By Ron Harris
I’m sure most of you follow some variation of a ‘traditional’ bodybuilding training split, wherein you focus on just one muscle group per day, such as distinct training days for chest, shoulders, back, arms, and legs. This certainly works well for most. Not long ago, I began training on my own again for the first time in many years, and decided to revisit a classic training split many would consider more suited to beginners and intermediates rather than someone like myself with over 35 years of lifting experience: Push, Pull, Legs. That means chest, shoulders (front and side) and triceps on Day 1, back, rear delts, and biceps on Day 2, and legs on Day 3. Before you scoff that you’re far too advanced for this schedule, consider these 4 advantages:
- MORE RECOVERY/LESS OVERLAP
Many upper body muscle groups are closely involved in function. It’s impossible to work the chest without also hitting the front delts and triceps. You can’t train back without involving the rear delts, traps, and biceps. It can be a daunting challenge setting up a traditional split that allows for proper recovery considering this overlap. With push/pull/legs, you avoid that issue. Those muscles won’t be worked again until that next training day.
- YOU’RE FORCED TO PARE IT DOWN TO BASICS
When you must consolidate several bodyparts in a workout, you are forced to choose only the best and most effective exercises. Otherwise you would be training for well over two hours trying to cram all the ‘fluff’ movements in too. Push/pull/legs will have you working hard on just a few basic exercises for each muscle group, which you can rotate from workout to workout to allow for variety.
- HIGHER FREQUENCY
If you train all three days in a row and take a day off between, each of your muscle groups is being worked twice every week. That’s twice as many opportunities to stimulate muscle growth. As I’ve said here recently, the practice of working a bodypart just once a week is inadequate for many, allowing for too much time to elapse between workouts and robbing you of potential gains.
Finally, this split allows for maximum flexibility. With other splits you might follow, off days must be incorporated between certain training days to allow for recovery in respect to that overlap we talked about earlier. If work, family, or school obligations cause you to miss a day or two, it can throw your whole training schedule out of whack. Not so with push/pull/legs. You can repeat it ad infinitum without taking any rest days if your lifestyle and recovery make that possible, or you can insert rest days anywhere as needed without messing anything up.
I highly recommend giving push/pull/legs a try. It doesn’t have to be a permanent switch. You can do it for anywhere from a month to six months as a total change of pace, or you may find it works so well and you enjoy it so much that you will stick with it.
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