When you join a gym and begin to lift weights, virtually any training programme will work. However, these newbie gains (as they’re known in gym parlance) are short-lived and you’ll quickly hit a plateau. But before you see if you can wriggle out of your 12-month gym contract, give the push/pull split a fair crack of the whip.
One major benefit of a push/pull plan is the increased frequency with which you hit your muscles. A typical split will see you in the gym six times a week: push/pull/legs comprises Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, which is then repeated – leaving Sunday as your day of rest.
Typical bodybuilding routines, where a muscle is trained only once a week (hello, chest Mondays) should be left alone if you’re a drug-free lifter. For the majority, muscle protein synthesis needs to be regenerated every 48-72 hours – so training part of the body once a week won’t suffice.
The push/pull plan also allows you to introduce microcycles in your training. That is, one push day you may focus on heavier, strength-style training while the second may involve higher-rep, hypertrophy-focused lifts.
“This push/pull workout allows you to hit the major upper body muscles hard on days one and two before targeting your legs and core on day three,” says personal trainer and fitness model Shaun Stafford.
“Splitting your sessions based on the different movements prevents the muscle groups from being overtrained, which can lead to injury. But because you’ll be exclusively training specific muscles, you’ll be able to hit the gym more. It’s the best way to build more muscle and burn more fat.”
Rest for no more than 60 seconds between each set. Do the exercises in each set in one go with no rests.
Day 1: Pull
Sets 4 Reps 6
Grasp a pull-up bar with an overhand grip so your palms are facing away from you and your hands are shoulder-width apart. Contract your upper back muscles to help pull your chest towards the bar. Lower under control.
Sets 3 Reps 8
Holding a barbell with an overhand grip just outside your legs, bend your knees slightly and hinge forwards from the hips, keeping your back slightly concave and your shoulder blades back throughout. Pull the weight up to your lower chest, then slowly return to the start.
Sets 3 Reps 10
Hold a barbell with your hands shoulder-width apart and palms facing forwards. Keeping your chest up and elbows close to your sides, curl the bar up until it’s level with the top of your chest. Lower under control.
Sets 2 Reps 12
Sit with your feet against the supports, bending your legs slightly. Grasp the handle, using the attachment so your palms are facing, retract your shoulder blades and sit upright. Without leaning back, pull the handle towards your lower chest.
Sets 1 Reps 20
Sit in the seat with your knees firmly under the support. Grab the wide bar with hands double shoulder-width apart, palms facing forwards, retract your shoulder blades and sit upright. Without leaning back, pull the handle down in front of your face until it’s level with your chin.
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I never knew deadlifts were a leg exercise. I always thought it was for the lower back. I Guess it depends on how it’s performed.
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