The Push, pull legs routine is one of the simplest and most effective training routines you can do.
When you’re finished reading this article you’ll know exactly what PPL is and I’ll provide you with a free routine that you can use right away.
What Is The Push Pull Leg Routine?
Push pull legs is a popular strength training/ bodybuilding routine that you can use to develop muscle and strength.
You can program this style of training to work out either 3 or 6 times per week.
On PPL routines a usual week might look like this:
Monday: Push day.
Tuesday: Rest day.
Wednesday: Pull day.
Thursday: Rest day.
Friday: Legs day.
Saturday: Rest day.
Sunday Rest day.
Monday: Push day.
Tuesday Pull day.
Wednesday: Legs day.
Thursday: Push day.
Friday: Pull day.
Saturday: Legs day.
Sunday: Rest day.
The first routine is the most sustainable PPL routine to follow. If you choose the latter it’ll most likely lead to burnout and injury. The latter routine is for people who are advanced (3-5 years of proper lifting experience).
For most people, I’d recommend choosing the first PPL routine. You can do just fine with it and you should be able to make gains for a long time doing so.
I personally wouldn’t even choose the last one. I just wouldn’t like to spend 6 days in the gym. 3-4 days in the gym is enough for me.
The Push Muscles
On a push day you’ll primarily be working muscles such as your:
When you perform exercises for these specific muscle groups you push. For example, in a dumbbell shoulder press, you push the dumbbells up and control them on the way down.
On the bench press, you push the barbell up towards the ceiling and you control the weight on its way down.
And think of a tricep pushdown. The push is in the name.
To keep it simple, push exercises are when the weight is being pushed away from you.
The Pull Muscles
The Pull muscles are your:
- Think of the barbell deadlift you pull the weight up your legs. A pull is when you bring the weight towards you. Pull exercises also include rows, chin/pull-ups, lat pulldowns and bicep curls.
The Leg Muscles
The muscles of your legs are:
Your legs are the biggest muscle group in your body. And this is one of the reasons they can be the toughest muscle group to train.
Here are the best exercises to include in your leg day:
- The barbell squat.
- The Romanian deadlift.
- The hamstring curl.
- Calf raises (seated and standing).
- The leg press.
- The leg extension.
- Bulgarian Split Squats.
A Simple 3 Day Per Week Push Pull Legs Routine
Push Workout (Monday)
Barbell Bench Press 3 x 8-10 reps.
Dumbbell Shoulder Press 3 x 8-10 reps.
Dumbbell Bench Press 3 x 8-10 reps.
Side Lateral Raises 3 x 8 – 10 reps.
Tricep Pushdowns 3 x 8 – 10 reps.
Pull Workout (Wednesday)
T Bar Row 3 x 8 – 10 reps.
Dumbbell Row 3 x 8-10 reps.
Lat Pulldowns 3 x 8-10 reps.
Bicep Curls 3 x 8 -10 reps.
Leg Workout (Friday)
Leg Press 3 x 8-10 Reps.
Bulgarian Split Squats 3 x 8-10 Reps.
Dumbbell Romanian Deadlifts 3 x 8-10 Reps.
Seated Calf Raises 3 x 8-10 Reps.
Notes On Routine:
- If you want to include barbell squats and barbell deadlifts into this program swap the leg press out for barbell squats. And swap the T bar row out for the conventional deadlift.
- The reason that I haven’t included barbell squats and deadlifts in this program is that they can be complex exercises if you haven’t learned them properly.
- I Recommend reading starting strength before incorporating squats and deadlifts into your training. Because if done incorrectly squats and deadlifts can quite easily result in injury.
- Once you can get 10 reps with a given weight increase the weight by 2.5kg-5kg and aim to get 8 reps.
- Rest 3 minutes between compound exercises for example the leg press, rows, bench press, shoulder press, squats, deadlifts lat pulldowns, chin-ups/pull-ups, lunges.
- Rest 1 – 2 minutes between sets of isolation exercises like bicep curls, lateral raises, tricep pushdowns, calf raises, hamstring curls, leg extensions etc.
- If you can, try to record yourself to make sure you’re performing the exercises correctly.
- Once you’ve done this program for 8 weeks take a week off the gym and after that repeat the program again for another 8 weeks.
Make sure you warm-up for the first exercise of each workout. Once you’ve done this you should be warmed up for the rest of your workout. Although I do recommend warming up for the barbell bench press and dumbbell shoulder press separately on push day. Because one is primarily a chest exercise and the other a shoulder exercise.
A Warm-Up Routine
First warm-up set – 50% of your heavy working sets for 12 reps.
Second warm-up set – 70% of your heavy working sets for 4 reps.
Third warm-up set – 90% of your heavy working sets for 2 reps.
Here’s an example:
If you normally deadlift 100kg for your working sets for 8-10 reps here’s what the warm-up would look like:
First set – 50kg for 12 reps.
Second set – 70kg for 4 reps.
Third set – 90kg for 2 reps.
Then perform your working sets.
Why The 8-10 Rep Range?
First of all, there’s no best rep range for gaining muscle. You can gain muscle in a variety of different rep ranges.
But the reason I choose the 8-10 rep range. Is because you can build just as much muscle in this rep range as you can in the lower rep ranges. Without as much wear and tear on your joints.
For example in this study 17 young men were assigned to 2 groups.
- One group performed 3 sets of 10 reps (10 rep max). Subjects rested for 90 seconds between sets.
- In the second group, subjects performed 7 sets of 3 reps (3 rep max). Subjects rested 3 minutes between sets.
What this study found was that both groups built around the same amount of muscle and they both got stronger.
But the 10 rep max group was able to get in and out of the gym quicker compared to the 3 rep max group. And the 10 rep max group felt that they could complete more sets.
The 3 rep max group experienced more joint pain and experienced more injury. They regularly felt tired and zapped from this sort of training.
So the reason I think it makes sense to work in the 8 – 10 rep range is that generally higher rep training isn’t as tough on your joints as lower rep training. And as long as you’re getting stronger (utilising progressive overload) you’ll gain just as much muscle.
I think it’s best to train in a variety of different rep ranges for the best results. But if you’re just getting started, training in the 8-10 rep range will do you fine. Getting stronger from workout to workout is what matters the most.
The Bottom Line On The Push Pull Legs Routine
- A 3-day push pull legs routine is one of the best routines you can do. It’s simple and effective. Anyone can get in the gym 3 times per week.
- I used a push pull legs routine when I used to work 12-hour night shifts and sometimes worked over 50 hours per week. This routine worked for me because It’s extremely flexible.
- If you can’t work out Monday, Wednesday and Friday just make sure to fit the workouts in whenever you can. Make sure you get all 3 workouts in.
- As long as you’re getting stronger at this routine you’ll make progress. I guarantee it.
Thanks for reading. If you need any extra help send me an email at email@example.com and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.
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