Strapped for time, have you tried the PUSH PULL Split ?

Monday: chest, Tuesday: shoulders, Wednesday: legs. Sound familiar?

Ever noticed people in the gym performing the same body part workouts on the same days, using the same exercises and the same weights… and often look the same?  This is where this week’s blog comes into play, are you familiar with a push/ pull workout….?

**Some coaches (myself included) recommend performing more pulling than pushing. As a society with poor posture and overused chest days, there’s a demand for extra back work. Plus, a stronger back will support athletic performance.

But what is a Push and Pull Workout Routine?

A push workout contracts your muscles when weight is being pushed away from your body, meaning the work is done when the muscle contracts as you push. The primary muscles in a push workout includes chest, triceps, quadriceps, calves, and shoulders. E.g. of  push-ups, squats, and the shoulder press.

A pull workout is the exact opposite. Pull exercises are those where the muscles contract when weight is being pulled towards your body, meaning the work is done when the muscle contracts when you pull. The primary muscles in a pull workout includes all back muscles, biceps, hamstrings, obliques and trapezius. Examples of pull exercises are pull-ups, back rows, dead lifts, rear shoulder flys and bicep curls.

But Why….?

Push, pull and legs is a very simple, yet effective training split for anyone, ranging from those picking up their first barbell to hardened gym veterans. The reason it works so well is that it places more emphasis on multi-joint compound (think recruiting more muscles and larger muscle groups)  exercises than on isolation-based exercises. Don’t expect set after set of pec deck and preacher curls in this program. The main reason for the majority of these workouts being comprised of compound exercises is exercises like barbell bench press, squats and dead lifts offer the most ‘bang for your buck’. They involve multiple muscle groups and allow the most room for progression of reps and weight.

Benefits of a Push/Pull Routine

  • Extra rest – When you group exercises into similar movements, you help the body fully recover. For example, when you have a chest and shoulder day, your delts could hurt performance due to fatigue (if not programmed thoughtfully).
  • Foundation builder – Newer lifters can benefit from push  pull workouts because they focus on the body holistically in a lot of cases (ample big movements), 
  • Goal oriented – Advanced lifters can also benefit from push pull workouts from splitting upper and lower body days into very specific manners. For example, if you keep missing the top portion of pressing movements, you could cater a whole upper push day into remedying that issue.
  • Less time consuming (BIG PLUS!) – Less time working out = more time doing other things Creates muscle balance – dividing our muscles into different days can lead to imbalance. The most common is overworking our chest versus our back creating a hunch in the shoulders and upper back.(How many of us spend endless hours in front of a computer, looking at our phones or staring at the tv ) With a simple pushing and pulling workout we create a more balanced physique.
  • Promotes injury prevention – Overtraining major muscle groups are a common way to injure yourself. Balancing push and pull moves will help you not to overwork and stress your muscles and give you plenty of recovery time between workouts.
  • Increases muscle mass in ALL muscle groups – A push and pull routine increases time spent on all muscle groups (yes this means not just one leg day!)

A Sample Push/Pull/Legs Split Routine

Here’s a great sample workout plan which often add into my training cycle it’s a well-structured and properly balanced programme

Workout 1 – Push

  • Bench Press 3 X 5 – 7
  • Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press 3 X 6 – 8
  • Incline Dumbbell Press 3 X 8 – 10
  • Side Lateral Raises 2 X 10 – 12
  • Triceps Press downs 2 X 8 – 10
  • Overhead Triceps Extension 2 X 8 – 10

Workout 2 – Pull

  • Bent-over Row 3 X 5 – 7
  • Pull Ups 3 X 6 – 8
  • Barbell Shrugs 3 X 8 – 10
  • Face Pulls 2 X 10 – 12
  • Barbell Curl 2 X 8 – 10
  • Dumbbell Hammer Curl 2 X 8 – 10

Workout 3 – Legs/Abs

  • Squats 3 X 6 – 8
  • Romanian Dead lifts 2 X 8 – 10
  • Leg Press 2 X 10 – 12
  • Leg Curl 2 X 10 – 12
  • Calf Raise 4 X 8 – 10
  • Hanging Leg Raise 2 X 10 – 15

If you're exercising regularly with  a specific goal in mind, but are still not seeing results after endless hours of training, Ask yourself why ?  Do you mix your programming up,  are you incorporating your weaknesses into your training as well as your strengths, are you following a balanced programme, do your goals meet this programme. 

Break it down but keep it simple and fun, monotony gets boring. - Train Smart