Muscle for life

The Definitive Guide to the “Push Pull Legs” Routine

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.

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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:







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


Push & Pull (upper body, basically)



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













How to Make Push Pull Legs Work for You

push pull workout for you

So, you’re ready to hit the gym?


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


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:


Push 1 & Pull 1



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:


Push 1


Pull 1



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


Push 1


Pull 1




Push 2 or Pull 2

Lower Body Focus


Push 1




Pull 1



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


Push 1


Pull 1




Push 2


Pull 2

Lower Body Focus




Push 1


Pull 1




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:


Push 1


Pull 1




Push 2


Pull 2



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.


Push 1




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


Push 1




Pull 1


Push 2

Lower Body Focus


Push 1 (alternate with Push 2 every other week)




Pull 1 (alternate with Pull 2 every other week)



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


Push 1




Pull 1


Push 2


Pull 2

Lower Body Focus


Push 1




Pull 1


Push 2



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:


Push 1




Pull 1


Push 2




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 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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I'm Mike and I'm the creator of Muscle for Life and Legion Athletics, and I believe that EVERYONE can achieve the body of their dreams.

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Leave a Comment!
  • 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;

    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

    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)

    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

    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!


    • 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.

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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

    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

    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 🙂

      • Andrew

        Can I ask 2 questions?
        Which is better in terms of strength?Starting Strength or a 6 day PPL?
        I’ve kept reading that a beginner should start with Starting Strength,rather than a PPL.
        Or can you make the same progress with both programs?If yes,how?
        Thanks 🙂 I’ve also read that you suggested some time ago some Strength Training routines in an article,includin Starting Strength.

        • You’ll be able to make superb gains as a beginner on either program. I don’t know where you’re hearing that PPL isn’t for beginners, but let’s just wipe that out of your memory. PPL is as basic as it comes already, just like SS.

          For pure strength training:


          • Andrew

            Thanks 🙂
            Will the Starting Strength make me fat?I’ve read a lot of cases in which people got much fatter.
            Thanks 🙂

  • 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

    • Hey Christian, the push days and pull days have about the same amount of volume overall. The push days to rely a little more on accessories, but total number of reps you’re muscles to is about equal.

  • 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.

    • That’s going to be a bit tough since the 3-day split is already cramming so many exercises into a single day. The risk you run is having too much volume for your body to sufficiently recover from. If you were to add something, I’d add 2-3 sets of 8-10 reps of whatever needs extra work.

      • George

        Thanks for reply.Should i add an arm day of 2 biceps & 3 triceps exercises of 3 sets ? cause my arms are a bit small (arms must be my weak area) .Thanks

  • Marco Capuano

    Great article as always!!!!
    What do you think to use a PLP in a 4 days rotation to hit every muscle group more often in a BBLS stile?
    For example

  • Geoff

    Great article Mike.

    I am one of those people that don’t feel like I have done a workout unless it is a full body workout. So I do a Push/Pull/Pull/Legs/Full Body/Core workout.

    DB Chest Press
    Pull Up
    Bent over row
    Farmers Walk
    Leg flutters

    I do 4 rounds of that (8-12 reps/set) and then 10 burpees followed by the second half

    Military Press
    Aussie Pull Up
    TRX low row
    Hollow Body Holds

    Again 4 rounds of 8-12reps/ set followed by 10 burpees. Just wondering what you thoughts are on that.

  • Andres

    Hey Mike!

    Needing some help.

    Been consistant on my cutting for 1.8 months or so PPL. Was doing your program 1 or 1.5 years ago was making great progress until I had a wrist injury at work, than car accident with bad whiplash and currenlty recovering from 3 slip fall on the shoulder same day JAJAJAJ I now FML. Througout those injuies did no weight did PT than progressed using your Bodyweight plan you have online, until I got better. Finally started on my journey again and this is where I am at. My problem is on my strength gains mainly for pull and squat.

    CURRENT: WEIGHT 50.8 KG have dropped to 18% BF Was at 25%
    weight in lbs 4-5 rep range. Using Pulse and forge. Sometimes coffee. (morning only)
    MON: A.M :PUSH: incline-90, flat-110, standing shoulder press-70, Lateral raises-12 (hold-pause), close grip (85).
    P.M: HITT jump rope 25-30 min
    TUES. A.M: jump rope 25-30 min.
    WED: A.M : PULL: Deadlift-160, Pendelay row-90, Pull-UP (assisted band red), Chin-up -+10
    P.M HITT jump rope 25-30 min

    Pull up: was +10 lbs and plateud. I went back to doing exercises as if I am not able to do one single BW pull to concentrate on form and engage proper muscles. That has helped a lot. Currenlty still using a red bed (gives me least resistance) But I notice my form is way better.
    Decided due same on squat.
    Suquat I have sayed at 130 and plateud for 4 weeks. increased my calories to a 10% deficit plus dropped down to 110 pounds and slowly progressed up and still nothing.
    Front squat same at 95 and still stuck at 105.

    For squat i even feel like i’m breaking my form.

    Again sorry for long message. Appreciate any tips.

    • Sorry to hear about injuries holding you back, but glad you’ve kept working hard. You should read this article. It will help you break through the plateau:


      Part of your problem is probably that you’ve been cutting for so long, so just push through your workouts and start your reverse diet when you hit 10% body fat:


      • Andres

        Hey Mike thanksf for the quick reply. I’m going to do a Deload week just to give myself a break based on the article. I’m a bit concerned about my weight though. Am I dropping to much?! I’m 5′ 5″ and my new average weight is 49.7 Kg (109.5 lbs) my BF is 18%. Energy wise i feel fine throughtout the whole week, my focus has not been altered. Is this a normal weight to be at. Originally when i was in the 25% (28 being conservative) i was around 125 maybe 130. Which doing the numbers puts me around lossing 2lbs a week or so from 25% to 18%. Is this something normal you have seen in other clients?

        • 2lbs is a safe amount to be losing, but it shows you are in a daily deficit of around 1000cal, which is pretty severe and explains your lack of strength gains. I would recommend taking HMB to hep prevent breaking down too much muscle on your journey to 10% body fat:


  • Stephen

    What’s the difference between a close-grip bench press and a flat barbell bench press? The two videos seem like the exact same exercise, unless I’m missing something. Wouldn’t that just be doing the same exercise twice in one day?

    • Andres

      a Flat becnch press activates mostly the Major pectoralis. Close grip bench press activates mostly the triceps and some major pectoralis.

  • Justin Fluidity

    Mike, I’m trying to reconcile this post with your BLS and BBLS books that I have purchased and read, where you seem pretty adamant about 5 day splits and not working a group twice (or more) in a week for most exercises. My gut (and this article) tells me that PPLx2 would be best if not overtraining, but your books are telling me 5day split.

    I recognize that the 5day split is compound and there is some overlap, but it’s not the same thing as squat / dead / bench 2x a week.

    Any clarity on this topic would be much appreciated!

    Thanks as always, and peace blessings to you.

    • Hey Justin, if you’re bulking and feeling nice and rested, feel free to give PPLPPL (6-day routine) a try. If it’s too much for you, it’s easy enough to back off. I wouldn’t recommend the 6-day routine if you’re cutting, but ultimately, you’ll need to find what works best for you. I hope this helps!

  • Michael

    Hi Mike,

    Can you fit cardio into this routine? I’m eating at a caloric surplus, but like to do cardio for the cardiovascular benefits and the endorphins it provides. What sort of forms of cardio can be done with something like this?

  • George Mitropoulos

    Hey Mike,
    I noticed that for the Rear/Lateral Raises you choose the 8 to 10 rep range.Do you recommend that because those muscles are usually weaker when starting,or is it something we should keep doing even as we progress??I personally find it almost impossible to use the 4/6 range with rear deltoids.

    Thank you for your time

    • Hey George, those exercises just lend themselves a bit better to the 8-10 rep range. A lot of people find their form breaks down on those movements when they use lower reps. I hope this helps!

  • PAWEŁ Eclipse73

    Hey Mike,
    You said that
    “””rest 3 minutes in between each 4-to-6-rep set and 2 minutes in between all other sets.”””
    Is that necessary?? I do usually 60-75 sec rest between each set,it dosn’t matter how much reps I do-so if I want to do PPL ,I have to make longer rest??
    I know that 60-75 sec it’s short and my muscles can’t fully recoup their strength, allowing you to give maximum effort in each set, but with this way I burn more fat ,I increase my condition, my heart and lungs work harder ,so I recieve something as 2-in-1 .
    For me important is that this rest is really necessary -so if I don’t do 3-2min rest I receive less results-it is not a problem make longer rest ,but if this is not really necessery I keep this short rest .
    Sorry for mistakes but I’m foreigner and my English is not good.
    Thx for your time

    • Hey there! When you’re training for strength and lifting heavy, you’ll need more rest to perform well on the next set. If you rest too little, the number of reps you get on the next set will probably drop significantly. I go over rest times and why you should train for strength in this article:


      I hope this helps!

      • PAWEŁ Eclipse73

        Thanks Mike.
        It’s clear for me .
        My main goal is muscles hypertrophy, strenght is also important,but I have to watch out my injuries-I have long time a lot of problems with my left shouder,left elbow-there is a chronic tendonitis, my lower back -there was two times herniated spine
        That is why I chose a little bit more reps per sets -I do usually 8-15 reps with 60 sec rest between
        I would like to use PPL workout because all 16 years I did only Split and now I want to try somethig new.

        I think that maybe good for me is compromise between 3 min and 1 min so I try go down with reps (6-8) and I try 1,5-2 min rest

        Thank you for your answer
        You make amazing work here-a lot of excellent information!!!💪💪👍👍👍👍👍👍👍

        • Sounds like a good plan. Thanks for the support 🙂

  • Aoeilda

    Hi Mike, thank you for this article! How can I incorporate exercises for abs in a 3 day split?

    • I’d just add 3 ab circuits to the end of the workout, two to three times a week. Check this out: https://legionathletics.com/best-ab-exercises/

      • OriginalPouzar

        I have trouble standing around at the gym for 3 minute breaks when I’m working in the 4-6 rep range so I usually take that opportunity to do an abs circuit:

        1) Cable Crunches – 12 reps
        2) Hanging Leg Raises – 12 reps
        3) Bicycle or incline crunches – 20 reps

        A couple questions:

        1) is it OK to do this during rest breaks?

        2) I do about 6 of these cycles 3-4 times/week – is that enough core work?

        • Doing more sets during your rest periods sort of defeats the purpose if it depletes your energy for the next working set. That said, it’s a good way to save time and alternate between muscle groups. I’d rest a minute after the ab circuit, but do whatever works for you 🙂

          Six circuits 3 times a week is plenty.

  • OriginalPouzar

    Hi Mike – we’ve been corresponding in another thread – I’m going to start with the 6-day PPL for the first bit of my bulk (a change from the 5-day split that I’ve been doing forever).

    I know you say that this should push me to the limit but, frankly, the number of sets don’t seem overly high to me and I think I may add another exercise (3-4 sets to some of them).

    For example, may add flat DB press to Push Day 1 and hammer curls to one of the pull days.

    I like to be at the gym lifting for 70-80 minutes and include that in my TDEE calculations (and I’ve been adding to your BLS 5-day split workouts in the same way).

    Does this sound OK to you.

    • As long as you’re able to make progress, and not feeling overtrained, sure 🙂

  • OriginalPouzar

    I was going to keep on reverse dieting for another week or so as I’m up to 2000 calories now with no material change in body or weight (up from apx 1700 calories) but I think I’m just going to add 200 calories (a 10% increase over the 2000) tomorrow and start the bulk.

    I’m at 137 pounds now and about 9% body fat (I think) so 2000 or so seems about right for my TDEE lifting 6 days/week. I will cut down the HIIT for the bulk

    The entire 200 increase will be at 4am as I workout at 4:30 – have always trained fasted but know I need to eat 30g of each protein and carbs before the workout.

    Going with a 6-day PPL program to start – see how it goes.

    Here is a starting picture.

    Mike, are you able to estimate body fat % based off the picture?

    Also, thanks for all your help over the last couple of years.


    • Nice job man! Yeah, you’re somewhere in the 9% range. I’d go ahead and start the bulk and adjust as needed. Keep me updated!

      • OriginalPouzar

        Thanks Mike!

        I’d like to be in the 7-8% range (and think I was last year) but I’ve lost muscle the last 6 months so the bulk makes sense.

        I’m 4 days in to the bulk – Push/Legs/Pull.

        Loving the calories before I workout – a bowl of instant oats with a scoop of Legion Egg Nog Whey and 50g of bannana at 4am – love it.

        I’m at 2200 calories to start (remember, I’m under 140 pounds right now) – we’ll see where we are after a week.

        I might need to add another 100.

  • Tobin

    Hey Mike, I’m using your Beyond Bigger Leaner one year challenge, and I’m on the second mesocycle. I added in some weak point training for my arms and shoulders as well. I am definately progressing on my lifts but I feel that I could add more volume into my workouts. I’ve been lifting “properly” for 2.5-3 years now. Im 170 lbs, and 1RM are 240 for bench, 160 for OHP, 370 for deadlift, 300 for squat. My Wilkes score is in the intermediate range, so I was wondering what I should do? Workout using a PPL with more volume, or stick with the Beyond BLS format and keep progressing? Really want to build at least 10-15 more lbs of muscle and get my Wilkes score near or at the advanced range.


    • Hey Tobin! Great to hear you’re doing BBLS! If you’re progressing on your lifts, I’d keep doing what you’re doing. It can be a grind, but as long as you’re progressing, you’re on the right track.

      If you really want to push yourself, you could try the 6-day PPL routine I outlined in this article. I hope this helps!

      • Tobin

        I am really liking the program. Only thing how could I add more volume to the 5 day split? On legion athletics I read that you upped the recommended reps per muscle group to 60-80. Right now with Beyond BLS, I’m hitting 45-50 reps per muscle group weekly.

        Thanks for the reply!

        • As I mentioned above, you can try the 6-day PPL, or you can just add some additional sarcoplasmic sets to the end of the workout. Remember though, the volume/number of reps is balanced with the intensities used. Your body can only take so much of a beating each week before you start noticing overtraining. I’d try the program as laid out in the book. If you find that you’re not progressing, you can try adding some additional volume later. Either way, let me know how it goes!

  • OriginalPouzar

    A couple of additional questions if you don’t mind:

    1) Tomorrow is my 2nd leg day on the 6-day PLP program – I noticed there is only 1 leg workout so I will do that again but there isn’t any dedicated hamstring work.

    I know the hamstrings will get worked with the deadlifts in the Pull-1 workout but should/could I add in some straight leg deadlifts or maybe just some isolation hamstring curls?

    2) On my day off from lifting, I was thinking about so low intensity cardio – a light 5km/30 min run or something – as opposed to HIIT – does that sound good or should I take the complete day off (which is hard for me).

    3) On the day off from lifting, I’m thinking of dropping 200 calories and eating at maintenance with a bit of a reduction in carbs (will still have 150-200g of carbs) – I know that you don’t necessarily recommend that but I’m thinking about it – thoughts?

    • 1. Sure! You can substitute some direct hamstring work, or make your own Legs 2 workout. For example, you could do Back Squats, Romanian Deadlift, Leg Press.

      2. I’d recommend giving yourself a rest day, but you can incorporate walking, or some other low-intensity cardio if you wish. It’s really up to you

      3. No need to reduce calories on your rest day, as your body is still recovering and repairing. Dropping to maintenance won’t kill your gains, though, so it’s up to you.

      • OriginalPouzar

        Awesome – thanks for your reply.

        Second leg day was today at 430am so I missed this but may add some hamstring work to the next one.

        5 days in and loving it – 2nd leg day was stronger than the first which was a bit surprising as the legs were still a bit tired.

        Added 19 min of Tabata as a 2nd workout (squat jumps and burpees) and it was one of my best ever (and I do it often). Feeling super hyped to continue.

        No more HIIT until the weekend though – it is a bulk.

        5 days in and 2200 calories may not be an excess or enough of an excess. Will evaluate 7 days in and might add another 100 for next week. I love it – so many carbs.

        I eat such healthy foods and don’t really have meals (except post lifting) but 150-300 calorie snacks throughtout the day. I’m eating like every hour to two hours from noon until bed. Sounds exhausting but I actually love it.

        So jazzed right now.

  • OriginalPouzar

    Hi Mike – I asked a few questions in the Meal Planning thread but I thought I’d re-ask them here so they are not missed – hope I’m not seen as spamming the comment sections:

    Hi Mike,

    So I’m a few days in to my clean bulk and I’m essentially at 150g protein and apx 330g carbs/day. Its great but I’m a little worried about carb timing. I’ve read quite a bit about the desire to eat most of your daily carbs around your workout.

    I workout at 4:30-6am – while I do eat carbs right before and quite a few right after (apx 70g), I’m obviously eating alot of carbs later in the day

    I am having breads and cereals in the late morning afternoon (sometimes oats, quiona pasta, etc.). I’m not too concerned about that but what about stuff like sweet potata, quiona, english muffin, fibre 1, etc. in the evening?

    I’ve read that these types of carbs should only be eaten in the 3 hours post-workout and carbs at other times should essentially be vegetables and beans and such?

    • OriginalPouzar

      At the end of the day:

      1) I’m doing the MFL 6 day PPL program
      2) I’m nailing my overall calories and macro numbers
      3) I’m getting proper calories and macros pre and post workout – even the types of carbs and protein I eat at 4am has changed to ensure they are quick digesting – I spent 7 hours on Saturday tweaking this
      4) I’m supplementing as suggested (Pulse, Recharge mainly)
      5) I don’t skip workouts or cheat on my nutrition – they aren’t options for me – I can be obsessive.

      Given the foregoing, if I’m eating some quiona and cereal in the afternoon (low calorie cereal) and I have 120 calories of baked sweet potato and a whole grain rice cake in the evening, do I really need to worry about it they type of carbs?

      There are only so many mental resources I can put in to all these things.

    • Hey man, I answered you in the other thread

  • Rafi Amarta Widyanto

    Is this routine workout 5 days a week good for cutting ?

    • Absolutely!

      • Rafi Amarta Widyanto

        May I change close bench press with flat dumbell press and incline barbel press with incline dumbbell press?

        • Yes, you can do dumbbell versions in place of barbell exercises. Flat dumbbell press is fine if you want to emphasize your chest more. Close-grip bench is fantastic for the triceps.

  • OriginalPouzar

    I finished the first week of my 6-day PLP. For certain scheduling reasons, I have moved my rest day from today to Monday but I’m still feeling great and I’m energized first thing in the morning for every workout.

    The body was a bit sore/beat up in the middle (quads, obliques, lower back area) 3 days in but I’m feeling great 7 days in.

    Leg day again tomorrow and then Pull 2 before a full rest day on Monday.

    • OriginalPouzar

      As far as the food part of the bulk – I will check the scale again tomorrow morning but, it looks like there hasn’t been any movement. I’m not concerned about this as I know I’m lifting intensely – its the calories and they are still in the testing phase.

      I’m at 2200 since last Saturday, so a full week, but it looks like I might need to add another 100 calories?????

      I’m only 137 pounds when I wake up in the morning and don’t forget, I’m trying to do this bulk with as little fat gain as possible as it pains me to think that the core definition is going to dissipate over the next couple of months.

  • OriginalPouzar

    So, bit of an update (if anyone cares).

    9 days ago, off my reverse diet, I upped the calories by 200 (to 2200) and started the clean bulk with PPL.

    I’ve gone 9 straight days – Push, Legs, Pull X 3.

    Original plan was for a rest day before after 6 but, for certain reasons, its delayed until tomorrow.

    I am HATING have to take a rest day tomorrow as I had a fantastic workout this morning and am so engaged.

    I need to force the rest day because I know I need a rest day. I am historically bad at taking rest days – I feel weird and that I’m going to gain fat on rest days. In particular with high calories.

    I also only get 6 hours of sleep at night – max. I wake up at 3:45 to eat my 30g protein and 30g carbs before the 4:30 workout starts. Make sure its whey or egg protein and fast burning carbs given its right before the workout.

    Anyways, after a full week of the 2200 calories there was zero movement on the scale and yesterday I upped to to 2350.

    That’s crazy high for me (137 pounds and used to 1650 over the last year in a cut/maintenance program) and I was starving yesterday even at 2350.

    I’m happy that there has been no movement on the scale yet as it means these calories aren’t too high and I can always eat more. I’ve got to assume that 2350 is an excess so we’ll see what happens over the next week.

    I’m shocked that there isn’t a few pounds of weight gain due to water retention with 340g carbs but I’m pretty sucked in right now.

    I felt pretty sore in the quad, oblique, back area after the first 3 days of the program but, after 9 days, am feeling less beat up. Its weird. I know its not a function of not working hard enough as I’m doing the routine set out in this article and actually adding some sets and exercises. I am definitely working hard enough to – a few sets to failure.

    At some point the scale will move – still figuring out TDEE and 10% excess I guess.

    I don’t want to take a rest day tomorrow – how do I deal with that mentally?

    Should I be worried that I look exactly the same and the scale is essentially the same with the calorie increase ?1650 forever, reverse diet to 2000 over 3 week period, one week at 2200 (and started PPL) and now starting at 2350 and no change.

    • Give 2350 a shot for 7-10 days and see if the scale moves. If it doesn’t you can increase again.

      As far as the rest days go, just remember that your body needs time to recover in order to grow optimally. If you don’t get adequate rest, you can hinder your progress.

      • OriginalPouzar

        Yes, the plan is for 2350 though until next Saturday and see what happens. I can’t imagine that its not a decent excess as I was at 1650 for such a long period of time. As you say, trial and error with the calories or there is no way to be definitive on TDEE.

        I’d be find increasing (can always eat more) but I would just be surprised – I was convinced I would be bulking at less than 2200.

        I read about guys at 10% body fat (so they say) and 185 pounds eating apx 4000 calories in a clean bulk and it doesn’t seem possible to me.

        Today is rest day – of course I have mental anguish about it and I just feel “off”, off-schedule, off-everything. Food timing is changed, etc. That’s OK, one I get one done and then I’ll get in a routine for rest days as well.

        Will probably hit the home treadmill for some low intensity cardio – 30-45 min light run – definitely not sprints.

        Sorry if I’m spamming the comments – not sure if you want these updates/constant questions.

        • Some people’s metabolisms are more adaptive than others. The calculators give a good starting point, but most people will need to adjust from there. No worries man. Good luck!

          • OriginalPouzar

            Made it through rest (recovery) day yesterday and had a great workout this morning (Legs).

            I’m having some shoulder issues – it popped up on Friday when I was doing Push1. I had bursitis in my shoulder earlier in the year and, after 4 months or so, I finally got healthy after resting the area for the better part of the month.

            Out of nowhere on Friday, I felt it, right in the same spot, on my first warm-up set of flat-bench – of course, I did the entire workout. The bursitis is back but I’ve done a very good job since Friday of resting it:

            – Legs (doesn’t engage it)
            – Pull (doesn’t engage it if I ensure proper form)
            – Rest Day
            – Decided to go Leg/Pull/Push to give it another two days rest.

            Hopefully it goes OK when I do push tomorrow or Thursday.

          • Yup, give it time to rest and don’t re-aggravate it. Hope it heals fast!

  • OriginalPouzar

    Here is a new update photo – I think I’m pretty sucked in but no material increase in any muscle or size. Maybe I don’t see it. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/65912ab94b3b71ee62b96f6de0f47b8fb5de19791141f643708b6d2eea8fd312.jpg

    • Looking good, man! Gaining size is a slow process. You’re not going to notice much of anything after a week 🙂

  • alex grout

    Hello, great workout! I just have one question. Do you think it is too much doing both incline and flat barbell press 4-6 reps 3 sets?

    I would be extremely grateful if you could enlighten me! Sidenote: I am currently cutting.

    • It really comes down to your overall volume for the week. You could make a substitution and do flat bench instead of close-grip if you want to focus on your chest over your triceps a bit more, for example. If you’re doing the 3-day PPL, you could probably add 3 sets of flat bench without issue. Ultimately, 9-12 heavy sets for your chest each week should be good. I hope this helps!

      • alex grout

        I am doing the 6-day PPL hitting each body part twice a week but I am afraid of recovery issues since i am lifting heavy two times a week on both flat bench and inclined. Would you recommend doing flat bench on one push day and inclined on the other? or something like that?

        • Sure, that would be great. That is exactly how I have Push 1 and Push 2 set up as outlined in the article.

  • OriginalPouzar

    I’m about half way through my 3rd 6-day split (PPL/PPL/Rest Day).

    I’m honestly not sure if I’m finding this program more beneficial for a clean bulk that a body part targeted 5-day split (the BLS program).

    I almost feel like there isn’t enough focus on any one body part even though each body part is being hit twice/week plus its compound focus so each body part also has indirect target.

    This is supposed to be super-tough on the body – I feel like I’m working hard in the gym – I’m actually adding 4-6 sets to each of the workouts set out above.

    I feel like I could do more and I’m not some sort of super-lifter or anything.

    Part of me wants to switch to the 5-day split but I’m guessing I should stick with the program for longer than 2.5 weeks.

    I’m sure I’m over-thinking, as per usual.

    At the end of the day, I’m still trying to figure out the right calories.

    • If you’re not enjoying it, feel free to switch to the 5-day split. It’s up to you, but routine enjoyment is key.

      • OriginalPouzar

        Its not that I’m not “enjoying the routine” its just that I feel that I’m not getting enough targeted work on each of the muscle groups.

        I went from the 5 day split where, for example, every 5-6 days, I would get a good 12-15 sets in on chest – aside from maybe some flys at the end, all big/heavy presses (flat bench, incline bench, flat DB, etc.)

        With the 6-day PPL, there is 4 heavy sets on chest twice (Press 1 and then Press 2) for a total of 8.

        I understand that the chest is getting worked with the overhead presses, etc. but there just isn’t as much direct targeting than I’m used to – even with my adding 3-4 sets of direct work to each of the two press workouts.

        With all that said, from what I’m reading, the 6-day PPL based on the above workouts is great for a bulk and better than the 5-day split so maybe I should not worry about it and trust the science and what MFL has taught me?

        I’m enjoying the workouts, I just want to make sure that I’m doing the right workout for the goals – I’m sure I am even though my head tells me I need more direct and targeted work.

        • It all comes down to weekly volume. You’re not going to make better gains with half the volume you’re used to (for chest at least). Feel free to switch back to the 5-day split if you’re wanting a more targeted, split approach. Your routine is entirely up to you 🙂

          • OriginalPouzar

            I’ve been doing that high volume on the 5-day split for a while now but always in maintenance or a deficit – I’ve never truly bulked with a plan before.

            So, really, I was doing the high volume but not making gains as I was in maintenance or a deficit.

            The volume seems lower a bit now with the 6-day PPL but I’m in an excess (or should be – still playing with numbers) so maybe I should still be able to make gains.

            I’ve added weight to quite a few lifts this week (as I go through my 3rd 6-day split) so maybe I am making gains?

            I may need to up the calories yet again but I think I’m going to stick with the 6-day PPL for a bit and give it a real shot for more than 2-3 weeks as I’m still experimenting with the calories (don’t want to get fat so trying to make sure I increase slowly until I start seeing weight gain).

            Its crazy though – I was at 1600-1700 for so long – I’ve been at 2350 for lover a week now and am at the exact same weight as I was a month ago when I started increasing (and stopped taking Pheonix).

          • Sounds good. As long as you’re making progress on your lifts, you’re on the right track. Keep it up!

  • Thanks for this Michael, very comprehensive and it’s always great to have options.

  • OriginalPouzar

    I’m still struggling with taking rest days.

    The plan is to go PPL PPL Rest but I haven’t done it yet. I keep making excuses to push off rest day. I’ve gone 9-straight and then took rest and now I’ve got 10 straight.

    I need to commit to taking a rest after every 6 days and its going to start tomorrow.

    • OriginalPouzar

      Took a rest day from the weights yesterday – struggled with in mentally but got through it pretty good and ate the same calories as every other day (still at 2350).

      I did to a very low intensity 5km run outside – went quite slow.

      Maybe it was the rest day put I had a great Press 1 workout this morning – 4am on a Saturday!

  • Idrees Samadi

    thank you for this article! it was really good and comprehensive. i just have a question.
    when should i do cardio and abs in the 6 day split?

    • OriginalPouzar

      Of course, I’ll let Mike and the other professionals respond for the real advice but I would like to note that the Push 1 does have some rope crunches at the end.

      Personally, I have trouble standing around for 3 minute rest periods but know that they are important when lifting heavy so I often work in some ab circuits during the 3 minute rest periods:

      1) 12 rope crunches
      2) 12 hanging leg raises
      3) 20 bicycles or incline crunches

      It takes about 3 minutes and I’ll rest another minute prior to doing the next set of the compound movement I’m doing.

      Hope its OK that I responded.

    • You can incorporate cardio whenever you like. I like to have a separate cardio session in the evening, but if you can only hit the gym once, do your HIIT after your lifting.

      For your abs, it doesn’t matter too much which days you pick. Just do 3 circuits two or three times per week. Check this out: https://www.muscleforlife.com/how-to-get-six-pack-abs/

  • david

    Going to try your 6-day PPL workout, but I’m wondering how sore I should be feeling after the workouts. Volume seems rather light though I’m sure you hear that relatively often. Currently I’m doing a 3-day PPL spending about 90 minutes in the gym and want to go to a 6-day to hit each muscle group 2x/week.

  • Simonas Šaučiūnas

    Hi! I am going to give a shot to your 3 day PPL workout. Have been reading this article 3 times a day for couple last days trying to figure it out. I’ve been going to gym for some time now and want to make a fresh start. Last month was doing a upper/lower routine (U/L/U L/U/L). I have started Push/Pull/Leg routine today but feeling not quite sure if it was correct.. Not feeling made a big job.

    Was doing Push 1 routine which contains of 5 exercises. Maybe I should do Push1+2/Pull1+2/Legs?

    • OriginalPouzar

      Again not to answer for MIke but, if you just did Push 1 today, that is correct. If you are looking to workout 3 days/week, I think it would look something like this:

      M – Push 1
      T- Rest
      W – Pull 1
      T – Rest
      F – Legs
      S- Rest
      S Rest

      M – Push 2
      T – Rest
      W – Pull 2
      T – Rest
      F – Legs
      S – Rest
      S – Rest

      • Simonas Šaučiūnas

        Is it supose to be keeping routine strictly or can be playing a little bit with it ? When is the time to put more volume to it? Making a 2 sets of 8-10 or 3×4-6 looked really little at first sight? Or is it maybe because of I am used to 3 or 4 sets of 8-12 reps on all my routines before? Maybe I should be more consentraded to bigger weight and techniques?

        So many question after first try..

    • Hey there! You just do Push 1, Pull 1, and Legs and repeat each week. I like to put a day of rest in between each of those workouts.

      The 3-day routine works well, but following the 4- or 5-day PPL allows for more volume and is better for maximizing gains.

      I hope this helps!

      • Simonas Šaučiūnas

        Thanks! 3 days a week is most what I can spend at the moment 🙂 would love to have 4-5 days available after all.. looking forward for it !
        Thanks for clearing my minds.

        Following your posts from now definetely!

  • OriginalPouzar


    As you know, I’ve been increasing calories via a reverse diet and then 3 weeks of bulking for about 6 weeks now and, for the last 3 weeks hitting the 6-day PPL very hard.

    I have had no weight gain and today am upping the calories by another 100 and my mid-day weigh in was materially up from yesterday.

    I know there are fluctuations from day to day but, considering I eat essentially the exact same things at the exact same times every day, I don’t generally get these fluctuations.

    Some of this is likely more water drank today (which is surprising to me as every day I drink a massive amount of water – I lose 7-8 pounds through bathroom breaks during my 6 hour sleep at night – yes, I pee that much.

    Anyways, I guess this is more of a bulking question than a PPL question but, given the weight gain is suppossed to be 0.5 pounds to 1 pound/week, is it possible to get the “whoosh” of weight gain like one might see in a cut?

    It seems odd to me that, out of nowhere, there would be this material increase. I’m not a noobie and there hasn’t been any material changes in anything the last few days.


    • I’d just go by the weekly average. Fluctuations are normal, and while weight gain isn’t linear, I wouldn’t be too concerned with sudden “whooshes.” It’s probably water retention and glycogen from the increase in carbs.

  • Joey Benrimoj

    would you be able to add weighted dips to push 2? If not, where could i include them?

    • Sure, you could add a couple sets to Push 2. I’d do them at the end of the workout.

  • OriginalPouzar


    I’m just about to complete my fourth 6-day PPL split – PPL/PPL/Rest

    I have dedicated to that one rest day and done 30-40 min of low intensity cardio on that day.

    Although I, apparently, need to the up the calories, yet again, to an amazing 2500 plus (my god, I was at 1650 for so long, I love all this food – so much clean food), I am loving the program.

    Getting “in to” the PPL and starting to add a bit of weight and/or reps to many lifts. I, of course, add probably 6-8 sets to the above programs (always an additional 3-4 sets of a compound push and a compound pull plus an additional 3-4 sets of a bicep or triceps exercise). I like being there for 80 minutes.

    I have gained zero weight on the scale (hence the need to increase calories again) – my only cardio is three 20 min HIIT sessions on Sat and Sun plus a 20 min Tabata on Tuesday plus the 30 min low intensity on rest day – its only 90 minutes of cardio.

    Is that too much cardio?

    • Reducing cardio will probably help you gain weight, but you can also try upping the cals a bit more. I typically only do 2 HIIT sessions a week when I’m bulking.


      • OriginalPouzar

        Thanks Mike. I think I’ll ultimately choose the eat more option – can always eat more.

        At some point I think I should add some “less clean” food to my regimen.

        I eat like 99% clean foods so, up from 1650 to 2450 calories, it goes a long way. I also like to eat little snacks throughout the day as opposed to bigger meals so, essentially, excepting the post-workout meal at 6am of 450 calories, I’m eating 100-200 calorie snacks every hour to two hours from noon to 9pm.

        I LOVE IT as I look forward to each and every one of them but its a lot of prep – not a ton of cooking but a lot of putting stuff together (i.e. 125g of dry curd cottage cheese plus 16g of fiber 1 plus 30g blueberries plus 9 almonds) – try putting together like 8 of those a day – it takes time.

        I have room for bigger meals or “less clean food” but it would be less volume and I’m a volume eater.

  • OriginalPouzar

    Also, I’m off to NYC on Friday as the wife is running the NYC marathon.

    I always manage my calories to the best I can when I’m out of town – I’m usually actually under as I will save up 700-1000 for dinner to get a “real meal” and, almost without exception will just end up getting a vegetable salad with chicken or shrimp and lemon wedges – my go to as I know I can log it with almost certainty.

    As I’m now in a clean bulk, I will try my best not to go over but I definitely don’t want to be over – don’t want to gain fat too fast. It’ll be a struggle as my wife is vegan and we are going to some high-end vegan/vegetarian restaurants. Its just tough to log to creat a plan – I mean, how the heck do i figure out the calories/macros in:

    Seitan Chops & Applesauce

    rosemary breaded seitan, pink applesauce, seared brussels, ginger sweet potato mash 20

    Anyways, I will go to the gym ever morning, of course, but, given I”ll be in a foreign gym and off routine, I’m wondering if this is a good time for a deload week.

    I don’t feel like I “need it” at all but it might be the right opportunity to go lighter and higher rep and simply not to have to track every exercise/set and worry about ensuring I get the right pieces of equipment in the right order, etc.

    I’m thinking about changing it up completely for those 5 days and just maybe doing a body-part split but going light and high rep.


    • Sure, you can do a deload and go light if you need to. Here’s what I like to do while traveling:


      • OriginalPouzar

        That’s a great article and I have read it before. Thank you.

        Working out is never an issue – I often workout more when I’m away as I know my food has the potential not as calculated as usual.

        With that said, I usually fall under on calories, I will do a very good job of saving calories for a dinner meal with the plan to have a “real meal”, a good 800-1000 calories and then, I’ll “chicken out” and just get them to make me a veggie salad with chicken and have a 200 calorie protein bar.

        Hopefully I won’t do that this time and I will get the real meals – I’m planning to do so. A big difference is, I have 2400 calories to work with, not 1700 so, hopefully, mentally, I will be able to order and eat the “real meal” without the guilt.

    • Haritha

      Hi Great article. Is it necessary to do both Barbell rowing and One-arm rowing exercises on the same day as both of them are a similar pull workout?

      • I’m glad you enjoyed it! You can choose a different back/pulling exercise if you prefer. At the end of the day, it comes down to getting in enough volume.

  • OriginalPouzar

    Just in the lounge waiting for my flight back from NYC to Calgary.

    Wife had an amazing time running the marathon and I’m quite happy with my fitness and nutrition while I was here.

    Fitness is always easy on vacation as I just find a gym and go early in the morning just like at home. Did the “de-load week”, however, although I lifted light, I did quite a few sets and the majority negatives. I came away from each workout (5-day body part split) quite sore, more so than I ever get with the heavy 4-6 rep range. Just not used to 8-10 rep range and definitely the negatives.

    Hopefully it still gave my body a bit of a rest as I was not lifting heavy.

  • OriginalPouzar

    The nutrition was managed fairly well I believe.

    Went out for some amazing vegan meals (wife is a vegan) and, at the end of the day, I managed the calories to be around 2000 most days – at least I think, it was tough to calculate calories in the restaurant meals but I did it the best I could and definitely managed to not go over the 2450 I had been eating at home.

    At the end of the day, I guess these 6 days was a break from the clean bulk as I wasn’t lifting heavy and the calories were likely around maintenance or maybe even a bit under.

    I think that’s fine.

    Will get back in to it starting tomorrow.

    Tonight when i get home will be groceries and food prep and we’ll be right back on my 2450 calories starting tomorrow along with a 4am Push 1 heavy workout.

    Lets Do This!

    • Awesome! Sounds like a nice vacation, and now it’s time to get back in the groove 🙂

  • OriginalPouzar


    I’m on the plane home and opened my copy of BBLS for the first time in a while.

    As we know, this is my first true bulk and the first time I’ve tried to put on muscle since I got under 10% body fat.

    Based on this article, I started the bulk with the 6-day PPL split but reading the book again, I’m wondering if I should be using the advanced training techniques in the book (which are similar to the BLS program with some advanced sets)?

    I am able to lift heavy 6 days a week (force myself to take a day off) and actually have always added exercises and sets to your workouts for some extra – so I can take the work and intensity required by either program.

    While I’ve been doing the 6-day PPL for about 4-5 weeks, I’ve still been experimenting with the calories and am just now going to be in a full 10% excess daily.

    Can you suggest one of the two programs over the other for my bulk?

    Thanks so much.


    • If you’ve reached the strength milestones for BBLS, you can give it a shot. The 6-day PPL works quite well, too. It really comes down to whichever routine you prefer doing. 🙂

      • OriginalPouzar

        Thank you for the reply.

        My preference is the workout that is best suited for the results – I’m pretty dedicated to whatever works best – both would be equally enjoyable for me.

        I guess my question is, in your opinion, is one or the other better for progress on the clean bulk?

        As we flew in last night, I got back to my routine this morning (finally) and had a solid Push 1 workout so my initial plan is to continue on it unless I’m advised that the advanced BBLS program is more beneficial for a clean bulk.

        • Neither one is necessarily better than the other. It just comes down to exactly how you have it programmed volume-wise. From there you can experiment with both and see which one helps you get stronger faster.

          • OriginalPouzar

            Fair enough.

            Now that I am generally home for the next 6 weeks and should be able to hit my calories and macros with certainty almost every day, I think I’ll give the 6-day PPL a full 6 weeks.

            There will be a couple of days where my calories won’t be exact – a couple of work dinners, hockey games, etc. – I will manage – will always be under my calories, I refuse to go to too high for fear of gaining fat quickly.

            The experimenting with the calories is over and I think I’ve found the right number for the 10% excess and I will do the 6-day PPL with 2500 calories from now until our Christmas trip to Hong Kong.

            My plan was to end the bulk after Hong Kong but, with all the experimenting on the calories to find the right number and the NYC trip, I don’t think that will be long enough. Haven’t been in a true excess very much.

            I’ll likely keep going with the clean bulk through January – we’ll see if I want to switch to a 5-day body part split after the new year.

            1 thing at a time, lets kill this 6-day PPL and 2500 calories for the next 6 weeks.

            So excited to hit the gym tomorrow morning at 4:05 for Pull 1 (heavy deads baby)!

  • Alex

    Hey Mike, I’m a rock climber and basically a newbie to bodybuilding, had a couple years of average weight lifting experience, mostly spinning my wheels a lot and not knowing what I was doing. Took a few years off for other pursuits and now would like to really focus on my physique without losing my rock climbing skills and technique. I climb 2-3 days a week, and I like the Push Pull Legs routine since 3 days of lifting would fit perfectly in my schedule the rest of the week (with the 7th day being a rest day).

    So my question is: Is it possible to recomp and build my physique while also doing 2-3 sessions of about 60-90 minutes of climbing per week? Would you recommend modifying any of the Pull day workouts since I’ll be hitting back already? Climbing does use my pulling muscles but it’s more technique-based — I feel like I’m using strength but not really progressively overloading the muscles or stimulating maximum muscle growth. I want to make sure I’m not at risk for overtraining or not giving my pulling muscles enough rest, but at the same time I want to make gains and get a bigger back. I feel like I have a decent amount of strength from climbing but not really getting the size that I want.

    What would you suggest I do in this situation? Also, a side question, is it ok to rearrange the days of push/pull/legs, i.e. legs/push/pull, pull/legs/push, etc?

    Thanks so much!!

    • Hey Alex! The 3-day PPL seems like a great option for you. You should be fine re-arranging the order of the days as you need to in order to get enough rest between lifting and climbing. I wouldn’t worry about overtrianing in this case, but if you do notice any symptoms, it will be easy enough to make an adjustment. Check this out:


      I hope this helps!

  • OriginalPouzar

    OK, now that I’m back from NYC, aside from a couple commitments (two-day trip to Toronto, couple client events, partners dinner), I am back in Calgary and generally able to stick to my very calculated calorie and macro targets up and till we leave for Hong Kong on December 22.

    Since I’ve started this “bulk” about 6-7 weeks ago, I haven’t gained a single pound. I think I look absolutely shredded and more defined than I did at the beginning but no material muscle gain. This is a function of experimenting with my calories the entire time (to find the right number for the 10% excess) and then likely eating in a deficit while in NYC (I’m down a few pounds). As it turns out, I haven’t been in a calorie excess (or else there would have been weight gain).

    My plan was to bulk until the end of Hong Kong but I think I may need to add a month plus to it as the bulk is really starting now as I think I’ve found the right calorie number and will now start to be in a daily excess.

    I’ve added some weight to some of the lifts over the last month or so but not real muscle. The time is now.

    I will be at the following daily:

    2500 calories with

    200 grams of protein (about 50 higher than I need but I like protein)
    350 grams of carbs (love it)
    35g fat

    Sticking with the 6-day Push Pull Legs routine with 1 day off lifting per week (will do a 30 min low endurance cardio on that day). 3 lifting days will also have some HIIT (Sat and Sunday I’ll do 19 minute sprints and one work day I’ll do 20 minutes Tabata).

    Nothing is changing except I should be eating in an excess daily now.

    I’m still worried about gaining fat but, fuck it, I won’t gain much and I’ll cut it off easily before Arizona in March.

    • Sounds like a good plan my friend. If you stick to the small surplus and gain slowly from here on out, you’ll keep any fat gain to a minimum. That said, some fat gain is going to be unavoidable if you want to gain muscle, so don’t be so worried about it 🙂

      • OriginalPouzar

        I’m petrified about the fat gain – I worked so hard to get the current look (8% or so).

        I know the fat gain is inevitable and its part of the process but it really messes with my head. I get happy when the scale doesn’t go up even though that’s the goal.

        Trying to change my mindset on this over time.

        At the end of the day, I cut down from 16% to 8% in 3 months so I know I can do it again (and I won’t get anywhere near 16% – I couldn’t let it happen).

        I just don’t want to go back to 1700 calories, fasted training, etc.

        Oh well.

        • I’ts just part of the process man. Cutting and bulking is the necessary cycle if you want to get bigger while also being lean. As you gain muscle, you should be able to cut at a higher intake, as well.

          • OriginalPouzar

            Yes, its part of the process.

            Hopefully i will be able to deal with it mentally when the scale does start to move and/or some of the definition goes away.

            If not, then maybe bulking isn’t right for me – i’m hoping it is.

  • Calvn

    Hey Mike – thanks for the write up. Any recommendations for a female on this split – TLS has these lifts all in 3 x 8-10 range – would assume it holds true here for as well or any other tweaks?

    • Yup, that would be fine. I’d probably pick one of the options with a lower body emphasis. If you’re doing the 3-day routine, though, you can add some hip thrusts tot he end of the Push day.

      Let me know how it goes!

  • OriginalPouzar

    Ughhh, rest day tomorrow as I’ve finished my 6-day split.

    I had a great leg workout yesterday, added material weight to the bar on every lift (except the front squat where I added to the top of the rep range).

    I’m super pumped for Press 1 to see if I can add weight to the bar as well but I’ve lifted for 6 straight days.

    I just scoured the internet trying to find something/someone to tell me that its OK to lift 7 days/week but, of course, I couldn’t find it.

    I know I need the rest day but I always fear I’m burning less calories and should eat less when I know I should keep the calories the same.

    What if I drop from 2450 to about 2225 for rest day?

    I’m planning on doing a low intensity jog for 30 minutes (was going to do it fasted on Forge) at 4:45 (instead of a lifting session at 4) and was going to skip my pre-workout meal but maybe I should have it anyways?

    Should I still eat the 225 calories or should I skip it?

    • Stick to the surplus on rest days. Your body is still recovering and repairing muscle tissue on rest days.

  • J jones

    Hey mike been following the bls program for about a year and a half, but my lifts aren’t great and I’ve been stuck for a few months, do you have any advice? Cheers man! Bench 75kg squat 105kg overhead press 50kg and deadlift 160kg for 4-5 reps

  • Heath

    The weekly total volume appears to only be about half of what you normally recommend (60-80 reps per muscle group/week) Any reason why the PPL is lower?
    Being in the military, I have to train for things I do not like (ie endurance based PT…2 mile runs, 12 mile rucks) Im trying to regain my old strength back without taxing my body too much. My run time sucks right now, so unfortunately I must prioritize it, so Im trying to stay out of the gym and run more.

    • Hey Heath! More training (a 4- or 5-day routine) is best for maximizing gains, but the 3-day PPL split is still a solid routine for getting big and strong. The reality is there’s only so much you can fit into a single workout before it becomes pretty grueling and performance suffers. You can squeeze in a bit more volume when you can get to the gym more days per week.

      Sounds like a 3-day PPL would be a great option for you given your endurance training. Let me know how it goes!

  • OriginalPouzar

    Bit of an update.

    Came back from NYC a few weeks ago and the weight was actually down a few pounds – not ideal given I’m trying to bulk but I always error on the side of less calories than more when I’m out of town and I can’t log my food with certainty.

    Anyways, two weeks later and not only are those 2 pounds back but the scale is up an extra two for a real two pound weight gain.

    Its interesting as my calories are right where they were for the week before NYC (2450) when I still hadn’t had any weight gain. Now the same calories have led to the 2 pound weight gain (and its been 3 days so its real weight gain).

    I guess we’ve finally found the bulking calories – 2450.

    It may be in my head but I think I can see a bit of fat gain – right around my lower abs, not as defined as they were – at least I don’t think so.

    I’m assuming part of those two pounds is muscle and its not just fat, water, glycogen but who knows.

    I’m struggling a bit mentally with the loss of a bit of definition and the numbers going up (even though that’s the goal) but am going to stick with it. I knew this was going to be tough mentally – I’ve worked hard to get down to the 8% but I know that a bulk is the right thing to do.

    I just hope the calories aren’t too high and there is more fat gain than there needs to be.

    • Just keep monitoring your intake, weight, body composition, etc., and adjust your calories down if you’re gaining too quickly. I hope this helps!

      • OriginalPouzar

        Yup – that’s the way to do it I guess.

        Trust me, I monitor – multiple times a day (in the mirror and on the scale).

        I’m really trying to make a point of only stepping on the scale ever morning when I wake up and then when I’m back from the gym.

        Better that 12X/day which is not healthy.

  • Staci Kilpatrick

    Hey Mike,
    When my year of TLS is up, do you recommend I do a year of a 5 day PPL (lower body focus) or just write another program for myself based on TLS? I love having structure, but the idea of switching things up is kind of exciting. The main thing is that I keep seeing results and feeling great though, obviously!

    • Hey Staci! Switching to a 5-day PPL would be completely fine. You could just do TLS again, but if changing things up is more exciting to you, then go for it 🙂

      Keep me posted!

  • OriginalPouzar

    Hi Mike – thank you for all your help in the PPL article over the last little while.

    I’m looking in to my daily nutrition timing a little bit to try and optimize it even further.

    I eat 30g protein (Legion Whey plus dry curd cottage cheese) and 30g carbs (instant oatmeal plus banana) right before I work out at 4am.

    Post workout I eat about 30g protein (3 ounces of chicken breast) and 60g carbs (English muffin, sweet potato and rice cracker combination).

    I then usually don’t eat anything for about 5 hours (and then eat every hour to two hours right up and till bed).

    That is just how I prefer to eat my food – small meals all day starting early afternoon until bed.

    I guess I have two questions:

    1) is that enough calories and carbs post workout (400 calories and 60g carbs)?

    2) should I be eating another carb based snack a few hours after my post-workout meal as opposed to waiting for about 5 hours?

    The 5 hour gap is basically to delay food so that I can eat more in the afternoon and evening as I’m up so early (3:30) and workout so early (4-5:30) that I want to ensure I have calories saved for later in the day.

    I could switch a 2pm or 3pm carb based snack to 9am (3 hours after my post-workout meal) if you think it will make any difference.

    Thanks for your thoughts in advance.

    • Hey man, I answered these questions in the other thread

  • Gabriel Salas

    Hey mike, how would you recommend going on this plan if you’re on a deficit ? currently looking to lose 30 pounds on a 13-15 week period

    • Hey Gabriel! The 4- or 5-day routine would be great choices. I probably wouldn’t do the 6-day version unless you were bulking.

  • Oskar

    Hi Mike
    Regarding this PPL, is it really enough exercises, sets and reps for maximum gains? It’s off-season for soccerplayers now and I am thrilled to bulk now and make some gains in the gym, since i’m a soccerplayer my legs are big and strong compared to my upper-body, how do you think I shall proceed?

  • Nilton

    Hi Mike, thanks for this rich text. But I have some questions..

    My metabolism is too fast, I spend about 2.000 calories a day. I am 174 cm tall and 63kg (so I think I’m an ectomorph). How much do you think I should train a week to build muscle? 5 days is too much? It’d be better 3 days?

  • Oskar Rickard

    Hello Mike, love reading your articles and are truly fascinated by your theory. I like this concept with splitting in PPL. My main goal is upper body improvement since I am a soccer player. My calorie intake per day is around 4000 – 4500 since I am bulking. Just to be sure, would you recommend the PLP 6-day split for me since I am bulking, correct? 🙂

    • Yep, that’s a good plan 🙂

      Thanks for the support man!

  • Flynn Morrissy

    Hi Mike

    I’m a hardgainer who is really into bodybuilding. I weigh 62kg and am 170cm tall. I want to do the 6 day split shown here but, in the article you recommended to the other ectomorph who commented on this thread, it recommends to do a completely different 5 day split, different to the PPL one here. Which one should I do?

  • Devon

    Hey Mike!

    I just started this a couple weeks ago and I’m loooving it! SO much better than a full body routine, imho.

    I was powerlifting 3x a week, doing A/B days, for about 2 years before I made the switch. What do you think is the best way to progressively overload now that I’ve switched to PPL? I’ve bumped down due to the increase in volume, but should I still be trying to add 5 lbs to each workout, each time, if I’m already pretty conditioned? (if this is too involved of a question, I’d love to read some more on it if you have the material elsewhere!) Thanks in advance!

    • Hey Devon! I’m glad you’re enjoying the change in routine 🙂

      If you can still add 5lbs each workout, that’s great. What I like to do is work in a rep range. Once I hit the top of the range for a set, I add weight to the bar and work with that until I hit the top of the rep range again. I talk about that in this article:


      Keep me posted on your progress!

  • Oskar Rickard

    Hi Mike,

    I’ll try to make this as simple as possible, I have followed the PLP 6-day split more or less for 4-5 weeks. Soccerpractice started two weeks ago and I am training soccer 3 times a week. So legs are excluded in the gym because my legs are the dominating part by far and I use them while I am on the pitch. I have put on like 15 pounds on the last 4-5 weeks since I have been on a huge surplus, I have eaten 4000-4500 calories (kind of dirty).The 15 pounds is of course not only muscels but I think I got some of my gains back faster after a injury. The excessive fat on my body tends to stick on my legs/butt (which I’m totally fine with). But now I have seen that my face are starting to look fatter (which I don’t like). Although all this I still have kind of a six-pack. I have been making great progress for this short period of time, both in the mirror but also in the gym!! So much stronger. My plan is: complete this cycle and bulk until I have bulked 6 weeks and then start with a cut and the same week start deloading this cycle then continue with the cut until I am satisfied with my face. When I am satisfied I am going to bulk, but the proper way with like 10-15% more calories than my TDEE. Sure, I will gain fat but not as much. I’ve read your articles and you said you make the same gains with 110% TDEE and 130% so the main reason I think this is good is because I wanna look good while gaining muscle rather than looking bloated and gaining.

    And because you are truly an inspiration and wise I am asking you if this sounds like a good plan. And also if you have any tips and another view of perspective. Sorry for this extremely long text but I’m kind of on the edge here and don’t know how to proceed. Very greatful for help! 🙂

    • Hey Oskar! Yep, that sounds like a solid plan. If you want to keep bulking but slow down the fat gain, just reduce your surplus now, and then start the cut once you reach 15% body fat or so. Let me know how it goes!

  • Connor

    Hi Mike!

    Is it ok to skip leg day in the gym since i have soccerpractice which i can get pretty pumped in My legs by, I thought You should know My legs are the dominating part. 🙂

  • Kevin

    Hi Mike,

    Ive just started your 6day PPLPPL routine.

    Since PULL1 involves heavy deadlifting, is it ok to do heavy squats the day after on leg day? would i risk injury?
    although i could do the 5 day PPL, i want to train squats twice.

  • Christian Baumgartner

    Hi Mike.
    Can I incorporate leg day in the push pull days?Quad dominant on push day,and hams on pull day?my plan is one leg exercise with 3 sets in the range from 8-10 on push and pull day.my legs are my dominant body part.
    Best regards Chris

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