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The Definitive Guide to the “Push Pull Legs” Routine

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The Definitive Guide to the “Push Pull Legs” Routine

If you want to know what the push pull legs routine is, how it works, and how to make it work for you, then you want to read this article.

“Push pull legs” routines have been popular for decades now.

In fact, just about every time-proven strength and muscle-building program fits this basic mold, and that’s not likely to change.

I myself have been following variations of “PPL” routines for years now, and here’s where it has gotten me:

My bestselling workout programs for men and women are also, essentially, push pull legs routines with additional “accessory” (isolation) work to help bring up “stubborn” body parts.

The primary reasons push pull legs routines have stood the test of time are they train all major muscle groups, allow plenty of time for recovery, and can be tailored to fit different training goals, schedules, and histories.

They’re easy to understand, too.

At bottom, a push pull legs routine separates your major muscle groups into three different workouts:

  1. Chest, shoulders, and triceps
  2. Back and biceps (with a bit of hamstrings as well if you’re deadlifting)
  3. Legs

And it has you train anywhere from 3 to 6 times per week, depending on how much abuse you’re willing to take, what you’re looking to achieve with your physique, and how much time you can spend in the gym each week.

So, if you’re looking to gain muscle and strength as quickly as possible, and if you’re not afraid of a bit of heavy compound weightlifting, then push pull legs might be your golden ticket.

And by the end of this article, you’re going to know exactly how PPL works, who it is and isn’t best for, and how to create a customized routine that’ll work for you.

Let’s get to it.

What Is the Push Pull Legs Routine?

The push pull legs routine, or “PPL split,” is a weightlifting program that has you do three kinds of workouts:

  1. Push workout
  2. Pull workout
  3. Legs workout

Your push workouts focus on the muscles involved in your upper body pushing motions, with the major ones being your pecs, triceps, and shoulders.

Thus, it’s similar to most “chest and triceps” workouts that you find in other bodybuilding splits.

In a well-designed PPL program, your push workouts will generally revolve around barbell and dumbbell bench pressing, overhead (military) pressing, dipping, and doing isolation exercises for your triceps.

Your pull workouts focus on the muscles involved in your upper body pulling motions, with the major ones being your back muscles and biceps.

Thus, it’s really just a “back and biceps” workout.

These workouts generally revolve around deadlifting, barbell and dumbbell rowing, pulldowns, pullups and chinups, and doing isolation exercises for your biceps.

And last, your leg workouts focus on training your quads, hamstrings, glutes, and calves.

These workouts generally revolve around squatting, lunging, and doing various isolation exercises for each major muscle group noted above.

So, when you get down to it, the push pull legs split isn’t all that different from many “body part” routines.

The reason I bring this up is body part splits are generally frowned upon these days, but they can be just as effective as anything else when programmed properly.

One of the reason organizing your training this way is advantageous is muscles generally work in pairs.

For example, when you pull a barbell off the ground, your back muscles and biceps are responsible for generating the force while your chest and triceps are just along for the ride. On the flip side, when you push a heavy barbell off your chest, it’s now your chest and triceps that are the prime movers while your “pull” muscles take the back seat.

That’s why you can blitz your biceps one day and have no issues training your triceps the next.

Likewise, you can pull without issue when your chest, shoulders, or triceps are sore, and you can push or train your legs when your back and biceps are still recovering.

That said, there is a bit of overlap between the muscles involved in each workout, which is why you should always take at least one day off the weights per week.

For example, your lats are involved in bench pressing, and both deadlifting and squatting heavily involve the hamstrings.

Use this workout and flexible dieting program to lose up to 10 pounds of fat and build muscle in just 30 days…without starving yourself or living in the gym.

What Are the Benefits of Push Pull Legs?

There are several reasons why PPL routines are a staple among bodybuilders and powerlifters.

First, like most good weightlifting programs, they have you spend the majority of your time doing compound exercises.

Compound exercises are movements that involve multiple large muscle groups and require (and develop) the most whole-body strength.

For example, the squat involves moving the knees, ankles, and hip joint, and requires every muscle in your body to work together, with the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes bearing the brunt of the load.

On the other hand, an exercise like the Russian Leg Curl involves moving the knees and focuses on strengthening the hamstrings and glutes, which is why it isn’t considered a compound exercise.

Now, the reason compound exercises are so important is they’re far better than isolation exercises for gaining strength and size.

They’re not only more efficient in terms of muscle groups trained per exercise, but they also allow for heavier loads to be safely lifted, which makes it easier to continue to progressively overload your muscles.

The only major downside to doing a lot of heavy, compound weightlifting is it’s extremely demanding on your body, both in terms of energy required for workouts and post-workout recovery.

That’s why PPL has you split your upper body into two separate workouts and limits the amount of lower body training that you’re doing every week.

This way, your muscles have plenty of time to recover between workouts and your nervous system isn’t being continually pushed to the red line, which allows you to perform better over the long term.

Another major benefit of push pull legs is it can be easily customized to fit your needs and circumstances.

With just three basic workouts to choose from, it’s easy to grasp and think with on the fly and add, subtract, or shift around workouts each week as needed.

For example, the most basic PPL setup looks like this:

Monday

Push

Wednesday

Pull

Friday

Legs

And if you want to train just twice per week, you could do something like this:

Monday

Push & Pull (upper body, basically)

Thursday

Legs

Or, if you want to push yourself to your limits (har har), you could do something like this:

Monday

Push

Tuesday

Pull

Wednesday

Legs

Thursday

Push

Friday

Pull

Saturday

Legs

How to Make Push Pull Legs Work for You

push pull workout for you

So, you’re ready to hit the gym?

Great!

The first thing to decide is how many days per week that you want to train.

If you want to maximize muscle and strength gains and have the time, then I recommend 4 to 6 training days per week.

If, however, you’re short on time or don’t want to train that frequently for some other reason, then don’t despair–you can still do great with 2 to 3 workouts per week.

Once you’ve decided how many days you’re going to train each week, the next step is turning that into an actual specific routine.

There are many ways of programming PPL workouts, but I’m going to keep it simple and give you a few templates to choose from.

Let’s start with the workouts themselves, and then we’ll see how to combine them into routines.

The Push Pull Legs Workouts

You can create an infinite variety of push pull routine workouts, but here are a few of my favorites.

As you’ll see, they involve a lot of heavy, compound weightlifting, supplemented with moderately heavy accessory work.

(If you’re not sure how to do any of these exercises, click on them to be taken to videos that teach proper form.)

Push Day 1

Flat Barbell Bench Press

Warm up and 3 sets of 4 to 6 reps (about 80 to 85% of one-rep max, or 1RM)

Close-Grip Bench Press

2 sets of 4 to 6 reps

Standing Military Press

Warm up and 2 sets of 4 to 6 reps

Dumbbell Lateral Raise

2 sets of 8 to 10 reps (about 70 to 75% of 1RM)

Cable Crunch

3 sets of 8 to 10 reps until you hit 1 rep shy of failure

Push Day 2

Incline Barbell Bench Press

Warm up and 3 sets of 4 to 6 reps

Seated Military Press

Warmup and 2 sets of 4 to 6 reps

Dumbbell Lateral Raise

2 sets of 8 to 10 reps

Dumbbell Rear Lateral Raise

2 sets of 8 to 10 reps

Pull Day 1

Barbell Deadlift

Warm up and 3 sets of 4 to 6 reps

Barbell Row

3 sets of 4 to 6 reps

Wide-Grip Pullup or Chin-Up

3 sets of 4 to 6 reps

One-Arm Dumbbell Row

3 sets of 4 to 6 reps

Pull Day 2

Barbell Row

Warmup and 4 sets of 4 to 6 reps

Chin-Up

3 sets of 4 to 6 reps

One-Arm Dumbbell Row

3 sets of 4 to 6 reps

Barbell Biceps Curl

3 sets of 8 to 10 reps

Legs Day

Barbell Back Squat

Warmup and 3 sets of 4 to 6 reps

Barbell Front Squat

3 sets of 4 to 6 reps

Bulgarian Split Squat

3 sets of 4 to 6 reps

Standing Calf Raise

3 sets of 8 to 10 reps

Alright, that’s it for the workouts.

Let’s now see how to turn them into weekly workout routines.

The 2-Day Push Pull Legs Routine

As I mentioned earlier, you can do well training just twice per week.

More would be better if you’re trying to gain muscle and strength as quickly as possible, but when circumstances won’t allow for more gym time, this is a solid 2-day routine that you can always fall back on to at least maintain what you’ve got.

Here it is:

Monday

Push 1 & Pull 1

Thursday

Legs

The 3-Day Push Pull Legs Routine

This 3-day routine is your basic PPL program, and it’s my personal favorite setup for training 3 days per week.

Again, more training is best for maximizing gains, but this 3-day split is a time-proven program for getting big and strong.

Here’s the routine:

Monday

Push 1

Wednesday

Pull 1

Friday

Legs

The 4-Day Push Pull Legs Routines

The major benefit of adding a fourth day is it allows you to work more on whichever major muscles groups are most lagging in your physique or that you just want to focus most on.

Thus, I’m going to provide two 4-day routines: one for people that want to focus more on their upper bodies, and one for focusing more on the lower body.

Here they are:

Upper Body Focus

Monday

Push 1

Tuesday

Pull 1

Thursday

Legs

Friday

Push 2 or Pull 2

Lower Body Focus

Monday

Push 1

Tuesday

Legs

Thursday

Pull 1

Friday

Legs

The 5-Day Push Pull Legs Routines

5 day push pull routine

This is my preferred PPL split because it allows you to push the limits in terms of volume and intensity while also allowing a couple days for recovery.

Again, I’m going to provide two routines here, one for emphasizing the upper body, and one for the lower body.

Here you go:

Upper Body Focus

Monday

Push 1

Tuesday

Pull 1

Wednesday

Legs

Thursday

Push 2

Friday

Pull 2

Lower Body Focus

Monday

Legs

Tuesday

Push 1

Wednesday

Pull 1

Thursday

Legs

Friday

Push 2

The 6-Day Push Pull Legs Routine

If you’re bulking or just feeling masochistic, then this might be for you.

Seriously though, a 6-day PPL split is about the most a natural weightlifter can get away with until he/she starts to feel the effects of overtraining.

I don’t recommend it if you’re in a caloric deficit or if you don’t generally feel rested and fresh. Instead, it’s best suited to when you’re in a caloric surplus and feeling completely up to the challenge physically.

Here’s the routine:

Monday

Push 1

Tuesday

Pull 1

Wednesday

Legs

Thursday

Push 2

Friday

Pull 2

Saturday

Legs

Another Option: Push Legs Pull

A common variation of push pull legs is push legs pull (PLP).

This setup gives your upper body more time to recover in between workouts but your lower body less time, which means that it’s best suited to people that are more concerned with upper body development than lower body.

Here are several ways to set it up:

The 3 Day Push Legs Pull Routine

This gives your upper body a little more recovery time than the normal 3-day push pull legs routine.

Monday

Push 1

Wednesday

Legs

Friday

Pull 1

The 4 Day Push Legs Pull Routine

Even though push legs pull tends to favor upper body recovery, you can still use a few different variations to change its emphasis.

Here are a couple examples:

Upper Body Focus

Monday

Push 1

Tuesday

Legs

Thursday

Pull 1

Friday

Push 2

Lower Body Focus

Monday

Push 1 (alternate with Push 2 every other week)

Tuesday

Legs

Thursday

Pull 1 (alternate with Pull 2 every other week)

Friday

Legs

The 5 Day Push Legs Pull Routine

If you want to push whole-body volume and intensity a little more than with the 4-day routine, this is for you.

Upper Body Focus

Monday

Push 1

Tuesday

Legs

Wednesday

Pull 1

Thursday

Push 2

Friday

Pull 2

Lower Body Focus

Monday

Push 1

Tuesday

Legs

Wednesday

Pull 1

Thursday

Push 2

Friday

Legs

The 6-Day Push Legs Pull Routine

If you want to work most on upper body development during your next bulk and are willing to put in the work, this is a fantastic routine.

The same rules apply here as earlier: I don’t recommend this if you’re in a caloric deficit or if you don’t generally feel rested and fresh. It’s best for when you’re fully rested, fed, and ready to train.

Here’s the routine:

Monday

Push 1

Tuesday

Legs

Wednesday

Pull 1

Thursday

Push 2

Friday

Legs

Saturday

Pull 2

How to Progress in Your Push Pull Legs Workouts

push pull legs progress

As a natural weightlifter, here’s something you can take to the bank:

If you want to keep getting bigger, you have to keep getting stronger.

This is more important than getting a pump, increasing time under tension, and incorporating special training techniques like rest pause sets, periodization, and the like.

The reason for this is the number-one rule of muscle building is progressive overload, which is the process of gradually increasing the amount of tension on your muscle fibers over time.

You can accomplish this to some degree by continually increasing volume (reps), but ultimately, you also have to add weight to the bar.

That’s why the biggest guys and gals in the gym are generally the strongest.

So, with that in mind, here are several guidelines that will help you get the most out of your push pull legs workouts.

1. Once you hit the top of your rep range for one set, move up in weight.

For instance, if you push out 6 reps on your first set of the military press, you add 5 pounds to each side of the bar for your next set and work with that weight until you can press it for 6 reps, and so forth.

As you become more advanced, you may have to move up in smaller increments. Instead of adding 10 pounds to the bar when you’re ready to move up, for example, you may only add 5. Either way, the point is you’re progressing to heavier and heavier weights over time.

2. Rest 3 minutes in between each 4-to-6-rep set and 2 minutes in between all other sets.

It’s important that you get adequate rest between sets so your muscles can fully recoup their strength, allowing you to give maximum effort in each set.

Research shows that doing this will produce greater increases in muscle size and strength over time.

3. Deload every 4 to 6 weeks.

Every 4 to 6 weeks, reduce the intensity and/or volume of your workouts to so your body can fully recover from all the work you’ve been doing.

If you want to learn more about how to deload properly, check out this article.

4. Train to failure sparingly.

You shouldn’t go to absolute muscular failure in every set that you do.

That is, you shouldn’t push yourself every set to the point where you absolutely can’t do another rep. Instead, you want to end most sets at the point where you’re one or two reps shy of muscle failure.

This is the point where the weight is moving much slower than when you started the set and you’re struggling to complete another rep. In terms of “perceived effort,” I’d say it’s about an 8 or 9 out of 10, with 10 being all-out, do-or-die effort.

Now, when should you go to failure?

Well, I recommend you save it mainly for accessory exercises, like barbell curls, triceps extensions, calf raises, and ab exercises, and generally no more than 2 to 3 sets to failure per workout.

If you want to learn more about training to muscle failure, check out this article.

What About Supplements

I saved this for last because, quite frankly, it’s less important than proper diet and training.

You see, supplements don’t build great physiques–dedication to proper training and nutrition does.

Unfortunately, the workout supplement industry is plagued by pseudoscience, ridiculous hype, misleading advertising and endorsements, products full of junk ingredients, underdosing key ingredients, and many other shenanigans.

Most supplement companies produce cheap, junk products and try to dazzle you with ridiculous marketing claims, high-profile (and very expensive) endorsements, pseudo-scientific babble, fancy-sounding proprietary blends, and flashy packaging.

So, while workout supplements don’t play a vital role in building muscle and losing fat, and many are a complete waste of money…the right ones can help.

The truth of the matter is there are safe, natural substances that have been scientifically proven to deliver benefits such as increased strength, muscle endurance and growth, fat loss, and more.

As a part of my work, it’s been my job to know what these substances are, and find products with them that I can use myself and recommend to others.

Finding high-quality, effective, and fairly priced products has always been a struggle, though.

That’s why I took matters into my own hands and decided to create my own supplements. And not just another line of “me too” supplements–the exact formulations I myself have always wanted and wished others would create.

I won’t go into a whole spiel here though. If you want to learn more about my supplement line, check this out.

For the purpose of this article, let’s just quickly review the supplements that are going to help you get the most out of your PPL (and other) workouts.

Creatine

Creatine is a substance found naturally in the body and in foods like red meat. It’s perhaps the most researched molecule in the world of sport supplements–the subject of hundreds of studies–and the consensus is very clear:

Supplementation with creatine helps…

You may have heard that creatine is bad for your kidneys, but these claims have been categorically and repeatedly disproven. In healthy subjects, creatine has been shown to have no harmful side effects, in both short- or long-term usage. People with kidney disease are not advised to supplement with creatine, however.

If you have healthy kidneys, I highly recommend that you supplement with creatine. It’s safe, cheap, and effective.

In terms of specific products, I use my own, of course, which is called RECHARGE.

creatine supplement

RECHARGE is 100% naturally sweetened and flavored and each serving contains:

  • 5 grams of creatine monohydrate
  • 2100 milligrams of L-carnitine L-tartrate
  • 10.8 milligrams of corosolic acid

This gives you the proven strength, size, and recovery benefits of creatine monohydrate plus the muscle repair and insulin sensitivity benefits of L-carnitine L-tartrate and corosolic acid.

Protein Powder

You don’t need protein supplements to gain muscle, but, considering how much protein you need to eat every day to maximize muscle growth, getting all your protein from whole food can be impractical.

That’s the main reason I created (and use) a whey protein supplement. (There’s also evidence that whey protein is particularly good for your post-workout nutrition.)

whey protein supplement

WHEY+ is 100% naturally sweetened and flavored whey isolate that is made from milk sourced from small dairy farms in Ireland, which are known for their exceptionally high-quality dairy.

I can confidently say that this is the creamiest, tastiest, healthiest all-natural whey protein powder you can find.

Pre-Workout Drink

There’s no question that a pre-workout supplement can get you fired up to get to work in the gym. There are downsides and potential risks, however.

Many pre-workout drinks are stuffed full of ineffective ingredients and/or minuscule dosages of otherwise good ingredients, making them little more than a few cheap stimulants with some “pixie dust” sprinkled in to make for a pretty label and convincing ad copy.

Many others don’t even have stimulants going for them and are just complete duds.

Others still are downright dangerous, like USPLabs’ popular pre-workout “Jack3d,”which contained a powerful (and now banned) stimulant known as DMAA.

Even worse was the popular pre-workout supplement “Craze,” which contained a chemical similar to methamphetamine.

The reality is it’s very hard to find a pre-workout supplement that’s light on stimulants but heavy on natural, safe, performance-enhancing ingredients like beta-alanine, betaine, and citrulline.

And that’s why I made my own pre-workout supplement.

pre workout supplement

It’s called PULSE and it contains 6 of the most effective performance-enhancing ingredients available:

And what you won’t find in PULSE is equally special:

  1. No artificial sweeteners or flavors..
  2. No artificial food dyes.
  3. No unnecessary fillers, carbohydrate powders, or junk ingredients.

The bottom line is if you want to know what a pre-workout is supposed to feel like…if you want to experience the type of energy rush and performance boost that only clinically effective dosages of scientifically validated ingredients can deliver…then you want to try PULSE.

The Bottom Line on the Push Pull Legs Routine

The push pull legs split is one of the simplest and most effective types of weightlifting routines that you can follow.

It trains every major muscle group in your body, it allows you to optimize volume, intensity, frequency, and recovery, and it’s easy to understand and program.

If you’ve never tried it before, you might find that you like it quite a bit more than whole-body or body-part splits.

So, give a routine in this article a go or create your own, and see how your body responds.

I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised!

What’s your take on the push pull legs routine? Have anything else you’d like to share? Let me know in the comments below!

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  • Matt

    More amazing content per usual Mike! I had been running the 3 day version in BLS that is essentially a PPL routine but recently made the switch to doing shoulder presses on leg day, I just find until my shoulders/chest are at a level where I want them it’s a slightly better option;

    Monday
    Deadlifts 3 x 4-6
    Weighted Chin Ups 3 x 4-6
    Barbell Rows 3 x 4-6
    Barbell Curls 3 x 4-6
    Face Pulls 3 x 8-10
    Hanging Leg Raises 3 x failure

    Wednesday
    Flat Barbell Bench Press 3 x 4-6
    Incline Barbell Bench Press 3 x 4-6
    Incline Dumbbell Bench Press 3 x 4-6
    Weighted Dips 3 x 8-10
    Lateral Raises (Rest Pause Work)
    Calves

    Friday
    Overhead Press 3x 4-6
    Back Squat 3 x 4-6
    RDL 3 x 4-6
    Leg Press 3 x 4-6
    Ab Wheel Rollouts 3 x failure

    1)I know this would tend to be hard to answer and would vary per person, but the lack of direct triceps work in the form of skullcrushers etc isn’t really hurting me here is it? With 4 presses and dips as well included over 3 days, I’m not sure it’s needed but am curious about your opinion

    2)Progressing with dumbbells is obviously a bit tougher than barbell, my last workout on incline DB I did 70lbs for 6-6-4 and moving up to 75 lbs I went 5-3-4 (had a bad setup 2nd set, the weight just felt that much heavier to get into place). It’s never mentioned directly in BLS that I see, but are we better off waiting until we get 6 reps on all sets across before moving up weight in DBs? Or maybe it’s a time when 6-8 reps might be called for, not sure what you think

    Other than that (and those are just questions, not really complaints) I can’t tell you how much I fucking LOVE this program. 4-6 is the perfect range where you get to move some fairly heavy weight but you also don’t really feel like you are in danger of hurting yourself.

    • Cool!

      1. Nah. For most, that’s a lot of pressing. Best results can be had if there was a dedicated arms day.

      2. True…6-6-4 was a good time to move up, and it sounds like you had it handled pretty well. As with all exercises, it’s not a hard and fast rule that you MUST increase weight and stick with it once you hit a set of 6. If it’s too early and the strength isn’t there yet, then continue building up sets of 6 until you get 2 or 3. If you still can’t do a weight increase after 3 sets of 6, getting 6-8 on your sets before increasing works too. (or check your form and the plateau article)

      Hope that helps! Glad to hear you’re loving the program and making good progress.

      • Matt

        Thanks for the response Roger! After what happened today, I think I’m gonna just adjust the working rep ranges of DB incline to 6-8 and maybe wait to increase weight after getting 8 on at least first two sets, today went 5-2 and I simply decided I had to drop the weight a bit, those 70s feel so much fucking heavier than 65s.

        One more question, what are you or Mike’s thoughts on doing paused reps for incline bench? I’m not talking like a 3s pause, but enough of one to let the bar sink into the upper chest a bit before pushing back up. I often question my form a bit on normal TnG incline bench so I wanted to give this a shot (plus I feel I’m weak out of the bottom) and was wondering what you guys think.

  • Erik

    Great article Mike!

    What’s your opinion about a Pull/Push/Leg split which alternates between progressive overload and hypertrophy? I’m thinking it could look something like this:

    Monday: Pull 1: Progressive overload (4-6 reps, compound exercises)

    Tuesday: Push 1: Progressive overload (4-6 reps, compound exercises)

    Wednesday: Pull 2: Hyperthrophy (8-10 reps, mainly isolation exercises)

    Thursday: Push 2: Hyperthrophy (8-10 reps, mainly isolation exercises)

    Friday: Legs: Progressive overload (4-6 reps, compound exercises)

    (I personally prefer to train legs on Fridays to avoid skipping leg day altogether due to lack of motivation.)
    BR/ Erik

  • Christian Baumgartner

    Why are there no dips on push days?

  • Christian Baumgartner

    I had been running the 5 day version in BLS.
    today i have trained the push 1 day.
    i am feeling that i have trained too little.
    There are only 5 sets of direct chest exercises.
    Ng Chris.

  • Ross Byrne

    Hey ! Been following bls and /bbls for years now , I’m 19 and have 3/4 years of training behind me. I recently just finished my cut which left me at 8% bf at 179lbs , 5″10 my Max’s are bench – 320, 408sq and 441 dl…I’m hoping to compete in powerlifting this off season and compete this time next year in the spring classics. For my bulk I feel I could benefit more from a higher freq programme such as ppl or layne nortons phat programme. What’s your opinion ? Should I follow the ppl and include some power sets ? Follow phat ? Stick to bbls and add some more freq of of the big 3 into it ? Thanks in advance !

    • Hey Ross, congrats on your progress man! Those are some great numbers.

      You could do BBLS up until about 16 weeks before your meet, then I’d switch to a more powerlifting specific program. The Championship program from Juggernaut is pretty good, and Wendler 5/3/1 is actually a pretty great program for that as well. You can learn more about that here: https://www.muscleforlife.com/get-strong-strength-training/

      • Ross Byrne

        Thanks for the reply mike ! Do you think my in corporatining bbls into this ppl legs I’d get any more benefit from the freq ? Recently I’ve seen a lot of studies showing high frequency can help a lot with strength ( brad , layne and bret) or would you perhaps say continue with my bbls incorporate some R.P.E and perform lighter weight low rpe deadlifts on bench day and visa Versa ? I feel I’ve reached an intermediate stage now and progression is slow even on bbls. I’ve also heard 5/3/1 is great for beginners but not intermediate / advanced ?

        • Hey Ross, I’d stick with the regular BBLS routine until that stops working. You can definitely use push pull legs with a higher frequency as well, but I wouldn’t make things too complicated. If you want to go with a higher frequency program, you can pick whatever body part you want to focus on, and train that more often.

          For instance, the 6-day routine in this article.

  • Andres

    Hey Mike!

    A bit confused on the 3-day split PPL. On this new article PUSH exercise routine do not include incline nor dips. Also the order of the exercises changed. Please clarify.

    • Hey Andres, this is slightly different from my other workout programs, in that I had to condense the pushing to a single day, so I cut out a few less important exercises. On the higher frequency PPL routines there is some incline work, and you can always substitute in dips for another exercise if you prefer those.

  • James

    Mike,
    On your five routine you 2 push, 2 pull, followed by legs, each one has assigned exercises. When you reduce to a three day workout, what are the best sets to include beings that there is only 1 push, 1 pull followed by legs? This looks very similar to the three day split.

  • James

    On your five routine you 2 push, 2 pull, followed by legs, each one has assigned exercises. When you reduce to a three day workout, what are the best sets to include beings that there is only 1 push, 1 pull followed by legs? This looks very similar to the three day split.

  • Antonio Wright

    You don’t consider the volume to be a bit low? For the accessory exercises at least?

    • Hey Antonio, you’re right that it’s definitely lower than some of the other programs out there, but I think it’s a good starting place for most people. Of course, you can always add volume to certain exercises, add new exercises, or add volume to certain training days if you want to bring up a particular body part.

  • Paul Wen

    For the Bulgarian Split Squat should weight be used? If so should it be a barbell or a dumbbell? The video you link to shows it without weights so I was unsure. thank you!

    • Antonio Wright

      Master the bodyweight version first and the work your way up to DB’s and the BB.

    • After you’re familiar with the exercise with body weight, use dumbbells. You’ll be able to throw in the towel and end the exercise easier than racking a barbell.

  • Richard

    Hello Mike! Big fan of your work. I have a point of confusion though. You generally recommend training within the 80-85% 1RM range, which you claim to be 4-6 rep. But according to 1RM calculators (including yours linked below) the 80-85% range is actually 6-8 reps. Also, in BLS you mention “all studies agree training with 70 – 85% of your 1RM works” which ranges from 6 to 12 reps. Could you clarify this discrepancy and do you have any good references for research about this? In many instances I feel the 4-6 range is too heavy to safely and properly workout. Any advice?
    Thanks Mike!

    https://www.muscleforlife.com/one-rep-max-calculator/
    https://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/other7.htm

    • Antonio Wright

      4-6 rep range being too heavy is based on the individual. Select the correct amount of weight for you. 80-85% of your true 1RM is about right.

    • 80-85% is an estimate, not an absolute. As long as you’re lifting in the 4-6 rep range where the weight is too heavy to do the 7th, you’re fine.

      Also, I recommend working on your form and technique if you need the confidence. Start with 8-10, then move to 6-8, and then 4-6. It’s not too heavy to safely and properly work out as long as your form and technique are correct. One can argue that 8-10 can be dangerous too if you haven’t nailed down the basics.

  • Steve Clark

    I want to throw a slightly different variation on the splits out there. First of all I believe very strongly (pun intended) in progressive overload and sticking with it. I will qualify that by saying it’s what works best for me. I don’t support any “one size fits all” plan any more than I do the Click Bank charlatans whose approach is to throw enough turds against the wall that one will eventually stick so you’ll subscribe to all of their other bullshit and their buddies’ too.

    I have some advanced training knowledge (CPT), but came across this almost by accident because I felt like a dork switching between wrist wraps and lifting straps in the same workout. My revision is Chest/Biceps – Back/Triceps – Legs/Shoulders. It goes along with Mike’s idea of breaking up the upper body workouts, but instead, working antagonists (opposites) the same day, as opposed to synergists (helpers). For example, when you perform a bench press, the muscle groups used to assist the pecs are the triceps, delts and lats. Why would you go from working your chest to working already stressed triceps? It only makes sense to work your chest and then biceps. Same with back and triceps. You can’t get any more opposite than legs and shoulders.

    This works like Mike’s, being able to do 3, 4, 5 or 6 (if you’re a beast) day frequencies. Personally, I use a rotating 3 on, 1 off that allows me to get each muscle group twice within an 8 day cycle. It goes like this. Day 1 – Legs/Shoulders, Day 2 – Chest/Biceps, Day 3 – Back/Triceps, Day 4 – Off (or HIIT cardio if you want to burn more fat), Day 5 – Legs/Shoulders, Day 6 – Chest/Biceps, Day 7 – Back/Triceps, Day 8 – Off/HIIT and so on, ad infinitum.

    Note the HIIT cardio BEFORE leg day. If you do leg day right, cardio is going to seriously suck if you try doing it the day after. Also, I like the extra day off between squat and dead lift. The other beauty is the flexibility to take a couple of extra days off here and there without having to wait to “reset” your bench press so it always falls on National Chest Day (aka Monday).

    For the exercises themselves, pretty much the same thing as Mike says, 1 big compound and 2 isos (3 exercises total), per body part. Try to hit all 3 angles. 4 to 5 sets, 4 to 6 reps, 85% to 90% 1RM.

    I don’t “time” my rest periods. On the big stuff I go until my breathing and heart rate are back under control (2 or 3 minutes) so I’m not risking my form breaking down. On the iso’s, it’s just until I can barely carry on a conversation. Sort of a HIIT style of lifting that also keeps you from chatting it up with Bobby Benchpress between sets and getting off track. It goes without saying (but I will anyway), as your cardio fitness improves, your rest periods will shorten. lessening your time in the gym even further.

    I also throw in ONE drop set at 60% to 65% of my working weight with no rest at the end of each iso exercise (too dangerous on the compounds) to get full neurological overload. Sorry, not fan of lifting to failure, regardless of whether you have a lifting partner.

    What I’m sure anyone staying with me this far wants to know is just what are these results that have me so convinced this is greatest thing since sliced bread? Well, In a year my squat went from 265 to 435, dead lift 285 to 405, bench press 235 to 315. My “iso” leg press – are you ready – 475 to 925. Keep in mind these are all working reps, not 1RM’s.

    It would be be awesome if someone would try this and let us all know what you think.

  • Brad

    I’m currently following the Year One challenge 5 day split from BLS. It is set up as a body part workout: Monday – Chest, Tuesday – Back, Wednesday – Shoulders, Thursdays – Legs, Fridays – Upper Body/Arms. Is this type of schedule no longer recommended? Should I be doing a 5 day PPL routine instead?

  • Kerry Leasure Rojas

    Hi Mike, thanks for the workout! When doing the 5 day with an emphasis on legs, would you recommend having a Pull 2 day every other week. (I’m thinking that goes without saying, but just wanted to check). Thanks!

  • Dino

    Hi Mike. is it ok to leave the rest days for the weekend rather then in between workouts for the 3-4 day routines or does that slow your progression and set yourself up for injury or over training? I generally like to squeeze in my workouts during the week using the PPL method but make shoulders a separate 4th day on its own and leave the weekend as rest days.

  • Thanks for stopping by and checking out my article! I hope you enjoyed it.

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  • Hi Mike, Roger, et al,
    Questions here about PPL routines. I use the 1-Year Challenge for Men book to dictate my workouts, and I follow it to a tee with the exception of three things:
    * I substitute barbell lunges for dumbbell lunges due to balance issues (sometimes even the dumbbell lunges give me balance problems)
    * Sometimes for my calf workouts, I swap out the standing calf press and use the leg-press machine for calf presses (just for a bit of variation)
    * I plan my workout weeks in this order: (1) shoulders on Monday, (2) break on Tuesday, (3) upper body on Wednesday, (4) legs/shoulders on Thursday, (5) back on Friday, (6) off on Saturday, and (7) chest on Sunday, with one or two HIIT routines sprinkled in (i.e. I’ve rearranged the pattern set out in the 1YC). (Sometimes due to scheduling conflicts, I might move my break days to other days, but always try to fit in two a week.)
    1. Is this pattern good in terms of PPL or even in terms of workout/recovery? Or is my scheduling counterproductive, and am I not giving some muscle groups enough time to recover?
    2. I also do a deload week once every 8 weeks instead of 4 or 6 (essentially, each time I change phases, I do a deload week first). Is that acceptable?

  • Valentine

    Is doing a cycle of Push/Pull/Legs/Rest and then again P/P/L/R/P/P/L/R and so on good?
    And I’m thinking of doing 4 sets per exercise,2-3-4exercises per muscle group.Would this be good?

  • Valentine

    Hi there 🙂
    I’m thinking of doing a PPL routine like this Push/Pull/Legs/Rest/P/P/L/R/P/P/L/R and so on,would this be good?
    And also,I’m thinking of doing around 5-6 exercises per day 🙂 Around 2 or 3 exercises per muscle group(depending on the muscle group) and also do 3 or 4 sets per exercise.
    Would all of these be good,useful?
    Thanks for reading and helping 🙂

  • Mo Valencia

    Hello,
    First off, I would like to say that I really enjoy this PPL routine. I also read your book and feel like I have learned a great deal. My question for you is would this be a good routine for high school football players? If so, what could do along side this workout to enhance flexibility and explosion?

  • Steve George

    Hello Mike,
    I’ve been following ppl and seeing improvements but how do I incorporate hiit to burn fat.
    Do I do it everyday after my workout or will that cause too much stress on my body?

    • You can do HIIT sessions on the same day without issue. Start with 3-4 25min sessions a week. You can max it out 2.5hrs/week.

  • Jona

    Hi!
    Would it be possible to add more volume for chest on the 5 day ppl? Chest is lagging.

  • Moises O’Hara

    Hi Mike, as always great article. I have read 2-3 of your books, all of them excellent! Mike, I’m following your BLS + Keto Diet and Intermittent Fasting with amazing results, finally I’m reching 10% BF, and I want more. I’m like 20-25% caloric defic, which of this routine do you recommend me? Thanks. Big fan of you from Panama City, Panama (Central America).

    • Awesome, Moises! Nice work on your cut. You can use any one of these as your schedule permits. Thanks for your support!

  • Dash

    Hi everyone. Suggestions for a 51 year old, lifting approx 2 years, approx 74kgs and 12% body fat. Looking to get both stronger and bigger, getting tired of body part splits. 1RM approx 95kg bench, 130kg squat and 150kg deadlift. Cheers

  • Andrew

    Is the 6 days workout good for a beginner?I’ve kept reading that PPL isn’t for beginners,and I’d appreciate your insight on this 🙂

    • Start with a 3-5 day split and take it from there 🙂

  • Christian Baumgartner

    Why are so less Chest Work (6 sets on the two Pushing Days)
    Back are 22 sets on the two Pulling Days?
    Ng Christian

  • George

    Hey, Mike.I would like to know if i could add some isolation exercises (on the 3day p/p/l) to each workout,maybe, with more sets and reps and the turn i should use.What do you recommend to me?Thanks.

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