If you are an absolute beginner in the gym and want a training template that will save you time in the gym, help you build muscle as fast as possible, and get you results — you have come to the right place!

When I started my training journey many years ago, I never had a training structure. I would walk into the gym and walk up to any machine, read the label, and bust out the number of reps and sets I read in some bodybuilding magazine I purchased with my $5 weekly pocket money.

When I discovered the “Push Pull Legs” (PPL) routine, not only did I save time in the gym due to having weight training structure — but I also started seeing results! I was over the moon happy 🙂

These were my results:

What is Push Pull Legs?

It is a weightlifting training template that divides and conquers your muscles into groups where each group is trained separately — allowing other muscle groups to have the rest they deserve!

Muscles usually work in pairs. So when you deadlifting, your back and bis are doing the work while your chest and tris are relaxing.

Which makes this type of training perfect because on Day 1, you can smash your back and your biceps, while giving your chest and tris a break!

At the most basic level, push pull legs involves:

  • A push workout day
  • A pull workout day
  • A legs day (everyone’s favourite — guys?)

Your weight training is focused on push workouts — muscles in your upper body that undergo push motions (chest, triceps, and shoulders.)

A pushing workout session that will be effective in building a great physique are (click to view demonstration):

A pulling workout session involves training muscles involved in pulling motions. The common muscles talked about are back and biceps (“Back and bis”)

Popular exercises to consider doing on back and bis day is:

And last but not least — legs day!

Which predominantly focuses on exercises that work your glutes, quads, hamstrings, and calves.

Popular exercises for legs that will absolutely build size and strength are:

Yeah, sure. There are a gazillion other variations for legs but Squats trumps them all — they are also one of the most challenging exercises!

Give it a go and let me know how you go 🙂

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Basic Push Pull Legs Routines

You can select any of the following templates based on how many days per week you can commit to weight training.

You can elect to do cardio any day of the week, preferably after your weight training.

Personally, I don’t do any more than 30 minutes of low intensity cardio after a weight training session. More than that is overkill and simply means you’ve got to control your control intake at the nutrition level.

Two days per week

  • Day 1: Upper Body (Push & Pull muscles)
  • Day 2: Lower Body (Legs)

With enough days rest between these two weight training sessions. For example. Monday and Friday is better than Monday and Tuesday.

Three days per week

  • Day 1: Pull Day
  • Day 2: Push Day
  • Day 3: Legs Day

Ideally, with one day rest from weight training between each day.

For example; Monday, Wednesday, and Friday is better than Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday.

Six days per week

For crazy people like me where you are simply doing push-pull-legs twice in a single week.

By the way, as a natural weight lifter, you shouldn’t be doing any more than six weight training sessions per week. You will run the risk of over-training and burning yourself out. Been there done that!

And keep your weight training sessions to 1 hour.

And six-day training weeks does not make them better than three-day training weeks. A well-structured 3-day per week program beats the pants off a shitty 6-day per week program, any day.

Here is a sample template:

  • Day 1: Push
  • Day 2: Pull
  • Day 3: Legs
  • Day 4: Push
  • Day 5: Pull
  • Day 6: Legs
  • Day 7: Plan your next vacation! 🙂

Let’s Pick Up Heavy Things!

If you are a beginner wanting to build muscle and strength as fast as possible — then you must commit to weight training 3–6 times per week.

Your weight training sessions need not be more than one hour in length as a natural weight lifter. However, they will be (and should be) tough!

You should be leaving the gym feeling like you left nothing in the tank. Seriously!

This is what my face looks like after a 1 hour weight training session…

Nothing…left…in…the…tank!

Ideally, you should aim to weight train 4–5 times per week but personally, I started my weight lifting journey at 2–3 times per week and worked myself up to 5 times per week.

On rare occasions, I lift weights 6 times per week if I am getting ready for a fitness model competition.

There are quite a few different ways of programming a push-pull-legs routine. I’ve experimented with dozens of variations over the years.

Also, it is how I program myself if I am travelling overseas and want to maximise my vacation time on the beach and my time in any casual visit to the gym! Try it next time you travel 🙂

Exercise Selection

Before getting into heavy sets for push-pull-legs — you will always do three warm-up sets of 10 reps at 50% of the intended working set load.

Make sure you record your weight training somewhere. I use a smartphone app called FitNotes. Download it and use it every time!

If you are doing a 2-day weight training week — push and pull muscles will be trained on the same day doing the exercises below.

Note: 2-day and 3-day push-pull-legs training templates will be more challenging given that we are trying to achieve the same training volume in less training days.

Click on any of the exercises to watch a video of how to perform the correct form.

Of course, there are many hundreds of exercises you could do. But the following exercises are my personal staple. Quite frankly, over the past few years, the core of my training has been with these exercises.

It’s interesting because the fitness industry will try and sell you some bulls%it secret or workout plan.

Give this a shot 🙂

Push.

Pull.

Legs.

Progression Is The Game

The only tried and true way of getting bigger and stronger on a PPL split is by aiming to progressively overload the muscles, week after week.

Your primary goal as a natural weight lifter — one that I wished I learned years earlier is — if you are not striving to lift slightly more weight each and every week for any exercise, you will plateau and your muscles will not get bigger and stronger. Period.

This is how you achieve progressive overload that guarantees continual progress.

Rep Range.

Once you reach the top of the rep range, increase the weight on the bar enough so that you can reach the bottom of the rep range for the next set.

In other words, once you reach 8 reps on the Inclined Bench Press at 170 pounds. Record that in FitNotes, have your 2 minute rest, and proceed to add 2.5 pound plates to each side of the bar. You will only reach 6 reps in your next set and if you can’t, you will need to add smaller increments.

This is the basic cycle of progressive overload that most people are not aware of. Rinse and repeat!

Rest Periods.

Your rest periods for each set will follow this very basic formula.

  • For exercises in the 6–8 rep range: 2–3 minutes rest
  • For exercises in the higher rep ranges: 1 minute rest.

De-loading.

As a natural weight lifter, you’ll need to scale back your training intensity and volume by 50% every 4–5–6 weeks! The reason for this is both for your mental and physiological well-being.

Take my word for it.

The symptoms of over training are progressive for most people.

My personal symptoms of over training are what I am going through right now as I write this (and prepare for the World Titles in 2 weeks from now — June 26th, 2017!)

  • Slowly lose interest in training
  • Feeling tired and not fully rested from the previous day training session
  • Dragging your ass around the gym feeling
  • Dull aches and pains that do not go away
  • Lack of energy — despite taking a pre-workout!

For me, my off season is coming up in 2 weeks so I can accept these feeling of over training in the short term.

I find that when I include a de-load every 6 weeks, not only does my body able to recover faster but psychologically — I return to being motivated to hit the weights again.

If you are planning on going on vacation then your week off actually counts as a complete de-load, and your body (and mind) is in full recovery. You think your not making progress because you are not physically training in the gym — this couldn’t be far from the truth.

Final Words

The Push Pull Legs training template is one of the most effective weight training program you can start with as a beginner.

Prior to 2017, I was travelling 3–4 months of the year and managed to build most of current conditioning by implementing the exact templates I have shared with you in this article.

From the rustic open-air gyms in Thailand to the dusty and rusty dumbbells in the bare-bones gyms in Botswana — pull-pull-legs works!

And even as a fitness model competitor, the engine of my training program is a variation of push-pull-legs!

It works because it trains every major muscle group and allows sufficient rest for each muscle group to allow for progressive overload to occur — the major ingredient for getting bigger and stronger.

I encourage you to try it and let me know how you go.

If you combine this with proper nutrition, which I discuss in other articles and in my digital meal planning course, you will get results much faster than I did 🙂

If you need any help or have any questions, please leave them in the comments below. I will be happy to help you out!

LEARN HOW TO CREATE YOUR OWN MEAL PLANS AROUND THE FOOD YOU LOVE THE MOST, WHILE BUILDING THE BODY OF YOUR DREAMS.

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