Tip: Full Body Fridays

Here's a new way to program push-pull training for even better results.

Push/Pull with a Twist

The classic push/pull training program is a classic because, well, it works. As a reminder, this split involves training your "pushing" muscles on one day and your "pulling" muscles on another. It's a great way to increase training frequency for size and strength gains. Here's what it usually looks like:

Day 1: Pushing Muscles

  • Quads
  • Pecs
  • Delts
  • Triceps

Day 2: Pulling Muscles

  • Hamstrings
  • Back
  • Biceps

If you can train four to six days a week, you'll end up hitting every movement pattern two or three times every week.

But what if you're a Monday through Friday lifter and you take the weekends off? On a push/pull split, that means that each week you'll hit one half of the split three times and the other only twice. You may also fall into the trap of starting each week with your push day, meaning your pulling muscles end up under-emphasized. That's bad news.

The good news is that there's a simple solution that ensures equal weekly stimulation of your pushing and pulling muscles even with a five day training week.

Here's how the week would be laid out:

  • Monday: Push (strength emphasis)
  • Tuesday: Pull (hypertrophy emphasis)
  • Wednesday: Push (hypertrophy emphasis)
  • Thursday: Pull (strength emphasis)
  • Friday: Full body (conditioning emphasis)

On strength emphasis days, stick with lower rep ranges (3-6), heavier weights and compound movements.

On hypertrophy days, move into the 8-12 rep range and mix in some isolation work with the compound exercises.

On the final day of your training week, you'll superset anterior and posterior chain exercises. Supersetting in this way will increase the conditioning demand, so you'll also get cardiovascular stimulation to go along with your lifting.

In most cases, exercises that are paired together allow for an easy transition from one to the next, maybe even using the same load. They're mostly opposing movement patterns as well.

For both sample programs, A1 and A2 means you superset the two exercises. Unless a different rep range is indicated, select a weight that you're confident you can lift for at least 12 reps.

Do 8-12 reps of the first exercise, followed immediately (without rest) by 8-12 reps of the other. Take 45-60 seconds between sets and repeat for 3 sets.

Feel free to finish off the workout with Prowler pushes, sled drags and/or loaded carries for additional conditioning work.

Full Body Friday: Example 1

  • A1. Barbell squat or front squat
  • A2. Leg curl or glute-ham raise
  • B1. Incline dumbbell press
  • B2. Chest-supported dumbbell row
  • C1. Military press
  • C2. Pull-up (AMRAP – as many reps as possible)
  • D1. Lying dumbbell triceps extension
  • D2. Seated dumbbell curl

Full Body Friday: Example 2

And thus, on the sixth AND seventh days, you rest!

Dean Graddon (B Ed, MA) is a high-school teacher and coach with over 20 years' experience working with athletes from such diverse disciplines as swimming, soccer, volleyball, basketball and triathlon. Dean is dedicated to the promotion of health and fitness and loves a good challenge.