Chest & Back

Push/Pull Routines – Chest & Back

chest dumbbell presses

Combining primary muscle groups under the push/pull weight training
concept is the most common form of strength
training routine. More specifically, a push/pull
weight training routine includes exercising push
muscle groups and pull muscle groups during the
same workout session.

A push muscle group can be defined as a muscle group in which the muscle contracts when the weight is pushed away from the body (i.e. the concentric portion of the movement). In addition, the push muscles lengthen as the weight is returned back toward the body (i.e. the eccentric portion of the movement).

For instance, the pectorals (chest) muscles are defined as a push muscle group. When performing a flat barbell bench press, the pectorals muscles contract as the weight is pushed away from the chest (concentric portion) and lengthen as the weight is lowered back to the chest (eccentric portion).

Below is a list of the primary muscle groups
that are considered push muscle groups:

  • Calves

  • Deltoids

  • Gluteals

  • Pectorals

  • Quadriceps

  • Triceps

The pull muscles contract as the weight is pulled toward the body (i.e. the concentric portion of the movement) and lengthens as the weight is extended further from the body (i.e. the eccentric portion of the movement). For example, the biceps are considered a pull muscle group. When performing the standing barbell curl exercise, the biceps contract as the barbell is pulled upwards and towards the chest (concentric portion) and lengthens as the bar is lowered back to the starting position in front of the quadriceps (eccentric portion).

Below is a list of the primary muscle groups
that are considered pull muscle groups:

  • Abdominals

  • Biceps

  • Forearms

  • Latissimus Dorsi

  • Hamstrings

  • Obliques

  • Trapezius

Regularly performing a weight training routine that combines both push and pull muscle groups within the same workout is ideal for several reasons. First, since push and pull muscle groups contract through opposite directions in movement they tend to not be used as a secondary muscle group to support the primary muscle group that required to perform the exercise.

In other words, when performing a flat barbell bench press (chest is the primary) the biceps are not required to support the movement of the barbell. In this case, the triceps muscles would be considered the secondary muscle group and are required to support the chest muscles in order to perform the actual exercise (i.e. the flat barbell bench press). By not working the primary and secondary muscle groups within the same weight training workout each of the muscle groups that are going to be exercised will be fresh and ready to be aggressively worked.

A second benefit associated with regularly performing a push/pull routine is that since each of the muscle groups exercised during the same session are not required to support one another the level of stress placed on the joints is lower. This is an important point to be aware of since aggressively lifting heavy weights, by default, will place a high level of stress on the joints.

While performing pull/pull and/or push/push weight training routines are a fairly common practice as they can support breaking through a strength barrier, the majority of the time should be spent performing a push/pull routine. Below are several push/pull weight training routines that combine various muscle groups within the same workout session.

Push/Pull Routine #1 – Chest & Back

The push/pull chest and back weight training routine targets two medium sized muscle groups and can be performed by all levels of weight trainers. The exercises include explosive and rhythmic exercises and can be performed in a reasonable time frame.

Push/Pull Routine #2 – Chest & Back

The push/pull chest and back weight training routine targets the development of lean muscle tissue, muscular definition, and strength. The routine is designed for all weight training levels and can be performed in a reasonable time frame.

Push/Pull Routine #3 – Chest & Back

The chest and back push/pull weight training routine is a common workout combination and can be performed by all levels of weight trainers. The exercises are designed to promote increases in
muscle density, strength, and muscular
definition and include explosive and rhythmic exercises.

Push/Pull Routine #4 – Chest & Back

The push/pull chest and back weight training routine is a common muscle group combination for weight trainers and can be performed across the various levels of weight trainers. The routine can be performed fairly quickly and includes both rhythmic and explosive exercises.

Push/Pull Routine #5 – Chest & Back

The chest and back push/pull weight training routine targets two medium sized muscle groups and includes exercises that are explosive and rhythmic in nature. The routine can be completed in a reasonable amount of time and is suitable for all weight training levels.

Push/Pull Routine #6 – Chest & Back

The chest and back push/pull weight training routine is intended to target increases in
muscle density, definition, and strength. The routine is common among weight trainers and can be completed fairly quickly. The exercises performed within the chest and back routine are both rhythmic and explosive.

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