There are many ways to divide and plan your exercise routine. For instance, most people plan their workout routines such as an upper body day, a leg day, and a core day. However, many others set their routine as strength days versus cardio days.
A workout plan gaining popularity is focusing more on building strength and improving body balance by splitting workouts as the push and pull days routine. It’s a helpful division for many good reasons. Read on to go through the benefits of push and pull days workout routine and learn how to set up an effective push/pull exercise plan.
What is a Push & Pull Exercise Routine?
A push & pull workout plan is a type that separates movements by their mechanics. While one set of exercises focuses on pushing motions, the others use a pull motion. Each involves different muscles.
Push Movements Engage the Anterior Chain
Exercises that need you to press or push something away from your body target the anterior muscles. Mainly, these muscles are on the front of your body:
Pull Movements Engage the Posterior Chain
Exercises that need you to pull something toward the body target the posterior muscles. Mainly, these muscles are along the back of your body:
The idea of a push/pull routine is to split your workout routines between push and pulls types of exercises. For example, do a push workout one day and pull the next to maintain a proper balance in your strength training.
Benefits of Push & Pull Workouts
There are many good reasons to choose a Push & Pull workout split plan. For most people, it’s a simple, efficient, and effective plan that maximizes use of the precious gym time. It equally targets each major muscle group, so you don’t miss anything.
Additional benefits include:
You may focus too much on either the anterior or the posterior chain if you do not carefully plan your workout routines. By maintaining a balance between push and pull exercises, you’ll can work on both equally. This allows equalizing strength and physique throughout your body.
Work the Whole Body with Adequate Recovery Time
Recovery is an important factor between strength workouts. It allows muscles to recover, rebuild stronger and bigger. For example, if you do push exercises one day and pull the next, the muscles worked one day are allowed to rest before you target them next time.
Often people develop poor posture (such as hunched), mainly due to hunching over a desk and using computers or smartphones for long hours daily. Poor posture leads to back pain and other complications.
People tend to focus more on pushing exercises that build and strengthen the anterior muscles but neglect their posterior muscles. A balanced push & pull routine helps build strength and bring back balance in the upper back muscles as well, improving posture.
Push & Pull Exercises Mirror Real-Life Movements
If you’re working on fitness for more than just aesthetics, you need a functional workout plan. Push and pull movements mimic the real life situations – how we move during the day. They are fundamental movements for many day-to-day activities, such as moving an object or opening a door.
By practicing fundamental movements, your strength gets more functional. As a result, everyday tasks become more manageable, and you’re less likely to get injured performing these routine tasks. The basic movements also help your other workouts, train you to lift heavier, grow muscle, build muscle mass, and perform better in athletics.
The Push Workouts
An average gym-goer is generally more familiar to push workouts. Most people spend more time on these, under-utilizing or neglecting pull exercises resulting in the less developed posterior chain. Following are the common examples of push exercises:
- Chest and bench presses
- Chest flys
- Overhead shoulder presses
- Triceps dips and triceps extensions
Other examples are the push exercises that work your quads—such as a squat and a leg press. You can incorporate them in a push day or leave lower body push exercises for a third day workout. You may even design a specific push-pull legs routine.
The Pull Workouts
There are many ways to create a push-pull workout plan, but first, it’s essential to understand the differences between the two. Once you get started, it’s easy to see the difference. To get you started, the following are examples of pull workout movements that need a pulling motion:
- Pull-ups and chin-ups
- Bent over rows and cable rows
- Lat pulldown
- Biceps curls
- Barbell shrugs
The exercises that strengthen your hamstrings, including deadlifts, are also pulling exercises. As with the quads, you can incorporate hamstrings movements in a pull day or dedicate another day of the week to your lower body and legs, push-pull legs split.
Pull-ups are among the best strength exercises you can do to develop lots of muscles, but it’s hard to get there.
How to Create a Push/Pull Exercise Routine
One of the best things about this type of exercise routine is that it’s simple as well as versatile. You can tailor this type of workout program to any fitness level and ability. Just make sure to split between push exercises and pull exercises.
For instance, a basic framework can look like this:
- Monday – Push exercises
- Tuesday – Pull exercises
- Wednesday – Core. Or core with legs if you don’t do legs on the other days
- Thursday – rest day
- Friday – Push exercises
- Saturday – Pull exercises
- Sunday – Core. Or core with legs if you don’t do legs on the other days
With the above rotation, you will ensure a full 72 hours of recovery time between workouts. This much recovery time is required for injury prevention and results. Of course, the schedule can start on any day and not necessarily on Monday.
Sample Push/Pull Exercise Routine
The above push/pull split program schedule gives you much freedom to create a workout plan as per your preference. Here’s an example of a detailed plan to provide you with an idea. First, perform 8 to 12 reps of each exercise in the set. Then, repeat 3 to four times, depending on your fitness level.
Monday – Push
- Bench press
- Dumbbell chest fly
- Bodyweight triceps dips or skull crushers
- Overhead press
- Lateral shoulder raises
Tuesday – Pull
- Cable lat pull downs
- Bent over dumbbell rows
- Renegade rows in plank position
- Biceps curls
Wednesday – Core and Legs
- Glute bridges
- Plank variations
- Mountain climbers
Friday – Push
- Dumbbell chest presses on an incline
- Cable triceps pushdowns
- Shoulder presses
Saturday – Pull
- Pull-ups, with assistance for beginners
- Reverse dumbbell fly
- Biceps hammer curls
- Dumbbell shrugs
Sunday – Core, and Legs
- Side lunges
- Sumo squats
- Bird dog
- Crunch variations
What About Cardio?
Of course, to make your workout routine more balanced, incorporate cardio also along with strength. With the above push & pull split plan, you may fit in cardio where it works best for your recovery and schedule.
As the push/pull split plan primarily involves your upper body, those are good days to add 30 or 40 minutes of cardio. As most cardio workouts involve the use of your legs, so it creates a good balance that works better than adding cardio to a leg/core day.
Though push & pulls splits are not new, they’re recently gaining popularity. For building total balanced body strength, it’s hard to beat this routine.
Try it and let us know how it works for you.
About Author: Renu Bakshi, AKA Fitness Buffhq, is ISSA Certified Elite Trainer. He passed Personal Fitness Trainer Course, Nutrition Health Coach course & Specialist Exercise Therapy course from ISSA, USA obtaining + 97% marks. He shares his experience and knowledge about nutrition and effective workouts to get you in the best shape of your life, no matter how old you may be. The author says: “For me age is just a number!”