Best Push Pull Workout Split for Muscle Gain

Tyler Sellers
Published by Tyler Sellers | Senior Coach
Last updated: November 29, 2023
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Professional bodybuilders pay a lot of attention to striking the right balance between push and pull movements in their workout splits.

And as a certified personal trainer, I always try to get my general fitness and amateur bodybuilding clients to start thinking in the same way.

To help our readers with this same thought process, I got together with five other personal trainers, and we put together a push-pull training split.

We also tested this for a month with a few clients to see how effective it is.

Here’s what we found.

Quick Summary

  • Push and pull exercises involve a mix of movements like bench presses, cable rows, squats, and pull-ups that strain body parts in different ways.
  • It’s important to keep in mind that you have both vertical and horizontal push and pull exercises, and you need to strike a balance between the two.
  • Once you have the right balance of push and pull movements, make sure you also look at your supplement stack for options to improve your performance.

How To Plan A Push Pull Workout Routine

A person doing push pull workout split at the gym

What you need to do is work with a list of push and pull exercises for your upper and lower body.

But you don’t want to just randomly choose them for different training days. You need to take a much more targeted approach, and there are four training days you can easily implement.

Keep in mind that you want to achieve hypertrophy, and that means you need to push yourself to failure in each set [1].

Here are the workouts that we have tested with clients: 

Upper Body Push

On this first day, you want to fully target your arms, chest, shoulders, and back with some tough push exercises.

It’s time to load up the weight and see how quickly you feel the burn:

  • Bench press (3 sets of 8-12 reps)
  • Overhead press (3 sets of 8-12 reps)
  • Dips (3 sets of 8-12 reps)
  • Cable flyes (3 sets of 8-12 reps)
  • Lateral raises (3 sets of 8-12 reps)
  • Triceps extensions (3 sets of 8-12 reps)

Upper Body Pull

A person doing chin ups for an upper body workout

We’re now switching to some pull exercises, which will target different muscles on the first upper body training day:

  • Chin-ups (3 sets of 8-12 reps)
  • Bent-over rows (3 sets of 8-12 reps)
  • Barbell shrugs (3 sets of 8-12 reps)
  • T-bar rows (3 sets of 8-12 reps)
  • Biceps curls (3 sets of 8-12 reps)
  • Reverse flys (3 sets of 8-12 reps)

Lower Body Push

This training day will try to build up your legs, glutes, and core with some exercises that will turn your muscles to jelly:

  • Dumbbell lunges (3 sets of 8-12 reps)
  • Front Squats (3 sets of 8-12 reps)
  • Calf raises (3 sets of 8-12 reps)
  • Leg extensions (3 sets of 8-12 reps)
  • Hack squats (3 sets of 8-12 reps)

Lower Body Pull

A person doing a romanian deadlift for a lower body workout

And finally, the last part of our four-day split involves lower-body pull exercises:

  • Romanian deadlifts (3 sets of 8-12 reps)
  • Leg curls (3 sets of 8-12 reps)
  • Hip thrusts (3 sets of 8-12 reps)
  • Barbell good mornings (3 sets of 8-12 reps)

Read more: Chris Bumstead Push Pull Legs Routine for Proven Muscle Gains

What Are The Benefits?

A person in the gym doing deadlifts

The main benefits of the push-pull workout split are that they are easy to organize, help you manage fatigue, and speed up your recovery process.

Here’s what I mean.

Having such a structured approach makes it very easy to categorize and combine exercises with a similar movement pattern.

By having most of the strain either on the concentric or eccentric movement, you achieve a repetitive pattern in each session [2].

This also means that for each body part, you mainly focus on one set of muscles per session.

That means there are other muscles you can train the next day that aren’t tired and sore. And you also end up giving sore muscles more time to fully recover between training sessions.

Essentially, you can train harder without having to worry if you’re going to be limited in your performance the next day.

I’d also advise you to invest in a top-quality protein shake: 

“A concentric contraction is a type of muscle activation that causes tension on your muscle as it shortens. As your muscle shortens, it generates enough force to move an object.”

- Daniel Bubnis, M.S., NASM-CPT


Is a Push Pull Split Effective?

Yes, the push-pull split is very effective. Some personal trainers will even argue that it’s the most effective way to structure a weekly routine, as it triggers all muscle groups and allows for better recovery times.

Is a Four-Day Push Pull Split Good?

Yes, a four-day push-pull split is good for toning and building muscle. By having more than three training sessions a week, you can target all body parts and still have enough rest and recovery time to avoid getting too sore.


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