Push-Pull workout: Split routine, top workouts, benefits, and everything

Push pull workout

You have just passed the beginner stage of fitness and muscle building and you are wondering? “Is there a magic exercise that is comprehensive and can put significant muscle mass in a very short time? The short answer is yes: That is Push-pull workout.

Now you can ask me for a counter-question. “What exactly is a push-pull workout?

Essentially, it is a split of all push-workouts and pull-workouts, often involving a day for legs workouts, which then becomes a push-pull legs split workout routine.

Since it involves all major muscles of our body, this makes it one of the simplest, most popular and extremely effective workout routines to build muscles in the whole body, if done in the right way.

So, are you excited to know more about this magic workout routine? Then don’t miss out on what is written below explaining the push-pull workout in detail. 

Push workout

Push workouts

As the name suggests, A push workout contracts your muscles when weight is being pushed away from your body and work is done. In the “push workout”, you are actually training all the upper body.

 The primary muscles involved in a push workout are

  •  chest, 
  • Triceps,
  • quadriceps, 
  • calves, 
  • and shoulders. 

Examples/list of push exercises

  • push-ups, 
  • squats, and 
  • the shoulder press.
  • Incline bench press
  • Clap press-ups
  • Overhead press
  • Bench press
  • Decline bench press

Pull workout

pull workout

A pull workout is the exact opposite of push workout i.e Pull exercises are those where the muscles contract when weight is being pulled towards your body and work is done.

The primary muscles in a pull workout includes are:

  1. all back muscles,
  2. biceps,
  3. hamstrings,
  4. obliques
  5. trapezius.

Examples/list of pull exercises

  1. pull-ups
  2. back rows
  3. deadlifts
  4. rear shoulder flys
  5. bicep curls
  6. Lat pull-down
  7. Bent-over row
  8. Cable row
  9. Barbell curl

Push-pull leg split

Push pull leg split

Generally, push/pull workouts are not done together. Rather a ‘legs workout’ is involved in the form of a split called “push-pull legs split”. Normally, a whole day is dedicated to leg workout only while other days are dedicated to each of ‘push’ or ‘pull’ day.

In the “legs” workout you train the entire lower body and the targeted or muscles involved are:

  • the quads
  • hamstrings, 
  • calves an
  • Abdominals

Examples of leg exercises

  • jump lunge
  • Good morning
  • Deadlift
  • Dumbbell squat
  • hanging leg raise

Why push-pull legs routine is special?

The reason why push-pull legs routine is very popular among fitness experts because it is ‘one shot-many’ exercise i.e with less time you can accomplish more. 

Most importantly, it is perfectly designed to build your muscle mass in a much easier way as it targets a range of muscles i.e from the upper body, midsection/core to your lower body within one week/one go. 

Benefits of push-pull leg routine

Benefits of Push pull leg routine

 The following are some of the best benefits of a push-pull leg routine.

1. You are able to hit hard all your body muscles more than once a week

Typical bodybuilding routines, where a muscle is worked only once a week (leg Tuesdays, chest Mondays, etc) should be left alone if you are really searching for your massive muscle growth. 

It’s simple;  muscle protein synthesis needs to be regenerated every 48-72 hours – Hence, training your body parts once a week is never enough.

The push-pull plan also gives you the freedom to incorporate microcycles in your training routine; that is, on push day you may focus on heavier, strength-style training intended to build your strength, while the second may involve higher-rep, hypertrophy-focused lifts to increase your muscle mass.

For instance,

This push-pull workout allows you to hit the major upper body muscles hard on days one and two, before targeting your legs and core on day three to help you see faster gains in a short time.

 

2. You avoid overstressing your body parts 

As compared to other training programs, training with push-pull legs routine lets your muscle groups rest completely. How? 

In traditional workout schemes, you might work chest on one day, shoulders the next, then triceps the next. That would constitute training the triceps and, to a lesser extent, the anterior delts, three training sessions in a row!

Push-pull avoids that by grouping all the muscles involved in pulling (back, biceps, rear delts, traps, forearms, hamstrings) and all the muscles involved in pushing (chest, triceps, quads, lateral and medial delts) together.

This saves you from putting a lot of stress on one group of muscles which can be potentially harmful.

 

3.  Push-pull legs split creates muscle balance to prevent injury

People generally injure themselves by overtraining certain muscles creating an imbalance between them. Implementing push and pull workouts split routine helps to avoid overworking and stressing your muscles giving ample time to recover your muscles between workouts.

Since you’ll be exclusively training specific muscles, you’ll be able to hit the gym harder next time which is the best way to build more muscle and burn more fat.

So sticking to this routine not only helps prevent injury but also lets you accomplish your goal of building muscle mass very comfortably at the same time.

For example

The most common is overworking our chest versus our back creating a hunch in the shoulders and upper back. With a simple pushing and pulling workout, we create a more balanced physique and prevent a potential injury in the future.

Keep in mind: Rest for no more than 60 seconds between each set. Do the exercises in each set in one go with no rests.

 

4. You increase muscle mass equally in all muscle groups

The push-pull legs split is known as one of the most efficient workouts in the fitness regime. Why? Because it allows your body to train all its related muscles together in one same workout. 

In other words, this routine allows time for working for all muscle groups, the upper body, back, chest, and core which helps to increases the muscle mass equally in all major parts of your body which also helps to burn more calories.

How does this work in the actual world?

 For example, when you train chest with say, bench press, you are also working your anterior deltoids and triceps hard. And when you train shoulders you are again getting your triceps in action.

So it makes sense to work these all together in the same workout for maximum synergy and effectiveness.

In a similar way, when you train your back, your biceps are heavily in action, so it makes sense to train these immediately afterward so you can make the optimal benefit from the additional stimulation of muscles implying a minimum overlap of movements between workouts which ensures good facilitation in recovery.

Best Push-pull legs split routine

 Below are some of the most common push-pull legs splits routine for those fitness enthusiasts looking to build muscles on their bodies.

Push-pull legs routine 1: workout for beginners 3 days a week

For beginners, push-pull legs split is advised to only three days of the week. In this case, you would simply divide each of three ‘push’, ‘pull’, and ‘legs’ workout on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday respectively.

However, fitness experts don’t recommend this for intermediate and advanced bodybuilders as it means that each body part is only being trained once per week which is not the most optimal for muscle growth (though it’s fine for maintenance program).

Push-pull legs routine 2: workout routine for intermediate trainers 4 days a week

This is better than 3 days a week workout split as you would be able to alter the workouts over your four training days enabling you to work your muscles twice a week. Still, this is best for beginners and intermediates.

Push-pull legs routine 3: workout routine advance trainers 5 days a week

This routine works by rotating the five-day cycle, where each workout is done over a five day period.  This is probably the best way to do it as it means that each body part is trained at least twice over 5 days – and this is about ideal for the more experienced trainee.

 But it does mean that your training days are constantly changing so you need a fairly flexible schedule for this to work. Below is a sample push-pull legs split sample routine for your one week.

 It includes training for each push-pull legs split between Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday with rest on the next day after once cycle is complete. After rest, you repeat the same circle of the split in the remaining days of the week

Sample Push-pull legs split routine

Sample push-pull legs split routine

Day 1: Push (Monday)

Push exercise 1: Incline bench press

How to do it?

  1. Just lie down on your bench making a 45 angle while yourself atop a bar which is gripped firmly and your hands being wider than your shoulder width
  2. Now, while keeping in the same position, drive your feet hard on the floor and push the weight overhead straight with full power.
  3. Finally, come back by lowering it in the original position.

Sets and Reps

  • 10 reps
  • 3 sets

 

Push exercise 2: Clap press-ups

How to do it?

  1. Get yourself on the top of a press-up position while keeping your hands just under your shoulders.
  2.  Now, try bending your arms such that your chest comes to the floor level.
  3. Next, drive your body up with full power in such a way that you have enough time to lift your hand off the floor and clap just in front of your chest.
  4. Just as you successfully clap, quickly bring your hands back to save you from falling. This is one complete rep. Take rest and get on with another  rep

Sets and Reps

  • 2 sets
  • 10 reps

 

Push exercise 3: Overhead press

How to do it?

  1. Starting with your feet and hands being at being shoulder-width apart, hold on a barbell up to the level of your chest.
  2. To engage your back, keeping your glutes and core tight to avoid your hips bending forward, push the bar just straight over your head.
  3. Just lower back to the original position to complete one rep

Sets and Reps:

  • 3 sets
  • 8 reps

Push exercise 4: Bench press

How to dot it?

  1. First, lying down on a flat bench, hold firmly a barbell with an overhand grip while making sure your hands are kept wider than your shoulders.
  2.  Finally, drive your feet hard into the floor and push the weight up with full power.
  3. Slowly, come back to the original position.

Sets and Reps:

  • 3 reps
  • 9 reps

 

Push exercise 5: Decline bench press

How to do it?

  1. Start by lying down on a bench with slightly declining, holding on the barbell with your hands firmly gripping, and keeping your feet wider than shoulder-width.
  2. Finally, push this weight just straight up with full power.
  3. Lower back to the starting position slowly.

.Sets and Reps

  • 2 sets
  • 12 reps

 

Day 2: Pull (Tuesday)

Pull exercise 1: pull-up

How to do it?

  1. Hold firmly a pull up bar with an overhand grip such that your hand’s palm is not facing your body and your hands should be kept wider than your shoulder.
  2. Powerful contract your upper back to pull your chest towards the iron bar.
  3. Finally, lower this while keeping your body in control.

Sets and Reps:

  • 3 sets
  • 8 reps

Pull exercise 2: Barbell curl

How to do it?

  1. Hold on a barbell while keeping your hands more than shoulder-width apart and palm facing away from your body
  2. While keeping your chest holding on your place and elbows just kept close to your body, curl the bar such that it gets parallel to the upper chest.
  3. Now lower all this while keeping your body under control.

Sets and Reps

  • 2 sets
  • 12 reps

Pull exercise 3: Cable row 

How to do it?

  1. While sitting with your feet pushed against firm support, try bending your legs a little bit.
  2. Now firmly grip the handle, such that your hand’s palms are facing your front face and in this position retract the blades of your shoulder and try your best to sit upright.
  3. Finally, without getting the support of back, try pulling the handle to the lower chest.

Sets and reps:

  • Sets 3
  • Reps 8

 

Pull exercise 4: Bent-over row

How to dot it?

  1. Start with holding a barbell with an overhand grip and keeping that posture just outside your legs, bend your knees a little and try forward bending.
  2. Make sure that your back is slightly bent and your shoulder blades should not be able to come forward.
  3. Finally, pull the weight up the lower chest level, and from here return back to the start slowly.

Sets and Reps:

  • 2 sets
  • 12 reps

Pull exercise 5: Lat pull-down

How to dot it?

  1. Start by sitting in the seat such that your knees should be kept firmly just under the support.
  2.  Now, retract your shoulder blades and sit upright, in such a way that your palms are facing away from your body and your hands should be kept wider than the shoulder.
  3. Finally, without getting back support, just pull the handle right in front of your face so that it becomes parallel with your face.

Sets and Reps

  • 2 sets
  • 12 reps

 

Day 3: Legs(Wednesday)

Leg exercise 1: Hanging leg raise

How to do it?

  1. Hold on firmly a pull up bar in such a way that your hands are kept wider than your shoulders and your hand’s palms facing opposite to your face.
  2. Now,  while keeping your core in control to stop your body going sideways, raise your both legs in such a way that they become parallel with the ground.
  3. Finally, lower your legs while maintaining your core position.

Sets and reps

  • 2 sets
  • 12 reps

 

Leg exercise 2: Dumbbell squat

How to do it?

  1. Hold firmly a dumbbell in both your hands on each side and keep your feet wider than shoulder-width.
  2. While maintaining your knees wide enough, and maintaining your weight equally on your heels, bend down your legs such that your thighs become parallel to the floor.
  3. Then drive back up to standing.

Sets and reps:

  • 2 sets
  • 12 reps

 

Leg exercise 3: Deadlift

How to do it?

  1. Start with firmly holding a barbell with your hands wider apart than your shoulders and your arms just kept straight, your hips relatively low and chest kept upright so that your back is straight and flat.
  2. Now, keeping your core balanced and tight throughout, drive down by your heels and pull the bar up, push the hips forward such that you’re able to stand tall comfortable.
  3.  Finally, Bend forwards, balancing at your hips such that bars come below your knees.
  4. Then just bend your legs to get it parallel to the floor.

Sets and Reps

  • 3 sets
  • 8 reps

 

Leg exercise 4: Good morning

How to do it?

  1. First, begin while holding a barbell on your back shoulders but not your neck.
  2. Now, try bending forward slowly, balancing on your hips while keeping your legs and back as straight as possible.
  3. Finally, keep bending so that you start feeling a contraction in your hamstrings. Then just rise back to its original position.

Sets and reps

  • 2 sets
  • 12 reps

 

Leg exercise 5: Jump lunge

Sets and Reps

  • 3 sets for 1 and a half minute

How to do it?

  1. First, begin with a forward bending lung position such that your hands should be in a balanced state as of sprinters.
  2. Now, just jump off the floor by pushing yourself up to your front leg.
  3. While you are in the air, swap your legs, so that you land on a different leg than you jumped up.
  4. Keep alternating these two moves for one and a half minutes.

 

Day 4(Break/rest)

Day 5, 6, 7: Repeat again the above sequence of push/pull/legs split

FAQs

Q1: Are push-pull workouts effective?

Answer: Yes, fitness experts accept the push/pull workouts split to be one of the most effective workout routines to build larger, balanced and risk-free muscles.

The split of training, the complement of one muscle group to another and adequate rest between them perfectly fit in the criteria of a proper and expert muscle-building routine.

Q2: How long should a pull/push workout be?

Answer: Traditionally, fitness experts recommend 3 days/week push/pull/legs split for beginners, but if you really want to take your muscle-building to the next level, you need to follow at least 5 or 6 day split per week.

Also, individual workout of push-pull or legs should not last more than half an hour of your working/training day.

Q3: Can you do push and pull on the same day?

Answer: yes and no.

Yes, because working push and pull on the same day, you save time without spending your next day. More importantly, this also allows to workout out two groups of muscles which are complementing each other thus enhancing your muscle endurance and strength.
Also, this superimposition of two muscle groups helps you recover better.

No, Not recommended. Reason being that if you do both on one day, you run the risk of overstressing and overrunning your muscle capacity which is harmful in the long run and can mess with your exercise routine.

Your muscles need ample rest for repairing, building, and growing which can’t be stressed enough.

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