Workout Routines

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.

Man Doing Pullups
Westend61 / Getty
Westend61 / Getty
Duration 45
Exercises 5
Equipment Yes

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.

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.

Day 1 Push

Exercise 1A.

Goblet Squat You'll need: Kettlebells How to
Goblet Squat thumbnail
4 sets
6 reps
0 sec. rest

Exercise 1B.

Bench Press You'll need: Barbell How to
Bench Press thumbnail
4 sets
6 reps
As needed rest

Exercise 2.

Dumbbell Overhead Press You'll need: Dumbbells How to
Dumbbell Overhead Press  thumbnail
4 sets
6 reps
0 sec. rest

Exercise 3.

Dip You'll need: Dip Station How to
Dips thumbnail
4 sets
6 reps
0 sec. rest

Exercise 4.

Plank with Alternating Leg Raise How to
One-leg plank thumbnail
3 sets
Hold as long as possible reps
As needed rest

Day 2 Pull

Exercise 1A.

Seated Leg Curl How to
exercise image placeholder
3 sets
15 reps
0 sec. rest

Exercise 1B.

Dumbbell Row You'll need: Dumbbells How to
Dumbbell Row  thumbnail
3 sets
12 reps
As needed rest

Exercise 2.

Face Pull You'll need: Cable Machine How to
Face Pull  thumbnail
3 sets
12 reps
0 sec. rest

Exercise 3.

Bentover Lateral Raise You'll need: Dumbbells How to
Bentover Lateral Raise  thumbnail
2 sets
12 reps
0 sec. rest

Exercise 4.

Seated Incline Dumbbell Curl You'll need: Dumbbells How to
Seated Incline Dumbbell Curl thumbnail
3 sets
12 reps
As needed rest

Day 3 Push

Exercise 1A.

Landmine Press You'll need: Barbell How to
Landmine Press  thumbnail
3 sets
12 (each side) reps
0 sec. rest

Exercise 1B.

Reverse Lunge You'll need: Dumbbells How to
Reverse Lunge thumbnail
3 sets
12 (each side) reps
As needed rest

Exercise 2.

Decline Pushup You'll need: Bench How to
Man performing decline pushup thumbnail
3 sets
As many as possible reps
0 sec. rest

Exercise 3.

Triceps Pushdown You'll need: Elastic Band How to
Triceps Pushdown thumbnail
3 sets
12 reps
0 sec. rest

Exercise 4.

Feet-elevated side plank You'll need: Bench How to
Feet-elevated side plank thumbnail
3 sets
Hold as long as possible (each side) reps
As needed rest

Day 4 Pull

Exercise 1.

Chinup You'll need: Pullup Bar How to
Chinup thumbnail
4 sets
6 reps
0 sec. rest
For an added challenge, attach a weighted belt around your waist.

Exercise 2.

Romanian Deadlift You'll need: Barbell How to
Romanian Deadlift thumbnail
4 sets
6 reps
0 sec. rest

Exercise 3.

Seated Cable Row You'll need: Lat Pulldown Bar How to
Seated Cable Row thumbnail
4 sets
6 reps
0 sec. rest
Use a wide grip.

Exercise 4.

Chest-Supported Row How to
Chest-Supported Row thumbnail
3 sets
6 reps
0 sec. rest

Exercise 5.

EZ-Bar Curl You'll need: EZ-Bar How to
EZ-Bar Curl thumbnail
4 sets
6 reps
As needed rest
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