Workout Routines

Push-Pull Combo to Build Upper-Body Muscle

Use these two standard moves to failure and watch yourself grow.

wide-grip pull up
Duration 30 Min
Exercises 2
Equipment Yes

No matter what your goals are; building muscle mass, getting stronger, or shedding body fat, push/pull combos are a great tool to utilize for many reasons. The big reason I like push/pull combos is because they are very efficient and hit every muscle in the upper-body.

Arnold was legendary for his chest and back-superset workouts that put trainloads of muscle on his frame. Push/pull combos are also very time effective and allow you to get a lot of work density in a short amount of time. By training agonist and antagostic muscles in a superset fashion, you allow your pushing muscles to rest, while you’re pulling muscles are working, and vice-versa. This allows you to use optimal weight when lifting to increase muscle growth.

Push/pull combos also work more muscle at one time, causing a nice growth hormone spike form the increased blood flow for fat loss and protein synthesis to increase muscle growth. If you are looking to increase your muscle mass in the upper-body, while saving time, push/pull combos are the way to go.

barbell bench press

My favorite push/pull combo of all time is the bench press and pullup. If I want to mix it up in the gym, want a new challenge, or if I just don’t know what to do that day, my favorite upper-body workout is challenging myself to get as many reps on the bench press and pullups as possible. Here is how the workout goes.

  • Set the clock for 30 minutes and get in as many sets and reps as possible.
  • Load the barbell with weight that equals your bodyweight. So, if you weigh 190 pounds, load the bar until it equals 190 pounds.
  • For pullups just use your bodyweight.
  • For the bench press, make sure you lock out each rep and go all the way down to the chest.
  • For pullups, you have to get the chin above the bar and lower yourself until you are at a dead hang. 
  • Leave at least 1 rep left in the tank for each set and not going to absolute failure so you don’t have to rest as long and can complete more reps on each successive set.
  • Add up the total amount of reps that you complete and try and beat that number of reps the next time you perform this workout.

The Workout

Exercise 1

Barbell Bench Press You'll need: Barbell, Bench How to
Barbell Bench Press thumbnail
-- sets
to failure reps
As needed rest
Perfrom as many sets as possible.

Exercise 2

General Pullup You'll need: Pullup Bar How to
Pullup thumbnail
-- sets
to failure reps
As needed rest
Perfrom as many sets as possible.