Scores of simple and effective free workout routines that have stood the test of time!

Push-Pull Training Routine

Simplify Your Training With a Push Pull Training Routine

Push pull training might be the best, most efficient, safest and flexible way to train and continually make progress over time. This is exactly why this sort of training has stood the test of time.

Over many years I've tried many different routines with both clients and myself and the one that has best stood the test of time are push pull splits. There are so many advantages to training like this.

The main benefit is that you essentially get to train large muscle groups of the body that work together in terms of movement. Splitting up your training like this allows you to stress the muscles and joints that work together on one day and then allow them to rest together.

dumbbell rows
Dumbbell Rows - Image Credit: iStock

For example, unlike in a traditional split, a push pull split would allow me to train my chest, shoulders and triceps all on one days stressing all of the tendons and connective tissues in one session.

So, the triceps tendons at the elbow and shoulders - areas that are prone to stress, get to rest together for several days.

Hitting back, biceps, rear delts, traps, forearms, hamstrings in the same session on on day and chest, triceps, quads, delts in another session on another day is the most efficient way to train and reduce likelihood of injury.

Advantages of Push Pull Training

  • Allows for efficiency - training muscle groups that work together with similar movements is great for hypertrophy
  • Maximizes recovery and rest
  • More flexibility of when to workout
  • Simplifies your training
  • Lessens the likelihood of overuse injuries
  • Can be beneficial when increasing both volume and frequency (can train 2-6 days a week like this allowing for more or less sessions depending on your situation/recovery)
  • Burn more calories by combining upper and lower compound movements into one session
  • The most practical solution to training

Explosive single-arm kettlebell movements are also a good fit for a push/pull routine - Image Credit: iStock

Pressed For Time?

It is amazing how challenging it can be to adhere to a complex training routine - one that say, requires six different, complicated workouts in one week.

By far the simplest split anyone can use is a so-called A/B split, using two different workouts to cover your whole body, and one which allows you some flexibility as to when to workout.

Another thing that I've found is that you really do not need that many exercises, provided you are primarily using compound multi-joint movements.

This kind of approach to training leaves you lots of room to fit other physical activities in your life as well, such as a sport or some other type of training, like yoga, calisthenics, swimming, etc.

If one finds themselves in a period of their lives when things get complicated, stressful etc and you have less time, say when you have a newborn baby or new job, move, whatever, you can have the option of training just twice a week and still make progress.

There seems to be even more research now that is seeing test subjects making gains on ridiculously short, infrequent bouts of weight training.

Minimalist Push Pull Training Routine

What follows is a simple full body push pull training routine that hits half of your body in one session. I wouldn't really feel that it is necessary to add anything to this. If you want to add one assistance single joint exercise to this, that would be ok, but it isn't required.

Day One:

Front Squats 5-6 sets x 8-12 reps
Dumbbell Shoulder press 5-6 sets x 8-12 reps
Weighted Dips 5-6 sets x 8-12 reps

Day Two:

Deadlift 5-6 sets x 4-6 reps
One-Arm Dumbbell Rows 5-6 sets x 8-12 reps
Weighted Chin-ups or Pull-ups 5-6 sets x AMRAP

Not Enough Work?

I was dead serious above - all you really need to build a jacked, muscular athletic body are a handful of exercises! Have a look/listen to what some others have to say about this:

Don't believe me? Drop what you are doing now and give this a try for 6-8 weeks.

Not Enough Variation?

If you wanted to do this push pull training routine 4 times a week and wanted some variation on the exercises and parameters you could come up with something like this:

Day One:

Front Squats 5 sets x 5 reps
Dumbbell Shoulder Press 5 sets x 5 reps
Weighted Dips 5 sets x 6 reps

Day Two:

Trap Bar Deadlift 5 sets x 5 reps
One-Arm Dumbbell Rows 5 sets x 6 reps
Weighted Chin-ups or Pull-ups 5 sets x AMRAP

Day Three:

Rear Foot Elevated Dumbbells Squats 4 sets x 8-12 reps
Barbell Incline Press 4 sets x 8-12 reps
Flat Dumbbell Press 4 sets x 8-12 reps

Day Four:

Rack Pull Deadlift 4 sets x 5-8 reps
Power Cleans 4 sets x 8-12 reps
Seated Lat Pulldown or Machine Row 4 sets x 8-12 reps

You would of course do the next workout when it best suits you. It could be the next day or several days in between. Whatever you feel up to and can recover from.

The Details:

  • The sets shown are working sets - so this is not counting warm-up sets!
  • The set/rep parameters in the 2-day split are mainly in pure hypertrophy range - use a training weight that would be 60-70% of your one-rep max (1RM)
  • Training with 5 sets of 5, use weights which are around 80% of 1RM

If you were to add some mobility work to this sort of minimalist routine and some rope skipping, or even a touch of plyometrics or box jumps, this would be a very productive training routine.

One could even add some rounds of loaded carries or sled pulling to the end of this!

workout routine