If you want to get ripped, gain mass, and get stronger all in the same workout, nothing works quite like the Push-Pull-Legs routine. It’s tough, but you give your muscles no choice but to grow.
In this post, we’re going to focus on your Push Day. And in this post, you’re going to get 2 ‘push workout’ routines that you can start now.
Your push workouts are built around hypertrophy helping you achieve a bodybuilder physique and building dense muscle mass.
So if getting jacked is your goal, this is your workout!
*If you’re new to the push-pull-legs concept, I’ll describe that below. If not, you can skip to the next section below that.
Push-Pull-Legs for Newbies
The ‘Push, Pull, and Legs’ routine basically allows you to train all major muscles within 3 days, or 3 workouts. A typical routine for push-pull-legs will look like this…
- Day 1: Push workout
- Day 2: Pull workout
- Day 3: Leg workout
- Day 4: Repeat, or rest and repeat of day 5
I mentioned 3 days a week, but some bodybuilders and weightlifters will use this as a 6-day a week program. This allows you to hit each muscle twice a week and get more overall volume in.
To further explain, here are the muscles trained on each day:
- Push Workout = chest, shoulders, and triceps
- Pull Workout = back, biceps, and rear delts
- Legs Workout = well, I think you know what goes here…legs!
You can learn details about this these type of workouts in my post: Push-Pull-Legs Workout: 6-Day Routine for Mass and Strength
*This will open another page so that you don’t lose this one!
Best Exercises for Push Day
One thing to realize is that you won’t be doing as many exercises on your upper body days since you’re squeezing in several body parts into one workout. So even though you’re training for hypertrophy. you won’t be doing as many isolation exercises.
The majority of your exercises will be compound movements. Why? Because that gives you the most bang for your buck. For example, your chest workouts will always start with either bench press or incline bench press, and shoulders will start with some sort of overhead press.
You’ll do some flyes and direct work for delts but again, not as much as if you were dedicating an entire workout to one muscle.
The hypertrophy will come for the combination of rep ranges, the overall volume of each workout, and the intensity of your workouts. And these types of workouts have a way of bringing out that intensity in you.
**You can learn more about the right rep ranges for building muscle in this post: Best Rep Ranges for Muscle Gains
Here are the exercises you’ll be doing in these push workouts…
- Bench Press
- Incline Bench Press
- Dumbbell Press
- Incline Dumbbell Press
- Dumbbell Flyes
- Incline Dumbbell Flyes
- Seated Barbell Press
- Seated Dumbbell Press
- Cable Pressdowns
- Rope Pressdowns
- Seated Overhead Dumbbell Extensions
- Dumbbell Kickbacks
Another thing you’ll notice is most of your chest and shoulder exercises are all done with free weights. It’s okay to substitute some of these with machines, like Hammer Strength or the Smith Machine (or do pec dec, or cable flyes instead of dumbbell flyes).
But I encourage you to stick with free weights when possible for those exercises that call for it. You’ll get more mass building benefits from those.
*If you’re struggling to build your chest muscles and need some extra help, read my post: How to Define and Shape Yor Chest: Hitting Chest from All Angles
2 Push Day Bodybuilding Routines
Both push workouts below are designed to be used together to maximize your muscle gains and encourage hypertrophy. Here’s how it works…
Your initial push workout will focus on lifting heavier weights with lower reps, especially at the beginning of the workouts. But your next push day will have you pumping out more reps.
You’ll also be doing different exercises for each push workout. This way you’ll target different parts of your muscles each workout, essentially hitting every angle of those muscles.
Push Day 1 Routine
Length of workout: About an hour
Rest between sets: 1 minute for the first exercise, 45 seconds for everything else
You’ll be starting out with some heavy bench press for this workout. Here are some notes for that:
- Make sure you’re moving up in weight each set, but keep the reps at about 6.
- This means you won’t burn out all the way on your first couple of sets.
- As you increase the weight, those last 2 sets should be an extreme challenge for you.
Another thing you may notice below is that your chest exercises are all performed on a flat bench. You’ll see the contrast to this in your 2nd push day workout.
You’ll go moderately heavy on your shoulder exercise (your shoulders will be a bit fatigued after chest; that’s why there’s only one shoulder exercise). And you’ll finish your workout hitting some triceps.
*Going heavy on bench press and lifting heavy in general is a great way to naturally increase your testosterone. If you’d like to take that to the next level, read about my recommended muscle builder here.
|Exercise||Sets x Reps|
|Bench Press||4 x 6|
|Dumbbell Press||4 x 8|
|Dumbbell Flyes||4 x 8|
|Seated Barbell Press||3 x 8|
|Lateral Raises||3 x 10|
|Seated Overhead Dumbbell Extensions||3 x 10|
|Cable Pressdowns||3 x 10|
Push Day 2 Routine
Length of workout: About 50 minutes
Rest between sets: 45 seconds for chest exercises, 30 seconds for shoulders and triceps
Now we’re going to switch things up in your workout, especially for your chest. In this workout, you’ll increase the reps and going for the pump.
Another thing you’ll see is all of your chest exercises are performed on the incline bench. Between both push day routines, you’re building your chest to the fullest.
*You may be wondering why there are no decline exercises for chest. The flat bench press will work the middle and lower parts of your chest just fine.
But the bulk of your chest development comes from incline movements. You can read more about how to build your upper chest in this post: Upper Chest: How to Build a Bodybuilder Chest
For shoulders, you’ll do the dumbbell version of overhead press. And you’ll also be doing different exercises for triceps. These are more concentrated (ropes and single cables) than the ones you did in the prior push workout.
|Exercise||Sets x Reps|
|Incline Bench Press||4 x 10|
|Incline Dumbbell Press||4 x 10|
|Incline Dumbbell Flyes||4 x 12|
|Seated Dumbbell Press||3 x 12|
|Lateral Raises with Cables||3 x 12|
|Rope Pessdowns||3 x 12|
|Dumbbell Kickbacks||3 x 15|
Warm-up sets are not listed in the push day workouts above but I do encourage you warm-up before jumping into your working sets.
The most simple way to warm-up is by doing 1-2 light sets of your first exercise. And when you start your working sets, you’ll use the pyramid technique, which is increasing the weight each set, gradually going up (as explained in the first routine).
You could also do a quick 10-minute cardio session to get your blood flowing or some dynamic stretching. But I still recommend doing a set or 2 of lightweight for that first exercise.
Recommended: 2 Push Workouts a Week
You can certainly train each muscle once a week as many bodybuilders do. But when you’re on a push-pull-legs routine, you may find it more effective to train each muscle twice a week.
The push-pull-legs program is really designed that way. This is going to help you train with more overall volume, which leads to bigger muscles. And it also allows you to target multiple angles of each muscle.
A twice-a-week push-pull-legs routine would look something like this:
- Day 1: Push workout 1 (heavy)
- Day 2: Pull workout 1 (heavy)
- Day 3: Leg workout 1 (heavy)
- Day 4: Push workout 2 (more reps)
- Day 5: Pull workout 2 (more reps)
- Day 6: Leg workout 2 (more reps)
- Day 7: Rest
You can read more about training each muscle twice a week in my post: Training Freuency: Once VS Twice a Week for Mass Gains
You could also do 3 on, 1 off, 3 on, 1 off, etc. That would give you slightly more rest and still hit each muscle twice a week, for the most part.
Mentally Prepare for Your Push Workouts
There’s no doubt that your muscles will be wiped out and fatigued after a good push day workout. One of the toughest parts will be hitting shoulders after chest because your shoulders work pretty hard on those chest exercises. Especially presses.
So make sure you’re mentally prepared for your push day, and ‘push’ through it!
Here are a few things I like to do to prep for my push workouts:
- Do some light dynamic stretching before going to the gym
- Do some deep breathing exercises prior to your workout
- Make sure you drink your pre-workout either before or on the way to the gym
- Listen to something motivational on your way to the gym
Do these and once you lay down on that bench you’ll be more than ready for your first set.
*Next, make sure you read my pull workout post here: Pull Day Workout for Hypertrophy
**Also, check out my Hardcore Muscle Building Program. This is one of my premium training programs and it has a section of push-pull-legs workouts.
Excuses Don’t Build Muscle,