Push Day Workout to Build Strong & Shaped Upper Body Muscles

Tyler Sellers
Published by Tyler Sellers | Senior Coach
Last updated: July 26, 2023
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In my 9+ years as a professional coach, I’ve guided my readers and clients into achieving their fitness goals with different workout splits.

The push, pull, legs split is among the best for gaining muscles and building strength and suits almost everyone in the weights room.

In this article, I will guide you through knowing what a push day workout is, the importance of a push day workout program, the best push day activities for optimum growth, and some tips for maximizing your push day workouts.

Quick Summary

  • During a push day workout, you concentrate on three muscle groups: the triceps, chest, and shoulders.
  • Upper body pushing muscle movements such as the overhead press, barbell press, and variants of each are included in a push day workout to develop your muscle group for strength and hypertrophy, depending on your concentration.
  • It's best to do your most significant lifts at the start of a session, but the idea is to concentrate on pushing muscle movements.

What Is a Push Day Workout?

A person in the gym doing push day workout

A push day is a single exercise focused on upper body pushing muscles that act to push a weight away from your body over the week.

It differs from a full-body workout in that it targets the lower and upper body muscles in a session [1].

A push day is a piece of the push, pull, leg exercise regimen.

This is divided as follows:

  • Pull exercises
  • Push workouts
  • Leg exercises

During a push day, you concentrate on three muscular groups: the chest, shoulders, and triceps.

Based on your fitness objectives and schedule, this sort of workout should be done 1-2 times a week.

This regimen often consists of a combination of isolation and compound workouts that stimulate numerous muscle groups simultaneously before isolating a particular target muscle group.

Push Day Workout Routine

A person doing bench presses in the gym

Below is a classic push day workout program.

You can follow this program exactly or modify it to meet your individual needs.

  • Flat Dumbbell Bench Presses - Begin with 3 sets of flat dumbbell bench presses, looking to perform for 6 to 8 repetitions in each set. Use as much weight as feasible on this workout while maintaining proper technique.
  • Incline Bench Presses - While working on the chest muscles, do 3 to 4 sets of incline bench presses, aiming to perform 8 to 12 repetitions each set.
  • Dips - Following benching, blast the chest muscles and triceps with 3 sets of dips to failure. If you can't accomplish these, try locating a machine or asking for the assistance of a friend.
  • Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Presses - Now that you've targeted the chest move on to a shoulder compound exercise. 3 sets of 6 to 8 repetitions of seated dumbbell shoulder presses.
  • Side Lateral Raises - Isolate the lateral deltoid muscles with three sets of lateral rises, lifting 12 to 15 repetitions per set. Slow down on them to feel the side deltoid engaging.
  • Skull Crushers - After training the shoulders, go on to the triceps. Go through your three sets of hard skull crushers, aiming for 6 to 8 repetitions.
  • Tricep Pushdowns - Finish your workout with three sets of tricep pushdowns. Before cooling down, try hitting between 8 to 12 repetitions in each set.

The above push day workout program is fantastic since it targets all necessary pushing muscles.

It comprises complex isolation exercises targeting your chest, shoulders, and triceps.

If you choose to do the routine mentioned above or any other regimen, it is critical to maintain a high level of intensity. You should rest for about 30 and 90 seconds between sets.

A sufficient amount of rest between sets aids in keeping up the rate of force production for the following set [2].

Best Push Day Exercises For Growth

A person doing push day exercises in the gym

1. Flat Dumbbell Bench Press

The flat dumbbell bench press is a great way to start your push day routine.

This workout will primarily target your chest and work your tricep and shoulder muscles.

How to perform: 

  1. Lay on your back with a dumbbell in each arm on a flat bench.
  2. Raise the dumbbells to your shoulders until the arms are straight.
  3. Drop the dumbbells until the arms are 90 degrees apart. You may go lower to obtain a good stretch.
  4. Raise the dumbbells until the arms are straight.
  5. Repeat until the required number of repetitions has been reached.

2. Incline Bench Press

A person doing inclined bench presses in the gym

The incline bench press, a variation of the flat bench press, is done on an incline bench.

This minor variation in angle emphasizes the top area of your chest, creating a rounder, fuller appearance.

Incline presses also work the front deltoid and are more challenging than a flat bench press.

How to perform:

  1. Lay on an incline bench with a bar above your head. Push your shoulder blades tightly together to form a sturdy and secure stance on the bench.
  2. Raise the weight until the arms are straight.
  3. Drop the weight until it is only a few inches from your chest.
  4. Raise the weights until your hands are straight.
  5. Repeat for reps.

3. Close Grip Bench Press

By doing a close-grip bench press, you will focus even more on your triceps. It necessitates changing your grip to a tighter posture, closer than shoulder-width apart.

This will extend your range of motion and place more strain on your triceps, challenging you to push them harder and further than you would in a regular grip.

"The grip closeness is the most misunderstood aspect of the close-grip press. People frequently grab the bar with both hands almost touching, but you don't have to go that narrow."

- Brett Williams, NASM Certified Personal Trainer

How to perform:

  1. Place your legs firmly on the floor and lie on a bench press.
  2. Hold the barbell above with your hands at least a few inches narrower than shoulder-width apart. They don't have to be too close together.
  3. While your arms are extended, unrack the barbell and bring it in front of you so it sits directly over the shoulder joint.
  4. Pull the bar to the rib cage, about the bottom of your pecs, then lower it to your chest.
  5. Raise the bar to a starting position over the shoulder joint.
  6. Repeat for the desired number of reps.

4. Side Lateral Raises

A person doing side lateral raises in the gym

Side lateral raises, like shoulder presses, engage your shoulder muscles, but instead of isolating the posterior or anterior deltoids, they mainly isolate the lateral fibers [3].

This will make your shoulder muscle groups appear more prominent and broader, enhancing your body.

How to perform:

  1. Stand with your legs shoulder-width apart and a pair of dumbbells in your hands.
  2. Lift your hands to the side until they're slightly above shoulder height.
  3. Drop your arms back to the starting position.
  4. Repeat until the required number of repetitions has been reached.

5. Triceps Pushdowns

The triceps pushdown is a fantastic approach to isolating the tricep muscles using a cable machine.

You will strike the triceps lateral and medial head pushing muscles by performing a pushdown.

How to perform:

  1. Face the tricep pushdown cable machine and hold the rope attachment or horizontal cable bar (depending on the equipment at your gym) with an overhand grip as you prepare for this movement. Adjust the grips on the bar or rope at around chest height.
  2. To begin, use the pin-and-place adjustments and a little weight. Several weighting systems may be included in various variants of the machine.
  3. Begin by bracing the abdominal muscles.
  4. Tuck the elbows in at the sides and spread your feet slightly apart.
  5. Inhale and press down until the elbows are entirely stretched but not straight and locked. Keep your elbows closer to your body on the pushdown and your legs slightly bent. Avoid leaning forward.
  6. While you press down, try to maintain the back as straight as possible.
  7. Resume the starting position in a controlled movement as you exhale. Try not to collapse the loads.
  8. Repeat for reps.

You May Also Like: Alternatives to Triceps Pushdown Workout

6. Skull Crushers

A person doing skull crusher workouts

Skull crushers, or lying triceps extensions, are a conventional motion done lying on a bench with one or two dumbbells. You can also use a barbell.

Holding the weight above your face, you straighten your elbow and lift the load toward the ceiling with the triceps. Yet the triceps are not the only ones working out.

How to perform:

  1. Grab a pair of dumbbells from both hands and lie face up on a bench, legs flat on the floor on either side.
  2. Raise your arms over your chest, palms facing one another toward the ceiling.
  3. Contract the glutes and core while pulling the rib cage down to keep the low back from curving.
  4. Tuck your elbows in and squeeze your shoulders down as you gently bend your elbows to drop the weights until they are an inch over your head or on each side of your head.
  5. To activate the lats, avoid moving the upper arms and anchor shoulders down, isolating the triceps as the loads drop.
  6. Straighten your elbows and stretch your arms back over your chest with control.
  7. Return to the starting position and repeat for reps.

"By utilizing a bench, you may set your feet on the ground, necessitating different engagement in your core and lower body; engaging the glutes, tucking the pelvis, and maintaining your core engaged and ribs down all need deliberate effort."

- Ash Wilking, Nike Master Trainer & Tonal Coach

7. Dips

Dips are bodyweight pushing exercises that strengthen the triceps and other upper-body muscle groups.

How to perform: 

  1. Grab the parallel bars and jump up, keeping your arms straight.
  2. Lean forward at a 45° angle, bend at the waistline, and lift the toes toward the shins.
  3. Pull the shoulders back and down. Hold this body posture for the length of the workout.
  4. Gently lower your torso into the dip by bending your elbows until the upper arms are nearly parallel to the floor. Maintain a firm grip on your elbows.
  5. Straighten your arms to propel yourself back to the starting position.
  6. Repeat for reps.

Read Also: Is Bench Press Better Than Dips for Chest Exercise

8. Overhead Shoulder Press

A person doing an overhead shoulder press

While the bench press enables you to be perfectly stable because the bench supports your back while you press, the overhead shoulder press is the ultimate pressing exercise since a bench does not support you.

How to perform:

  1. Place a barbell on an elevated rack to hold it under the chin, approximately shoulder level.
  2. Hold the barbell with both hands and walk back from the rack to unrack it.
  3. Lift the barbell over the head to rest precisely above the shoulder joints.
  4. Check that you're not leaning back at the end. Maintain your balance by standing straight.
  5. Lower the bar to the starting position or height of your chest or shoulders.
  6. Repeat for the desired number of reps.

9. Push-up

Push-ups are among the best general conditioning workouts for outdoor athletes, and they can be done anywhere without equipment.

Push-ups are excellent for strengthening your chest, triceps, and shoulders.

"Push-ups are commonly considered an upper-body workout, but they truly engage the entire body. You'll build your arm, chest, and back muscles while strengthening your abdomen and quads."

- Lisa Toscano, Professor of Kinesiology

How to perform: 

  1. Adopt a high-plank stance, feet together, torso straight from head to toes, and hands in parallel with (but slightly broader than) your shoulders. To lock the body into position, engage both the glutes and core.
  2. Drop your body until the chest is a few inches off the ground, maintaining your elbows tucked into your body and the head neutral.
  3. Push your torso back to the starting position after a little pause.
  4. Repeat for reps.

Read More:

Importance of a Push Day Workout Routine

A person doing push workouts with a dumbbell

It Addresses Key Muscle Groups

The best push day exercises allow you to emphasize one thing - pushing weight - while still training three significant muscles.

When done correctly, it's a split that exercises essential muscles in the pecs, shoulders, and triceps.

It Distributes Your Training Throughout the Week

One of the benefits of a push day is that it generally goes along with a pull day and lower body day, providing you with a whole-body breakdown for the week (push, pull, legs).

A push/pull/lower split is a simple, efficient approach to concentrating on only one portion of your body for a single session.

So, on the other days, you can recover and rest up while training the different regions in their routines.

Most push/pull/lower splits need you to hit each two times (two pulling exercises, two pushing exercises, two lower exercises).

It May Be Used To Achieve a Variety of Objectives

A person doing push exercises with a barbell in the gym

This is a highly versatile split since it can increase muscle growth, strengthen muscle, lose weight, or be healthier.

If you want to lose weight, a push exercise for hypertrophy can increase your metabolic rate and burn more calories during and after the session.

If you're looking to bulk up, combine a push workout for mass with a caloric surplus to create muscle in your triceps, pecs, and shoulders.

If you're exercising for strength, a push exercise regime allows you to challenge yourself on the overhead or barbell press to prepare for the following personal record attempt.

It's Simple to Learn and Remember

It is not important to be able to name muscles or exercises to observe activity and determine whether the lifter is performing weight pulling or pushing exercises.

Even a novice lifter may come into a gym, select four push workouts, perform three to four sets of six to fifteen repetitions each set, and have an excellent workout without overthinking.

Coach Tips for Maximizing Your Push Day Exercises

A coach helping a person in the gym do push exercises

These tips apply to any circumstance where you want to conduct your push day routines, whether at home or in the gym, for power, size, or weight reduction.

Advance Your Program

Increase the weight of the bar regularly to advance your program. If adding weight this week is too difficult, add an extra repetition to each set.

If you're struggling to complete the last few sets, add one additional set of the same amount of reps after a few minutes of rest.

There is always a way to advance your training to keep it rigorous and demanding without starting again.

You'll obtain the desired results if you push yourself and progress your regimen each week.

Eat Well to Achieve Your Objectives

Close up shot of vegetables and a dumbbell

Choose whether you want to improve your size, strength, weight reduction, or overall health, and then tailor your program appropriately.

Above all, this entails establishing how your diet will contribute to this approach.

Eat in a calorie excess to assist your muscle growth efforts. To reduce weight, you should eat in a calorie deficit.

Eat your carbohydrates so you have the energy to push through the push day if you aim to be strong [4].

Maintain Consistency

Nothing will result from good push exercises if you perform them once or infrequently. Maintain consistency to see actual benefits [5].

These transformations take time, particularly for seasoned lifters.

The only way to convey to your body the information you want it to adapt and respond to the stress you're placing on it is to be consistent.


What Exercises Are Best for Push Day?

The best exercises for push muscles are push-ups, shoulder presses, chest flyes, lateral raises, overhead triceps extensions, and bench presses.

How Many Workouts Should You Do on Push Day?

The number of workouts you should do on a push day is 6 to 8 different workouts. While it may appear to be a lot, the layout of these exercises allows you to complete them fast. You must aim for 1-2 minutes for every workout, followed by a 2-minute rest before going on to the next.

Is Push Day Necessary?

Yes, a push day workout is necessary. By performing push exercises one day and pull workouts the next, you guarantee that you exercise different muscle groups, allowing the other muscles to recover correctly.

Performing the Push Day Workouts

Push day workouts are an excellent approach to target the shoulders, chest, and triceps muscles. You must include the appropriate exercises to get the most out of the push day program.

The workouts we've given here are some of the greatest for building a fantastic physique.

Remember to prioritize quality over quantity, employ proper form, and begin with a smaller weight if you cannot finish the entire routine.

Also, incorporate our top protein powder supplements to help recover between reps and sets.

They are GMO-, gluten-, and soy-free. Upon testing, our clients reported getting over their muscle-building plateaus, with the added advantage of fast recovery.


  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34468591/
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19691365/
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32824894/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8878406/
  5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31267674/
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