When it comes to working out, especially for muscle growth, many people are convinced that going to the gym five, six, or even seven days a week is the way to go. While there is nothing essentially wrong with this, what would you say if we told you that you can achieve those massive gains of your dreams by only doing a 3-day push-pull workout?
Building muscle, just like losing weight takes time and dedication – time that many people who are working or even studying feel like they do not have. This is where the 3-day push pull workout routine comes in. This exercise plan works with you to not only allow you to build your muscles but it is also well distributed throughout the week, giving you time to recover and get on with your responsibilities, without carving out time daily to head to the gym.
What Is A 3-Day Push Pull Workout?
Also known as a 3-day push pull legs workout, this is a split routine that breaks up your training sessions into different body parts/muscle groups to be exercised on 3 different days of the week. These routines have been shown to not only increase how many calories one can burn in a session, but they have also been praised for increased muscle mass in bodybuilders (3).
- Pull exercises – These are exercises that involve concentric contractions. According to healthline.com, a concentric contraction is a form of muscle activation that causes tension on your muscle as it shortens. Bydie.com and Verywellfit.com go on to further state that these concentric contraction workouts help improve on our posture, mobility, strength, and flexibility which trains the body to move through certain daily activities with greater ease.
- Push exercises – They are the opposite of pull exercises and they involve eccentric muscle contractions. Eccentric contractions – also known as negatives, braking contractions, or negative work – are a type of contraction in which the muscle lengthens as it contracts and they occur when a muscle opposes a stronger force and reverses its initial trajectory (2).
The Best 3-Day Push Pull Workout Routine Sample
This is a good 3-day push-pull women or men routine. Be sure to adjust the plan to suit your capabilities by reducing or increasing the sets/reps.
|Monday||Push||Dumbbell Chest Press||3||12|
|Lateral Dumbbell Raises||3||12 per side|
|Seated Shoulder Press||4||8|
|Barbell Front Squats||5||5|
|Lateral Pull Downs||3||12|
|Hammer Curls||5||8 per side|
|Dumbbell Rows||4||10 per side|
|Barbell Bent Over Rows||3||12|
|Standing Calf Raises||3||Till exhaustion|
|Bulgarian Split Squats||4||8 per leg|
|Barbell Hip Thrusts||5||6|
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Why A 3-Day Push-Pull Leg Workout Is All You Need?
When it comes to push/pull routines, the 3-day push-pull workout plan is just one of the many varieties of exercise routines that exist. So what makes this push-pull legs workout 3-day plan better than other types?
- It reduces overlap between different muscle groups – Imagine training your chest or back the day after you just trained your arms. Or working out your core after you just trained your legs – These muscle combinations overlap and having a routine that allows for overlapping will have you being sore most of if not throughout the week.
- It’s less time-consuming – You only have to be in the gym three out of the seven days of the week. What’s not to like about that?
- Creates muscle balance – With the 3-day push-pull workout routine, you get to workout all the major muscle groups just once a week, which ensures that no muscle group is being over or under exercised which will help create a more balanced physique.
- Increased rest days – As the name suggests, the push-pull legs workout 3 days plan only has you exercising for 3 days leaving you 4 days to rest which greatly reduces soreness. Another fact to note is that for your muscles to increase in size and get stronger you need to give them ample time to recover – Remember that working out causes tears in your muscle fibers which are usually repaired when you rest.
This routine stands out above the rest as it gives you 24 hours between each workout session giving you ample time to recover. Note that research suggests that your muscles require anywhere between 48 to 72 hours to fully recover from exercise (1, 4).
- Prevents overtraining – This goes back to the point of increased rest days and the reduced overlap in muscle training. The more you rest the less you overwork your muscles and the more you reduce the risk of injuring yourself while in the gym.
- Can be done by anyone – While push-pull workouts are often usually left to the more advanced gym goers, beginners can also participate and benefit from them.
Please note that the National Strength and Conditioning Association suggests that beginners with less than 6 months of training should be sure to alternate training days with rest days to allow for a maximum of 3 training days per week.
On the other hand, intermediate and advanced resistance trainers (6 months to 2 years of training or more than 2 years of training, respectively) can train up to six times per week with 1 rest day separating each split.
Is A 3-Day Full Body Workout Better Than A 3-Day Push-Pull Leg Workout?
It depends. There is no denying that a 3-day push pull workout has its advantages especially in relation to building muscles but sometimes a full-body workout could be better than this split workout routine. Here are some reasons why
- Full body workouts are better for weight loss – As previously mentioned, the 3 day push pull workout plan is a split routine that makes you exercise different muscle groups on different days of the week. On the other hand, a 3-day full body circuit means that you are working out all muscle groups 3 days a week. It comes down to simple math – a full body workout works more muscles at once which equates to more calories burned eventually leading to more weight loss overtime.
- Full body workouts are more flexible – When it comes to a 3-day full body routine, you can mix up whichever days you choose to workout with little to no repercussions. However, a 3-day push-pull workout routine requires more discipline. Skipping a session will not only throw off your routine, but depending on your split, it could see you having to wait a full week before getting another chance to workout a specific muscle group.
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- Full body workouts are more time efficient – Split workouts generally require a lot of time to complete and do well, however, a full body workout can be done in as little as 30 minutes and will give you great results.
- Full body workouts do not require a gym – While split workouts can be done with just body weight they produce better results when done with free weights or gym machines. On the other hand, full body workouts are often done without weights or the gym e.g walking and running need no equipment and yet they produce fantastic weight loss results.
- Full body workouts are more fun – You have a never ending variety of exercises you can do and thus will rarely ever have to do the same thing over and over – unless you want to. Split workouts are often limited to the same type of workout done over and over.
The fun of split workouts comes from the challenge of how many reps you can do or how heavy you can lift and thus why a push-pull workout 3-day split bodybuilding plan is very effective.
Is A 3-Day Push-Pull Leg Workout Really Not The Best Way To Build Muscle?
When it comes to the 3-day push-pull workout plan, we believe that this routine is quite effective especially for beginners in bodybuilding. As we have outlined above, the routine is quite easy to follow, prevents overtraining, and allows for increased rest days, all factors that are good for your muscle growth.
The Bottom Line
If you are new to bodybuilding, we suggest that you try this 3 day push-pull workout plan as it is bound to work exceedingly well for your goal. However, if you are looking to lose some excess weight, this plan might not work for you just yet – work toward weight loss first then come back to this and work on your gains. Remember to also eat the right foods and stay hydrated.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any medical conditions. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- A series of studies-a practical protocol for testing muscular endurance recovery (2003, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Eccentric exercise: mechanisms and effects when used as training regime or training adjunct (2014, journals.physiology.org)
- Effects of Resistance Training Frequency on Measures of Muscle Hypertrophy: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis (2016, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- The effects of exercise-induced muscle damage on cycling time-trial performance (2011, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)