T Nation

Changing Main Lifts from Push to Pull


Ok guyâ??s I have been training athleteâ??s for some time now and one thing my programs always have is emphases on pulling power.
Example: 5,3,1 has, Bench (push), DL (pull), Squat (push), Mil Press (push) that is 3 push movments.
My approach: Close Cable row or BB Row (pull), Front Squat (push), Mil Press (push), DL (pull) that is 2 pulls and 2 pushes.
Now I donâ??t always follow this, everybody is different and so or the demands of different sports but for this discussion letâ??s stay with BJJ. I train a lot of athletes who actively compete in MMA and BJJ. And by far does the need for pulling power and grip strength supersedes the need for pushing power.
Now I have had a lot success with a modified 531 approach like I have shown above. Im not going to sit here and write a whole program to show you what I am doing. Everyone is smart enough to understand what I am saying and what I am going to ask.
Lets look at 531 and CTâ??s new workout Power Look Program. They both put an emphasize Mil Press, and Bench. Say we take out the Bench and replace it with a pull. What would you use for the Main Lift and accessary lifts? Would you use a vertical pull or horizontal? Any thoughts


I like to start by mentioning that the Squat is not really a “Push” exercise. Sure, you push with your legs, but it’s basically the same movement as the Deadlift which is considered a “Pull” exercise. Either way, I would consider them quad dominant (squat) or hip dominant (deadlift) exercises.

A nice balance would be a Quad Dominant, Hip Dominant, Upper Body Push, and Upper Body Pull. Very similar to what you posted in your original post.

Wendler mentions in his books that you can apply the 5/3/1 protocol to other lifts, so I don’t see why you couldn’t use it for Rows or Pull-ups. However, it’s nice having the balance of both the Bench and the Press as a focus in routines. Other “Pull” exercises can be used after the main lifts with a 5s Progression or many of his other schemes.

If you want to make one “Push” and one “Pull” the main lifts, then I like Defranco’s usage of the Bench and the Pull-up as “Benchmark” lifts.