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Push Pull Workout

Article care of bodybuilding-ebooks.com

Weight Training Routines (Workout programs) : The Push / Pull System

My favourite and most highly recommended training routine is without doubt the time honoured, tried and tested, dyed in the wool Push / Pull System. I have trained with this style for the vast majority of my bodybuilding years after much experimentation with a great many different and often wacky routines. I believe that it offers many advantages over most other routines and I feel confident in saying that you will benefit from greater results from your training by switching over to the push pull system if you are currently not using it. Okay then, just what is the push pull system and why am I such a fan?!

Workout Routines - Overview

Most bodybuilders will split up their bodyparts (not literally, ouch!) over two or more workouts. Cheif reasons for this are that to train every bodypart in one workout is too taxing, takes too long and you can't train each bodypart with sufficient intensity or volume of training (though beginners can train the whole body in one workout as their muscle mass is normally quite low and so the body can recover rapidly from whole body workouts).

Normally, when deciding what workouts to do, a bodybuilder will use some of their experience, knowledge and their current state of developement to choose which bodyparts to train with others and how many workouts they will be spread over and also how many times they will train per week. Common routines are:

  • Back and traps; chest and delts; arms; legs - 4 workouts
  • Back and biceps; chest, delts and triceps; legs - 3 workouts, The Push / Pull System!
  • Quads and calves, hams and biceps, back and triceps, chest and delts - 4 workouts
  • Upper body, lower body - 2 workouts
  • Back and chest; arms and delts; legs - 3 workouts
  • Back and chest; arms; delts and calves; quads and hams - 4 workouts
  • The possible combinations are almost limitless!
Unfortunately however often a workout strategy will be chosen without any apparent scientific reasoning or with no experience or proof that the routine will offer any advantages over another. In fact many bodybuilders follow a routine because they have read or seen that a big guy uses it and heck, if he's gotten that big on it then so can you! Er, not necessarily.

The Push / Pull System : Overview

The push pull system splits your body up into three individual workouts, and commonly these are each performed once per week, giving the system a one week cycle.

The push pull system is so named because of the way your muscles are grouped together in the workouts. All the 'push' muscles (Chest, front and side delts, and triceps) are trained in one workout, the 'pull' muscles (back, rear delts, traps and biceps) are trained in the second workout and legs in the third and final workout.

Key Benefits

The push / pull system offers some key benefits over most other routines:

  • Efficiency
  • Minimal overlap of bodyparts between workouts - Only the lower back and traps are affected in two workouts, every other muscle is only affected in one workout
  • Maximum rest for muscles - from the above point most body parts get full rest between their workouts
  • Sensible grouping of muscles - you train associated muscles, i.e. you train all the 'push' muscles in one workout
  • Focused workouts ensure minimal injuries because the workout focuses on one area and so each set serves as a warm up for the rest of the workout

As you can see, the advantages over most other routines are considerable! Cheif amongst these is the sheer amount of rest your muscles get between workouts - most muscles will get a full week of uninterupted rest! Lets look at another workout routine and show you show you just how much more advantageous the push / pull system is over it. At random I picked this workout to compare:

Workout routines comparison

Back and chest; arms; delts and calves; quads and hams

Lets start by looking at how often pushing and pulling muscles are trained. Pushing muscles (chest, front and side delts and triceps) are training in three of the four workouts (!) as are the pulling muscles (back in workout 1, biceps in workout 2 and rear delts in workout 3).

Immediately this shows us that rest-wise, this is a very poor workout routine. Your triceps would be worked in three of your four workouts! They would be in a permenant state over being overtrained and as a result getting them to grow would be very difficult. Perhaps you are experiencing something like this today? The same goes for biceps - they get trained twice per week in this plan, one on back day and once on arms day.

Having muscles affected in multiple workouts also diminishes the way you can train. Say in the above example you train arms on Tuesday and delts and calves on Wednesday. Your triceps will be extremely fatigued on the delts and calves day as they'll have been trained less than 24 hours ago and so any delt exercise that uses triceps (any pressing movement!!) will be severely affected. In fact it's likely that in your pressing exercises your triceps give out very early in the sets and your delts will be only lightly affected. Not good at all!

Looking back at the push / pull system you can see that these issues are almost entirely resolved - biceps and triceps are each only trained or affected once per week, in their intended workouts. Far more efficient and far more productive. Of course, if you recover very quickly from your workouts (though don't forget to allow time to grow - recovery is different and prior to growth!) - you may train more than three times per week...

Training frequency using the push / pull system

I recommend training three times per week when on this system to allow maximum time for rest and recovery, especially if you are natural.

Something like:

Monday: Back, rear delts, traps, biceps
Wednesday: Chest, front and side delts, triceps
Friday: Hams, Calves, Quads

Some people may prefer to train more than three times per week and this is more allowable on this system than any other, simply because the overlap between the workouts is minimal. You can rigidly structure the timing of your workouts if you wish or be more flexible in your training and train when you feel recovered enough (a more eclectic style). Some chemically enhanced trainers may even train six days a week - performing the three workouts twice over six days and then taking a day off before repeating the double cycle. This is very very intense and should only be attempted by advanced trainers taking optimum nutrition and rest, in my opinion.

For beginners I recommend you keep to training just the three times per week as it is a great way to help avoid overtraining and ensure maximum results. Personally I train as and when I feel recovered. This intimate knowledge of your body can take many years to develop and is a great tool in helping you to achieve your best possible results. If you are not strict with yourself however you can end up using this as a way of cheating yourself out of workouts and becoming lazy.

Summary

The push / pull system is designed to minimise the risk of overtraining by considered grouping of your muscles so that overlap between your workouts is kept to an absolute minimum. In my opinion most of the other workout routines have many disadvantages when compared to the push pull system and I urge you to give the push pull system a three month test if you have not tried it before.

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