I’m sure you have all been asked on many occasions, what split you run, how many days you train, what body parts you work together, and so on and so forth. The truth is, there any many ways to train, many splits to be utilized and someone will always have the latest and greatest split, which will add the most muscle, burn the most fat, and turn you into Superman while doing so. My favorite split for packing on muscle and building strength has to be Push-Pull Legs. This is one of the most versatile splits I have ever tried, allowing me to train 3 times a week, up to 6 times a week if I decide. The joy of this split is that you can really target weak areas and work on strength, size and fat loss all in the same week if you choose to do so.
So what is this system and how does it work? Well, you simply split your workouts up into 3 days.
It is important that you rotate these to get the maximum benefit of the plan. What also works really well is if you place pull day after push day or vice versa. The muscles will be stretched and worked eccentrically on the second session allowing for faster recovery.
This split is excellent for avoiding overlapping body parts. As all of the pushing and pulling is allocated together, it is impossible to train a single body part consecutively. Although you might not be aware, see if you follow a traditional 5-day split where you train all of the body parts individually; there is a high chance you will train some body parts 3-4 times per week, with no rest at all. The body parts which are most at risk of overtraining on these splits are lower back (deadlifting, squats, leg press, hypers), shoulders (pressing from chest and shoulder movements and even rear delts with back), and arms which are hit with most chest, shoulder or back movements.
Keeping blood in working muscles is a huge benefit when we put all pushing or pulling movements together. Training chest, shoulders, and triceps allowing you to mix and match exercises and reduce training time if needed, as you are already hitting specific muscles in other body part movements. For instance, a chest press will rely heavily on front delts for the movement, which will be sufficient enough work on that front delt, so you don’t have to worry about hitting it again with an isolation movement. The other benefit is that by training chest previous to shoulders, you are warming the shoulders up so you can pretty much go straight into heavy lifts and use your energy productively, including the triceps after that.
It is also great for working on weak body parts. You can really emphasize a body part that needs extra work and hit it hard 2, even 3 times a week with this plan if required. You can also prioritize that body part during individual sessions, hitting the lagging muscle with more intensity than the other muscle groups, adding more exercises or sets to the desired area.
An example of this would be a shoulder dominant push workout:
As you can see, although it is a push day, the shoulders get the most focus.
What I really like about the Push-Pull-Legs splits, is that you can use this to build strength, tone up or add muscle. Depending on what your priority is, you can adjust your training days to match. If you’re looking at strength training, you may only want to train 3 sessions per week so that you would perform one workout (push, pull, or legs) on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, allowing plenty of time for the body to recover, feed and grow stronger.
However, if you are looking at growing muscle, you may want to consider adding another day or even two, into the equation. To achieve hypertrophy, you will need these extra days in the week to get enough volume in. This is very simply done. To keep a balance, you should work on a 3-week rolling schedule. So week 1, you would train push twice, week 2, pull twice and week 3, legs twice. Whatever body parts you train twice in a week, should be placed on Monday and Friday to allow for optimal rest.
This is my personal favorite. However, not everyone can handle the volume of this plan. You have to already be on an elite level and have adequate time to rest and train to benefit from this plan entirely. If done correctly, you can add muscle, gain strength and drop body fat all at the same time. The joy of this 6-day split is that you can hit each body part, twice per week.
The real benefit here is that you can work both mechanical tension and metabolic stress, every week for each body part. Having the ability to rotate the workouts, gives you maximum opportunity here to really target a muscle from every angle.
Like I said before though, this is NOT easy and is definitely designed for the advanced lifters. The basic way in which this works is that we have 2 workouts for each group, which in essence, makes for 6 different workouts per week. Workout one would be heavy, powerful lifts, in which we target mechanical tension, whereas workout two would be for metabolic stress, concentrating more on lighter weights, higher volume, and the pumping of the muscles.
Done and planned out right, this training plan can be very useful to even the most advanced lifter, and even though it is indeed hard, you will reap every single benefit you sew, and the results will make you want to keep doing it.