The Push, Pull, Leg Training Split (3 day example)

Take a quick look at the training routine that you’re currently following at the moment and then reflect on the training routines of the past that you have had a go at. Did you ever have one that just ‘clicked’. Did one of them tick the boxes of frequency, volume, optimal recovery and enjoyment? Either way, if you have ‘paid your dues’ with different training routines, or even if you’re a beginner, chances are that you would have heard of the Push, Pull, Leg training split.

What is the Push, Pull, Leg (PPL) Training split?

To break it down briefly:

– You spend one workout focussing on the pushing muscles: chest, shoulders and triceps.

– The second workout is focussed on the pulling muscles: back and biceps.

– The third workout is then focussed on the lower body.

– You would then start over and rotate the frequency of the training session as often as you see fit with reoccurring rest days in-between.

The PPL split can be very adaptable to an individuals needs. For example, as the name states, you’re typically looking at it being a 3 day training split. However, depending on what your overall training goal is and how much time you have available, you can play around with the frequency very easily. I have some examples below to show you how this can be written up into a weekly plan.

3 Day training split

Monday Push
Tuesday Rest
Wednesday Pull
Thursday Rest
Friday Leg
Saturday Rest
Sunday Rest

 

In this typical 3 day training split you would be able to hit the full body and also give optimal time for recovery before hitting the same group of muscles again the next week. However, if you would like a more intense training routine and you can commit more time to your training, it can be easily stretched out to a 4, 5 or 6 day training split. Here is n example of what the training sessions could possibly look like for a push, pull, leg routine:

 

Push Sets Reps Rest
Barbell bench press 4 8 90sec
Dumbbell chest flys 3 12 60sec
Barbell shoulder press 4 8 90sec
Dumbbell lateral raises 3 12 60sec
Close grip tricep press 4 8 90sec

 

 

Pull Sets Reps Rest
Barbell Deadlifts 4 8 90sec
Barbell bent over row 3 12 60sec
Lat pull down 3 AMRAP 90sec
Seated row 3 12 60sec
Seated barbell curls 4 8 90sec

 

Leg Sets Reps Rest
Leg press 4 8 90sec
Hack squats 3 15 60sec
Walking dumbbell lunges 4 20 90sec
Bulgarian split squats 4 12 60sec
Calf raises 3 10 90sec

 

Why does the PPL split work?

There are a number of good reasons as to why the PPL training split works. One of the reasons is that it limits the overlap time between exercises. Often with other training splits, you may be targeting one muscle per day, and the whole day is dedicated to that muscle. Lets say for example you have completed in total 15 working sets on your shoulders, then two days later you are training chest. Do you this that possibly your shoulders may not have fully recovered to enable you to optimally perform on your chest day? That’s not to say that single body part training doesn’t work, because it can work, if the volume of the training sessions are managed in line with your recovery capabilities.

Another good benefit to the PPL training split is that you can actually hep the recovery process through your training. If you’re training chest, shoulders and triceps in one session, then back and biceps in the next training session you can actually help the recovery of the pushing muscles through the movements you’re doing within the session. What you would be doing is whilst you’re training throughout your pull session, you’re taking you’re pushing muscles through some active and loaded stretching which can serve as localised recovery for that muscle group.

By setting your training up in the right way, and combined with the right frequency, you can emphasize and prioritise your weaker muscle groups. An example of this would be if you wanted to bring up your chest, you could limit your shoulder volume to just one exercise and then leave more room to increase the volume on the chest.

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