How to Build a Push, Pull, Legs Workout Plan

Learn how to create an effective push/pull/legs workout split to help you get closer to your fitness goals!

How to Build a Push, Pull, Legs Workout Plan
Photo by Ryan Hoffman / Unsplash
María Rubio María Rubio
5 min read

If you’re an active person, chances are you’re already familiar with training splits, and probably even have one yourself! This is a structuring method that involves splitting your workouts by training different muscle groups or body parts each day.

Since everyone has different bodies, goals, and lifestyles, there are many different splits that you can try, such as the standard full-body split that’s popular among beginners or the upper body/lower body split. But if you truly want to make the most out of your workouts, the popular push/pull/legs split is what you’re looking for!

In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about this effective training split, from why it’s so popular to how to build your own push/pull/legs workout routine to help you achieve your goals in no time – so keep reading!

What is the push/pull/legs training split?

As the name suggests, the push/pull/legs training split divides your workout not only by muscle groups but also by type of activity. During push and pull days, you’ll be training your upper body with either pushing or pulling exercises and then you’ll be training your lower body during leg days.

When it comes to pushing exercises, the main muscle groups involved will be your chest, shoulders, and triceps, with movements such as bench presses and lateral raises. Pulling exercises mainly target your back muscles and biceps, including movements like deadlifts and pull-ups.

As for your legs, you’ll be training the entire lower body, including your glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, and even your hip muscles and core. This involves exercises such as squats, lunges, and hip thrusts.

Here’s an example of what this split could look like:

  • Day 1: Push (chest, shoulders, triceps)
  • Day 2: Pull (back, biceps)
  • Day 3: Legs (lower body)
  • Day 4: Push (chest, shoulders, triceps)
  • Day 5: Pull (back, biceps)
  • Day 6: Legs (lower body)
  • Day 7: Rest

Benefits of the push/pull/legs split

The reason why this is regarded as the best workout split is because of how well it’s divided, so here are some of the main fitness benefits that you can get from it:

  • Related muscle groups are targeted in the same workout: Because you’re training pushing muscles, pulling muscles, and lower-body muscles on the same days, related muscle groups are able to support each other, maximizing growth and strength.
  • More time to rest your muscle groups: The is essentially a 3-day split, meaning that if you target your upper-body pushing muscles on Monday, you won’t be targeting them again until the following Thursday, allowing you to rest them in between workouts fully.
  • Easy-to-follow workout pattern: The push/pull/legs training split is very straightforward, making it super simple and easy to follow and leaving little to no room for stress or confusion when planning your workouts. This makes it particularly great for beginners!

Building your own push/pull/legs workout

When it comes to creating your own push/pull/legs routine, there are two main things you need to decide – your training structure and the exercises you’ll be doing. While this can be a great training split, it’s only as effective as how you choose to do it. So let’s get started planning…

Choose your training structure

The push/pull/legs split is not a one-size-fits-all approach, as there are many ways you can structure this type of workout. The one you choose will depend on your fitness level, goals, and general lifestyle.

For example, if you’re a complete beginner and haven’t built enough base strength, or don’t have enough time for a full week workout, the 3-day split might be best for you. Here’s how it looks:

  • Day 1: Push
  • Day 2: Rest
  • Day 3: Pull
  • Day 4: Rest
  • Day 5: Legs
  • Days 6 and 7: Rest

You can also combine push and pull into a single training day, performing pushing exercises first and then pulling exercises. This is different from the upper body/lower body split because you’re still prioritizing targeting related muscle groups and doing so separately.

To take things up a notch and maximize your gains, you can turn it into a 6-day split such as the example we gave you earlier:

  • Day 1: Push
  • Day 2: Pull
  • Day 3: Legs
  • Day 4: Push
  • Day 5: Pull
  • Day 6: Legs
  • Day 7: Rest

With this approach, you can also take a rest day before restarting the cycle, meaning that you’d be doing push/pull/legs/rest and repeating every time, which gives your muscles more time to recover before the next training session.

You can also change your approach based on what you want to focus on. For example, if you want to prioritize lower-body gains, you might increase leg days while keeping push and pull days at a minimum by implementing a push/legs/pull/legs split, such as this:

  • Day 1: Push
  • Day 2: Legs
  • Day 3: Rest
  • Day 4: Pull
  • Day 5: Legs
  • Days 6 and 7: Rest

As you can see, since there are three different areas you focus on during a push/pull/legs split, there are many different ways to structure your workout, so make sure you choose a combination that works for you!

Pick your exercises

The next step after choosing your training frequency is picking the right exercises for your split. This isn’t as easy as simply choosing pushing, pulling, and lower-body exercises, as you need to take into account the frequency you chose as well as your specific goals.

For example, a 3-day split can be more packed or intense than a 6-day split since your muscles have more time to recover. In the same vein, you don’t want to overwork your lower-body muscles if you choose a push/legs/pull/legs split since you need to make sure your leg muscles recover before the next workout.

On top of that, you need to choose exercises that will target the intended muscles equally. When picking your pushing exercises, make sure that you’re not leaving any muscle groups behind, such as prioritizing shoulders and triceps but not chest, or only focusing on your back muscles during pulling days and not targeting your biceps.

To help you visualize what a balanced push/pull/legs split workout plan should look like, here’s a sample 3-day split:

  • Day 1 (push): Barbell bench press, dumbbell overhead press, lateral raises, dumbbell flys, and triceps extensions
  • Day 2: Rest
  • Day 3 (pull): Chin-ups, reverse flys, dumbbell rows, hammer curls, and bicep curls
  • Day 4: Rest
  • Day 5 (legs): Barbell front squat, leg extension, calf raises, leg curls, and barbell hip thrust
  • Days 6 and 7: Rest

This combination of exercises will ensure that you’re hitting every major muscle group for that particular day, and if you add variations (such as doing sumo squats instead of front squats) you’ll be able to target a wider range of muscles for a more well-rounded workout.

Remember to start your workouts with compound movements that target bigger muscles, and finish with those that target smaller muscle groups or isolation exercises. You don’t want to exhaust your triceps during triceps extensions and then have to work your way through a heavy overhead press set!

Maximize your gains with the right training split

Regardless of the training split that you end up choosing, push/pull/legs or not, splitting your workouts will make your fitness journey not only easier but also more effective. Just make sure to pick the right one for you and you’ll start seeing results in no time!

Need some help effectively splitting your workouts for better gains?

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