side view fit man training at gym

How to Train Smarter with a Push-Pull Workout Split

If you're seeking an efficient method to structure your training you may consider giving a push pull workout split a try. This approach involves categorizing your exercises into two groups; push exercises and pull exercises. In this article we will discuss the concept of a push pull workout split, outline the advantages of utilizing it and provide guidance on creating your four day push pull workout plan to enhance muscle growth.

What is a push-pull workout split?

A push pull workout split is a method of categorizing your exercises according to the direction of movement. Push exercises refer to those where you push the weight away from your body like bench press, shoulder press or squat. On the hand, pull exercises involve pulling the weight towards your body, such, as lat pulldown, row or deadlift.

By using a push-pull workout split, you can train the major muscle groups in two different workouts:

  • Push workout: This workout focuses on the pushing movements for the upper body, which target the chest, shoulders, and triceps, along with the quads and glutes for the lower body.
  • Pull workout: This workout focuses on the pulling movements for the upper body, which target the back and biceps, along with the hamstrings and abs for the lower body.

What are the benefits of a push-pull workout split?

A push-pull workout split has several advantages over other types of workout splits, such as:

How to design your own 4-day push-pull workout plan

muscular man performing dumbbell curls

If you're interested in giving a push pull workout split a try, I've got a sample 4 day plan for you. This plan is designed to help you build muscle and strength effectively. It consists of two push workouts and two pull workouts per week with one rest day in between each session. Feel free to adjust the days based on your availability and personal preference.

Here’s how your week might look like:

  • Monday: Push Workout A
  • Tuesday: Pull Workout A
  • Wednesday: Rest
  • Thursday: Push Workout B
  • Friday: Pull Workout B
  • Saturday: Rest
  • Sunday: Rest

In each workout session you will perform 4 exercises completing 3 sets of 8 to 12 reps, for each exercise. Take a rest period of 90 seconds between each set. Additionally, to ensure progression, aim to increase the weight or number of reps every week while maintaining proper form.

Here are the exercises for each workout:

Push Workout A

Barbell Bench Press

Here's a great workout routine to target your chest, shoulders and triceps. Remember to keep your elbows at a 45 degree angle and gently touch the bar to your chest. Focus on contracting your chest muscles at the top and fully extending your elbows.

Dumbbell Shoulder Press

This exercise is fantastic for strengthening your shoulder muscles, the side deltoids. Remember to engage your core and lift the dumbbells over your head without curving your back. Lower them gradually to shoulder level and repeat the movement.

Barbell Squat

One of the exercises for strengthening your legs. Begin by positioning your feet at shoulder width distance and slightly angling your toes outward. Engage your core muscles. Slowly lower yourself until your thighs are parallel to the ground or a bit lower. Push through your heels. Rise up into the start position.

Dumbbell Lateral Raise

Here's a great exercise to engage your side deltoids. Begin by holding a set of dumbbells at your sides making sure to keep a bend in your elbows. Lift the dumbbells out to the sides until they are level with or slightly above the floor. Then slowly lower them down to the starting position.

Pull Workout A

man working out with a dumbbell

Lat Pulldown

This exercise is great for targeting your lat muscles, which are the muscles, on the sides of your back. To perform it, grasp the bar with an overhand grip and pull it down towards your chest while maintaining an upright posture. At the bottom focus on squeezing your shoulder blades before returning to the starting position.

Barbell Row

Here's a fantastic exercise to target your rhomboid muscles, and the middle and lower traps. Start by grabbing a barbell with a slightly wider than shoulders width position, using an overhand grip. Bend forward at around a 45 degree angle while maintaining a flat back. Pull the bar towards your chest. Contract your back muscles. Lower the bar down to the floor before repeating the exercise 

Barbell Deadlift

Here's a great workout that targets your hamstrings, glutes and lower back. Start by standing with your feet hip width apart. The bar is positioned over the middle of your feet. Use either a double overhand or mixed grip to hold onto the bar and lift it up from the ground by extending your legs and hips. Remember to maintain a neutral back and keep your chest lifted throughout the exercise. Lower the bar to the floor by reversing the motion.

Dumbbell Curl

Here's a straightforward workout to target your biceps. Grab a set of dumbbells. Ensure that your elbows are tucked in close to your body. Lift the dumbbells towards your shoulders engaging your biceps and then slowly lower them down to the starting position. Remember to maintain control throughout the exercise.

Push Workout B

Push-ups on training

Incline Dumbbell Bench Press

To target the chest and front deltoids you can try a modified version of the bench press. Start by adjusting an incline bench to around 30 degrees. Lie down on the bench. Hold a dumbbell in each hand. Push the dumbbells up towards your chest fully extending your arms. Then slowly lower them down, to the sides of your chest. Repeat the movement.

Dumbbell Fly

Here's a workout routine to help stretch and strengthen your chest muscles. Start by lying down on a bench holding a dumbbell in each hand. Extend your arms above your chest keeping a bend in your elbows. Lower the dumbbells, out to the sides until you feel a stretch, in your chest. Then bring them together over your chest. Give them a good squeeze.

Leg Press

Here's another way to target your quadriceps and glutes by doing squats. Take a seat, on a leg press machine. Position your feet on the platform keeping them shoulder width apart. Extend your legs and hips to push the platform away from you. Remember to keep a bend in your knees at the position without fully locking them out. Lower the platform until your knees reach or go below a 90 degree angle then repeat the movement.

Triceps Pushdown

Here's a great exercise that targets your triceps, the muscles located on the back of your arms. Start by attaching a V shaped bar to a cable machine set at a pulley. Grab the bar with an overhand  grip. Make sure to keep your elbows close to your body. Begin by pushing the bar downwards until your arms are fully extended then focus on squeezing and engaging your triceps at the bottom of the movement. Slowly return to the starting position.

Pull Workout B

Pull-Up

This exercise is quite demanding as it involves relying on the strength of your body to lift yourself up. Begin by gripping a pull up bar with your hands positioned wider, than shoulder width using an overhand grip. With your body kept in position pull yourself upwards until your chin rises above the bar. Then slowly lower yourself down until your arms are fully extended and repeat the process again.

Dumbbell Row

Here's a slight modification to the barbell row exercise that enables you to target your muscles on each side individually. Take a dumbbell. Hold it in one hand while using the other hand for support on a bench. Lean forward at a 45 degree angle ensuring your back remains flat. Pull the dumbbell up towards your chest, engaging and contracting your muscles. Lower the dumbbell, to the floor and then repeat this movement on the opposite side.

Romanian Deadlift

This variation of the deadlift places emphasis on targeting your hamstrings and glutes than your lower back. Start by gripping a barbell with both hands ensuring that your grip is slightly wider than shoulder width. Position yourself with your feet hip width apart and maintain a bend in your knees. Next hinge at the hips. Gradually lower the barbell along the length of your legs until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings. Remember to keep your back without rounding it. Finally push through your heels. Rise up into a position.

Cable Crunch

Here's a simple ab workout that targets your abs, the rectus abdominis or the six pack muscle. Begin by attaching a rope handle to a pulley cable machine and position yourself in front of it while kneeling down. Hold the rope with both hands. Position it behind your head. Now engage your abs. Lower your torso, towards the ground in a curling motion. Make sure to contract your abs at the bottom of the movement and gradually return to the starting position.

Conclusion

A push pull workout split is an efficient method to train smarter for muscle growth. It allows you to work out each muscle group twice per week, preventing overtraining, promoting recovery, saving time and simplifying your training routine. By adhering to this 4 day push pull workout schedule you can develop muscle mass and enhance strength in all muscle groups using fundamental exercises that are effective. Remember to increase the weight or reps every week while maintaining good form. Additionally, ensure that your diet includes protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats to fuel your workouts and aid in recovery.