If you want to know what the push pull legs routine is, how it works, and how to make it work for you, then you want to read this article.
“Push pull legs” routines have been popular for decades now.
In fact, just about every time-proven strength and muscle-building programfits this basic mold, and that’s not likely to change.
I myself have been following variations of “PPL” routines for years now, and here’s where it has gotten me:
My bestselling workout programs for men and women are also, essentially, push pull legs routines with additional “accessory” (isolation) work to help bring up “stubborn” body parts.
The primary reasons push pull legs routines have stood the test of time are they train all major muscle groups, allow plenty of time for recovery, and can be tailored to fit different training goals, schedules, and histories.
They’re easy to understand, too.
A push pull legs routine separates your major muscle groups into three different workouts:
Push - Chest, shoulders, and triceps
Pull - Back and biceps (with a bit of hamstrings as well if you’re deadlifting)
Legs - Quads, hamstrings and calves
And it has you train anywhere from 3 to 6 times per week, depending on how much abuse you’re willing to take, what you’re looking to achieve with your physique, and how much time you can spend in the gym each week.
So, if you’re looking to gain muscle and strength as quickly as possible, and if you’re not afraid of a bit of heavy compound weightlifting, then push pull legs might be your golden ticket.
And by the end of this article, you’re going to know exactly how PPL works, who it is and isn’t best for, and how to create a customized routine that’ll work for you.
Let’s get to it.
What Is the Push Pull Legs Routine?
The push pull legs routine, or “PPL split,” is a weightlifting program that has you do three kinds of workouts
Your push workouts focus on the muscles involved in your upper bodypushing motions, with the major ones being your pecs, triceps, and shoulders.
Thus, it’s similar to most “chest and triceps” workouts that you find in other bodybuilding splits.
In a well-designed PPL program, your push workouts will generally revolve around barbell and dumbbell bench pressing, overhead (military) pressing, dipping, and doing isolation exercises for your triceps.
Your pull workouts focus on the muscles involved in your upper body pulling motions, with the major ones being your back muscles and biceps.
Thus, it’s really just a “back and biceps” workout.
These workouts generally revolve around deadlifting, barbell and dumbbell rowing, pulldowns, pullups and chinups, and doing isolation exercises for your biceps.
And last, your leg workouts focus on training your quads, hamstrings, glutes, and calves.
These workouts generally revolve around squatting, lunging, and doing various isolation exercises for each major muscle group noted above.
Now let's get to the sessions, please note... You can either follow a 3 day split or base one session per week around building strength, a secondary session towards purely muscle building..
Here's a basic example.
Push A (Strength):
Flat Bench Press - 3 x 3 - 5
Incline Bench Press
Incline Dumbell Fly - 3 x 12
Military Press - 3 x 6 - 8
Close Grip Bench Press - 3 x 12
Push B (Hypertrophy):
Incline Dumbell Press - 4 x 15
Cable Flys - 15
Chest Dips - To Failure
Arnold Press - 15
Side Lateral Raises - 15
Rope Extensions - 20
Overhead Rope Extensions - 20
Basically, you need to cover everything from all angles in a week. But more doesn't always equate to more... Panning is key, whether you use a Personal Trainer, Online Coach or write your own routines. Always have a plan.