What Are Push-Pull Workouts?

Push-pull workouts are exercise routines that are split between pull exercises and push exercises. Pull exercises are any movements where you're pulling toward yourself, like with curls, and push exercises are where you're pushing away from yourself, as you do with pushups (via Healthline). Push exercises involve the chest, shoulders, and triceps, while pull exercises use the back, biceps, and forearms. Sometimes the word push or pull is in the name of the exercise, as it is with pull-ups.

When you do push-pull workouts, your training will usually be broken up by doing pull exercises and push exercises on alternating days. These strength training routines are often used by bodybuilders because they aid recovery. Push-pull workouts can help you do more while resting certain muscle groups because push exercises work different muscle groups than pull exercises. One day you'll be focusing on pull exercises while your push muscles are resting, and the next day you'll focus on push exercises while your pull muscles rest (via Aaptiv and Verywell Fit).

Push-pull workouts are a great way to achieve a better-balanced body, which isn't always possible when you're separating your workouts by the upper body, lower body, and core. You're also less likely to get an injury, will spend less time working out, and improve your muscle mass, according to Studio SWEAT onDemand.

How to do a push-pull workout

The best benefit of the push-pull workout is that you can do them alternately throughout the week — push exercises on Monday, pull exercises on Tuesday, and so on. But you can also do three push-pull workouts a week with one rest day in between. With this routine, you'd do both push and pull exercises on the same day and then have a rest day, according to Studio SWEAT onDemand.

Another way to do push-pull workouts, as Aaptiv recommends, is to separate them between upper and lower body exercises. On day one, you'd do pull exercises for the upper body and push exercises for the lower body. On day two, you'd do push exercises for the upper body and pull exercises for the lower body. You can do these four times a week with a rest day after two days of working out.

Healthline recommends that beginners do one push day, a rest day, a pull day, a rest day, and a leg and core day. More advanced athletes can do one push day, one pull day, one leg and core day, a rest day, and then repeat.