T Nation

Pull/Push Training

CT, what’s your take on pull/push training?

Right now I cannot train Built for Bad circuits due to space limitations (gym being rebuilt/expanded), but I really like the concept with basic movements and high frequency.

I work out monday thru friday so it’s pull and push every other day.

Do you have any advice on exercises and set up when it comes to sets/reps?

I feel I really could do with some fresh new ideas in my quest for new gains. From reading the Q&A’s regarding the Built for Bad I understand the fact that there’s no equal replacement for that system in terms of hypertrophy/body composition gains, but I would settle for a good no.2 for now :slight_smile:

If you think I could do better with some other training than pull/push please feel free to let me know!

Thanks, Roy M.

Look into the Layers and different loading schemes that go along with it. People, and myself, are seeing great results. You can do a search on the layers and find a ton of information.

CT has used a push/pull/legs split in many programs. He is more of a problem solver than a I recommend this many reps kind of guy, but he does do a lot of 1-6 rep work (many times 1-5 reps for main movements), 6-8 reps for back, higher reps occasionally (see his do the opposite article).

Hard to make a recommendation without knowing what you have available. Built for Bad at it’s core is just full body circuit, albeit with bang-for-your-buck big exercises and big weights. It shouldn’t be a problem to improvise something even with limited equipment. You could try complexes. I have at my disposal in my garage gym several kettle bells, a power rack, and a single barbell with lots of weight. When I want to do some “cardio” my go to circuit has always been barbell front squats/double kettlebell press/double kettlebell swing/pull ups in power rack. And all could be done heavy. Guess what? You can do pretty much the exact same thing in a gym with a bar and a couple dumbbells. Be creative and focus on progress and the gains will come my friend.

[quote]mrjasonbbc wrote:
Hard to make a recommendation without knowing what you have available. Built for Bad at it’s core is just full body circuit, albeit with bang-for-your-buck big exercises and big weights. It shouldn’t be a problem to improvise something even with limited equipment. You could try complexes. I have at my disposal in my garage gym several kettle bells, a power rack, and a single barbell with lots of weight. When I want to do some “cardio” my go to circuit has always been barbell front squats/double kettlebell press/double kettlebell swing/pull ups in power rack. And all could be done heavy. Guess what? You can do pretty much the exact same thing in a gym with a bar and a couple dumbbells. Be creative and focus on progress and the gains will come my friend.[/quote]

It’s not limitations in equipment that’s hindering me, it’s the space and time of day i work out these days that makes it impossible to occupy 4 bars at once. I know I could use dumbbells etc but I still would need some space.

So, what I really wanted from CT is, in his opinion, the best exercises to use in a pull/push system working the same muscles every other day. I admire what he does and it would be like an extra motivation if he could give me a recommended set-up to use.

I see myself as a trainee that knows quite a bit about training and nutrition, and I actually help and advice lots of youngsters (helps them avoid training only chest and biceps), but you know how it is; new input can be refreshing and give you that little extra kick in the behind to get new progress :slight_smile:

But I really appreciate all input here you guys, we all learn something new all the time!

Monday- SG High Pull (Pull)
Tuesday- Incl Tilt Bench Press (Push)
Wednesday- Deadlift (Legs)
Thursday- SG High Pull (Pull)
Friday- Decl. Tilt Bench Press (Push)

There ya go

[quote]jbalplayr02 wrote:
Monday- SG High Pull (Pull)
Tuesday- Incl Tilt Bench Press (Push)
Wednesday- Deadlift (Legs)
Thursday- SG High Pull (Pull)
Friday- Decl. Tilt Bench Press (Push)

There ya go[/quote]

Thanks, but I’m thinking towards more hypertrophy rather than pure strenght training, and legs only get one day here.

Let me explain what I have been testing out so far:

PULL: SGHP, Chins, RDL, Face Pull and one biceps exercise.
PUSH: Squats, Push Press/DB Press, Decline Bench, DB Laterals and one triceps exercise.

Again, if CT thinks he can give me a good Plan B to the Built for Bad circuit, that’s what I’m actually asking here.

I just want to know what exercises and the order to do them he thinks will give me the most bang for the buck. :slight_smile:

[quote]Roy M wrote:

[quote]jbalplayr02 wrote:
Monday- SG High Pull (Pull)
Tuesday- Incl Tilt Bench Press (Push)
Wednesday- Deadlift (Legs)
Thursday- SG High Pull (Pull)
Friday- Decl. Tilt Bench Press (Push)

There ya go[/quote]

Thanks, but I’m thinking towards more hypertrophy rather than pure strenght training, and legs only get one day here.

Let me explain what I have been testing out so far:

PULL: SGHP, Chins, RDL, Face Pull and one biceps exercise.
PUSH: Squats, Push Press/DB Press, Decline Bench, DB Laterals and one triceps exercise.

Again, if CT thinks he can give me a good Plan B to the Built for Bad circuit, that’s what I’m actually asking here.

I just want to know what exercises and the order to do them he thinks will give me the most bang for the buck. :slight_smile:
[/quote]

The layers aren’t for pure strength, they will also bring size as well. Especially if you decide to use the Wave/Ladders followed by density and loaded carries.

And yes there is only one leg day, but, the legs are also being hit on both SGHP days as well so in reality they are being worked three days during the week.

There are several ways to do a push pull split (I like push/pull a lot BTW).

It also depends on how many exercises you want to do per session. When doing a push-pull split I feel that 2 or 3 big movements per session is best with possibly some assistance work for 15 minutes at the end of the session.

Some people will put all their leg work on the same day… For example:

(note that this isn’t necessarily my recommended split or exercises, it’s only to illustrate the set-up)

DAY 1 - PUSH
Squat
Bench press
Push press
Leg press

DAY 2 - PULL
Chin-ups
Snatch-grip high pull
Bent over row
Barbell curl

Or some others will divide the legs into two workouts (a better option IMHO)… for example:

DAY 1 - PUSH
Squat
Push press
Bench press

DAY 3 - PULL
Deadlift
Chin-ups
Bent over barbell row

If you admire what I do then (a) you would know my stuff, thus you would know that the layer system mentioned earlier is originally a size program that also increases strength (b) that I build size through improvements in physical performance (strength, power, work capacity) and rarely use typical "hypertrophy schemes: except for my short periods of “opposite training”.

A rep scheme I like to build size is this:

For each main exercise:

3 x 3 then 1 x 6, 1 x 7, 1 x 8*

*For the 3 sets of 3 we use a weight that we can use for all three sets, or even increase the weight from the first to the third set (ramping). The set of 6 is an all-out set (you should hit close to failure on the 6th rep). You rest for 2 minutes, then you reduce the weight by 10% and do a set of 7 reps. Rest another 2 minutes and do a set of 8 with 10% less again (e.g. if you used 300lbs x 6 you would use 30lbs less on the set of 7, so 270 and then you would use 25lbs less (technically 27lbs… 10% of 270lbs) for your set of 8 reps).

As for which exercises I like, there are many and are often determined by the individual’s strength and weaknesses.

CT, this is excactly why I asked you in the first place, thanks.

I have read many of your articles, watched your videos etc, and also read loads of threads on this forum. It differs quite a bit from what I have typically been doing and reading (mostly pure BB mags) and I guess I might have become a bit confused (don’t see the forest due to all the trees), that’s why I asked you directly here.

You always give honest feedback, no BS, and sometimes people need to hear that, me included. I guess one of my “problems” are dropping a lot of the exercises I usually do and concentrate on the few selected ones, and to do them without reaching failure every time.

I have been testing out layers and ramping a bit lately, my gym owner loves those principles. He also had me doing SGHP, something I had never done before, at least not explosive, and that’s now one of my absolute favourite exercises!

I will give this a go (2nd alternative) and have just a few of more questions:

-I have never been a good deadlifter, can I use the trap bar or RDL’s instead, or do I just practice and master the standard ones?
-Are front squats or box squats an alternative, or do I stick with the standard style?
-If I want to do the SGHP, will that be best after chins instead of bb rows (or maybe rotating the two every other time)?

Again, I really appreciate you taking time to guide me here and I look forward to testing this kinda training routine.

[quote]Roy M wrote:
I will give this a go (2nd alternative) and have just a few of more questions:

-I have never been a good deadlifter, can I use the trap bar or RDL’s instead, or do I just practice and master the standard ones?
-Are front squats or box squats an alternative, or do I stick with the standard style?
-If I want to do the SGHP, will that be best after chins instead of bb rows (or maybe rotating the two every other time)?

Again, I really appreciate you taking time to guide me here and I look forward to testing this kinda training routine.[/quote]

IMPORTANT: The exercises I wrote are NOT a recommendation. It was never my intention to have you do this. It was an example of how you can split the training according to a push-pull split. The exercises I chose are based on individual needs.

However the sets/reps scheme is something I would recommend.

  1. You can use the trap bar (as I mentioned, the exercises in my post were not a recommendation). But I do not see the RDL as a main exercise, personally.

  2. THE EXERCISES I WROTE IN THE POST ARE NOT A RECOMMENDATION … so do not ask if you have to stick to the squat since I did not make any exercise recommendation…go with the squat variant that works best for you

  3. THE EXERCISES I WROTE IN THE POST ARE NOT A RECOMMENDATION … so don’t ask me if high pulls go after chins, before rows, instead of rows, etc.

Alrighty, my bad. I went too quickly to the exercise list and missed the info in paranthesis…!

I get the picture and think I know what exercises to use, after all I know what I need to improve the most etc…

I read about push/pull back in the 80’s but didn’t like the logic but tried it anyway. Did not like it. I am sure that many live by it and have made great gains on it but my (and others) reasoning against is was this: the claim ( at least back then ) was that with push/pull while you are working a major muscle, ex. Chest, you are warming up with the secondary, ex. Triceps, so you should go ahead and hit that 2ndary muscle next. But to me it was more than just a warm up and it seemed to me it is best to hit that bicep or tricep while it was fresh to get more out of the workout. So after training a muscle such as my chest my biceps are not tired but are a bit warmed up with the blood and pump by the use of my triceps. My biceps are fresh and can handle more weight, reps and sets. I do not know how much time you have or what type of equipment you have but this may be an alternative.
Basic Routine:
Day 1: Chest/Front Delts/Biceps
Day 2: Legs
Day 3: Back/Rear Delts/Triceps
Abs, Shrugs, Forearms, Calves, etc always worked in.

WantNot

[quote]wantnot wrote:
I read about push/pull back in the 80’s but didn’t like the logic but tried it anyway. Did not like it. I am sure that many live by it and have made great gains on it but my (and others) reasoning against is was this: the claim ( at least back then ) was that with push/pull while you are working a major muscle, ex. Chest, you are warming up with the secondary, ex. Triceps, so you should go ahead and hit that 2ndary muscle next. But to me it was more than just a warm up and it seemed to me it is best to hit that bicep or tricep while it was fresh to get more out of the workout. So after training a muscle such as my chest my biceps are not tired but are a bit warmed up with the blood and pump by the use of my triceps. My biceps are fresh and can handle more weight, reps and sets. I do not know how much time you have or what type of equipment you have but this may be an alternative.
Basic Routine:
Day 1: Chest/Front Delts/Biceps
Day 2: Legs
Day 3: Back/Rear Delts/Triceps
Abs, Shrugs, Forearms, Calves, etc always worked in.

WantNot[/quote]

That logic would hold if you were to include (for example) several chest exercises, then several delts exercises, then several triceps exercises. In that case, yeah, i agree that a push/pull routine is not ideal. Push/pull is designed to work well if you only use a small number of exercises per session, focusing only on the big basic lifts.

My philosophy is to use very few exercises, focusing only on the big basics. If you want to discuss more traditional bodybuilding/body part splits, this is not really the right forum.

Sorry, did not know this! I may try the push/pull if I decide to mix up my training and apologize not knowing BB is not to be discussed here. Not bragging but I do want you to know that I have a little experience (maybe not as much as you or others here) and not someone just blabbing away. In the late 80’s (not going to say what exact year, not like you would care but I do have my reasons) I won the Mr Georgia BB overall Championship, the next year I did quite well in the Jr Nationals and in1990 after pre-judging Muscle Mag had me picked to win the overall Eastern SeaBoard Championship in Atlanta, Ga. I wanted to state that because I have asked for some advice on several of these forums but apparently no one is interested or they think I am a joke (but at now 55 I would not be hesitant to stand beside anyone here).

[quote]wantnot wrote:
I read about push/pull back in the 80’s but didn’t like the logic but tried it anyway. Did not like it. I am sure that many live by it and have made great gains on it but my (and others) reasoning against is was this: the claim ( at least back then ) was that with push/pull while you are working a major muscle, ex. Chest, you are warming up with the secondary, ex. Triceps, so you should go ahead and hit that 2ndary muscle next. But to me it was more than just a warm up and it seemed to me it is best to hit that bicep or tricep while it was fresh to get more out of the workout. So after training a muscle such as my chest my biceps are not tired but are a bit warmed up with the blood and pump by the use of my triceps. My biceps are fresh and can handle more weight, reps and sets. I do not know how much time you have or what type of equipment you have but this may be an alternative.
Basic Routine:
Day 1: Chest/Front Delts/Biceps
Day 2: Legs
Day 3: Back/Rear Delts/Triceps
Abs, Shrugs, Forearms, Calves, etc always worked in.

WantNot[/quote]

This is more like what I have done most of the time, splitting body parts in more traditional BB routines, but now I want to do something totally different. I have seen some nice progress the last couple of months doing pull/push and I feel more jacked when training every muscle every other day (weekends off). I’m not huge in any way (90kg/175cm) but do get some nice comments on my shoulders and arms (45cm pumped).

I like the power look CT’s got and would not mind getting there myself one day, one of the reasons for starting to do SGHP’s. I just think trying a new way of training can give me new progress and not least new motivation!

I’m gonna give it a go for a couple of months and see what I get from it, but I do appreciate everybody who wants to share their experiences with others in here :slight_smile:

Roy M.

CT, I just gotta ask this. I want to include the SGHP on my pull days. I have read that you do not recommend doing more than 5-6 reps tops in olympic lifts. Can I perhaps do low pulls instead for the 1x6-1x7-1x8 sets, or am I better off doing say Haney shrugs, wide grip upright rows etc instead…?

I really want to give this a go, but do not want to do anything that might fu*k up my routine…Thanks.

[quote]Roy M wrote:
CT, I just gotta ask this. I want to include the SGHP on my pull days. I have read that you do not recommend doing more than 5-6 reps tops in olympic lifts. Can I perhaps do low pulls instead for the 1x6-1x7-1x8 sets, or am I better off doing say Haney shrugs, wide grip upright rows etc instead…?

I really want to give this a go, but do not want to do anything that might fu*k up my routine…Thanks.[/quote]

High pulls are not really an olympic lift. Not going above 6-8 reps refers more to lifts like snatches, power snatches, clean, power cleans in which the technical demands are higher. You will be fine with 8 reps, but I wouldn’t go higher.

I think you are on the right path 100%. I have always looked at myself as the student and never the instructor always learning something new. That is why on one of these threads I asked for advice since I have been out of the loop for so long. Just wanting to see what new improved training ideas are out there and supplements (but either getting no response. Or on the wrong thread, like right now I guess).

The muscle has to be shocked and the training has to be changed around. Back in the 80’s I was visiting a friend in Redondo (sp) Beach, Ca and wanted to find a gym. The closest one was in Hermosa (sp) Beach so I went there. Nice sweat gym nothing fancy, but serious lifters. Looked up and who was there Ray Mentzer ( he was an owner of the gym).

We had some good conversations and I learned a lot from him. That was when he and his brother (Mike) were putting out some new and controversial training programs. He also liked what I had to offer. I played football at Auburn in the mid to late 70s and had the privilege of befriending and training with Bill Kazmir, Tom
McLaughlin and Jan & Terry Todd. So I had a lot of info he was interested in. I would love to use this technique that CT is talking about but my shoulders just won’t handle the weight for it to be effective enough (the football).

Did my first pull workout yesterday consisting of Trap Bar Deadlift, Chins and SGHP. A great combo and a great workout indeed. I think though that I will alternate Chins and Rows every other workout to get both vertical and horizontal pulling.

What I realized was that I’m not sure when or how often to increase the weights. Doing pull/push every other day means 3 times each during the week, and I suspect I might fry the CNS if I get too carried away…Of course, I will have days when the energy is not at best that will auto regulate it a bit, but still.

So, what are the recommendations regarding weight increasment frequency in such a program?

Also, if I understand it right, the 6 rep set done to near failure is the set that dictates the weight to use for the 6, 7 and 8 reps sets, and the 7 and 8 reps sets might feel kinda easy and nowhere near failure…?

Anyway, I really like it and look forward to the coming weeks, so thanks CT.