This is what you can do in the gym, Part II, Upper lower body splits


We’re back you guys! If you’re just getting hooked onto this series, welcome! This month is all about building up an arsenal of ideas for you to use at the gym so you don’t ever have to feel like you “Don’t know what to do” ever again!


This series, “This is what you can do in the gym” takes place over the next month and in each part I will share with you different exercise pairings that you can use to create your own program design. I want you to walk into a gym and actually feel like you know what you are doing! 


If you’re interested in delving into this even further, you can check out our upcoming 8 Week Workshop at real [FIT] life, Dominate the Gym in 8 Weeks. This Dominate the Gym 8 Week Program will give you great workout programs that will keep you motivated, learning new things, and finally seeing the results you want. This is the perfect program for you if you’re ready to take your workouts to the next level and learn how to make the most of your gym time. ​Go here to learn more.

 In part I of this series, I showed you two Push pull combos. If you missed them, go here to get caught up! 


Today I’m showing you two Upper lower body splits that you can also use.


 We’re also going to talk about rest breaks. Depending on your goals, the amount of time you rest can vary. We’re specifically looking at a total body training format in this series, so that in itself will pair down the amount of time you need to rest between exercises.


Let’s first look at today’s videos and the two upper/lower body splits that you can try at the gym. 


There are lot’s of ways that you can break down a workout program. This series is going to primarily focus on a total body format. Depending on how many times a week you want to strength train, you could perform a total body program 2 – 3 times a week. Recovery days in between your strength training days are recommended. Recovery is an important part of the training process as well.

 If you’re also looking to get your diet in check for 2018, I recommend you check out my video series, 7 Tips for Successful Weight Loss. These 7 videos are only 5 – 10 minutes each and they contain all the information you need to lose fat, build muscle, and build the body you want. Go here to watch them.


Upper Lower Body Splits

Our first split pairs the lower body exercise Single leg Romanian deadlift (SL RDL) with the upper body exercise Incline dumbbell chest presses. The SL RDL is a hinge exercise that primarily works the hamstrings and helps improve balance. The Incline DB Chest Press is a pushing motion which primarily works the chest, shoulders, and triceps.


Let’s watch the video here:


In the video I mentioned a modification for the SL RDL if you’re really struggling with balance but then I forgot to show it to you! 


It’s okay to hold onto something as long as you maintain good form. Still keep your weight balanced evenly in BOTH sides of the body. Don’t lean towards the side that’s holding on. Over time, hold on less as your balance improves. I recommend a bench or something else that is at hip height.


Our second split pairs the upper body exercise Chin ups with the lower body exercise Goblet squats. Don’t worry if you aren’t ready for chin ups. I give you an alternate exercise, Kneeling lat pulldowns, just in case. 


Chin ups are an excellent upper body exercise. They primarily work the biceps and back. Plus, when you do them you’ll feel pretty badass. Goblet squats primarily work the hips, glutes, and quadriceps. There are a lot of big muscles in the lower body. Goblet squats hit all of them and that means we are utilizing a lot of energy to perform them. Both the Chin ups and Goblet squats also require a lot of core activation. When you combine Chin ups with the Goblet squats? We’ve got a dynamo pairing that can build some major total body strength and really torch some calories! 


And if you aren’t ready for those chin ups, don’t worry! Kneeling lat pulldowns are great for strengthening the back and teaching you scapular stabilization which are key elements necessary for performing chin ups sometime in your future. The kneeling component brings in more core stabilization as well. If you perform these in a gym with a lat bar and weighted cable system, you can make them really challenging by progressively adding more load over time.


Let’s watch the video here:

Rest between sets


 In our Part I segment we talked about Reps and Sets. I explained the difference between the two and made recommendations for how to select the right rep ranges for your workouts. I also gave you a sample workout log to show you how to log your reps and sets from workout to workout. To check that out, go here


Another important element is rest between sets. How long you rest will be determined by several factors: Time available for your workout, level of intensity of your sets, and whether you are more focused on losing fat or building muscle. 


If you’re looking for fat loss, shorter rest breaks will be optimal. A 60 second rest between your sets gives you just enough time to switch from one exercise to the next. Shorter rest breaks will also somewhat dictate the level of intensity of each set for each exercise since less rest will leave you more fatigued for each subsequent set. You’ll be a tad bit out of breath!


If you’re looking to build greater strength, slightly longer rest breaks will be optimal. Rest 1 1/2 – 2 minutes between sets so you can tackle each new set fresh and ready to give it your all. You’ll most likely get more reps in each set and be able to push slightly harder and with heavier weight when you take longer rest breaks. This will lead to a greater increase in overall strength if you are applying progressive overload appropriately. (We’ll be learning more about progressive overload in Part III.)


Time available is also a factor. You may need to do less sets for each pairing if you’re short on time. Or you’ll have to shorten your rest breaks. It’s a choice you should make based on your overall goal. And again, it’s your DIET that’s primarily going to give you a deficit, or surplus for weight loss (getting leaner) or weight gain (gaining mass) so pay attention to THAT for overall physique goals, not just your workouts. (Watch here) Shortcuts don’t work in the end. Neither does rushing through your workout with sloppy form just so you can get more done in less time. Stick to what most aligns with your GOAL.


Here’s another sample log including today’s exercises with suggested rest breaks. One sample focuses on optimal rest for fat loss and one focuses on optimal rest for building strength. I also give examples of how to make helpful notes for yourself from workout to workout. 


Sample workout log with fat loss as the emphasis


Alternate 1a. and 1b. for 3 sets, resting 60 seconds between each exercise


1a. SL RDL 8 – 12 reps@ (kettlebell)


Set 1  10lbs/12 reps@  –  60 seconds rest (no rest between Right and Left)


Set 2   15lbs/10 reps@ – 60 seconds rest (no rest between Right and Left)


Set 3   15lbs/10 reps R, 9 reps L – 60 seconds rest (slight rest between Right and Left, very out of breath)


1b. Incline DB Chest Press 8 -12 reps (Dumbbells)


Set 1  15lbs/12 reps – 60 seconds rest


Set 2  20lbs/10 reps@ – 60 seconds rest


Set 3  20lbs/8 reps@ – 60 seconds rest (last 2 reps were pretty hard. Back started to pull off bench)


Sample workout log with improved strength as the emphasis


Alternate 1a. and 1b. for 2- 3 sets, resting 1 1/2 – 2 minutes between each exercise


(started with 1b first since I wanted to do 3 sets of 1b. but only had time for 2 sets of 1a. Wanted to get more chest work in)


1a. SL RDL 8 – 12 reps@ (kettlebell)


Set 1  15lbs/12 reps@  –  1 1/2  minute rest (no rest between Right and Left, Lightly held bench)


Set 2 26lbs/12 reps R, 11 reps L – 2 minute rest(slight pause between Right and Left, Lightly held bench)


Set 3   Did not do, short on time


1b. Incline DB Chest Press 8 -12 reps (Dumbbells)


Set 1  15lbs/12 reps – 1 1/2 minute rest


Set 2  20lbs/12 reps – 1 1/2 minute rest (Last 2 reps were hard but form solid)


Set 3  25lbs/8 reps – 1 1/2 minute rest (Solid work, good form, HARD)


Keep in mind as you look at these, that 1a. and 1b. are being done one after the other, alternating for 2-3 sets. So after you do your SL RDL on both sides, the amount of time you rest has the most direct impact on the exercise that comes AFTER, which in this case would be the Incline DB Chest Press. 


Next time we’ll be looking at two pairings that involve some core specific training. Till then, try these combos out at the gym and let me know if you have any questions! 


See you soon!


Jeannine Trimboli

Founder, real [FIT] life


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