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The Best Muscle Building split: The Push Pull Legs Split.

In the last blog, we talked about the full body split, its basics, its pros, its cons and why it is more than a beginner’s split.

In this blog, however, we will be talking about a split who happen to make a huge comeback in recent years. Since the 80s bodybuilders all over the planet, both professional and amateurs and even regular joes have been using the body part split exclusively. And don’t get me wrong it delivered awesome results, especially for professional Bodybuilders. But as we all know all Pros are mostly on some kind of AAS so they have higher rates of protein synthesis 24/7. But,

since in the fitness coach blog we are more focused on natural trainees. I think that they might not get much results from that split as they would expect. why is that? Because it is more beneficial for them to target each muscle at least twice per week. And before you close this article let me tell you the reason why.

The Importance Of Training Frequency

Recent scientific literature by BradSchoenfieldd indicates that for optimal muscle building results, each body part must be hit at least twice per week. This is not doable within the body part split. Also, a lot of fitness gurus like the famous coach Christian Thibaudeau’s believed in the importance of training frequency for natural trainees from a long time ago before the scientific studies.  and if you never heard coach Thib, he is one of the strongest most jacked natural athletes on the planet. Probably the smartest as well. So I’ll take his advice.

Also, I am sure if you have been around youtube lately you will notice that most of famous youtube fitness influencers use the push/pull/legs split. Guys like Jeff Nippard, Mike Thurston, Vitruvian physique, Christian Guzman and many more. And you know what is the most common thing between these dudes beside being famous, they are natural. makes sense?

Why are all of them are doing the push pull leg split? because in my humble opinion, it is one of the best if not the best split for natural trainees looking to build strength and muscle. maybe even for those trying to lose fat.

The Push/Pull/Legs Set Up

A push/pull/leg split is simply a split where on the first day you will do your pushing muscles which are chest, shoulders, and triceps. On the second day, you hit your pulling muscles means your back, rear delts, and biceps. Then the third day is everyone favorite day, leg day. this the day to work on all your lower body muscles, your quadriceps, your hamstrings, your glutes, and your calves.

That is one cycle, usually, you rest one day and repeat again.

The beauty about this split is that it optimizes both recovery and frequency. For instance, your pushing muscles would be rested for more than 72 hours before you hit them again. Also, they get the benefit of being stretched during the back workout which is reported to enhance recovery and reduce DOMS. I am speaking about that sweet pain in your chest muscles after a  serious benching session. Yes, it is satisfying. but trust me having DOMS for more than one day is no fun walk, and here where an opposite muscles workout comes in handy.

Also, on the third day, all of your upper body will be rested. So, when you hit it again in the next cycle it is fresh and ready.

Now let’s do a quick review of the pros and cons of this split before moving to the program design part. The part that everyone loves.

Pros:

  •  This split optimizes the frequency of training with at least two workouts per week for each muscle group.
  •  It enhances recovery avoids local fatigue in certain muscle parts.
  •  The Push/Pull/Legs is very promising in terms of muscle gain and hypertrophy. and it is the favorite for many researchers and experts.
  •  It allows the use of a slightly more volume. That means the possibility of working the muscles from different angles.

Cons

None. But for the reasons of courtesy, I would say it is kind of boring. I mean you can’t have an arm day right. and we as bodybuilding enthusiasts love our arm pump. just as Arnold said in pumping iron “ it feels like cummi**”.

How To Set Your Push/Pull/legs Workout Routine

Now on how to design your own push pull split workout. First of all, I highly recommend you change the exercises from the first cycle so you are able to hit as many muscle fibers as possible.
Another important part is that since you will be hitting each muscle twice a week you need to reduce the overall volume for each session. Also, each muscle group requires a certain amount of volume. For instance, you won’t need as much volume for your triceps as you would for your back.

So the first step is to dial in your weekly volume target. Here is a quick guideline for the best weekly volume for each individual body part:

Training Volume For Each Muscle Group

Body part Weekly volume Notes
chest 16 sets -Try to include both presses and flyes
shoulders 20 sets -Building a 3D Delts require the use of many angles so we will use a slightly higher volume
Triceps 9 sets – try to include at least one exercise for the long head
Back /rear delts 30 sets -Focus one day on vertical pulling(Pull-ups) and the other on horizontal pulling(rows)
Biceps 9 sets -Make sure to hit both the Biceps Brachii and Brachialis
quadriceps 16 sets -Make sure to include at least a big basic movement like squat for your quads and I would encourage the inclusion of unilateral exercises.
hamstrings 16 sets -Include a leg curl variation and a hip hinge variation like stiff leg deadlift or Romanian deadlift.
calves 24 sets -since they have a dominance of  slow twitch muscle fibers , Calves require higher amounts of volume to  adequately stimulate hypertrophy.
abdominals 24-30 sets -Hit your ABS often, 3 times a week at least because ABS respond very well to high frequency training.

The amount of volume listed above will certainly vary depending on several factors like your training status. since obviously experienced lifters may need more volume and absolute beginners might not be ready yet to handle such amounts of volume. Also, things like your recovery, nutrition and stress levels may affect how much volume you can handle.

Small body parts like biceps and triceps may benefit from increased volume if they are especially lagging. But generally, they shouldn’t require lots of isolation work since they will be stimulated often in the big compound exercises.
Also, keep in mind that more volume doesn’t always equal better gains. There is a point of diminishing returns where volume might lead to a lot of fatigue and eventually overtraining. Here is the curve of the volume response in hypertrophy so you get  a visual feeling of the matter :

So next time you want an 18” arms, don’t hit your biceps every day with few hundred curls because it will only make you weaker and derail your progress. Instead, try to focus more on improving your Pull ups and Chin ups. Those big compound movements will lead to more strength and growth.

Also, another thing to keep in mind when using the push/pull/legs split is to focus more on heavy compound lifts in the first half of the week when you are the strongest. Then, finish off the week with more hypertrophy and metabolic style workouts where you include more shocking techniques like supersets, drop sets, giant sets and other intensifying techniques.

I am currently working on a free Push/Pull/legs muscle building plan. So stay tuned because it is going to be awesome for some serious size gains.

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2 thoughts on “The Best Muscle Building split: The Push Pull Legs Split.

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