What is an Effective Push Pull Workout Routine?

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question-icon-newFrom what I have read, I should do exercises that combine chest and triceps for one workout and then combine back and biceps for a different workout routine. Is it okay if I do a biceps and chest workout one day and then do a triceps and back workout on another day instead? I would like to try this since every time I finish my chest workout, my triceps get tired and then when I do triceps exercises, I can’t really lift heavy weights and my arms feel super tired.

answer-icon-newConventional wisdom would say no. The reason is because muscle groups usually take about 48 hours to completely recover from an intense workout. So using the push pull workout routine results in greater benefits overall. Besides, you avoid overtraining a body part and minimize the risk of injury.

A workout enthusiast may choose to mix things up by doing chest and biceps, for a session and then a triceps and back workout the next. The disadvantage with this will be that you end up stressing out your triceps and biceps for two days in a row, with no time in between for recovery. The overall benefits will therefore be limited, and probably end in poor results. After all, we all want to see maximum results in the shortest possible time and the push pull workout routine satisfies this!

A push pull workout is so efficient because it groups all the muscles involved in the pulling motion (biceps, back, hamstrings, forearms) into one workout session, and all the ones involved in the pushing motion (chest, triceps, quads, deltoids ) into another. You thus can train more body parts with maximum benefits. When your workout is organized in this way you can theoretically go to gym more often. This is because each muscle group gets a 48 hour recovery window, so you aren’t training muscles that are sore. Going to the gym more often gives you the opportunity to build more muscle and burn more calories and fat, giving you the muscular and athletic look much quicker than would be possible using the traditional training method.

However, the push pull workout routine is not all roses. There are some potential disadvantages. Certain muscle groups may end up not being worked as much as others. Due to the fact that the bench press, squats, and deadlifts are often done first in a given workout session, other exercises (biceps curls, triceps extensions, calf raises, lat pull downs) are often done when the person is in a fatigued state. An easy way around this problem is to vary the order in which you do exercises. By alternating movements from week to week, no body part is neglected or under exercised. Also, working out for five or six days a week may prove to be exhausting for the average person. An exercise routine which involves the use of heavy weights (presses, squats, pull ups, deadlifts) is very taxing on the human body. It thus is really important to use a good recovery drink immediately after an intense workout to maximize post exercise recovery in order to make sure you are at your best by your next workout session.

I have personally benefited from the push pull routine. Here is a sample workout program you may want to try out:

  • Day 1: Clean Pulls, Deadlifts, Incline Bench Press, Cable Reverse Wood Chops.
  • Day 2: Hip Extensions, Bent Over Rows, Pull Ups, Cable Rotations.
  • Day 3: Rest.
  • Day 4: Close Grip Bench Press, Clean Pulls, Dumbbell Alternating Press, Barbell Torque.
  • Day 5: Dumbbell Snatch, Back Extension, Lat Pull Downs, Pull Ups.
  • Day 6: Rest.

You can change the days around to better fit your schedule. Just remember that with this program you can train more body parts and maximize results, while minimizing risk of injuries. Along with the whole body push pull workout style, you can also break up your workouts into a split routine that works individual muscle groups on different days. For example, you can do chest on Monday and back on Tuesday (push, pull). For legs, you can do quadriceps and calves on Thursday and Hamstrings on Friday. There is a multitude of ways to design an effective push pull workout routine, so use your imagination and come up with the best plan that works for you.

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