S. A., & Yarasheski, K. E. (1995). The time course for elevated muscle protein synthesis following heavy resistance exercise. Canadian Journal of applied physiology, 20(4), 480-486.
Schoenfeld, B. J., Ogborn, D., & Krieger, J. W. (2017). Dose-response relationship between weekly resistance training volume and increases in muscle mass: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of sports sciences, 35(11), 1073-1082.