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push pull legs split

The Best Push Pull Legs Split [Definitive Guide To PPL]

If you’re thinking about starting a Push Pull Legs routine then this article has the answers for you.

There are a number of different workout splits out there, but of them all push pull legs has been popular for many years.

In fact a lot of training programs involve variations of “PPL” routines.

The major benefit of a push pull legs split is that they train all the major muscle groups and also allow plenty of time for recovery. They’re also extremely flexible, meaning they can be tailored to fit different training schedules, goals and experience levels.

When you break it down there are three main days in a push pull legs split.

  • Day 1: Push
  • Day 2: Pull
  • Day 3: Legs

It makes sure you hit all major muscle groups equally which is important when training.

The benefit of having only 3 major days is you can train anywhere from 3 to 6 times per week depending on how much you want to workout and what your goals are. We will discuss how to set up a workout split to your needs at the end of this article.

If you’re looking to stack on muscle and gain strength, then push pull legs could be the workout routine for you!

By the end of this article you will know exactly how to train with a PPL program.

Lets get started.

 

What Is A Push Pull Legs Routine

compound exercise deadlift

The push pull legs split is a simple yet effective training program for people of all abilities. It doesn’t matter if it’s your first time in the gym or you’ve been training for years PPL can help you get to your goals.

As the name suggests you perform three kinds of workouts:

  • Push: chest, shoulders and triceps
  • Pull: back, traps, and biceps
  • Legs: hamstrings, quads and calves

Your push workouts focus on the upper body pushing muscles, your pecs, triceps and shoulders.

In a PPL push workout you will generally be doing barbell bench pressing, overhead pressing, dips and some isolation work for your triceps at the end.

Your pull workouts will focus on your upper body pulling muscles, your back and biceps.

A typical pull workout will have you doing things like deadlifts, rows, pullups and curls for your biceps.

Lastly your leg workouts train your quads, hamstrings, glutes and calves.

Your leg workouts will generally involve squatting, lunging and a number of different isolation exercises to target your legs.

 

Benefits of Push Pull Legs

push pull legs split

Push pull legs routines have been proven to be highly effective over the years.

You might have noticed that the majority of exercises that you perform in ppl workouts are compound lifts. This allows you to hit multiple muscle groups within the one exercise.

For example a staple push day exercise would be the bench press. While it is predominantly a chest exercise you are also getting supplementary work from your triceps and your shoulders.

On the other hand when you are doing an exercise like a barbell row you are mainly using your back muscles and your biceps. This means that you can do less exercises than if you were trying to do the same amount of work with just isolation (one muscle group at a time) exercises.

The other benefit of this is your pushing muscle groups and pulling muscle groups don’t usually overlap too much. This allows you to have a good pull workout even if your chest and triceps are sore from your push workout the day before.

That being said, there is a bit of overlap between the muscles involved in each workout so you should always take one day off of the weights per week.

 

Building Muscle and Strength With Compound Exercises

push pull legs workout

Compound exercises are popular among bodybuilders and powerlifters. As compound exercises recruit multiple muscle groups they allow you to build more muscle and strength than isolation movements alone.

Compound exercises also provide a much better carryover into day to day life and other athletic activities.

Utilising multiple muscle groups allows you to build coordination throughout your muscles as well as strength and size.

After all, try and think of something you do in your day to day life that only required you to use one muscle. The answer is probably none right?

Compound lifts are not only more efficient in terms of muscles groups worked per exercise. They also allow for heavier weights to be lifted safely. This makes it easier to progressively overload your muscles each workout.

The downside of compound exercises is they are very taxing on your body, so you need to make sure you are getting in adequate recovery after each workout to avoid overtraining.

This is one of the benefits of PPL as your muscles groups are being trained on different days sometimes with a days rest in between them.

Push Pull Legs Will Fit Your Needs

The other major benefit of push pull legs is that they can be easily customised to meet your needs and goals.

Want to work out 3 days a week? It can be done on PPL.

Want to work out 4, 5, or 6 days? That’s possible too.

You have just three basic workouts to choose from and you can split them up to fit your weekly training needs.

A basic 3 day workout split would look like this:

Monday:

Push

Wednesday:

Pull

Friday:

Legs

 

Or a six day workout could look like this:

Monday:

Push

Tuesday:

Pull

Wednesday:

Legs

Thursday:

Push

Friday:

Pull

Saturday:

Legs

 

Achieving Progressive Overload With PPL

push pull legs workout

Progressive overload is the means by which we get stronger and achieve muscle hypertrophy.

Progressive overload is the gradual increase of stress placed upon the body during exercise training.

The human body is naturally quite lazy. We could quite easily just plod along without growing in strength or size.

Progressive overload is the key to getting bigger and stronger. In order to stimulate muscle growth and strength we need to continually increase the intensity of our workouts and eat the right foods.

It’s that simple, keep getting stronger and lifting heavier or you won’t continue to get bigger.

Most good training programs will incorporate a form of progressive overload.

Recovery between your workouts is essential to maintaining progressive overload. If you’re coming into a workout tired or still sore from a previous session it’s going to be difficult to improve on your last effort.

Push pull legs programs are beneficial as you are never training the same muscle groups after each other.

Think of it this way. If you just trained arms and then were trying to hit back the next day your biceps are still going to be tired which will impact your ability to do rows and other exercises that train your back.

PPL prevents this by training the muscle groups that work together on the same day and allowing sufficient rest before training them again.

 

Which Push Pull Legs Routine Is Right For You?

So you’re ready to dive into a push pull legs workout program.

The first decision you need to make is how many days per week you want to train. This comes down to what your goals are.

If you’re short on time you can do great on a 3 day per week split.

If you are looking to maximise your muscle and strength gains then 4-6 days per week will give you the best returns.

There are many different variations of PPL routines out there but today I’m going to break down a few workouts that you can use.

 

Push Pull Legs Workouts

push pull legs routine

Now to the fun part. The workouts!

As we talked about earlier push pull legs involves a lot of heavy compound lifts with some accessory work at the end to make sure we hit everything.

Push A

Incline Barbell Bench Press: 3 sets of 4 to 6 reps

Standing Military Press: 3 sets of 4 to 6 reps

Close Grip Bench Press: 3 sets of 4 to 6 reps

Dumbbell Lateral Raise: 2 sets of 8 to 10 reps

Rope Pushdowns: 2 sets of 8 to 10 reps

 

Push B

Flat Barbell Bench Press: 3 sets of 4 to 6 reps

Standing Military Press: 3 sets of 4 to 6 reps

Dumbbell Rear Lateral Raise: 2 sets of 8 to 10 reps

Overhead Dumbbell Extension: 3 sets of 8 to 10

 

Pull A

Barbell Deadlift: 3 sets of 4 to 6 reps

Barbell Rows: 3 sets of 4 to 6 reps

Weighted Chin ups: 3 sets of 4 to 6 reps

Dumbbell Row: 3 sets of 4 to 6 reps

Barbell Bicep Curls: 2 sets of 8 to 10 reps

 

Pull B

Barbell Rows: 3 sets of 4 to 6 reps

Lat Pulldowns: 3 sets of 4 to 6 reps

Seated Rows: 3 sets of 4 to 6 reps

Hammer Curls: 3 sets of 8 to 10 reps

 

Legs

Barbell Back Squat: 3 sets of 4 to 6 reps

Leg Press: 3 sets of 4 to 6 reps

Barbell Lunge: 3 sets of 4 to 6 reps

Calf Raises: 3 sets of 8 to 10 reps

 

That’s the workouts. Now you can plug them into a workout routine that fit you.

 

Push Pull Legs 3 Day Split

The 3 day workout split is your basic push pull legs program. If you only have 3 days per week to train this is probably your best option out of any workout.

If you’re looking to get bigger and stronger from only a few days per week this is your best option:

Monday:

Push

Wednesday:

Pull

Friday:

Legs

 

Push Pull Legs 4 Day Split

Adding a 4th day to your workout split allows you to hit one muscle group an extra time. This can be good if you are trying to add size to your legs if you’re already on track with your upper body for example.

Or you might be happy with your legs and want to focus on your upper body in which case you would have an extra push/pull day per week. If this is the case I would alternate the second push/pull day each week.

So week 1 you will do 2 push days and 1 pull.

Week 2 you will do 2 pull days and 1 push.

Below are two different 4 day splits  for upper and lower body focus.

Upper Body Focus

Monday:

Push A

Tuesday:

Pull A

Thursday:

Legs

Friday:

Push B or Pull B

 

Lower Body Focus

Monday:

Legs

Tuesday:

Push

Thursday:

Legs

Friday:

Pull

 

Push Pull Legs 5 Day Split

The 5 day split is a great option as it allows you to push yourself hard and get good muscle and strength gains but also give you two days to recover before you have to go again.

There are two alternatives here for upper and lower body focused routines.

Upper Body Focus

Monday:

Push A

Tuesday:

Pull A

Wednesday:

Legs

Thursday:

Push B

Friday:

Pull B

 

Lower Body Focus

Monday:

Legs

Tuesday:

Push A

Wednesday:

Pull A

Thursday:

Legs

Friday:

Pull B/Push B

 

Push Pull Legs 6 Day Split

If you’re really looking to put on some serious size and are willing to put in the work a 6 day push pull legs split could be just what you’re looking for.

You have to make sure you’re getting enough rest, food and have recovered fully before each session. If you’re not feeling rested and fresh you might need to change things up a bit.

Here it is:

Lower Body Focus

Monday:

Push

Tuesday:

Pull

Wednesday:

Legs

Thursday:

Push

Friday:

Pull

Saturday:

Legs

 

Push Pull Legs for Mass

push pull legs for mass

If you’re looking to put on some serious size and strength with your training program these are the steps you need to follow:

Focus on achieving progressive overload in each of your workouts.

Forget the super sets, drop sets, time under tension and other special training techniques the magazines tell you.

If you want to put on serious mass with a push pull legs routine or any workout for that matter you need to work on getting stronger each and every session.

You can accomplish this by adding volume (reps) but eventually you will need to add weight to the bar. That’s why the biggest guys in the gym usually lift the most weight.

To achieve progressive overload is simple. When you hit the upper rep range for an exercise you move up in weight.

So if you are benching 180lbs and the rep range is 4-6 as soon as you manage to lift 6 reps, the next set you would add extra weight to the bar and aim for 4+ reps again. Do this until you get to 6 reps again and add more weight.

If you are new to training you should find that you are progressing well each and every week.

If you have been training for some time you might progress a little slower but you should still be aiming to do more reps or more weight each and every session.

Rest a full 3 minutes in between sets.

If you’re wanting to lift heavy you need to make sure you are getting sufficient rest between sets to allow your muscles to recoup their strength. If you don’t allow enough rest between sets you might see your strength dropping significantly on your second and third sets.

Deload every 6 weeks.

Training heavy is incredibly demanding on your body. A deload week is a planned week where you take the weights a little lighter to allow you body to fully regain your strength and prevent any nagging aches and pains from becoming injuries.

 

Final Word on Push Pull Legs Workouts

Push pull legs routines are one of the simplest and most popular workouts used in the gym.

You train every muscle group in your body evenly and take advantage of heavy compound lifts to maximise muscle and strengths gains.

Give one of the workout splits in this article a go and let me know your thoughts.

Like This Workout? You’ll Love These:

The Best Leg Workout

The Ultimate Back Workout

The Best Chest Workout

The Ultimate Arm Workout

The Best Tricep Workout

Have you done a push pull legs split before? Going to try on out now? Let me know in the comments below!

 

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