Best Push Pull Legs Routine For Mass

September 19, 2021

If you’re looking for a training routine to maximize muscle growth, then the push pull legs routine is waiting for you. If you have never embarked on the push pull legs journey before, you’re in for a treat.

This routine is perfect for the gym bunny who can’t stay away from the iron and loves to hit the weights hard multiple times a week. But before I dive into the scientific push pull legs routine, we need to understand how the push pull legs split works and what muscle groups are trained on each day.

What Is The Push Pull Legs Routine?

The push pull legs routine is the favored lifting routine for those seeking to maximize muscle growth. Usually, the push pull legs are performed over 6 days every single week. Each day has its own theme. One day is a push-focused day focusing on the upper body muscles of the chest, shoulders, and triceps.

The pull day focuses on the upper body muscles of the back and biceps. While leg day is focused on well… the legs. The idea is that you can train with a lot more volume in each session as you have two to three days' rest before training those muscles again.

Best 6 Day Push Pull Legs Routine For Mass

The 6-day push pull legs routine has 5-6 exercises per training day. Each day has its own theme or priority. However, that doesn’t mean that the priority muscle group is the only one trained. The idea is to train each muscle group once to twice a week to get more volume. More volume equals more muscle growth.

Push Day 1 (Chest Emphasis)

Exercise 1: Incline Bench Press

The incline bench press preferentially targets the clavicular head of the pectorals which is known as the upper chest [1]. This incline should be approximately 45° for the greatest upper pec activation. Building the upper chest will provide a "shelf" that will fill out your t-shirt and give you that power look.

To perform the incline bench press for maximum effectiveness, set your seat height so your eyes are directly under the barbell. If you are too low, it will be difficult to unrack the bar and if you are too high, you will press the bar into the J-hooks.

Lower the barbell to the middle of your chest. This will be a good few inches below your collarbone. Don’t lower the barbell towards your neck. That is a great way to wreck your shoulders while limiting the loads you can use and therefore, muscle growth of the pecs.

If you have the mobility, lower the bar until it touches your chest. If you don’t, stop an inch or two above your chest. Your elbows should be at a 45° angle to your body creating an arrow-like shape from your torso. Flaring your elbows to the side is not necessary and will place extra stress on the shoulders.

My preference is to keep my shoulder blades pinned back against the bench like a Powerlifter as it allows me to get the most range of motion and feels the safest on my shoulders. For your grip width, use what is comfortable as it doesn't seem to impact the activation of the upper pecs [3].

Exercise 2: Low Incline DB Bench

It’s important to include both barbells and dumbbells when looking to maximize size and strength. While the barbell provides a stable load that allows you to maximize the load lifted, the DB bench press elicits even greater pectoral activation than the bench press [2].

I really like the low incline variation as it feels great on the pectoral muscles as a whole. Make sure to emphasize the range of motion as you will be able to get a bigger stretch than you would with the barbell. That is the main goal of using dumbbells.

Your pressing technique should be exactly the same as your incline bench press regarding elbow position. You do not need to bring the dumbbells together at the top.

Just press straight up and down while letting the shoulders move back while lowing the dumbbells and forward when pressing the dumbbells to place the pecs through the greatest range of motion.

Exercise 3: Hands Elevated Deficit Push-Up

The humble push-up. It's often left out of many push pull legs workouts in favor of machines which is unfortunate. As the push-up is a bodyweight or callisthenic exercise, it can generally be done at higher volumes without the joint stress that free weights can induce. Hence, they make an awesome exercise to increase training volume.

Regarding your hand width, the thumb under your shoulder is the best position to use. It's safe for your shoulders and usually the most comfortable. 

Further, it seems that narrow grip push-ups elicit the greatest chest and triceps activation compared to wide push-ups [4].

Elevate your hands either by placing them on plates or by using kettlebell handles. Either of these will place your pecs under a huge stretch.

Exercise 4: Pronated Incline Fly

Performing fly’s on the incline again will target the upper chest and again, put the pecs through stretch under load. While DB flies may not induce the same level of chest activation as the bench press variations, it has been suggested that DB fly's should be used within a training program but at lower volumes compared to bench press variations [5].

This is purely for those wanting to maximize the muscle size of the pecs. In my experience, the extreme stretch from the DB fly cannot be replicated during bench press movements and therefore, may produce more eccentric muscle damage which seems to produce the greatest muscle-building response [6].

The pronated variation just feels really damn good on the chest and tends to place less stress on the shoulders. When performing the fly, bend the arms slightly so your biceps aren’t taking the majority of the load.

Only lower the dumbbells to where you feel comfortable. Do not force the stretch.

Exercise 5: Tricep Pushdowns

Tricep pushdowns predominantly target the medial head and the lateral head of the triceps. Pushdowns will give you big-looking triceps from the side view and will transfer to a stronger bench press. The medial head works together with the lateral head of the triceps while the medial head only functions from full elbow extension to 90° elbow angle [7].

Perform these with a cable or band depending on the equipment you have available. Make sure to go past the 90° elbow position to stretch the triceps through a larger range of motion. Keep your elbows in the same position by your side.

By allowing your elbows to move forward and back, you start to involve greater triceps long head activation which is fine. But there are more effective exercises for the long head of the triceps and doing so will take some of the stress away from the medial and lateral heads.

Exercise 6: Decline Leg Raise

The decline leg raise is a much harder version of the leg raise than lying on the floor but not as difficult as the hanging leg raise. Because gravity works vertically, you have more of the legs exposed to downward force on the decline than on the floor. That is why the lying leg raise is very easy from about 45° upward.

There is also evidence suggesting we can isolate the upper and lower regions of our abdominals so performing leg raise variations, as well as crunch variations, are important for overall abdominal development [8].

The most important technical cue for this exercise is to keep your lower back pressed into the bench. This will maximize the tension on your abdominals and reduce the strain on your lower back. If doing this with straight legs is too difficult, bend your legs slightly.

Full Scientific Push Day 1 Program

Exercise

Set/Rep

Load

A1) Incline Bench Press

4 x 6

8 RPE

B1) Low Incline DB Bench

4 x 10

8 RPE

C1) Hand Elevated Deficit Push-Up

3 x 15-20

9 RPE

D1) Pronated Incline Fly

3 x 10

9 RPE

E1) Triceps Pushdowns

3 x 20

10 RPE

E2) Decline Leg Raise

3 x 10-20

9 RPE

Pull Day 1 (Row Emphasis)

Exercise 1: Seated Cable Row

The seated cable row is a great exercise to start the pull day with. It works all of the main back muscles used when performing a row such as the lats and rhomboids without the stress on the lower back that is present during bent-over row variations [9].

While many coaches will teach to be upright throughout all repetitions, anatomy and experience say otherwise. 

To place the greatest stretch on the lats, round your upper back over slightly and let the load-pull your shoulders forward. This will stretch the lats even further.

Then as you pull, retract your shoulders as you move into an upright position. This will maximize the engagement of your lats for the greatest hypertrophy.

Exercise 2: Barbell Row

The barbell row is considered a staple exercise to build a huge back as it activates the back muscles to the greatest degree [10]. There are a couple of different ways you can perform the barbell row. One is keeping the barbell suspended from the floor for the entire set. The other is resetting the barbell on the floor for each rep.

While the second variation may be considered a Pendlay row, when it is not performed explosively, I would argue it is a more effective barbell row variation for back mass as demonstrated in the video above.

Row the bar to your belly button to maximize the involvement of the lats and control the barbell back down to the floor. But don't relax at the bottom. Keep the tension in your back.

Exercise 3: Assisted Pull-Up

Due to already being fatigued from the two rowing exercises, to get enough stimulus for the lats when doing chin-ups, reducing your bodyweight will help get more reps and therefore, more volume. Further, if you are someone whose maximum number of pull-ups is under 10 reps, then you will activate the lats to an even greater extent than bodyweight pull-ups [11].

You can either use a band, pull-up assisted machine, or perform them with your legs elevated in front of you in a floating seated position.

Exercise 4: BB or DB Pullover

I love the pullover. Especially at the end of a workout to stretch the lats and improve your shoulder mobility. They also make a great exercise to stress the long head of the triceps [12]. That is why you wake up with sore triceps the next day after training back.

To maximize the tension on your lats, lower the dumbbell or barbell as far as you feel comfortable behind your head with your arms slightly bent. Think about pulling your elbows forward like someone is lightly pushing against the back of your triceps when bringing the dumbbell back to the top position.

Stop when your triceps are vertical leaving the hands and dumbbell above your forehead or slightly behind your head. This will keep the tension on your lats for the entire set.

Exercise 5: Cable Face Pull

The face pull is an exercise often used for shoulder health to balance out the amount of pressing that is performed within a training program. While this is obviously a great reason to perform the face pull, it also serves as a rear delt and upper trap destroyer that uses relatively light loads so you can get a lot of reps and induce high levels of metabolic stress.

You can face pull anywhere from your neck to above your head. The higher you pull, the more upper trap involvement you will have, and the lower, the more mid trap and rhomboid activation you'll have.

Exercise 6: EZ Bar Curl

The EZ bar is perfect for those who have wrist discomfort when performing bicep curls. In fact, the barbell and EZ bar show similar activation of the biceps brachii and brachioradialis muscles so you can use either bar to grow big biceps [13].

When you perform the EZ bar curl, you can allow your elbows to come forward slightly as you get near the full contraction of the curl as the biceps brachii cross the shoulder and the elbow meaning the muscle is responsible for flexing the elbow and shoulder. Therefore, bringing the elbows forward as you curl may place greater stress on the biceps.

Full Scientific Pull Day 1 Program

Exercise

Set/Rep

Load

A1) Seated Cable Row

4 x 10

8 RPE

B1) Barbell Row

4 x 8

8 RPE

C1) Assisted Chin-Up

3 x 10-15

9 RPE

D1) DB Pullover

3 x 10-12

9 RPE

E1) Cable Face Pull

3 x 15-20

10 RPE

E2) EZ Bar Curl

3 x 8-10

10 RPE

Leg Day 1 (Quad Emphasis)

Exercise 1: Lying Leg Curl

This is a tactic I’ve learned from the great John Meadows and have been implementing it into my own training since. That is using leg curl variations before squatting. 

In my experience, doing this makes me feel more stable when squatting and thoroughly warms my knees up reducing any knee pain when squatting.

Further, a little extra hamstring volume can only be good for building big hamstrings! When performing the lying leg curl, flex your feet toward you to remove the involvement from the calves.

Exercise 2: Pause Back Squat

Closed chain leg exercises like the back squat preferentially activate the vastus lateralis muscle known as the outer quad muscle [14]. By pausing at the bottom of the squat, you allow any elastic energy to dissipate. Doing this places more stress on the muscles to stand up rather than relying on the elastic properties of the tendons.

It’s important that you squat as deep as possible as the deep ass to grass squat results in a 4-7% greater increase in quadriceps size compared to a shallow squat [15]. Further, use a high bar position to maximize quadriceps activity and therefore, growth [16].

When squatting, have your weight sit through the middle of your foot so you can apply pressure with your whole foot and not just your heels.

Exercise 3: Leg Press (Low Foot Position)

While leg press generally targets the same musculature as the squat, the leg press allows you to perform more volume without inducing high levels of overall fatigue that the squat would. Further, you can emphasize the quadriceps with a lower foot position on the platform or the glutes with a higher foot position [17].

Again, you want to aim for the deepest range of motion your ankles and hips will allow while keeping your feet flat on the platform.

Exercise 4: Leg Extension

While closed chain exercises like the squat and leg press target the outer quads, the leg extension targets the rectus femoris which is the muscle that runs straight through the middle that you see pop in those who are extremely shredded [18].

And specifically, the leg extension targets the lower portion of the rectus femoris building muscle at the lower part of the quads.

Make sure to get a full range of motion by having tension when your feet are at the bottom and your legs are straight at the top.

Exercise 5: Standing Calf Raise

The standing variation of the calf raise targets the gastrocnemius, the large upper portion of your calves that will give you that diamond shape. One big mistake many lifters make when training calves is bouncing their reps and not pausing for a long time at the bottom in the stretch.

The Achilles tendon acts as a very strong rubber band. When you bounce calf raises, the elastic properties of the tendon provide most of the work reducing the work from the calves. When you pause for 3 seconds, you dissipate a lot of the elastic energy placing more stress on the gastrocnemius resulting in greater muscle growth.

Full Scientific Leg Day 1 Program

Exercise

Set/Rep

Load

A1) Lying Leg Curl

3 x 12

8 RPE

B1) Pause Back Squat

4 x 8

8 RPE

C1) Leg Press Low Foot Position

4 x 15-20

9 RPE

D1) Leg Extension

3 x 10-15

10 RPE

E1) Standing Calf Raise

5 x 10-15

10 RPE

Push Day 2 (Shoulders Emphasis)

Exercise 1: Military Press

Those who don’t include the press within their push pull leg routines miss out on developing serious shoulder stability. The press not only targets the front delts, but also the medial delts and triceps [19]. However, some lifters may not be able to perform the overhead press due to poor posture.

Those with highly a kyphotic thoracic posture are unable to lift their arms directly overhead as thoracic mobility is required to get there. Therefore, seated high incline presses are likely a better option for these individuals as the arms don’t need to move completely overhead.

When performing the standing press, the bar should start on your collarbones with your elbows in front of you under the bar while using your lats as a shelf for your arms. If you don’t have the flexibility to reach this position, the bar can sit higher but ideally, it should be under your chin.

As you press, pull your head backward out of the way so you can press vertically. One pro tip is to start pushing backward as soon as you get to the top of your forehead. This will add pounds to your press instantly and stop you from pressing the barbell in front.

Exercise 2: Close Grip Bench Press

The close grip bench press is your meat and potatoes exercise for the lateral and medial head of the triceps that will give them that thick look from the side. Having a close grip, while placing greater stress on the triceps, still highly activates the pecs so is the perfect exercise to use on this day [20].

Your grip should not be so close that your hands are inside your shoulder width. Your forearm should be vertical when performing the close grip bench and not slanted inward. Usually, a half a thumb from the edge of the knurling will give you the correct grip for the close grip bench.

While you can use this exercise to pump out reps, in my experience, using the close grip bench is as a triceps mass builder is best suited to reps of 6-10.

Exercise 3: DB Lateral Raise

If you want a mega-wide physique, the lateral raise is what will widen your V taper. They primarily target the medial deltoids and you should use a palm down or neutral grip for the greatest side delt activation [21].

When performing the lateral raise, lead with your elbows and have your elbows slightly bent. At the top of the lateral raise (arms directly to the side), the elbows should be slightly higher than the hands.

Exercise 4: Reverse DB Fly

The reverse fly targets your posterior deltoids. Muscles that are often neglected in generic hypertrophy programs. However, these muscles will give you that 3D look from the side and provide that thickness.

When you perform reverse fly’s to target the rear delts, your shoulder blades should not move. The entire movement should be performed by your rear delts and therefore, the range of motion will generally be much shorter than when performing reverse flies for the mid-back.

Exercise 5: Extended ROM Lying Triceps Extension

Now we get to target the long head of the triceps which cross both the shoulder and the elbow. That means to maximize their development, you need to extend the shoulder and flex the elbow [7]. The extended range of motion lying triceps extension is like the pullover, except you will lower the weight by bending your elbows.

Once you get to the end range behind your head, continue to lower the weight by extending your shoulders. To perform the upward phase, extend the elbows while slightly moving the shoulders forward.

Exercise 6: Decline Crunch

As mentioned, we can target different regions of your abdominals. The crunch targets our upper abdominals [8]. The decline makes the exercise even harder making your abs burn. Control the lowering phase for extra abdominal work.

Full Scientific Push Day 2 Program

Exercise

Set/Rep

Load

A1) Military Press

4 x 6

8 RPE

B1) Close Grip Bench Press

4 x 8

9 RPE

C1) DB Lateral Raise

4 x 10-12

10 RPE

D1) DB Reverse Fly

4 x 15-20

10 RPE

E1) Extended ROM Lying Triceps Extension

3 x 10-15

10 RPE

E2) Decline Crunch

3 x 10-20

9 RPE

Pull Day 2 (Pulldown Emphasis)

Exercise 1: Weighted Pull-Up

The pull-up is well known to be a great exercise for the back and lats. Adding extra load makes it even better if you can perform good clean reps. You can add weight either with a dip belt or by placing a dumbbell between your feet or legs.

Regarding your grip, vary your grip each set or each week. This will keep your elbows healthy.

Exercise 2: Neutral Lat Pulldown

The lat pulldown is just like the pull-up except you are not using your bodyweight as load. This means you can use lighter loads and get more volume. I love the neutral grip the closer grip width allows you to get an intense lat stretch that you don’t get with other grip variations.

It’s important when you get to the bottom of the pulldown, arch your upper back so you are pointing your chest to the handle to maximally activate the lats.

Exercise 3: 1-Arm DB Row

While the barbell row may be the king of back develop the 1-arm dumbbell row would be the queen. You can nail your lats heavy with the DB row without a lot of overall back fatigue and also reducing lower back stress.

One big mistake when performing the DB row is not allowing the shoulder to move. Let the shoulder move forward as far as possible while maintaining your back posture and then bring the shoulder back as you row the dumbbell to your hip.

This is what will grow your lats and back. Not half reps of pulling with your arms.

Exercise 4: DB Shrugs

If you’ve read my how to get bigger traps article, I have many different variations of the shrug in there. You can’t go past the most basic of them all by using dumbbells. The shrug targets the upper traps and is best performed with a 3-second pause at the top.

Exercise 5: DB Hammer Curl

The Hammer curl preferentially targets the brachialis muscle as the semi-pronated position reduces the contribution of the biceps brachii during elbow flexion. It will also target the brachioradialis which is the muscle on top of your forearm.

The Hammer curl will give you a thick arm look from the side. You will be much stronger in the hammer variation compared to a pronated or supinated curl.

Exercise 6: Incline DB Curl

The incline DB curl is a variation that puts the biceps under huge stretch that other biceps exercises cannot do. This exercise will make your biceps burn more than anything else you’ve tried. By letting your arms hang when sitting on an incline, you not only create elbow extension, but also shoulder extension.

Since the biceps crosses both those joints, you are stretching the biceps from BOTH ends. That is why the incline DB curl is such an effective mass builder.

Full Scientific Pull Day 2 Program

Exercise

Set/Rep

Load

A1) Weighted Pull-Up

4 x 6

9 RPE

B1) Neutral Lat Pulldown

4 x 10

9 RPE

C1) 1-Arm DB Row

3 x 12-15

9 RPE

D1) DB Shrugs

3 x 10-15

10 RPE

E1) DB Hammer Curl

3 x 8-12

9 RPE

F1) Incline DB Curl

3 x 8-10

10 RPE

Leg Day 2

Exercise 1: Stiff Leg Deadlift

The stiff leg deadlift is a key exercise for overall hamstring development. If your goal is to get big hamstrings, then you need to perform heavy hip hinge exercises that place the hamstrings under stretch.

Hip hinge exercises generally target the outer aspect of the hamstrings while knee flexion exercises target the inner hamstrings [22]. However, recent research has indicated this may vary on an individual basis [23].

Either way, you can’t go wrong training the hamstrings at long muscle lengths. The stiff leg deadlift is different from the Romanian deadlift as it starts from the floor and therefore, has a larger range of motion.

Exercise 2: Seated Leg Curl

As mentioned, training the hamstrings at long muscle lengths is the key to hamstring growth. In fact, the seated leg curl is more effective for hamstring hypertrophy than the lying leg curl for this exact reason [24].

If you want to take the seated leg curl to the next level, then lean forward while performing the exercise instead of sitting back against the pad. This will increase the stretch on the hamstrings making the exercise even more brutal.

Exercise 3: Bulgarian Split Squat

The Bulgarian split squat, also known as the rear foot elevated split squat, is loved and hated by many simultaneously. It is loved for the results it can give you. But hated for the mere fact it is a killer exercise leaving you gasping for air and limping for days.

If you struggle with knee pain during the squat, the Bulgarian split squat can place less stress on your knees due to less forward travel of the knee [25]. It essentially doubles as a quadriceps and glute exercise while also target the adductors (groin) due to having to balance.

Exercise 4: 45° Back Extension

The 45° back extension changes the strength curve compared to the 90° back extension. The hardest part of the 90° variation is at the top of the movement when you are completely straight. Whereas during the 45° variation, the hardest portion is halfway when your back is parallel with the floor.

While both variations are great, the 45° allows for a slightly larger range of motion and a greater stretch on the hamstrings. 

In fact, the 45° back extension has been shown to develop strength to similar levels as the Nordic Hamstring exercise [26].

One of the most intense hamstring exercises you can perform.

Exercise 5: Seated Calf Raise

While the standing calf raise targets the upper calf muscle, the seated calf raise targets the lower calf muscle named the soleus. For overall calf development, it is wise to perform both standing and seated calf raises for this reason.

The same guidelines apply to the seated variation where you must pause for 3 seconds at the bottom to reduce the elastic energy contribution.

Exercise 6: Hanging Leg Raise

The hanging leg raise is a staple in all of my programs. Why? Hanging is great for your shoulders. But it is also great for your lower back and hips deloading them from the days training. Just like the decline leg raise, you are targeting the lower abdominals but with a much harder exercise. If you struggle with these, perform them with bent knees.

Full Scientific Leg Day 2 Program

Exercise

Set/Rep

Load

A1) Stiff Leg Deadlift

3 x 6-8

9 RPE

B1) Seated Leg Curl

4 x 10

10 RPE

C1) Bulgarian Split Squat

3 x 10-12/leg

9 RPE

D1) 45° Back Extension

3 x 15-20

9 RPE

E1) Seated Calf Raise

5 x 15-20

10 RPE

E2) Hanging Leg Raise

3 x 10-20

10 RPE

5 Day Push Pull Legs Routine

Not everyone can train six days a week. You need to have a schedule that doesn't have other commitments. However, you can perform this exact push pull legs routine over five days. There are a few different variations you can use. Firstly, you can cycle each week only performing either one session of the push, pull, or legs. For example:

Week 1

Day 1: Push Day 1

Day 2: Pull Day 1

Day 3: Legs Day 1

Day 4: Push Day 2

Day 5: Pull Day 2

Week 2

Day 1: Legs Day 2

Day 2: Push Day 1

Day 3: Pull Day 1

Day 4: Legs Day 1

Day 5: Push Day 2

And so on. You get the idea. The other option you have is to specialize in Week 1 for four weeks and then Week 2 for 4 weeks. That way, you “specialize” certain muscle groups depending on if which day you drop out of your week.

4 Day Push Pull Legs Routine

A four day a week push pull legs routine is also doable. You can either specialize by choosing if you want to perform the push, pull, or legs day twice for a training cycle or you can rotate each week like the five-day-a-week example.

Week 1

Day 1: Push Day 1

Day 2: Pull Day 1

Day 3: Legs Day 1

Day 4: Push Day 2

Week 2

Day 1: Pull Day 2

Day 2: Legs Day 2

Day 3: Push Day 1

Day 4: Pull Day 1

Push Pull Legs Routine For Women

Push Pull Legs Routine For Women

The push pull legs routine for women is identical to the 6-day routine given above. However, women generally want to focus on developing large glutes and hamstrings over the quads. Therefore, there will be small changes on each leg day to prioritize these areas for women. Here is how I would alter the leg days to suit the general physique goals of female lifters.

Legs Routine For Women 1

Exercise

Set/Rep

Load

A1) Lying Leg Curl

3 x 12

8 RPE

B1) Pause Back Squat

4 x 8

8 RPE

C1) Hip Thrust

3 x 8, 1 x 15

9 RPE

D1) Glute Kickback

3 x 10-15

9 RPE

E1) Standing Calf Raise

5 x 10-15

10 RPE

Legs Routine For Women 2

Exercise

Set/Rep

Load

A1) Stiff Leg Deadlift

3 x 6-8

9 RPE

B1) Seated Leg Curl

4 x 10

10 RPE

C1) Bulgarian Split Squat

3 x 10-12/leg

9 RPE

D1) 45° Back Extension

3 x 15-20

9 RPE

E1) Seated Calf Raise

5 x 15-20

10 RPE

E2) Hanging Leg Raise

3 x 10-20

10 RPE

Is Push Pull Legs Effective?

The push pull legs routine is very effective for muscle growth because of the sheer volume you can train with each week while getting adequate recovery between muscle groups. The number of sets you perform per muscle group per week is going to dictate muscle growth generally up to approximately 25 sets per week [27].

Because you are training muscle groups twice per week, you can reach these high volumes without reducing the quality of your training session. For example, if you were in an overreaching phase and you had to perform 25 sets in one session for your chest, you would be obliterated by the time you even got to 15 sets. Let alone 25 sets. Your last 10 sets would be of poor quality at reduced load.

Whereas these 10 sets could be performed on your next push day allowing you to use more load and therefore, increase the mechanical tension on the muscle.

Is The Deadlift Push, Pull, Or Legs?

This is a lifter's hardest question when designing a push pull legs routine. I have not included the deadlift within this routine because it doesn't target any specific muscle group. Instead, it is a full-body exercise that taxes the entire leg musculature and the back. Therefore, I’d rather use a stiff leg deadlift to smoke the hamstrings and rows and pulldowns for the back to maximize hypertrophy.

But if you must include the deadlift, I would include it on a leg day. Why? Because performing deadlifts on a pull day before legs would destroy your leg day session. Performing the pull day after a leg day session would make deadlifting very difficult.

Are Shrugs Push Or Pull?

Shrugs are best placed as part of your pull day. The upper traps are heavily taxed in some horizontal pulling movements such as face pulls or rows to the chest. Further, they are part of the back musculature so it makes sense to place them on the pull day.

References

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7. Hussain, J., Sundaraj, K., Subramaniam, I. D., & Lam, C. K. (2020). Muscle fatigue in the three heads of triceps brachii during intensity and speed variations of triceps push-down exercise. Frontiers in physiology, 11, 112.

8. Willett, G. M., Hyde, J. E., Uhrlaub, M. B., Wendel, C. L., & Karst, G. M. (2001). Relative activity of abdominal muscles during commonly prescribed strengthening exercises. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 15(4), 480-485.

9. Ronai, P. (2019). Do it right: The seated cable row exercise. ACSM's Health & Fitness Journal, 23(4), 32-37.

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About the Author

I am a professional strength & conditioning coach that works with professional and international teams and athletes. I am a published scientific researcher and have completed my Masters in Sport & Exercise Science. I've combined my knowledge of research and experience to bring you the most practical bites to be applied to your training.

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