The Push Pull Leg Split [Everything You Need To Know]

This post may contain affiliate links: meaning we may receive a commission if you use them

In today’s post, you are going to learn everything you need to know about the push pull legs split.

Specifically, you’ll learn:

  • What the push pull leg split is, and who should use it,
  • The best exercises to include in this type of training program,
  • and how to design a workout using this routine (for at home or gym workouts)

So if you’re ready, let’s dive right in.

Disclaimer:

Although we are doctors and personal trainers, we are not your doctors. This information is for informational purposes only and should not substitute the advice from your healthcare professional. Please read our full Disclaimer for more information. Also, this post may contain affiliate links: meaning we may receive a commission if you use them.

What is the Push Pull Legs Split?

The push pull legs split is a type of training program that is divided into three distinct workouts.

There is a push workout, a pull workout, and a legs workout.

As you could imagine, each workout focuses on developing specific muscles. The first two focus on the upper body, while the third workout focuses on the lower body.

Why The Push Pull Legs Split Works

Your body produces movement via two types of muscular mechanisms: agonists and antagonists. The agonists are the muscles that make a specific movement happen. The antagonists are the muscles that oppose the action of the agonists.

Naturally, when the agonist is active and contracting, the antagonist is relaxed. The concept of push pull legs workout uses this phenomenon for the push and pull workouts.

Put simply, when you are pushing, the pulling muscles are relaxed.

When you are pulling, your pushing muscles are relaxed. This way, you can be sure that you are training in a balanced and well rounded way for your upper body.

As for the legs, I will show you how to do something similar by breaking up the leg workout into two different segments.

But before we do that, let’s go over the exact muscles you will train in each exercise.

10-step-checklist

Want To Build Muscle & Gain Strength But You Don't Know How To Get Started?

Download this valuable FREE 10 Step Checklist that goes over the exact step-by-step formula that ensures your workouts are optimized for results!
YES- SEND ME THE CHECKLIST NOW!

What Are The “Push” Muscles?

Generally, a push pull legs workout consists of three distinct workout. Each workout targets three different groups of muscles in your body.

The first are the push muscles.

The pushing muscles include your shoulders, your triceps, and your chest muscles. There are several different types of exercises that focus on these muscle groups. Common examples include:

Horizontal Pushing Exercises:

Vertical Pushing Exercises:

And Isolation Pushing Exercises:

As you can see there are many exercises to choose from.

The good thing is that you can rotate and switch the exercises every 12 weeks or so to keep things interesting.

In general, you should select at least 1 exercise for horizontal pushing exercises and vertical pushing exercises, and add isolation exercises as needed.

What Are The “Pull” Muscles?

The pulling muscles of your upper body include your back (rhomboids, trapezius, latissimus dorsi, posterior shoulders) and your biceps.

Just like the push, these exercises can be divided into horizontal and vertical pulling.

Vertical Pulling Exercises:

Horizontal Pulling Exercises:

Isolation Pulling Exercises

Like the push muscles exercises, it would be ideal to include 1 or 2 exercises for the two main movement patterns. Isolation exercises can be added as needed.

What Are The “Leg” Muscles?

Lastly we get to the leg exercises in the push pull leg routine.

These muscles include your quads, hamstrings, glutes, and calves. You can add one or two of the following exercises for each muscle group.

These exercises can be broken down into knee dominant exercises and hip dominant exercises.

Hip Dominant Leg Exercises:

Knee Dominant Leg Exercises:

compound-exercises-for-legs

Isolation Leg Exercises:

As before, do your best to include 1-2 exercises from each of the first two categories. Isolation exercises can be added in as needed.

Is Push Pull Legs a bro split?

Some people refer to PPL splits as “bro splits.” They are also sometimes even referred to as “triple splits” because a Push Pull Leg split consists of isolating three separate body parts.

However, I don’t consider it to be a true bro split as the original bro split isolates individual muscles in each workout.

For exmaple,

  • Monday: Chest Day
  • Tuesday: Back Day
  • Wednesday: Shoulder Day
  • Thursday: Biceps and Triceps Day
  • Friday: Quads

These kind of splits are a waste of time as I discuss in the three best workout splits of all time.

Is Push Pull legs the best split to build muscle?

The push pull leg split is a great routine for building muscle.

That’s because muscle growth requires two things: resistance, aka loading, and rest.

A push pull leg workout will strategically provide each of the major muscle groups in your body with appropriate resistance and adequate time to rest and recover. I go over more details in How to Build Muscle Naturally Using Science.

Is it the best? That’s up to you to decide.

The best routine will always be the one you can stick to long term.

What Are The Main Benefits of Push Pull Leg split?

Besides being a highly effective workout split for building muscle, the push pull leg routine have several other advantages.

These benefits include the following:

simplicity

More often than not, workout programs can be complicated and overwhelming. Especially if you are a beginner and don’t know how to get started. The push pull legs split is easy to follow, and simple to understand.

You can only train one major movement pattern per workout. It doesn’t get simpler than that.

As discussed above, you can easily create a customized exercise routine for yourself, as long as you pick your exercises accordingly.

It Minimizes exercise overlap

Since the entire concept of a push pull leg routine is to mix and match movement patterns – you will never be working the same muscle groups consecutively.

Each workout has a dedicated purpose, ensuring that you do not overtrain any specific muscle or movement pattern. Plus, you can always rotate your exercises every 12 weeks or so to ensure your training is well-rounded.

It Balances your training

Another imortant thing to consider is that you likey have muscular imbalances.

This is mainly because most people push much more than they pull. The PPL workout split ensures that you train your body evenly, helping to iron out any imbalances you may have.

If you are unsure of how to structure your routine, leave us a comment below and we will try to help you.

10-step-checklist

Want To Build Muscle & Gain Strength But You Don't Know How To Get Started?

Download this valuable FREE 10 Step Checklist that goes over the exact step-by-step formula that ensures your workouts are optimized for results!
YES- SEND ME THE CHECKLIST NOW!

The Push Pull Legs Schedule

So now that you know what the PPL split is, let’s go over how to schedule it.

The first question is, how often should you train on a weekly basis?

Three days vs six days

In general, there are two types of push pull legs schedule: one that is three days and the other is six days.

The primary benefit of going for a 3-days split is that there are more rest days.

That way, you get more time to recover from your workout. Also, this type of routine is easy to implement into a busy work schedule.

In contrast, working out six days a week will get you quicker results. Since you’re working out more frequently, you are essentially doubling the stimulus your muscles get on a weekly basis.

However, this routine is quite demanding, and for a beginner, I do not recommend it.

I go over this in more detail in: How Many Times Should You Workout In A Week?

Is Push Pull legs once a week enough?

Yes, doing one push, one pull, and one leg workout per week is enough to see results.

In fact, I often recommend three to four days as the optimal frequency to build muscle and gain stength.

Results may be slower, but working out three times per week is healthy and feasible for most people.

Is Push Pull legs twice a week too much?

It depends on what strength level you are at. For beginners, this routine twice a week can be too much and can even lead to injury.

However, intermediate or advanced lifters can see benefits in the twice per week (6-day routine). In fact, research shows that twice per week training can be more beneficial than once per week in terms of muscle growth.

The important thing is that you must ensure you are not overexerting yourself and you are recovering properly between workouts.

A Sample Push Pull Legs Workout Routine

Below are two sample push pull legs workout schedules for beginner/intermediate lifters, and advanced lifters respectively.

For the beginner program, you should perform the following routine on alternate days in the following pattern:

  • Push Day
  • Rest
  • Pull Day
  • Rest
  • Legs Day
  • Rest
  • Rest

The advanced lifter workout should looke like this:

  • Push Day
  • Pull Day
  • Legs Day
  • Rest
  • Push Day
  • Pull Day
  • Legs Day
  • Rest

The Push workout:

The push workout will target the triceps, the shoulders, and the chest muscles. Here is a good example:

ExerciseSetsReps
Barbell Bench Press36-8
Shoulder Press36-8
Dumbbell Chest Flys (superset A)310-12
Overhead DB Tricep Extensions (superset B)310-12

Remember that these exercises are only a few of the various exercises you can use to create one or two push workouts.

The Pull Workout:

The pull workout will target your biceps, posterior shoulders, and back muscles. Here is a good example:

ExerciseSetsReps
Barbell Row36-8
Pull-ups36-8
Rear Delt Flys (superset A)310
Face Pulls (superset B)310

Again, you can use this template as a baseline to help you mix and match the exercises that suit your skill level.

The Legs Workout:

The leg workout will target your glutes, hamstrings, and quads. Here is a good example:

ExerciseSetsReps
Front Squat36-8
Romanian Deadlift36-8
Reverse Lunge (superset A)310
Core Exercise of your choice (superset B)310

As you can see, we have included a slot for core exercises. Core training is beyond the scope of this article, but you can learn all about the proper way to train your core in my post The 17 Best Core Exercises For Strength.


If you want, you can create two separate push workouts, two separate pull workouts, and two separate leg workouts to alternate through.

So if you are doing a 3x per week training program, you can do Push A, Pull A, Legs A on Week 1, then Push B, Pull B, and Legs B on Week 2.

Alternatively, you can do all 6 workouts in the same week if you are using the 6x per week training program.

Can I Do Push Pull Legs with a 4 or 5 Day Split?

The push pull leg split can be done with a 4 or 5-day routine.

The only thing is, each week will be slightly different as there is no way to balance out 3 distinct workouts in a 4 to 5 day week.

For example, a four day week using PPL might look like this:

Week 1

  • Push Day
  • Pull Day
  • Off
  • Leg Day
  • Push Day
  • Off
  • Off

Week 2

  • Pull Day
  • Leg Day
  • Off
  • Push Day
  • Pull Day
  • Off
  • Off

And then a sample 5 day routine might look something like this:

Week 1

  • Push Day
  • Pull Day
  • Legs Day
  • Off
  • Push Day
  • Pull Day
  • Off

Week 2

  • Leg Day
  • Push Day
  • Pull Day
  • Off
  • Leg Day
  • Push Day
  • Off

etc

As you can see, this workout schedule can get quite complicated. It could be done, but I think it’s much easier to just do a 3 day work week (If you are a beginner or early intermediate) or a 6 day work week (if you are more of an advanced lifter).

A Sample Push Pull Legs Routine At Home

What about home workouts? Can you do a PPL routine at home with no weights?

Absolutely!

All you have to do is design each workout around the basic calisthenic exercises.

The push muscles will be trained by

The pull muscles will be trained by

The leg muscles will be trained by

Although your exercise selection may seem limited at first, the beauty of calisthenics is that each one of these exercises has dozens of variations to choose from.

That way, you can always keep progressing and finding a variation that will challenge your skill level.

So here is how the workout might look like.

The At-Home Push Pull Legs workout:

The Push Workout

ExerciseSetsReps
Incline Push-ups38-12
Pike Push-ups38-12
Dips38-12
Handstand practice3

The Pull Workout:

ExerciseSetsReps
Pull-ups38
Inverted Rows38-10
Front Lever Raises35
Core Exercise310

The Legs Workout:

ExerciseSetsReps
Bodyweight Squats310-12
Glute Bridge310-12
Step-ups38
Core Exercise 310

10-step-checklist

Want To Build Muscle & Gain Strength But You Don't Know How To Get Started?

Download this valuable FREE 10 Step Checklist that goes over the exact step-by-step formula that ensures your workouts are optimized for results!
YES- SEND ME THE CHECKLIST NOW!

Final Words On The Push Pull Legs Routine

The PPL split has gained a lot of popularity lately due to its simplicity and effectiveness in balancing your training.

It is one of the best ways to build muscle and gain strength, without complicating your workout routine. With that said, it works best with a 3x per week training frequency, or a 6x per week frequency if you are more experienced.

Okay, so now it’s time for you to get to work.

Which PPL template are you going to use first?

Comment below and let me know.

Related Posts On Split Workout Training

Get Started With Four Free Tried and Tested Beginner Workouts That Only Take 30 Minutes A Day!

Sharing is caring!

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Alex Robles, MD, CPT / Brittany Robles, MD, MPH, CPT

Alex Robles, MD, CPT / Brittany Robles, MD, MPH, CPT

Alex & Brittany Robles are physicians, NASM CPTs, health & fitness experts, and founders of The White Coat Trainer: a site dedicated to improving the health and fitness of busy professionals. Their advice has been featured on KevinMD, The Doctor Weighs In, My Fitness Pal, Reader's Digest, Livestrong, and The Active Times. Learn more about them here.

Learn More About Them Here
Need A Simple Workout Program That Only Takes 30 Minutes?

Download A FREE Copy Of The WCT Workout Template To...

Get a complete list of which exercises you should do and how to do them to get the best science-based results. (Especially if you don't have a lot of time to exercise.)
SEND ME THE TEMPLATE NOW

A Comprehensive Full Body Workout To Build Muscle & Burn Fat (In just 30 minutes a day)

Download this valuable FREE template that goes over the best exercises to do to and how to do them to get the best science-based results (especially if you don't have a lot of time to exercise.)
Send Me The Template Now

The WCT Calisthenics Workout Tempates

Included you will recieve two different templates
A 4 Day/Week Upper Lower Workout Template
A 3 Day/Week Push Pull Legs Template
DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE TEMPLATES TODAY
wct-3-day-email-mock-up

Learn 3 Incredibly Simple Strategies That You Can Use Right Now To Eat Healthier & Lose Weight

These are the same strategies we use every day despite working 80+ hours a week!
Start Lesson 1
Note: When you click the button, you will be joining The White Coat Trainer email list. You may unsubscribe at any time

Don't Know What To Eat?

Download this valuable FREE Table that goes over the best foods from each category (so that you no longer need to guess which foods are healthy and which one's arent)
YES- SEND ME THE TEMPLATE NOW

The WCT's Best Compound Exercises E-Book

Download this valuable FREE E-Book that goes over the best compound exercises for each body part (so that you stop wasting your time doing mediocre exercises)
YES- SEND ME THE TEMPLATE NOW

Want To Build Muscle & Gain Strength But You Don't Know How To Get Started?

Download this valuable FREE 10 Step Checklist that goes over the exact step-by-step formula that ensures your workouts are optimized for results!
YES- SEND ME THE CHECKLIST NOW!

Want To Build Muscle & Gain Strength But You Don't Know How To Get Started?

Get 4 Free Full-Body Workouts plus a 10 Step Checklist that goes over the exact step-by-step formula that ensures your workouts are optimized for results!
YES- SEND ME THE  PDF NOW

4 Full Body Workouts To Build Muscle & Burn Fat (In Just 30 Minutes A Day!)

Download this valuable FREE PDF that goes over the best exercises to do to + the top 10 mistakes you need to avoid in order to get the best science-based results!
SEND ME THE  WORKOUTS NOW

Wait...Don't Forget Your Free Workout Template!

Download Now