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Push Pull Legs Routine | The Best Mass-Building Workout Split

Push Pull Legs Routine | The Best Mass-Building Workout Split
Chris Appleton
Writer and expert1 year ago
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Monday: Chest, Tuesday: Shoulders, Wednesday: Legs, Thursday: Arms. Sound familiar? The ever famous ‘bro split’, concentrating on one specific body part each day is time-consuming and only allows you to hit each body part once per week.

What is Push Pull Legs? 

Push pull legs is a weightlifting training split that divides your muscles into groups, where each group is trained separately, on a different day. This allows each muscle group to get the rest they need while ensuring that there isn't too much time between each session which could otherwise increase chances of regression. 

  • Push day allows you to work your Chest, Shoulders and Triceps mainly all within one session. 
  • Pull day will allow the muscles used in your Push Day to rest while you blast your Back, Traps, and Biceps. 
  • Leg Day is what it says on the tin. While your upper body rests, you’re working your lower body to its full capacity, including your Glutes, Hamstrings, Quads, and Calves. 

Mass-Building Basics

The Push, Pull, Legs workout routine is for anyone, whether you’re walking into the gym for the first time or you’re an experienced gym-goer.

Don’t expect Bicep Curls or Pec Dec sets. The main reason is that the majority of these workouts are comprised of compound exercises like the barbell bench press, squats and deadlifts offer the most ‘bang for your buck’. They involve multiple muscle groups and allow the most room for progression of reps and weight. This means more growth for you. 

What Does a Push, Pull, Legs Workout Look Like? 

The basic premise of any push, pull, legs program will always be similar, but there will be subtle differences for those just getting started in the gym compared to those who are more experienced. 

The first major difference between the beginner program and the advanced program is the tweaking of training days. The advanced trainer will be training two days on and one day off, which allows for increased frequency of hitting body parts, leading to more opportunities for growth and recovery. An advanced gym-goer will likely also add more complex exercises as they improve their technique and knowledge. 

Beginners Routine Split

The focus for a beginner should be to learn proper technique and form, therefore all sets should be stopped 1-2 reps shy of true failure (whereby another rep could not be completed without comprising form) unless stated. 

The beginner is also only training 3 days a week, with at least a day’s rest after each session. This is to promote recovery between workouts as a beginner’s recovery capabilities will be much less than those of a more experienced gym-goer. 

Training days: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

Monday: Pull

Exercises Sets & Reps
Deadlifts 3 x 5-8 reps
Close Grip Chin-ups 3 (Bodyweight > failure)
Bent Over Rows 2 x 8-12 reps
Wide-Grip Cable Row 2 x 10-12 reps
Barbell Curls 2 x 12-15 reps

Wednesday: Push

Exercises Sets & Reps
Flat Barbell Bench Press 3 x 8-12 reps
Incline Dumbbell Press 2 x 10-12 reps
Standing Military Press 3 x 6-8 reps
Wide-Grip Upright Rows 2 x 12-15 reps
Narrow Grip Dips 3 Bodyweight > failure
Cable Pushdowns 2 x 12-15 reps

Friday: Legs

Exercises Sets & Reps
Squats 2 x 10-12 reps
Leg Press 3 x 6-8 reps
DBell Stiff-legged deadlift 2 x 12-15 reps
Leg Extensions 2 x 15-20 reps

As you can see, in the beginner program, there are very few isolation exercises. The program focuses on the old-school basic mass movements such as deadlifts, squats and standing military press. This is for two reasons: 

  • It gives beginners a great foundation of strength and teaches basic lifting techniques rather than relying on machines.
  • It works a large number of muscle groups at once including the all-important core muscles, which are often neglected by beginners and are very important to handle heavier weights as the beginner progresses.

Advanced Routine Split

An advanced trainer, who is used to weights as a stimulus, will have much greater recovery capabilities than their less experienced counterparts. They’ll be able to benefit from and grow with extra training, whereas a beginner could burn out and potentially not progress. 

Pull Days: Day 1, 5.

Push Days: Day 2, 6.

Leg Days: Day 4, 8.

Rest Days: Day 3, 7, 11.

Day 1: Pull 1

Exercises Sets & Reps
Deadlifts 1st: 3-5 reps 2nd: 6-8 reps
Underhand Pulldowns 2 x 8-12 reps
Dumbbell One Rows 1st: 6-8 reps 2nd: 12-15 reps
Pendlay Rows 1st: 6-8 reps 2nd: 12-15 reps
Skull Crushers 3 x 8-12 reps
Rope Hammer Curls 2 x 12-15 reps

Day 2: Push 1

Exercises Sets & Reps
Incline Bench Press 1st: 6-8 reps 2nd: 8-12 reps
Flat Dumbbell Press 2 x 8-12 reps
Wide-Grip Dips 3 (Bodyweight > failure)
Dumbbell Shoulder Press 2 x 8-12 reps
Arnold Press 2 x 12-15 reps
Skull Crushers 3 x 8-12 reps
Underhand Pushdowns 2 x 12-15 reps

Day 4: Legs 1

Exercises Sets & Reps
Front Squats 1st: 6-8 reps 2nd: 12-15 reps
Feet Low & Close Leg Press 2 x 15-20 reps
Stiff-legged deadlifts 6-8reps > 8-12 reps
Glute Ham raises Bodyweight > Failure
Walking lunges 2 x 20 each leg

Day 5: Pull 2

Exercises Sets & Reps
Bent Over Rows 1st: 6-8 reps 2nd: 8-12 reps
T-Bar Row 2 x 6-8 reps
Close Grip Chin-ups 3 (Bodyweight > failure)
Rack Deadlifts 1st: 3-5 reps 2nd: 6-8 reps
Barbell Curls 3 x 8-12 reps
Reverse Grip Cable Curls 2 x 12-15 reps

Day 7: Push 2

Exercises Sets & Reps
Decline Bench Press 1st: 6-8 reps 2nd: 8-12 reps
Incline Dumbbell Press 2 x 8-12 reps
Flat Machine Press 2 x 10-12 reps
Seated Smith Machine Shoulder Press 2 x 8-12 reps
Wide-Grip Upright Rows 2 x 12-15 reps
Close-Grip Bench Press 2 x 6-8 reps
Overhead Rope Extensions 3 x 12-15 reps

Day 8: Legs 2

Exercises Sets & Reps
Squats 1st: 6-8 reps 2nd: 8-12 reps
Lying Leg Curls 2 x 12-15 reps
Hack Squats 2 x 15-20 reps
Smith Machine Front Squats 2 x 15-20 reps


  • Stretching and foam rolling are also recommended on this program to aid the recovery process even more. You will also notice, on initial compound exercises, the inclusion of a lower rep set.
  • The reason for the inclusion of these strength sets is that the advanced trainer should be looking to lift more each session, be it by a rep or by an increase of 0.5kg. This is known as ‘progressive overload ‘, which means, if you’re getting stronger each session, you will be growing each session and vice versa. So, adding in some strength sets will aid this.
  • This also means the advanced trainer should be logging workouts every time they train, so they can look back and see what was done previously and aim to beat it. This is why there are 2 rotations of each workout, as progression can grind to a halt much quicker if following the same workout for body parts over and over. 

Take Home Message

If you’re looking to begin adding mass or you are saving time doing so, this routine may be perfect to try. 

Add in the correct nutrition and tracking of your workouts, and the results are sure to follow and you will never look back. 

Our articles should be used for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to be taken as medical advice. If you're concerned, consult a health professional before taking dietary supplements or introducing any major changes to your diet.

Chris Appleton
Writer and expert
View Chris Appleton's profile
Chris is an editor and a level 3 qualified Personal Trainer, with a BA honours degree in Sports Coaching and Development, and a level 3 qualification in Sports Nutrition. He has experience providing fitness classes and programs for beginners and advanced levels of clients and sports athletes. Chris is also a qualified football coach, delivering high-level goalkeeping and fitness training at a semi-professional level, with nutritional advice to help maintain optimal performance. His experience in the sports and fitness industry spans 15 years and is continuously looking to improve. In his spare time, Chris likes to dedicate it to his family while training in the gym.