I have been very excited to write this program because this is, what I believe will be, the most superior training program on the planet. The Push, Pull, Legs program is designed to completely optimize muscle growth, recovery, and specialization. This is the split most commonly used by intermediate athletes all the way to the top pro’s. Why is this? Because it works—extremely well.
PPL allows for a level of specialization by breaking the body into 3 distinctive groups based on the mechanism of movement: muscles that will be used to push anything away from you will be categorized as push, pull anything towards you will be pull, and legs is self explanatory as this will be any movements that use your legs as the main driver of movement.
Push muscle groups will involve the Chest, Shoulders, and Triceps.
Pull muscle groups will be the Back, Biceps, and Forearms.
Leg muscle groups will be Quads, Hamstrings, and Calves.
These workouts are designed in a way that each movement will actually work the secondary muscles within the group. For example: Bench Press will focus on the chest (pectorals) muscle, but will also use the triceps to push the bar up, as well as recruit shoulders for stability.
By categorizing the muscles into movement patterns, you will effectively and efficiently be utilizing the entire group of muscles to perform each movement of the workout program. By working out in a way that is completely complimentary to the focused muscle group, you run much less risk of “overtraining” and running into too much overlap between training sessions.
The PPL program also allows for optimal frequency as you will be hitting the muscle groups 1-2x a week, and this has been shown to be the best frequency in terms of maximizing both recovery times and muscle growth.
The versatility of the PPL program is another great benefit. You can structure your rest days however you see fit, whether that be 3-on 1-off, 2-on 1-off, or even a modified version like I run 2-on, 1-off, 1-on, 1-off, repeated. You can also manipulate the order of the split: it does not have to be push, pull, legs in that order. You can do: pull, push, legs; push, legs, pull; etc. However you find this to be optimal based on your personal recovery, goals, and weaknesses.
I suggest not working out more than 3 days in a row without a rest day to avoid overtraining and burning yourself out quickly. What I’ve discovered with myself, and hundreds of other trainees, training 4-5 days is the sweet spot in terms of maximizing recovery and growth.
Setting Up The Program
With the PPL program you are allowing more days between workouts of the same muscle groups. This will allow for more volume and specialization in your specific workouts. We will be approaching a low-volume, high-intensity as this has been shown to be superior to muscle growth than the inverse—due to intensity being a superior driver of muscle growth.
As this is a program designed for more advanced trainees, we’re going to assume you know your body and recovery capabilities. The training set-up here will be 12-16 sets per workout.
A question I get frequently is the assumption that this is not enough volume. I challenge you to do more volume while training with high intensity, to failure, and see if you have the capability to recover between workouts. If you can, amazing, DM me and I will coach you for the Mr. Olympia. On a serious note, more does not always equal more, especially in the art of bodybuilding.
It’s absolutely pertinent that you are training to failure. When I say failure I mean true mechanical failure. If a gun was held to your head, you would not be able to squeeze out another rep.
Assuming you are an intermediate/advanced trainee—you should be if you planning on utilizing this program—we are going to be looking at 12-16 total sets per workout. We will set up 2 separate workouts per PPL block, workout “A” and workout “B”. These two workouts will focus on separate body parts, i.e Push A will be Chest Focused, where Push B will be Shoulder Focused. The Pull Workouts will alternate between Back Width focus, and back Thickness Focus. Legs will split the Quads and Hamstrings into separate groups.
Push A (Chest Focus)
2 Sets Pec Dec: 2 sets 12-15, 15-20 (Don’t Go To Failure)
Chest Press (Machine, or Barbell): 2 sets 6-9, 12-15
Shoulder Press (Machine, Dumbbell, or Barbell): 2 sets 6-9, 10-12
Dumbbell Overhead Extension: 2 sets 8-10, 12-15
Incline Chest (Machine or Barbell): 2 sets 8-10, 12-15
Tricep Rope Pushdown: 2 sets 12-15
Assisted Dip: 2 sets 10-12
Pull A (Width Focus)
Pullovers (Machine preferred, Dumbbell if nothing else) 2 sets 8-12, 12-15
Single Arm Lat Pulldown (Machine or Cable): 2 sets 8-10, 12-15
Chest Supported Row: 2 sets 6-9, 10-15
Chin Ups (Add weight if possible): 2 sets 6-9, 12-15
Single Arm Standing Row (Machine): 2 sets 8-10, 12-15
Preacher Curls: 2 sets 10-12, 12-15
D Handle Cable Curls: 2 sets 8-10, 12-15
Legs A (Quad Focus)
Leg Extensions: 2 sets 12-15, 15-20
Adductors: 2 sets 15-20, 10-12
Hack Squat Machine: 3 sets 10-12, 8-10, 6X5 CLUSTER (see Substack).
Bulgarian Split Squats: 2 sets 12-15
Seated Ham Curl: 1 set 10-12
Walking Lunges: 2 sets 12-15
Calf Raises: 2 sets 12-15
Push B (Shoulders Focus)
Dumbbell Y Raise: 2 sets 10-12, 12-15
Shoulder Press (Machine, Dumbbell, or Barbell): 2 sets: 8-10, 10-12
Dips: 2 sets 8-10, 12-15
Lateral Raises: 2 sets 15-20, 10-12
Chest Fly’s (Cable or Dumbbell): 2 sets 10-12, 12-15
Tricep Rope Pushdown: 2 sets 10-12, 13-15
Single Arm Dumbbell Overhead Extension: 2 sets 8-10, 12-15
Pull B (Thickness Focus)
Deadlift: 2 sets 6-9, 10-12
Barbell Shrugs: 1 set 8-10
Chest Supported Row: 2 sets 6-9, 10-12
Cable Lat Pulldown: 2 sets 8-10, 10-12
Rear Delt Fly: 2 sets 15, 8-10
Hammer Curl: 2 sets 10-12, 12-15
Dual Cable Curl: 2 sets 10-12, 12-15
Legs B (Hamstrings and Glutes Focus)
Adductors: 2 sets 12-15, 10-12
Straight Leg Deadlift: 1 set 8-10
Lying Ham Curls: 2 sets 10-12, 12-15
Leg Extensions: 2 sets 20+, 13-15
Leg Press: 2 sets 8-10, 12-15
Hip Thrusts: 1 set 10-12
Seated Ham Curls: 2 sets 8-10
45 Degree Hyperextension: 1 set 12-15
Calf Raises: 2 sets 12-15
If you don’t have a machine or equipment, there is an easy solution. First, you have to think about the desired movement pattern, and you can think of an alternative if you understand that concept. A lot of you do, but if you don’t understand have no fear.
Every single exercise will have a barbell and dumbbell alternative, I promise you.
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