Push Pull Legs Program – Strength and Size

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Anonymous says:

Looks great! But what about calves?

Throw some calve raises in where you can, if you care for calves… 😉

Jerry says:

Hey Coach,

I was wondering if I could add in a second abdominal exercise. I feel like my obliques need work. Adding an exercise would bring my leg day up to 7 exercise.

It would look like:

Stiff-Legged Deadlifts
Dumbbell Walking Lunges
Glute-Ham Raises
Seated Tilted Calf Raises
Weighted Decline Crunches
Standing Side Bends

Anonymous says:

To tell the truth the push pull workout is a bunch of bull. I have done push one day pull the next and so on and all you get is cut and Lil power. When I was doing both pull and push 5 days a week I was getting better results and was moving up on weight faster and was building more muscle mass. If you believe in the push pull workout then you must of never had a real job doing actually hard manual labor 6-7 days a week and working 10-12 hours a day throwing heavy weight around. I feel most these ppl that come up with this nonsense are ppl that never had a manual labor job like construction and foundries work. Keep believing push pull routine. You won’t advance as fast as you want to. Like i said i have done the push pull bull and i went back to working out every muscle 5 days a week and i am advancing and building faster muscle mass.

Bill Neace says:


1st – thanks for the very thoughtful and thorough article! I’m 51 years old and have been seriously lifting for about 2 years (made a lot of mistakes my first year …). I have been on a 3-day full body routine for the last few weeks and am looking to increase volume. This program looks like a great one.

My question: Is working one muscle group per week sufficient to stimulate continued gains in strength and size? That is, is trading off frequency for volume as optimal as frequency when it comes to increasing strength/size?

Thank you in advance for your guidance.

Current Stats:

Height: 5’10 in.
Weight: 160 lbs
Bench: 180lbs x 2
Squat: 250lbs x 4
Deadlift: 255lbs x 4

Blake says:

Hey, I was considering doing this routine. My only question is how should I select an appropriate set range from the ones given? I have about 7 months experience with weights but I have never selected my own set ranges before. How should I start?

Hi Blake,

They’re all laid out in the article, working at the higher or lower end is not an issue. Just make sure you the weight and repetition range is pushing you very hard.

Blake says:

Maybe I phrased my question in too broad of a way. What I mean is you have all the rep and set ranges listed for an exercise. So let’s say I want to do squats as my primary exercise. How do I decide between 3 sets at 3-5 reps or 6 sets between 3-5 reps etc. Or maybe I’m a dunce and am missing something in the article? Thanks for the quick reply though!

Ahh, sorry my mistake. You can approach it many different ways!

If your primary goal is strength you can do around 3×3, if it’s strength and muscle aim to do more sets (i.e. 6×3-5)

Or you can just start with the heaviest weight you can do for 3×3, then slowly increase the sets and reps each week until you get to 6×5. Then do 3×3 with more weight and repeat the cycle.

Hope that makes sense.

Blake says:

I just have one more question and then you’ll be rid of me 😛

I did my leg day yesterday and my hamstrings are experiencing a ton of soreness. The soreness might screw with my deadlifting tomorrow on my pull day. Firstly should I just power through the workout through the soreness? I used to do that when I would Squat 3x a week on Starting Strength and I was fine and the soreness eventually wasn’t a problem. Im not sure if it will work the same way for this workout because I am not working any muscle group that many times.

I was thinking alternating the push and pull days if the soreness does become a problem (it isn’t just yet) but I do not want to mess the routine if I do not have to. What do you suggest?

Hi Blake!

Don’t be silly, It’s always great to hear from people following the program.

This initial soreness is very common whenever you start a new program. I’d recommend pushing through the soreness. If it doesn’t ease after 3-4 solid weeks; consider alternating as you suggested.

Hope this helps Blake. Good to hear from you again – never be afraid to ask questions! Hope you enjoy the program and see awesome results! Good luck man.

Anonymous says:

Hey, I’m thinking of switching to this routine, but I’m not an athlete, and I don’t do any other sports besides lifting weights. Do you think I’d be overtraining if I followed a ABCxABC frequency (Which is 6 days the first week, and 5 days the next weeks)? There’s 3 days of rest between each workout of the same movement type, so it looks like each muscle group gets enough rest, but I’m not sure if 3-4 compounds, 5 days a week would be too heavy, especially with squats in leg day and deadlifts in pull day. Either way really helpful article, thanks a lot


Thanks for the kind feedback. It totally depends upon your training experience and what program you’ve just come off. How many days a week do you usually train? How many years have you been training?

Anonymous says:

I’ve been lifting seriously for 9 months, the first 6 months on Stronglifts 3 times a week, and the last 3 months on a 4 day push/pull, with 3 compounds and 3 accessories every session. My linear progression slowed down to weekly progression at the end of the first 6 months, so I switched to a push/pull. I’m planning to get on this new routine because it looks much more optimal having a seperate day for legs and focusing more on each movement type. Thanks for your time

Awesome, looks like you’ve got a good idea of what you’re doing. However, I’d highly recommend you start with 4 days a week, especially with your low training age. See how you progress, recover and feel. If you feel like you can handle another day – throw it in!

Anonymous says:

Thanks a lot, I’ll do that!

Anonymous says:

I know this is late in posting, but……what about calf muscle work, none of these seem to hit it

Ahaa! Don’t worry, there’s no deadline for comments…

Nice observation, there is no direct calf work in this program. However, feel free to throw in at the end of the workout, not an issue at all! Enjoy dude.

Sergio Perrone says:

Would you recommend this split during a cut?

jtfitnessperformance says:

Hi Sergio, there’s no particular reason you cannot use this program during a “cut”. However, it is unlikely that you’ll see any strength improvements unless you’re a beginner. Thanks for you comment.

Peter says:

This is a million times better than every other article out there on P/P/L split routine. I love the fact that you give us a list of all the different exercises and we can create our own routine. It’s so spot on with what I look for.

Quick question for you about my hypothetical Push Day:
1. Overhead Press
2. Bench Press
3. Dips
4. Push ups
5. Flys
6 Lateral Raises

If my main exercise is Overhead Press, then should the following Main Assistance exercise be something like Dumbbell press? Or is it OK to do Overhead Press as your main lift, and then follow that up with Bench Press? I know that the Bench Press and Overhead Press are very different movements so there’s little carry over from 1 to the other.

Thanks again for the awesome article. I can’t wait to get back into the gym in May!

jtfitnessperformance says:

Thank you Peter, helps me out a lot. It is completely okay, however I’d recommend doing Bench Press first then Overhead Press after. As a general rule of thumb, the exercise which involves the most amount of muscles, coordination or weight should be completed first.

I hope this helps, good luck with getting back to it! It’d be awesome if you could follow my Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/JTFitnessPerformance. Keep me updated dude

Moving Along says:

Hey man, thanks for this, looks great to me. Definitely going to give it a try. Cheers.

Thank you! Good luck with it mate. Great to have a fellow rugger on board!

Moving Along says:

Cheers man, just a quick question. I get alot of hamstring injuries recently and it seems to happen usually after stiff leg deadlifting. Any suggestions on another exercise to do instead of them?

What kind of injuries are you getting? I assume it’s a minor strain. It’s hard to say over the internet but all signs point towards tight hamstrings, stiff-legged deadlifts really test the flexibility of the hamstrings, so it would make sense that you’re over-stretching them. The Romanian Dead-lift would be a great alternative. Although the best thing to do would be mobilize your hamstrings.

Moving Along says:

I’ve had a grade 1 tear in the left hamstring and an issue with the area around the tendon insertion in the right one in the last year. I’ve worked hard on flexibility in the last few months and they’re feeling much better but still reluctant to go back to stiff leg or romanian deadlift to be honest.

You should be reluctant, make sure the issue is fully healed and then make sure you are able to reach 3 inches away from the ground while maintaining a completely neutral spine before going back to them. They’re are not a must have exercise anyway so I wouldn’t worry too much. If you’re okay doing the conventional deadlift and sumo deadlift, stick to them.

Moving Along says:

Cheers man, much appreciated

Moving Along says:

Reblogged this on 6 month tranformation and commented:
This sounds pretty great, after my deload week next week I’m going to give this a crack for 4 weeks. Focusing on the 3 sessions a week.


I will be trying a Push Pull Legs in the near future. just thought I would share. Thanks again for the great post!

Thanks for sharing on your blog mate. Just followed your twitter, you’ve got some good stuff going on, Keep up the good work.

Thanks! I shall do my best.

Reblogged this on Strength and Sense and commented:
Thought I would re blog this post made me think about doing Push Pull Legs. 🙂

Nabeel says:

I specially go to my college gym because they have the trap bar. I love the trap bar deadlift. When I am training legs can I replace the split squats for the trapbar deadlifts? I am a hardgainner, my trapbar deadlift is about 275 lbs for 6 reps. I am 5`8, 140 lbs. If I do the 4 days program with full hard work and keep my calories in the 3500-4000 range, will I gain muscle? Keeping in mind that I will also be resting 8 hours, taking protein shake(3 servings divided. upon waking up, before workout, and after workout, and creatine(5-10 grams a day. Upon waking up and post workout). I will highly appreciate a reply. Also, I am confused on whether I am a beginner and a hardgeinner or not because being a hardgainner is not at all in my genetics. I can do 50 pushups, 20 pullups, I mostly do compound movements. My squat went up from 115 to 155, bent over row from 90 to 115. Chest press from 115 to 145. I have been training for long but not with seriousness.

Hi Nabeel,

That would be a great idea if you can handle the extra recovery, as big compound lift like the trap bar deadlift will increase androgens release such as testosterone. You certainly gain muscle mass if you eat between 3500-4000kcal range, but is this maintainable? Consistency is key. It’s good to see you stick to the compound lifts, this is very important.

Here’s my advise to you, Stick to three workouts a week, stick to the compound lifts and each as much as possible! Don’t worry about calculating calories at the moment, just make sure you eat as much unprocessed food as you possibly can, and then eat some more. You’ll be sure to see results fairly quickly. I have a program coming out today or tomorrow, which will be perfect for someone like yourself. So make sure you follow my facebook page or blog so you can pick it up.

Hope this helps mate. Good luck with achieving your goal.

Cristian Donati says:

Rest between set?tank you

I’d recommend going by how you feel but this does take a bit of experience. Generally:

Primary Exercise: 2-6minutes
Main Assistance/ Compound Mass: 90seconds- 3 minutes
Rest: 60seconds-2minutes

Hope that helps but really try to listen to your body, we are all extremely different

Hey! been deciding on a push pull legs routine for a while now! and came across yours, looks great with in depth details of what to do and why given me great info thanks 🙂 you say this is for beginners, what would you recommend for someone who has more experience, been lifting over a year now, SERIOUS hard gainer, now iv got my diet in check getting strength is a slow but steady progress i’m just really struggling with size! thanks again for the info i shall be looking at more of your stuff

Ahh good, glad to hear I’m helping you out mate. I see “beginner” a lot differently to most people. As I see getting stronger as a lifelong journey – anyone with under 5 years of lifting I’d consider a beginner, even longer if they don’t know what they’re doing! So in short, this program would be suitable, if you enjoy it and get results. However, with under a year of lifting I would highly recommend following a strength program.

I’d consider looking at 5/3/1 and canditos training program (http://jacktylerperformance.com/2014/02/08/3-astounding-programs-and-adherence/) as I believe you should focus on strength, no matter your goal, ESPECIALLY with under 5 years of lifting. To gain muscle mass you need to put the muscle tissue under duress, the more weight you can lift, the greater amount of stress you can apply to the muscle, this provides a stimulus for it to grow.

EAT, EAT, EAT if your goal is size, this should be your priority. It sounds like you understand this, you just need to make sure you eat massive quantities of food if you’re a hard gainer. As my old coach said “eat to your fully, then eat double that”. If you’d be interested, I can make specific dietary advice for your body type etc if you go on my coaching page. However, following these simple basics of strength training and eating high volumes of food (particularly protein) should do you wonders!

Easiest way to follow me is through Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JTFitnessPerformance
Good luck my friend.


Fred says:

Forgot this…..Or another option would be deadlift heavy then squat light (or skip squats and do another exercise) one week and then deadlift light (or skip deadlifts ) and go heavy on squats the next week and keep alternating.?

Fred says:

@ Genas mousas there is als dumbell shoulder press so yeah he has 3 big shoulder exercises listed there.

@ Jack, let me tell ya what I decided to do here. I am coming back from a shoulder injury and am also at a stage in life where time is at a premium and I have to be careful I get my sleep. So I’m gonna use this routine as follows;

Starting out I am using light weight to ensure my shoulder is rock solid. I am also using the min reps and sets you have listed (except for deadlifts which I am doing 5 x 5 at moderate to heavy weight). I am also only training 3 x/week for now.
As I get stronger I will use the wave method and increase the sets and tweak rep ranges where it will benefit myself. As long as the shoulder holds up I will work out to heavy weights at 3 x a week for about 6 to 9 weeks.
After 6 to 9 weeks I will evaluate. Am I hitting a plateau ? Is my shoulder healthy? Somehwere in the 6 -9 week range we usually peak our strength levels. At this point I will taper the wave back down to less intensity and restart with min reps/sets again.

Also when I feel I can handle things timewise I will go from the 3 day to the 4 day routine thereby “kicking up a notch” another way.

Question: I Did dead lifts and the next day I am feeling it but knowing myself I am probably gonna feel it tomorrow even more and its leg day tomorrow….. I though about doing Pull on monday instead of push and keep legs on friday to avoid not being fresh for leg day after crushing deadlifts. It just seems like one day off in between back day and leg day doesn’t give me the rest I need.

So what would be better, leave back day alone but just go lighter on deadlifts to make sure Im not too wiped out for squats 48 hrs later? Or just switch the push/pull days around?

Thanks !

jacktyler1 says:

First of all, if you’re short on time, I’d recommend cutting some of the mass exercises out which are usually at the end of the session. As these are more optional, not vital. Also, do you know what your shoulder issue was?

In answer to your question – you can use the program in a pull,push,legs order but personally I would look into your dead-lift, the volume might be a bit much with 5×5. I would reduce the overall volume by reducing the amount of sets and reps, you don’t need to decrease the intensity.

Fred says:

No idk what exactly was wrong with my shoulder. My chiropractor was one week away from sending me for an mri when it started to feel better. It has progrssively gotten better over the past few weeks as I slowly ramp up in weight and intensity.

Concerning the deadlift you are most like correct. Deads are my fav and when Im doing them I feel like an animal. I usually end up going hard as hell and work my ass off. The next day I feel wiped out and hungry !!! Sometimes I dont even sleep well that night , even if I pulled early in the a.m.!

I like the idea of switching btween deads and squats on the intensity level. week 1 heavy deads & light squats (or no squats) week 2 Heavy squats & light deads (or no deads) repeat.

Genas mousas says:

no shoulder press on push movement ?

jacktyler1 says:

Push press and overhead press are the two shoulder movements in the push section buddy. They are great bang for your buck exercise’s, especially during a program focused on athleticism and strength, not just size

Fred says:

Reblogged this on and commented:
This is a great article to build your knowledge of exercising, very comprehensive!
Fred (LHXC)

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