The Push/Pull/Legs Method & Why I Use It
When it comes to fitness and weightlifting, I am all about two things:
Maximizing time in the gym and maximizing rest/recovery. To do this, we must look at what we actually need to be doing in the gym.
Just how it's possible to not manage or use time in the best way in other areas of our life, it's possible to mismanage time in the gym, thus leading to impaired productivity. While some prefer full-body workouts, my personal observation is that utilizing the push/pull/legs method is more effective - especially because I don't prefer to go to the gym every day.
To maximize time in the gym, I like to focus on something called the "push/pull/legs" method. This method works by emphasizing certain parts of the body - the "push" muscle group, the "pull" muscle group, and the legs.
The "push" muscle group includes:
The chest, shoulders, and triceps all work together - so on a "push day," you are going to be having a "chest, shoulder & tricep" day. Any exercise that works the chest will automatically work the shoulders and the triceps. Chest presses are a perfect example of this. While the main focus is to work the chest, the triceps are shoulders are automatically a part of the exercise, meaning that those muscle fibers are being torn along with the chest muscles' fibers. During a chest press, the biceps and back are not being used except for structural support.
The "pull" muscle group:
The muscles of the back
You can call a "pull" day a "back and bicep day". On these days, you will only focus on the back and biceps. When you do exercises that focus on the back, the biceps are automatically also going to be worked. Vise versa, when you do exercises that focus on the biceps, the back muscles will be activated. By focusing on these two muscle groups, you can make better use of your time and see results more quickly due to intentionality.
Legs are a group that stands on its own. For many, one intentional day a week dedicated to legs will get them the results they want. Knowing that only one small section of your week needs to be dedicated to your legs can help lower the stress associated with the time commitment that surrounds fitness in general for many.
The legs are comprised of a large group of muscles, and it's important to be aware that all of these muscles work together. On a "leg" day, you will be focusing on training the entire lower body, including abs.
Everyone is in a different starting place when it comes to fitness, so your current health status truly will impact your ability to work out. If you are currently in a healing phase, working out might not be for you. Walks and gentle pilates might be better. Have grace on yourself if you are in this season - I have been there before too!
If you have the stamina and health status to work out, I suggest aiming to set 3 days a week aside for this method, plus one day for light to high-intensity cardio. Your health status will determine how often you should be workout out and what the intensity should be. f you feel well enough to work out but you still working on healing, then 30-minute workouts and low-intensity cardio will probably be a great fit for you. If you feel very healthy, then 55-minute workouts with one day a week for high-intensity cardio might suit you. Most people fall somewhere in- between.
(While you can choose to just use free weights to implement this method, it's also possible to use resistance and body weight instead of dumbbells/free weights.)
To help you understand how to implement this method, I will be sharing workouts that are in line with these groups. Stay tuned for the first push/pull/legs method inspired workout!