Push/Pull Routines

Push/Pull Routines

biceps weight training

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
(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 back triceps

Back & Triceps

This push/pull combination works a larger and a smaller muscle group and is fairly quick to perform. Some individuals that have a longer time to workout may want to add a 3rd muscle group to the workout.

push pull biceps triceps

Biceps & Triceps

The biceps/triceps weight training workout is a classic push/pull routine that targets two of the smaller muscle groups. This routine is quick to perform and will definitely pump up your arms.

push pull chest back

Chest & Back

A classic push/pull routine that targets two of the larger upper body muscle groups. This routine can be performed in a reasonable period of time and can be moderately aggressive.

push pull chest biceps

Chest & Biceps

This push/pull weight training routine is another classic routine that is commonly performed. The routine is fairly quick to perform and targets a larger and a smaller muscle group.

push pull deltoids trapezius

Deltoids & Trapezius

The deltoids/trapezius push/pull weight training routine targets the entire shoulder and neck area. Depending on the exercises chosen, some exercises may pre-fatigue both muscle groups when performed.

push pull calves hamstrings quadriceps

Quadriceps, Hamstrings & Calves

The push/pull routine targets not only large muscle groups, but dense muscle groups as well. This routine is a fairly aggressive.

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