What is the Push Pull Legs (PPL) Routine?
As you might expect, the Push-Pull Leg splits utilizes three workouts that focuses on pushing, pulling and legs. The push exercise targets pushing movements that work the upper body – especially the shoulders, triceps, and chest. The pull workout works with pulling movements, such as rowing, and using the back muscles and biceps.
Finally, leg exercises focus on the glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves. The reason for this split is because you need to split the Push, Pull, and Leg workout within three days.
What muscle Does Push Pull Legs Routine Work So Well?
Push-Pull Leg splits are an example of excellent programs because by following the PPL pattern, you remove any overlap from your exercise routine. Now, some may say that overlap may work, but for some people, volume control is key.
For example, if you focus on muscle groups, you can work your biceps and triceps for two days in a row. Overtaxing the muscles can affect recovery time and may interfere with your efforts. With Push Pull Legs, you measure that, because the muscles you use to push and pull are not the same (synergistic groups or antagonist muscles). Plus, you get into that precious leg day to give the upper body a rest.
That means you get better recovery for the exerted muscle groups and you can play around with tempo, frequency, and weight amount.
As you negate the overlap, you can customize the split to match your goals. For example, if you focus on pulling movements that works the chest, you can obliterate your shoulders the next day and allow your chest to recover. By planning your days in line with your training goals, you gain better control over the results. Finally, the Push-Pull Leg routine gives you a way to manage your workouts so you can see the growth you want.
Benefits of using this split
Using the PPL program for your training program offers a ton of great benefits. Here are a few of them.
1) Easy to plan
Using a PPL system makes it much easier to plan your program. This is very useful if you are new to training because your schedule is defined; you know exactly what movements you need to train that day.
2) It is effective
You know this program works. PPL has been used by thousands of trainers at all levels with great success over the years. As long as you apply the principle of progressive overload, PPL will get you the results you want.
3) Train Every Part of the Body
Using the PPL routine will ensure that you train all muscle groups properly. It leaves nothing behind.
4) You can add Variety
If you train four or five times a week, your weekly schedule will not be the same. Some may view this as bad if they want consistency, but in reality it can actually keep things interesting. Something as small as starting a week with a different plan can be very helpful in keeping things interesting.
5) Easy to alter and personalize
Using the PPL routine is very easy to alter your needs. One way is to add training days during the week to add to your load. The training cycle is always the same unless you add more days. Or, some use PPL as their base and make some adjustments or add special training days to suit their needs.
Why use Push / Pull / Legs Split?
Push / pull / legs splits are probably the most effective splits because all related muscle groups are trained together in the same workouts. This means that you get the maximum overlap of movements within the same exercise, and the training muscle groups get the full benefit from this overlap.
An example is when you train the chest for example bench press, and hit your front deltoids and triceps hard. And when you train the shoulders you also train your triceps. It therefore makes sense to work all of these together in the same workout in order to have maximum synergy and effectiveness.
Similarly, when you train your back your biceps are more involved, so it also makes sense to train them immediately afterwards so that they get the maximum benefit from additional stimulation.
It also means that you will have minimum overlap of movements between exercise, and this will help you get a better recovery than most other body parts splits.
Who should use Push / Pull / Legs Split?
The pull / pull / leg split is good for both the intermediate and advanced trainers.
More specifically, if you are just starting out or not had much in the way of results from your efforts so far, you will probably do very well with a full workout routine, training three days a week. Stick to this for at least six months or more if you are still progressing.
Once you have reached the intermediate stage however you will find that you will do better with an upper/lower split routine training three or four days a week. And this is actually one of the best ways to train for most people.
But anytime you go through the beginner stage you can find the push / pull / leg split splits suits you better. Or you may want to alternate upper/lower splits with a push/pull/legs split in order to derive all the benefits that each has to offer.
Any Push / Pull / Leg splits are the most effective form of training that is sure to give you different results if you work hard at it.
The best exercises to use for a push, pull, legs routine
Okay, now that we have a better understanding of what the PPL split is, let’s take a look at the best exercises for each day. While most of these exercises are done with a barbell or dumbbells, if you are just starting out or want to train at home, you can easily do this exercise with a set of bands.
The best pushing exercises
Let’s take a look at some of the most effective push exercises you can use mass and strength:
A flat bench press is among the leading chest-building movements out there. Over the years, countless people have used a variety of dumbbell and barbell of this exercise to create big chest. The study also suggests that the flat bench press plays an important role in EMG. If you are not familiar, EMG (Electromyography) is a procedure that records and analyses the electrical activity of our muscles.
In addition, the flat bench press has a fantastic overloading potential, making it one of the best exercises you can use as a basis for your chest training.
Incline Bench Press
The incline bench press is not enough to create improvements in the entire pec, and that is why incorporating incline press variation is so important. According to the study, pressing at an angle of about 45 degrees leads to the highest activation of the clavicular chest. It is important to experiment with several settings to see which angle works best for your chest.
3.The Overhead Press
We can’t do a complete workout without movement that works the shoulders directly, and that’s where the over head press comes into play. The overhead press is one of the best movements we can use to train the frontal and lateral side of the shoulder, and, like any other variation, overloading potential.
Floor Press (Barbell)
The floor press is less popular than the other exercises listed, but it seems to work better. Although the floor press lacks a good stretch of the pecs, research shows that it still offers good EMG activity. According to a study by Bret Contreras, a floor press is a fantastic pec activator. So much so that it ranks one of the top exercises for mind-chest activation.
The best pulling exercises
1.Bent Over Row (Barbell)
The barbell row is a horizontal pulling exercise that does a good job of improving the entire back. This helps to bring thickness, and width to the back. In addition, because you have to keep your torso rigid, the bent over row also improves the lower back.
The two most important things you need to keep in mind are to keep your torso as low as possible and row the barbell the entire range of motion without using jerking or momentum.
Pull up and Chin Up
Pull ups and chin ups are the two best bodyweight exercises you can use to get back strength and width. In a study conducted by the American Council of Exercise, pull ups and chin ups came as the top two for lat activation. The chin-up provides better bicep activation due to the grip, but both are good back builders.
3.Cable Row – Wide Grip
This is one of the best exercises for back developments as it provides greater range of motion. The goal is to row the weight through a full range of motion and allow for greater lats stretching at the beginning and a strong contraction in the end portion.
4.Bicep Curl (Barbell)
The barbell curl is one of the best bicep exercise because it allows you to overload your muscles with a lot of weight, and offers a good range of motion.
If you find that the barbell curl is bothering your wrists due to an awkward angle, you can substitute some of this movement with dumbbell hammer curls or a preacher curl. To do this effectively, always use the full range of motion and do each repetition slowly and controllably.
The best leg exercises
In fact, some studies suggest that back squats may be more effective at glute growth than hip thrusts. According to research, the front and back squats activate our lower body muscles the same way, and you should use the one you prefer.
Bulgarian Split Squat
Bulgarian split squats are a great exercise you can use to strengthen your glutes, muscles and quads. Training one leg at a time also helps to improve your balance, stability, and development from side to side.
To do this effectively, always prioritize appropriate techniques and a full range of motion over the amount of weight you’re squatting.
3.Romanian Deadlift (Barbell)
Romania deadlifts is one of the best exercises you can do to train your posterior chain and annihilate your hamstrings. Our hamstrings cross two joints – hip and knee. Hip hinge movements heavily depend on our ligaments due to their ability to store elastic energy and contribute to hip extension.
In order to train your muscles properly, you need to maintain a neutral back and lower your weight as much as possible before your lower back begins to round.
Glute Ham raise
Along with the Romanian deadlifts, the glute-ham raise appear like the best hamstring exercise out there.
Interestingly, glute-ham raise strongly emphasizes the hamstrings’ eccentric contraction, and studies show that this can be quite helpful Specifically, this type of training can produce neuromuscular flexibility that can help train mobility and prevent injury.
Push-Pull Leg Examples
As you begin to compile a list of PPL exercises, you can begin to build a split that best suits your goals. For those who want to lose weight or gain muscle, you can exercise safely and see progress with 3-5 days of training per week. You are also not required to start with push workouts every single time. You can start with the legs and then pull and, finally, Push, if that suits you best.
You can also add cardio to your split, but it is wise to hit the treadmill after a ppl routine not before. For optimal growth, you will want to put a six-hour window between weight training and cardio. Keep that in mind as you rearrange your plan. In addition, do not forget to do some abdominal work too as well, because the PPL routine does not automatically include basic focused movements.
PPL: Heavy / Easy light rotation
Heavy / light rotation will only work with split routines of 4-5 days. You can use the number of days to your advantage by increasing or decreasing depending on what you have done before. This not only helps prevent fatigue, but can also accelerate muscle growth.
Heavy / light rotation works like this: On your first day, you may do heavy push workouts using compound movements and 5-8 repetitions. Once you get back to your push day, you can use light weight or choose multiple repetitions with single joint movement.
This method became very popular in the 1950’s. Even well-known bodybuilders of the golden era, such as Reg Park and Bill Pearl, have used the heavy / light rotation of the PPL.
Tips for Your Push pull leg routine
One question that will arise as you begin to build a proper PPL process is how you can best benefit from your Push Pull Leg workouts.
If you are just starting out, you want to focus on committing to the program you have created for yourself, whether that training is 3 days a week or 6 days a week. Apply the rule of progressive overload and emphasizing building strength, which means you have to challenge yourself gradually and continuously by adding more weight or more reps to your sets.
What are the pros and cons of using Push Pull Legs split?
Let us consider four most pronounced benefits of this split:
- Among the most notable benefits of the Push Pull Legs split is that it allows us to ‘connect’ the muscle groups working together. For example, the biceps contribute to tension, and training both muscle groups in the same exercise is an effective way to cause a stimulus.
- Because we put together muscle groups that work well together, we greatly prevent overlap, and the risk of training muscle groups in the event of fatigue is very small. For example, if you train your chest, shoulders, and triceps on Monday, you will have a few days to recover before you train again, no matter how often you follow the training.
- Push Pull Legs is ideal for the average trainee because it provides great scheduling flexibility. For example, if you follow a 3-day split, you can plan your weekly training in many ways depending on your schedule and availability of training. What if you can’t start your training week on Monday? No problem, you can start on Tuesday or Wednesday.
The Push Pull Legs classification works for lifters of all levels, and you can use it to make great progress for many years. For example, as you start training, you can follow a 3-day split. After that, as you progress to a day 4 days a week and finally work up to training six days a week. No matter what your goals are and your level of fitness, you can make it work.
Before proceeding, however, here are some of the cons you should be aware of:
- Focusing on all muscle groups can be quite challenging. For example, if you start your Push exercise with chest training, your triceps and shoulders will have to go in as the second and third. As a result, it may be a good idea to change the movement you start your exercise with. If you are starting a single exercise with chest exercises, you may want to start next with shoulder movements.
- The traditional Push Pull Legs split is not your best option for attacking weak points and bringing them up. For example, suppose your arms are weak and they grow slowly. The problem is, you are constantly training your biceps and triceps in a fatigue state after back and chest. This prevents you from giving them full attention in a recovered state. One of the solutions would be to to include more work for lagging body parts strategically. In the case of arm training, you can add a different arm day in addition to your push and pull training.
- It is a challenge to set up a Push Pull Legs split consistent training program if you want to train four or five times a week. For example, training three to six days a week allows you to have a consistent plan.
Comparison with Other Training Programs
Let’s see how Push Pull Legs stacks up against other popular options:
Push Pull Legs vs. 3-Day Split
The 3 day full body split allows you to train your whole body three days a week. It is good for beginners because it allows them to improve on lifting weights faster. For example, a beginner will be skilled at squat very quickly if they train it three times a week instead of once.
The 3-day ppl split is also good, but it can be too tasking for beginners because different exercises take longer time. For this reason, beginners will be better with a full 3-day body split. Once they have gained training experience and improved their weight lifting skills, they can move on to the 3-day push pull legs.
All in all, a 3-day full body program is best suited for beginners, but lifters should switch to something like the Push Pull Legs split in order to continue making significant progress.
Push Pull Legs vs. Upper Lower Split
Push Pull Legs and upper splits are probably the two most popular ways to organize our weekly training. For too long, we have had an ongoing debate: Which of these is better?
It’s hard to say because both splits offer their own unique advantages and disadvantages, and both are much more similar than most people think. In truth, the upper lower split is almost the same as the Push Pull Leg. The big difference is that you can combine your Push and pull workouts into a single upper day. As far as their benefits go, splitting Push Pull Legs is easy to plan but planning can be challenging, especially if you want to train four days a week. You will not have a fixed schedule every week, which can be disheartening for some people.
On the other hand, a 4-day split is a good for intermediate-level lifters and allows them to make significant progress over the years. However, the lower extremities are a major challenge in planning because you have a lot of muscle groups that you have to worry about in your upper days. Knowing how to follow through on this can be difficult.
You can’t go wrong with any of the two splits, and it’s worth a try to see which one you like. Consistently, nutritious food, and plenty of sleep, both of these splits can be a good thing for you.
Progressing in your ppl split
Recovery & Sleep
Proper recovery is very important in a routine that has a lot of volume, intensity, and frequency. Schedule at least 7 to 9 hours uninterrupted, quality sleep every night.
If your schedule allows you to sleep during the day, I would also recommend this as well. Most of us who work on a 9-to-5 desk job can’t sleep during working week so, at least 15 to 30 minutes on Saturday and Sunday. This sleep will improve muscle regeneration, improve memory recall, and improve short term alertness.
To improve sleep hygiene, I recommend that you stop looking at the digital screen 1 to 2 hours before bedtime. The light produced interferes with your body’s natural rhythm and melatonin release.
As you enter your bedroom be aware of the darkness of the room. If it is completely dark, consider removing any night lights, adding blackout curtains to close windows, and / or using a sleeping mask.
If you are lying on the floor, before you go to bed, consider the comfort of the mattress and the external noise levels.
Once you’ve optimized your sleep environment based on the aforementioned parameters I guarantee that your recovery and strength will improve.