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Push-Pull Workout Plan: Get Ripped Working Out Twice a Week!

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Push-Pull Workout Plan: Get Ripped Working Out Twice a Week!

If you need an effective way to build muscle and burn fat while only putting in two days of training per week, then the push-pull workout is the best way to get ripped!

The push-pull workout routine only needs a weekly minimum of two days of strength training, with a focus on push movements and exercises on the first day and a focus on pull movements and exercises the second. Push and pull workouts effectively target major upper body muscles, such as your chest, abs, shoulders, back, and biceps, while giving you essential rest time between strength training workouts.

Perfect for beginners who are limited on time but with plenty of ambition, the push-pull workout doesn't even need to be practiced at the gym; it can be planned and performed from the comfort of your own home using bands for pull-ups and other types of resistance band!

What is a push-pull workout?

A push-pull workout targets two primary and essential bodily movements through effective and focused strength training exercises. A push-pull workout focuses on improving your ability to perform both push movements and pull movements.

It's a form of split training that divides your exercise schedule into specific focus areas. That means that when it's push day, you only target the muscles needed for pushing movements, using focused push exercises (like push-ups). When it's pull day, you only target the muscles required for pull movements using focused pull exercises (like pull-ups).

It's a highly adaptable routine that, in it's simplest form, only needs two days of exercise per week. The rest of the week is yours! You can rest, go jogging, try yoga, or take up resistance band classes. In its most intense form, you can endure push-pull workouts day after day, two days on, one day off to rest.

Even in it's simplest, two days per week format, the push-pull split workout allows you to target major muscle groups and build a solid base of muscle mass without overworking yourself or sustaining injuries early on in your strength training journey. As your muscles become stronger and your fitness improves, you can up the intensity and increase the number of push-pull sessions you practice weekly.

What muscles does a push-pull routine work out?

Sounds simple, right? But what muscles do a push workout and a pull workout actually target? What muscles do we even use when we pull or push?

Push and pull muscles are some of the largest upper body muscles that humans possess. They include the chest, back, and shoulders. But these movements also require strong secondary muscles, such as your core, quads, and glutes, to be performed with balance and stability.

These push and pull muscles aren't just muscles needed by bodybuilders or athletes. These are muscles we use for basic everyday movements, like opening doors or pushing a trolley around the supermarket. Focusing on push-pull movements can help with both everyday fitness and athletic performance.

It's important to know which muscle groupings you are targeting on either day, as the idea of split training is to focus on a specific group at each session. This allows you to hit the targeted muscles hard, then allow them to rest. When you have a solid grasp of which exercises target push movements and which target pull movements, you can quickly build a personalized push-pull workout from scratch.

Push muscles

Push movements occur when the body uses its muscles to push objects away from itself. The simplest example is using your hands to push a door away from your body to open it.

When you push with your hands, you're engaging several muscles to complete the movement, not only your hands and arms. You're also engaging your back, your chest, and even your core.

The most important muscles that needed for pushing are the following:

  • Chest 
  • Shoulders
  • Triceps
  • Biceps
  • Abs

These are the most important push muscles. We can target these through vertical and horizontal push exercises, such as chest presses, shoulder presses, banded push-ups, and bicep and tricep curls. Push day can also target secondary muscles, including the glutes and quads.

Pull muscles

Pull movements occur when we use our bodies to pull an object towards us. Again, you can use the example of the door. Instead of pushing the door open, we pull the door towards our body to close it.

Again, we engage a variety of muscles, the key ones being the back and core muscles. The most important pulling muscles are the following:

  • Lats
  • Trapezius
  • Deltoids
  • Back
  • Abs

We also use other muscles, including triceps and biceps, so there is some crossover between pushing and pulling movements that also allows you to vary your exercise routines. Tricep curls, for instance, can complement both push and pull day. Notice that both pushing and pulling movements engage the abs. A strong core is essential for any functional movement.

Push-pull routine for beginners

The following push-pull workout is designed for beginners and includes various pull and push exercises to perform on alternate days. When you're just starting, aim to complete one pull day and one push day per week.

You can supplement this strength training with cardio days, alongside flexibility training sessions such as yoga or stretching. As your fitness improves, you can increase the number of strength training days to your weekly workout schedule. We also recommend starting out with resistance bands, so the following exercises are all resistance band focused, rather than using free weights.

Resistance bands allow you to better target the specific push and pull muscles while allowing you to focus on technique. You can increase the bands' resistance you're using to continue gaining strength and building muscle!

Notably, while you can vary the exercises, you should try to keep to a push-pull schedule. That means completing push exercises before pull exercises. Push day should always come before pull day. Your muscles will thank you, as will your core stability!

Remember to stretch before and after attempting any exercise session.

Push session

Perform 3 sets of each exercise 

  • Banded squats x 12
  • Banded chest press x 8
  • Banded shoulder press x 12
  • Incline press x 12
  • Banded lat raises x 12
  • Tricep band extensions x 12
  • Tricep band pushdowns x 12
  • Banded push-ups to failure

Pull session

Perform 3 sets of each exercise

  • Banded squats x 12
  • Banded lat pulldowns x 12
  • Bent over row x 12
  • Face pulls x 12
  • Banded bicep curls x 12
  • Banded glute bridge x 12
  • Crunches to failure
  • Pull-ups to failure (band assisted)

What are the benefits of a push-pull workout?

You'll quickly start to realize an array of benefits from planning a push-pull workout schedule. This workout style allows you to target your upper body's essential muscles while also hitting secondary leg and core muscles. While the focus is gaining upper body strength, you also help improve your full-body fitness, flexibility, mobility, and more.

Importantly, push-pull workouts are highly customizable. You can make the most of your free time, work out as much or as little as you want, and incorporate your favorite strength training exercises and equipment into the routines. You can head to the gym once or twice a week, or you can stay at home and use resistance bands in your living room. You'll help build a solid foundation of muscle that you can define or build as you escalate your training goals when you start to see progress.

Of course, there are many more benefits too! Regular strength training is excellent for your overall health and fitness. It helps you avoid long-term pain and injuries, leaving you feeling good and looking great!

Get ripped with the push-pull workout!

Push-pull workouts are a fantastic way for beginners to start building body mass, burning fat, and getting ripped. This focused strength training routine can be tailor-made, utilizing your favorite exercises and equipment, like dumbbells or resistance bands, to build an effective workout that targets the most important upper body muscles.

You can start building the body you've always wanted with just two days of strength training every week, or you can get shredded fast by enduring intense back to back push-pull sessions! Why not give our push-pull workout a try next week?

Katherine Holden

Katherine Holden

Katherine is a CrossFit expert with humble origins. Starting out on a ranch, ever since she was nine, she spent most of her life roping and competing in team roping. After finding bodyweight exercises interesting she sought after a career in CrossFit and dedicated her life towards achieving the body of her dreams. Today Katherine is a personal trainer that loves to travel the world and change the lives of her clients.

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