Push Pull Legs: The Best Training Split For Building Muscle?
Push Pull Legs Iron Paradise Fitness Training And Nutrition Articles

The Definitive Guide To The "Push Pull Legs" Training Split

Push, pull, legs is one of the most popular training splits you'll come across.

But is it the best way for you to structure your workouts?

In this article, you'll discover everything you need to know about the push, push, legs training split. Including, what it is, why it might be beneficial, and how to structure a push, pull, legs programme correctly.

So let's get started.

And if you'd prefer to listen to the audio version of this article, click the play button below.

What Is A Push, Pull, Legs Training Split?

Push Pull Legs Training Split Iron Paradise Fitness

The great thing about a push, pull, legs training split is that it's straight-forward and easy to understand.

You push stuff, pull stuff, and move stuff with your legs. It's a way for you to get back-to-basics, move mass, and build muscle. Here's what a typical push, pull, legs programme might look like:

  • PUSH - Chest, shoulders, and triceps (ie all your upper body pushing movements).
  • PULL - Back and biceps (ie all your upper body pulling movements).
  • LEGS - Quads, hamstrings, glutes, and calves (ie a horrific leg day).

Then you keep rotating these workouts based on the training frequency that suits you.

But you might think this is all too simple. After all, you could have been training for years, so logically a more intricate and specialised training split MUST be what you need, right?

Well, hold up there my over-zealous mass-mover, you're over-looking the beauty of this training approach.

I've been following a push, pull, legs routine for the past 4 years and this is where its gotten me:

Before After 2.0 Iron Paradise Fitness

And I intend to keep this training split for probably another decade, because of 4 main reasons.

 

The 4 Main Benefits Of A Push, Pull, Legs Workout Split

Push Pull Legs Training Split Iron Paradise Fitness

There's isn't a "best" workout split.

Essentially, any workout split will build muscle if there's an appropriate amount of training volume. But push, pull, legs comes pretty close to being a great training split for people of all experience levels. These are the top 4 benefits of push, pull, legs, and why you might want to consider using the approach for your training.

1. Flexibility To Suit A Busy Lifestyle

No doubt you lead a busy life, and training is one of many things you need to get done each and every week. Consequently, I'll assume you're not a pro-bodybuilder whose life revolves around bench press PB's and the nuances of protein powder consistency (I'm not sure ANYONE thinks about that).

So you need a training approach that gives you a degree of flexibility. Because some weeks will be hit and miss when life throws you a curveball and fucks up your training plans.

Push, pull, legs workouts are great for busy people like yourself. Whether you train 3, 4, 5, or 6 sessions per week, you have a high degree of flexibility and customisation from one week to the next.

For example, let's assume you intend to train 4 times a week, which might look like this:

  • Monday - Push Workout
  • Tuesday - Pull Workout
  • Thursday - Leg Workout
  • Friday - Push Workout (a repeat of the first workout, or a variation).

But then life comes along in the form of a few late nights at work to meet an important deadline. Now you're limited to training 3 days a week.

  • Monday - Push Workout
  • Wednesday - Pull Workout
  • Friday - Leg Workout

You've still trained all major muscle groups, made progress, and adapted to your schedule.

2. Increased Training Frequency

More volume = more muscle.

This might be a gross over-simplification of the process, but it's broadly true. The more you train a muscle group, the more it will adapt and grow.

A traditional "Bro-Split", where 1-2 body parts are trained in any given workout, can (and will) build muscle, though it does have drawbacks. While not true in all cases, typically this approach results in lower overall training volume, compared to a training split where body parts are trained multiple times within a 7 day period.

Therefore, push, pull, legs provides the opportunity for increased training volume when training 4-6 times a week.

For example, train 4 times a week and you can train each muscle group every 5-6 days (depending on the structure of your programme). Move up to 6 times a week, and you'll hit every muscle group every 4 days. Arguably, this would be better for building muscle than training a body part every 7 days, as a bro-split would have you do.

And it's unlikely your recovery will be compromised by this increased frequency. In fact, it might even be better. Here's why.

A typical bro-split would have you train chest (on a Monday, obviously), followed by shoulders the next day. However, blasting your chest for a full workout is likely to fatigue your shoulders and leave you with a degree of soreness, potentially limiting the effectiveness of the next day's workout. With push, pull, legs you can manage volume across multiple workouts and train as optimally as possible.

3. Highly Adaptable For Specific Training Requirements

If you're a more advanced lifter, chances are you want to focus on specific body parts. You've probably surpassed the "I just want more of everything" stage and want to grow a little more chest or booty.

The temptation might be to set aside a particular day for those priority body parts, which would be a perfectly valid approach. Although, don't be too hasty in casting your push, pull, legs routine to the training split scrap heap.

Let's assume you want to build bigger pecs. A pair of breasticles your favourite superhero would be proud of. If you dial back the training volume for shoulders and triceps, you can crank up a fuck-ton of volume on chest.

So instead of:

  • A1 - Bench Press - 3 sets
  • B1 - Cable Flys - 3 sets
  • C1 - Shoulder Press - 3 sets
  • D1 - Lateral Raise - 3 sets
  • E1 - Tricep extension - 2 sets

You switch to:

  • A1 - Bench Press - 3 sets
  • B1 - Cable Flys - 3 sets
  • C1 - Incline Bench Press - 3 sets
  • D1 - Lateral Raise - 3 sets
  • E1 - Tricep extension - 2 sets

Ultimately, the combinations and possibilities are endless. Whatever your goal and experience level, this IS the adaptability you're looking for.

4. Addition Of Multiple Workout Variations

You might think push, pull, legs limits your ability to challenge muscles from multiple angles, as you would with a dedicated day. But this is where multiple workout variations come into play.

Let's stick with the push workout example to illustrate the point.

The first push workout in your programme might bias mid-chest. The second, upper chest.

Take that one step further and utilise exercise selection to target the tricep in a variety of positions (ie shortened and lengthened).

This ability to create variations not only has a benefit in terms of building a better physique, it also helps keep workouts varied and interesting, while still allowing for progressions.

 

Example Push, Pull, Legs Workouts

Push Pull Legs Training Split Iron Paradise Fitness

Here's an example of a push, pull, legs training split to get you started. Although, remember that the possibilities are endless. So use your imagination and customise a training programme to suit your goals and exercise preferences.

PUSH.

  • A1 - Bench Press - 2-3 sets, 8-10 Reps
  • B1 - Cable Flys - 2-3 sets, 8-10 Reps
  • C1 - Shoulder Press - 2-3 sets, 8-10 Reps
  • D1 - Lateral Raise - 2-3 sets, 10-12 Reps
  • E1 - Tricep extension - 2 sets, 10-12 Reps

PULL.

  • A1 - Deadlift (or variation) - 2-3 sets, 8-10 Reps
  • B1 - D Handle Lat Pulldown - 2-3 sets, 8-10 Reps
  • C1 - Barbell Row - 2-3 sets, 8-10 Reps
  • D1 - Rear Delt Fly - 2 sets, 10-12 Reps
  • E1 - Bicep Curl - 2 sets, 10-12 Reps

LEGS.

  • A1 - Squat - 2-3 sets, 8-10 Reps
  • B1 - Barbell RDL - 2-3 sets, 8-10 Reps
  • C1 - Hip Thrust - 2-3 sets, 8-10 Reps
  • D1 - Dumbbell Walking Lunge - 2 sets, 12-15 reps (per leg)
  • E1 - Calf raise - 2-3 sets, 10-12 Reps

For a 4 x Per Week programme, follow the workouts above and rotate them, as dictated by the frequency of your training. And if you're aiming for 5-6 workouts a week, you can rotate this workouts or create variations that train the muscles in a slightly different way, while maintaining the structure of the workouts.

 

The Bottom Line On The Push, Pull, Legs Training Split

For many people, push pull legs IS the training split you're looking for.

There might not be a "best" training split, but push, pull, legs certainly comes close.

If you're a beginner (less than 2 years of training experience) a full body training split might still be the best way to train. Because, this allows you to become more proficient in foundational movement patterns, quickly. But if you have more experience, and/or train with a higher frequency, push, pull, legs will serve you well for the years ahead.

And don't get me wrong, this is by no means a magical way to build muscle. That still comes down to hard work, consistency, and accumulation of training volume over time. After all, the optimal workout on paper only becomes truly optimal when you put it into practice.

As with your nutrition, finding what works best for you is the goal. And that might be push, pull, legs. But it might not be, and that's ok.

All I can say is try it. And if you do, be sure to let me know what you think.

 

Are You A Beginner Looking For A FREE Training Programme And Help With Your Nutrition?

Online Coaching Iron Paradise Fitness

If you want to get on the fast track to a leaner, healthier, stronger body, I've got a couple of things you might be interested in.

Training and nutrition can be a frustrating and overwhelming minefield. So let me help you keep things as simple as possible.

Starting with your nutrition.

Click here to get access to my free online calorie and macro calculator. It's designed to take the headache out of knowing how many calories you need to lose weight and build muscle.

And over the next few days I'll send you some more free guides and information to help kickstart your fitness journey, including:

  • A 4 week training programme for beginners, complete with exercise videos and a workout tracker.
  • A guide on how to conquer your uncontrollable cravings.
  • An exclusive recipe book with over 30 delicious, diet-friendly recipes.

So if you want all that, click here.

But for now, all I’ll say is… Keep living the Lean Life and I’ll see you soon.

Spread the Word!
>