The Push/Pull training routine is one of the most widely used routines used by weight trainers and bodybuilders alike. Add in the legs and you have the foundation for a great weight training routine, also known as Push/Pull Legs.
The reason this workout is so effective and has been used for decades is that the majority of exercises used fall under compound movements, Compound movements are exercises which involve multiple large muscle groups. These are the best choices for developing strength, size and pretty much any other weight training goal you have, including the holy grail for many of us, losing fat and getting that lean, hard look.
Exercises which are considered compound movements include the flat bench, overhead pressing such as the standing military press, deadlifts, bent rows and squats. These should always form the core of your weight training routine, irrespective of your goals(and providing you do not have any injuries).
A standard routine is often to use Push muscles on one training day, Pull muscles on another day and then a separate day dedicated to Leg training. This has the added benefit of allowing extra rest for muscle groups because the push muscles for example will overlap with each other in the same workout so why not continue hitting them? If you were training chest with the flat bench, your shoulders and triceps would also be involved in the exercise, so once you are done with chest, move onto shoulders and then finish off with triceps, that’s all of your push muscles done in the upper body!
You could then schedule your next workout for the Pull muscles and there would be minimal involvement from the push muscles, giving them some extra recovery time.
What I like to do from time to time though, is to combine the Push/Pull into one workout, this gives me an incredible pump and helps me save time so I am in and out of the gym much quicker.
Lets face it, in today’s busy age we don’t always have time to fit in a full gym workout. Life gets in the way and things come up, you have go places you have to be somewhere, maybe you finished work late or just arent feeling it. By combining the push/pull you can train your whole upper body in considerably less time whilst still getting all the benefits of your usual workout, possibly even more due to the nature of the added intensity.
Before I go on and give you a few routines to try, I will give a brief run down of the push/pull muscles.
The following are considered ‘Push’muscles
Leg day should be kept separate but calves and quadriceps are considered as push muscles.
Now for the ‘Pull’ muscles
For Legs, the hamstrings are considered the pull muscles. Abdominals would also be a pulling movement.
For a time saving high intensity workout, I like to do two movements one after the other, with no rest in between, these can also be termed as supersets, using opposing muscle groups. You could even add a third movement in, be aware though, that you will not or should not attempt to use maximal weights when using this workout. If the first movement is your usual rep range and weight, the 2nd and 3rd would naturally require a reduced weight.
Flat bench immediately followed by Standing Military Press.
Standing Military Press following by Wide Grip Chins.
You can also swap the movements for seated overhead press(barbell or dumbbell) followed by Machine lat pulldowns. Sometimes I like to warm up with an empty bar for the standing press followed by Machine lat pulldowns, once I am warmed up I will move onto the wide grip chins.
Upright Rows followed by Close grip pull ups(palms facing you)
Flat Bench followed by Bent Over Rows.
Different movements here could be dumbbell press on a flat bench followed by the Hammer row or T-Bar row.
Barbell curl followed by Triceps pushdowns.
You can then add a layer of intensity if conditioning is your aim.
Flat Bench press followed by Standing Military press, ending with Wide Grip chin ups. Again the exercise choice can be varied by using a rowing movement for the back if you can’t pump out enough reps on the chin ups.
If you did eight sets of Chest/Shoulders/Back you could be done within 20minutes. Add in a superset on biceps and triceps and the workout is done and dusted in 30minutes – not bad!
The Legs are a large muscle group so ideally you should dedicate a day for them, if you’re being pressed for time, you can always superset leg extensions with leg curls but do try to start off with Squats first in a straight sets fashion.(there are options to make the Squats quicker if you have little time, such as the 20 rep squat)
I would also recommend the Deadlift should be fitted in somewhere for back/pulling muscles but these time saving workouts are not to be used every workout, so if you don’t have time for the deadlift, fit it in on another day. The Deadlift and the Squat use the most muscles in the body so you don’t want to be neglecting these for too long.
I hope this is enough info to get you started, so the next time you’re worried about not having the time to fit in your workout, give the push/pull supersets a try.
Boxing Coach Strength and Conditioning Coach Boxing Writer for the Ringside Report Boxing Author of: (Available for download on Amazon) The Boxing Cheat Sheet - Your Ultimate Guide to Ring Survival Strength and Conditioning for Boxing - Work out Hits to get you Fighting Fit! Forgotten Legends of the Ring - Ten Past Masters of the Squared Circle