Weight Training Push & Pull Split Routine

assisted pull ups for stronger backOnce you start weight training more intensively it becomes essential to split your routines into more than one session per week. This is to avoid overtraining, which occurs when repeatedly exercising your muscles before they have fully recovered. Splitting the routine this way allows more regular training, as although the day after training your pushing muscles are still recovering, you can utilise and train the pulling muscles.

One of the most common split routines is the push & pull split, which simply involves performing all the pulling exercises in one session, then the following day performing all the pushing exercises. The push/pull split training routine is one of the most basic splits developed. It has been utilised by competitive bodybuilders and athletes alike.

The push/pull workout simply categorizes weight training exercises into two types, pushing movements and pulling movements. Typically a push session involves exercising the chest, shoulders, quads and triceps; the pull session exercises the back, biceps, hamstrings and traps.

The standard push/pull split works best for athletes and weight lifters, but it is not ideal for bodybuilders who require more isolation exercises. Most muscle groups require exercises that do not fall into either the push or pull categories. For example, leg extensions, leg curls, bicep curls tricep extensions, lateral raises and flyes are neither pushing movements nor pulling movements – they are what are often referred to as angular movements.

These angular movements do not follow a straight line, and are the isolation exercises – isolated because they do involve the movement of just a single joint, whereas pushing and pulling a weight in a straight line requires several joints to work together. So the push/pull split is really best for athletes, martial artists and weight lifters, that are developing core body strength, i.e. they are the compound weight training exercises.

Print out a training log for this split routine here: Push & Pull Split Routine Training Log Sheet.

Push Day

Muscle Group Exercise Sets Reps Rest
Chest Barbell Bench Press 3 4-6 2 minutes
Legs Barbell Squat 3 4-6 2 minutes
Shoulders Overhead barbell press 3 4-6 2 minutes
Triceps Close-grip bench press 3 6-8 2 minutes
Calves Standing Calf Raises 3 8-10 1 minute

Pull Day

Muscle Group Exercise Sets Reps Rest
Back Deadlift 3 4-6 2 minutes
Back Bent-over Row 3 4-6 2 minutes
Biceps Chin Ups / Drag Curls* 3 8-10 2 minutes
Traps Barbell Shrug 3 8-10 2 minutes
Abs Hanging Leg Raise 3 10-12 1 minute

This standard push & pull split routine just requires a barbell and bench to perform (ideally with a power rack for safety). You can alter the number of repetitions depending on your weight training goals. That is, if you are training intensively for strength, train in the rep range of 4-7, for hypertrophy (muscle mass) training in the rep range of 8-12, and for endurance train with 15-20 reps per set.

Remember to keep a good training diary to ensure that you improve on each training session, and concentrate on weak areas to ensure that you develop a well balanced physique.

*The Drag Curl is designed to increase bicep isolation. It is performed by literally dragging the barbell up your torso while pulling the elbows backwards. You can perform a standard curl here, or mix the curls up a little with hammer curls, preacher curls, EZ Bar curls, as well as straight bar curls. Depending on your goals, choose either chin ups or the drag curls, or simple alternate or do both. See what works for you.

More like this in the Strength Training section

  31 comments for “Weight Training Push & Pull Split Routine

  1. Paul Berigtold
    February 19, 2018 at 6:49 am

    I am 68 and have lifred on and off for years. I like the push pull and upper and lower split the best. Occasionally I will do full body. Just looking to stay fit. I also work part time at a fitness club which is motivating. What are some thoughts , for workout reps, sets and cardio. I am a fan of McRobert, Mike Mentzer, Darden.

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