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March 15, 2022 3 Comments
“Programs, programs, come get you program!” This is the reply you get when you search “workout program” on the internet. Everyone is selling a program which means it’s up to you to sift through the wheat from the chaff, if we want to get biblical. Unfortunately, most of what you will find needs to be sifted, burned, and buried because it’s no good. But as you found us, you were lucky to find the freshest wheat there is because we have the best push-pull workout split program you’ve ever seen.
If you have four days to spare for training each week, continue on to learn this extremely effective program.
Very few people ever start going to the gym using a program. Most often, they will go to the gym and follow what other people do or listen to what some friends tell them to do. When you first start, this can actually work as your body has never felt this type of stimulus before; thus, it’s sufficient for muscle growth (pretty much anything will be at first).
However, this is going to wear off relatively quickly, and you’ll find that you are no longer enjoying the easy progress. This is because to continue progress, you must continually place a greater and greater stimulus on your muscles. Without following a structured program, this is very hard to do.
The easy fix to this issue is to simply follow a program. Doing so will ensure you are checking off all of the main variables you need to optimize your training.
The push-pull split is an awesome structured program to do that.
When developing an effective program, there are a few variables that all should follow.
There can definitely be some variance, but most programs should have the top 3 components:
When developing a training program, there are several basic movement patterns that it must consist of. Including all of these movement patterns into your program will not only work your body the way it’s supposed to be worked, you can also be confident that you will train every muscle in your body.
Below are the major movement patterns with examples of exercises.
Movements consist of pushing a load vertically overhead. For these movements, the shoulders will be the primary movers and will work with the triceps to finish the lockout overhead. These are also going to improve your overhead mobility greatly.
Movements that consist of pushing a load away from you. Horizontal pushing movements are going to train the chest, shoulders, and triceps.
Movements that consist of pulling a load above you down towards you. Vertical pulling movements are going to train the entire back as well as the biceps and forearms.
Movements that consist of pulling a load from in front of you. Again, every back muscle will be trained with horizontal pulling movements. However, when using a horizontal pulling movement, the muscles will get hit from a different angle as well as perform different biomechanics. except from a different angle. The one unique muscle to be hit is the erector spinae. During many horizontal pulling movements, especially free weights, the trainee will be bent over, requiring an isometric hold.
Movements that consist of knee flexion and hip flexion. To be clear, all lower body compound movements will train every muscle. What differs is the degree to which it is trained; with squatting movements, the emphasis tends to be placed on the quadriceps due to the increased knee flexion which is involved. Therefore, we will consider these to be pushing movements.
Movements that primarily consist of hip flexion and minimal knee flexion. Hip hinges are going to use the erector spinae, glutes, and hamstrings primarily. Together, these three muscles are known as the posterior lateral chain and activate to extend the hips.
Lunges consist of a movement pattern in which the legs are off-set with one being placed in front of the other. These will also work the entire lower body with differentiation coming from what style of the lunge is performed. That being said, these are generally performed with the squat.
Training frequency refers to how often you will train a muscle group weekly. For example, you could possibly train your chest once per week, twice per week, or even every day if you really wanted! However, in order to optimize your training and balance fatigue, studies have shown that training a muscle group twice a week produces the greatest results. Ideally, your workout plan will represent this by training each muscle with 2-3 days of rest in between.
It doesn’t matter if your primary goal is muscle hypertrophy or strength, you should be training with the entire rep spectrum. While muscle strength and hypertrophy operate on two very different physiological systems, there is a distinct beneficial relationship between the two. In other words, a bigger muscle has the potential for being a stronger muscle, and a stronger muscle has greater potential to become a bigger muscle. Further, using different loading patterns can be a great way to add some variance in your training for continual growth.
The push pull split involves breaking your workouts into push days (both upper/lower body push muscles) AND pull day workouts (both upper/lower body pull muscles). It is typically done as a 4 day split, with 2 push sessions and 2 pull sessions per week.
There are a ton of different splits out there that you could follow, but the push-pull split has it all. It’s the perfect 4-day split that effectively allows you to include all of the primary variables that we discussed above in an organized fashion.
The push pull split is ideal for lifters for quite a few reasons. These are the top reasons you should try a 4-day push pull split:
The push-pull split works by organizing your training days into working for specific muscle groups. When we spoke about the fundamental movement patterns above, you probably noticed the terms “push” and “pull” in describing some of the movements. These are the movements which you will group together to be trained on the same days.
We will also divide the movements into upper and lower so that you can see how this breaks down. Check out which muscle groups will be trained on each day. You will notice that this split will effectively train every single muscle group.
So basically, within the two main days (pushing, pulling) there will be two body parts (upper, lower). Therefore, in order to utilize the entire rep spectrum, you will concentrate on a different variable for each body part, swapping strength and hypertrophy. Doing so will give us four days of training which is perfect as it will let us train each body part twice while using different loading patterns. The four days will look like this.
Session 1 Pulling:
Session 2 Pushing:
Session 3 Pulling:
Session 4 Pushing:
As you see, this gives us a very clear and organized plan to work off of. This is a crucial component of an effective program.
The strength training will consist of your significant compound movements. Further, these will work with heavier loads of >85% 1RM as loads of larger magnitudes have shown to be more effective in producing strength gains.
Your hypertrophy training will consist of smaller accessory compound movements as well as isolation work. Further, you will use loads of 70%-80% 1RM and moderate reps.
Below is your 4 day push pull workout program. After, we will provide more information on progressive overload and how to progress with this push pull workout split.
|Upper Body - Strength||Sets:||Reps:|
|Chin Ups (weighted if necessary)||5||5|
|Barbell Front Shrugs (with pause at top of rep)||3||5|
|Lower Body - Hypertrophy|
|Barbell Good Morning||3||8-10|
|GHD or Reverse Hyper||3||8-12|
|Upper Body - Strength||Sets:||Reps:|
|Dips (weighted if necessary)||3||6|
|Lower Body - Hypertrophy|
|Walking Dumbbell Lunges||100 steps (total)|
|Bulgarian Split Squat||3||8-10|
|Seated Calf Raise||3||12-15|
|Lower Body - Strength||Sets:||Reps:|
|Barbell Romanian Deadlift||3||6|
|Upper Body - Hypertrophy|
|Lower Body - Strength||Sets:||Reps:|
|Front Squat or Hack Squat||3||6|
|Upper Body - Hypertrophy|
|Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press||3||8-10|
This program is meant to be trained 4 days a week. That being said, you want these days to be spread out over the week. Do this in one of two ways; having three 1-day rest periods or having one 1-day rest period and one 2-day rest period.
Option A: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday
Option B: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday
Some trainees tend to train better with shorter rest durations so having three 1-day rest periods is ideal; some like two. And remember, you can alter this as you go depending on the situation.
It doesn’t matter how well a program is written; it’s worthless if the person following it doesn’t apply progressive overload. Progressive overload simply refers to gradually adding weight to an exercise or performing more reps as a method to produce a greater stimulus. This is the driving force behind any program and is what invokes adaptations to occur. That being said, there are several ways to apply progressive overload, which we’ll explain now. To make it simple, we will divide the different methods so that they apply to strength or hypertrophy.
Progressive Overload For Strength Movements
You will probably have noticed that your strength movements are all of your main movements. These are the movements that we want to focus on and see improvement. The reason being is these are your foundational movements, and if these are getting stronger, all of your other lifts will get stronger and your muscles will get bigger. For example, if you bench press improves, your chest, triceps, and shoulders will all receive a larger stimulus for growth.
This is because when it comes to strength gains, increasing the load is the most critical factor. While volume does play a role, it’s secondary to merely putting more weight on the bar.
For these, you’re simply going to try and consecutively increase the weight for progressive overload.
Progressive Overload For Hypertrophy Movements
After the first half of each training session, you’re going to move on to your hypertrophy work. You will notice that instead of straight sets, you will have a range of reps to work in for your hypertrophy work. This is because when training for hypertrophy, studies show that total volume is the main driver. In fact, new analysis has shown that it doesn’t even really matter what rep range was used for the volume; it’s merely the total volume that was important.
Therefore, you don’t need an exact number of reps to hit for these hypertrophy movements. You should definitely be attempting to load more weight on the bar over time, but bringing each set close to failure in an attempt to get as much volume as possible is key. One factor to consider is that these movements come later in the session so you will be at varying places of fatigue. This means that you might find you are able to lift more or less weight during different sessions. Also, remember that if you were able to improve the load for your strength movements, that counts as volume for the hypertrophy movements.
For example, let’s say one week you performed 3x5 on the bench press with 150lbs and then did cable fly 3x10 with 40lbs. The next week you use 155lbs for your bench press 3x5 and then do 3x10 with 40lbs again. Since you increased the weight on the bench press, you will still have placed more volume on the chest muscles even though you used the same weight for the cable flies.
Therefore, you will use a weight that will allow you to work within these ranges to increase the weight over time gradually.
You can follow the above program for some time, but adding some variance is critical when things begin to slow down. There are a few very simple ways to do this.
Remember that it will not be linear forever when it comes to progressive overload. This means that it’s not a straight path. There will be moments where you’ll need to back off and lift a lighter weight. However, you should be able to notice an overall trend over time.
So is this push-pull split the best 4 days split there is for strength and hypertrophy? That’s a bit hard to say as there’s really no such thing as “best” when it comes to training programs. That being said, it’s pretty damn effective. You will notice that it has everything you need to progress. All of the major movement patterns are included across a wide rep range. Plus, there are options for variability so that you have a path to follow in case you get stuck. We included great methods for you to continue progressing and never stall. That being said, if you have four days a week that you can dedicate to running this program, you’re definitely going to see results.
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