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The push-pull routine to gain muscle and simplify your training

Want to make gains by summer’s end? All you need is this simplified split—the antidote to a stale body-part routine.

Jump to the Routine
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Man Doing Pullups
Westend61 / Getty
Man Doing Pullups
Westend61 / Getty

Body part-focused regimens, due to their inefficiency are quickly becoming a thing in the past. Dividing your workouts into chest days, shoulder days, and so on presents a host of problems and could actually be holding back muscle growth rather than promoting it. Our answer: Switch to a classic push-pull split to simplify your training and see faster gains in a month.

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How it works

Dividing your body into different parts doesn’t take into account how it actually moves, and which muscles are involved in each movement. You may intend to work only chest one day, but any presses or flyes you do will inevitably work your shoulders as well. If you follow that with an all-shoulder workout within a couple of days, don’t expect your delts (and shoulder joints) to be ready for the effort; and if you work triceps a day or so after that, you risk overtraining them as well, since they also assist in most chest and shoulder exercises.

In contrast, you could organize your workout according to pushing and pulling movements, so your chest, shoulders, thighs, and tri’s get hit on the push day, and your back, hamstrings, biceps, and rear delts get worked on the pull days. Then you can repeat both workouts once more in the same week, doubling the frequency with which each muscle gets trained without impacting its recovery. Plus, by working your muscles from head to toe each session, you’ll burn more calories and release more muscle-building hormones than you would hitting one area at a time.

Directions

Perform each workout (Day 1, 2, 3, and 4) once per week. Exercises marked A and B are alternated, so you’ll do one set of A, rest as needed, then B, and repeat until all sets are completed for the pair. Perform the remaining exercises as straight sets.

Routine

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Day 1

Push

Exercise
Equipment
Sets
Reps
Rest
Exercise 1 of 5

Goblet Squat

Equipment
Kettlebells
Sets
4
Reps
6
Rest
0 sec.
Exercise 2 of 5

Bench Press

Equipment
Barbell
Sets
4
Reps
6
Rest
As needed
Exercise 3 of 5

Dumbbell Overhead Press

Equipment
Dumbbells
Sets
4
Reps
6
Rest
0 sec.
Exercise 4 of 5

Dip

Equipment
Dip Station
Sets
4
Reps
6
Rest
0 sec.
Exercise 5 of 5

Plank with Alternating Leg Raise

Equipment
Sets
3
Reps
Hold as long as possible
Rest
As needed

Day 2

Pull

Exercise
Equipment
Sets
Reps
Rest
Exercise 6 of 5

Seated Leg Curl

Equipment
Sets
3
Reps
15
Rest
0 sec.
Exercise 7 of 5

Dumbbell Row

Equipment
Dumbbells
Sets
3
Reps
12
Rest
As needed
Exercise 8 of 5

Face Pull

Equipment
Cable Machine
Sets
3
Reps
12
Rest
0 sec.
Exercise 9 of 5

Bentover Lateral Raise

Equipment
Dumbbells
Sets
2
Reps
12
Rest
0 sec.
Exercise 10 of 5

Seated Incline Dumbbell Curl

Equipment
Dumbbells
Sets
3
Reps
12
Rest
As needed

Day 3

Push

Exercise
Equipment
Sets
Reps
Rest
Exercise 11 of 5

Landmine Press

Equipment
Barbell
Sets
3
Reps
12 (each side)
Rest
0 sec.
Exercise 12 of 5

Reverse Lunge

Equipment
Dumbbells
Sets
3
Reps
12 (each side)
Rest
As needed
Exercise 13 of 5

Decline Pushup

Equipment
Bench
Sets
3
Reps
As many as possible
Rest
0 sec.
Exercise 14 of 5

Triceps Pushdown

Equipment
Elastic Band
Sets
3
Reps
12
Rest
0 sec.
Exercise 15 of 5

Feet-elevated side plank

Equipment
Bench
Sets
3
Reps
Hold as long as possible (each side)
Rest
As needed

Day 4

Pull

Exercise
Equipment
Sets
Reps
Rest
Exercise 16 of 5

Chinup

Equipment
Pullup Bar
Sets
4
Reps
6
Rest
0 sec.
For an added challenge, attach a weighted belt around your waist.
Exercise 17 of 5

Romanian Deadlift

Equipment
Barbell
Sets
4
Reps
6
Rest
0 sec.
Exercise 18 of 5

Seated Cable Row

Equipment
Lat Pulldown Bar
Sets
4
Reps
6
Rest
0 sec.
Use a wide grip.
Exercise 19 of 5

Chest-Supported Row

Equipment
Sets
3
Reps
6
Rest
0 sec.
Exercise 20 of 5

EZ-Bar Curl

Equipment
EZ-Bar
Sets
4
Reps
6
Rest
As needed
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