The Ultimate Push-Pull-Legs Workout Split for Every Experience Level

The GOAT of all workout splits.

The success of your training often depends on time management. You’ll need to target a tremendous amount of muscle mass in a well-balanced program. Because you’ve got a lot of ground to cover, finding the right training split is essential for progress. 

In this sense, the way you organize your program is the art of working out. You’ll need to flow between form and function to provide the best opportunity for gains. Some training splits lend themselves well to building muscle, while others put an emphasis on particular lifts to boost your sports-specific skills.

A person working out on a leg extension machine.
Credit: restyler / Shutterstock

Many workout splits can help carve out the best physique for your goals. Arguably, none are as versatile as push-pull-legs. Regardless of your experience level, the creativity and customization of the push-pull-legs workout split make it difficult to beat. Here are the ultimate push-pull-leg workout splits to help you achieve your wildest training goals.

The Ultimate Push-Pull-Legs Workout Split for Beginners

Especially at the beginning of your muscle-building journey, make sure you’re hitting all major muscle groups throughout the week. Later in your training career, you’ll diversify your workouts with many different angles and exercise variations.

But to lay the right foundation, you’ll focus on the major compound movement patterns. You can easily weave squatting, hinging, pushing, and pulling movements into your first push-pull-legs split.

The Workouts

You don’t need to use a barbell for every single exercise when you’re just learning. In many cases, it’s more effective to build some initial muscle, strength, and skill using more machine or cable variations first

Pepper in some skill and coordination work with dumbbells, barbells, or even calisthenics before smashing some machine- and cable-based exercises. This way, you’ll create a healthy base to build off of without trying to perform variations your body may not be ready for.

Day 1 — Push

*AMRAP = as many repetitions as possible.

Day 2 — Pull

Day 3 — Legs

The Ultimate Push-Pull-Legs Workout Split for Intermediates

With a strong foundation of muscle mass and initial coordination built, it’s time to add more exercises and intensity. Step up your game by adding some higher-level barbell or dumbbell work and branching into additional isolation exercises. With your now intermediate level of experience, chances are that your body will need this added volume to keep growing.

The Workouts

Keep your most high-skill or full-body taxing exercises up front each day. Your barbell, dumbbell, or calisthenic-based exercises should still be performed early in the workout. This way, as you reach higher levels of fatigue each set, you’ll remain safe in the process. Once you get into the machine and isolation exercise part of the day, start ratcheting up your intensity and go for muscle failure.

Day 1 — Push

Day 2 — Pull

Day 3 — Legs

The Ultimate Push-Pull-Legs Workout Split for Advanced Athletes

As you approach your more advanced training stages, it’s time to add in the bells and whistles. Keep your gains at the max level by moving from compound to isolation exercises throughout your workout and training with some more advanced implements. 

A person doing a kettlebell squat.
Credit: Photology1971 / Shutterstock

Your load, set, and repetition schemes should be advancing toward the heavier end. That will generally mean fewer reps with heavier weights. From barbells to dumbbells and cables to machines, now is the time to push it.

The Workouts

Previously, the majority of your growth came from compound movements like barbell rows and dips. Since you’ve established a strong base of overall fitness, you can add more direct arm work to your plate and be more surgical in your exercise selection. Targeting smaller muscle groups and tossing in intensifiers to cap your workout will be the pièce de résistance.

Day 1 — Push

Day 2 — Pull

Day 3 — Legs

Benefits of a Push-Pull-Legs Split

The push-pull-legs split is extremely effective at training your full body throughout the week and at a relatively high training frequency. You can easily tailor this split to your specific needs. If you find yourself curious about other training methods, the push-pull-legs split also makes it easy to make that leap.

Full-Body Gains

Your main goal with the push-pull-legs split will be to effectively train your entire body. By segmenting your training week into the push-pull-legs style of workout, it’s extremely straightforward to target everything you need

Get in your chest, triceps, and shoulders on push day. Work your back and biceps on pull day. Target your hamstrings, quadriceps, and glutes on leg day. 

Honorable mention to the calves and abs — these can be placed anywhere you want at your discretion. While they will get some engagement each day from the heavy barbell and dumbbell movements, a little direct love never hurts.

Higher Training Frequency

Due to the non-competing workouts (no muscle group gets hit more than one day in a row), you can easily train your push-pull-legs split with high frequency. It is not uncommon to see the push-pull-legs split performed twice per week. Simply take a day off in between each three-day rotation and benefit from training each muscle group twice per week.


Although your experience level will suggest what exercises might best benefit your progress, availability and your own preference also matter. The push-pull-legs split is highly customizable. Since it’s primarily about building muscle, you’ll always have a ton of options at your disposal. 

A person working out with a barbell and being coached.
Credit: Frame Stock Footage / Shutterstock

Depending on the muscles you’re trying to emphasize, equipment availability, and any number of other considerations, there’s definitely a push-pull-legs workout for you.

The push-pull-legs training split is an amazingly easy program to pivot off into more specific training. While it caters heavily towards building as much muscle as possible, it also easily weaves in a diverse range of training exercises and implements. This means that you can use anything from barbells to kettlebells to achieve your training goals, whether strength or muscle.

This split will give you exposure to and practice with a wide array of workouts and movements. Therefore, the push-pull-legs training split can be a launching pad for any number of other training styles.

Who Should Use the Push-Pull-Legs Split

The push-pull-legs split can be modified to serve a ton of different training goals, but it’s best suited for you if you’re a bodybuilder, strength athlete, or currently cross-training.


Physique athletes are the most obvious beneficiary of a good push-pull-legs workout split. With the ability to target and customize workouts for each body part, train at a higher frequency, and have easy recovery, it’s a great option for a bodybuilder. From hobbyists to professionals, if your main interest is muscle gain, push-pull-legs splits are right for you.

Strength Athletes

Strength athletes like powerlifters can also benefit from a good push-pull-legs split, particularly in their offseason. Depending on where you place your big three — the squat, bench press, and deadlift — your in-season training can also be considered a push-pull-legs split. 

But when you’re focusing on hypertrophy in the off-season, a specific push-pull-legs split can be ideal. Take a load off from some of the heavier movements, chase some muscle growth, and recharge for the next bout of competition.

Cross-Training Athletes

Cross-training athletes often combine exercise styles. If you’re into muscle growth, strength, cardio, or any other number of fitness pursuits, the push-pull-legs split is a strong candidate for you. 

A person working out on a dip machine.
Credit: Reshetnikov_art / Shutterstock

The push-pull-legs split gives you the ability to scale your volume and accommodate for muscle soreness from other training styles. With some strategy to avoid any interference effect, you’ll be able to successfully weave everything you desire into your push-pull-legs cross-training program.

How to Progress the Push-Pull-Legs Split

You can progress your push-pull-legs training split in a few different ways. First, make use of all the tools at your disposal in the gym and weave in a few intensifiers. You can also lean into a double rotation of the same split. Finally, erring on the side of strength is rarely a bad idea.

Progress Training Implements

Each training tool in the gym provides you with distinct benefits. Barbells and dumbbells are great for long-term progress because of their strength and coordination demands. Machines and cables are easier (and generally safer) to take your muscles as close to failure as you can. 

Utilize more externally-stabilized tools for taking your sets to failure but build skill and coordination earlier in your workout with free weights. Eventually, the combined effect should allow you to use nearly every training tool at the gym for massive muscle growth. 

Add Intensifiers

There are several techniques you can use to intensify each training session. From drop sets to forced repetitions, nailing that last set with some intensifiers can seriously help with stubborn progress. 

Think of intensifiers as a way to finish off the last set of a muscle group on the day. Weave them into the last week or two of your particular training cycle before you shift tactics. Make sure you’re taking note of when and how you use intensifiers to keep your training consistent and challenging.

Use a Double Rotation

A clever way to keep progressing with your push-pull-legs training split is to divide it into two distinct rotations. What this means is that you’ll be training six total workouts before completing one “rotation.”

This way, you can design two unique push, pull, and leg workouts and repeat them throughout your training week. Instead of hitting the same exact workout twice per week, you can now swap in different exercises or training tools for targeting an even broader number of muscles.

Lean into Strength

One of the most tried-and-true methods of advancing any training program is to increase the weight you’re using. When you are better able to move heavier weights, the ceiling of all other progression tools also goes up. 

Your higher repetition work will also become heavier, your intensifiers will get harder, and your coordination will improve. This means achieving highly challenging sets, getting as close to failure as possible, and welcoming in even more gains.

The Undisputed Champion

It’s easy to argue that the ruler of all splits is the push-pull-legs workout split. With the ability to customize workout difficulty to any skill level, diversify to include a wide variety of goals, and never fail to produce a wicked pump, it’s a high standard to beat. 

Bodybuilders, strength athletes, and multi-dimensional cross-trainers can all get a ton of value from a push-pull-legs split. Get after any of these push-pull-legs workouts or build your own. If you’ve chosen this split, you’re already on your way toward becoming a stronger athlete.

Featured Image: restyler / Shutterstock