A push-pull workout is one that targets groups of muscles instead of isolating them. The training style focuses on whether muscles are involved in a pushing action or a pulling one.
The workouts are popular with bodybuilders in particular but also with other athletes.
The workouts minimize the time required for recovery between workouts. They also create a balanced physique.
What is a push-pull workout?
The training focuses on movement patterns. In these types of workouts, you will train by performing pushing movements with your upper body and then, at your next upper body workout, you will perform exercises that create pulling movements.
When you perform pushing movements with your upper body, the focus will be on the chest, shoulders, and triceps. The back, biceps, and forearms will be engaged when you perform pulling movements. However, in both cases, several muscle groups will work together instead of isolated muscles.
A typical weekly workout routine might include two upper body workout days, a day for the lower body and core, and rest days in between. Or, depending on your level, you might choose to train 6 days a week and only take 1 day off, in which case you could rotate through the 3 workouts and do each one twice per week.
Your push pull legs routine will exercise your quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calves in the same basic manner.
According to recent research, most people find this type of workout benefits. They often increase their strength gains.
Benefits of push-pull training
According to Legion Athletics, one reason to organize your training like this is that muscles typically work in pairs.
An example cited was pulling a weight off the ground. Your back and biceps bear the brunt of the work, while your chests and triceps are barely involved. Meanwhile, when you push weight off your chest, your chest muscles and triceps do most of the work.
This means if you work your biceps to fatigue one day and train your triceps the next, you will have no issues.
You can pull without any issues on days your chest, shoulders, and triceps are sore and train your legs on days when your back and biceps are taking a day off to recover. However, as Legion Athletics recommends, it’s best to take at least one day off per week where you don’t lift weights. This is because there is always a bit of an overlap between the muscle groups.
The benefits of push-pull training include that it optimizes recovery time.
With a traditional body building workout, you might train just one or two parts of your body each day. So you might train your chest one day, your shoulders the next, and so on.
This may actually lead to your training several muscles. For example, if you focus on your chest one day, your shoulders will be involved too for many exercises like the bench press or chest fly. This means you really are training the same muscles for several days in a row. This is more likely to cause too much stress for your muscles, while with a push-pull regimen, your muscles will actually get the 48-72 hours of rest they need to fully recover.