Push vs. Pull Workout Routines: What’s The Difference?

It’s a question as old as gyms themselves—what is the best workout routine for maximizing my gains? Although there is no correct answer for everyone, many people are quick to praise the push-pull routine. This routine has ranked one of the most popular training programs, and for good reason.

A push and pull workout split gives you balance in your workouts, from targeting each of your muscle groups to prioritizing rest just as much as activity. Discover all the benefits of a push-pull workout routine so you can understand the hype, and see if it makes sense for your fitness goals.


A push workout engages the muscles involved in the process of pushing—think about when you open a door that says “push”. The muscles you engage in the process are the same muscles you target in a push workout. These muscles include the chest muscles, triceps, and shoulders.

Examples of push exercises include:

  • Bench press
  • Push-ups
  • Chest flys
  • Side lateral raises
  • Tricep pushdowns
  • Tricep extensions
  • Shoulder press


A pull workout engages entirely different muscle groups than push workouts. As you might guess, pull exercises engage the muscles that are involved in pulling motions—imagine the muscles that you use when you pull open a door. These workouts primarily target the biceps and back muscles.

Some examples of pull-day workouts include:

  • Seated rows
  • Dumbbell curls
  • Barbell curls
  • Pull-ups
  • Lat pull-downs
  • Bent-over rows


A push-pull routine splits up your workout routine into push and pull workouts to focus on each of the muscle groups equally. This routine allows you to spend one day focused completely on push exercises and another on your pull muscles, so you can hit all your muscle groups multiple times a week. Then, for a well-rounded workout, you should add in a leg and core day to work your body’s foundation.

The best push-pull routines are split into three days:  

  1. Push day workouts  
  2. Pull day workouts
  3. Leg and core day workouts

A common approach is to do this routine twice a week, including two pull days, two push days, and two leg days. Combining leg and core workouts into one day helps you get a full-body workout over the course of a week.

Of course, you can’t have a good workout routine without a rest day! Many people prefer to include a rest day after every two or three days of their workout routine.  


This workout split has become one of the most popular options because it helps you target many muscle groups and offers multiple benefits. A push-pull workout routine can do the following.


A push-pull routine helps you combine the best of both worlds—putting all your muscles to work throughout the week while also giving them appropriate time to rest. By doing both, split routines can be better for promoting muscle growth than total-body routines.

A push-pull workout split also allows you to incorporate both isolation and compound workouts, so you have a well-rounded workout routine that targets your muscles in different ways for even more gains.


An important part of fitness is balance. If you put equal focus into performing push and pull workouts, then you can reduce muscle imbalances and maintain consistency in your workouts. Unlike other workout routines, a push-pull routine ensures that you target each muscle group an equal amount throughout the week.


Overworking your muscles and not taking enough time for rest could slow your muscle gains. One of the biggest benefits of splitting your push and pull workouts is that the target muscles from a push day can completely rest on a pull day, and vice versa. On leg and core days, you allow those muscles to rest even more.

In other routines, you often work the same muscles across several days in a week without giving them a proper chance to rest. For example, if you do bicep curls one day and then rows the next day, you are engaging your biceps two days in a row. By splitting up the work strategically, a push-pull workout routine promotes better muscle recovery and growth.


Once you know what you can expect out of a push-pull split, all you need to know is how to make it work for you! To get the most out of your push and pull workout routine, keep the following tips in mind.


Splitting your workout into just push and pull exercises may sound limiting, but that’s far from the truth. Even when thinking about just push workouts, there are dozens of exercises to choose from. Choosing different types of push and pull workouts will allow you to vary up your routine and hit different accessory muscles for maximum results.

Your muscle groups are complicated, and there are many smaller muscles you can hit through different exercises. So don’t just stick to lat pull-downs to target your back every pull day—include pull-ups, rows, and other pull exercises throughout the week for better results.


Although this routine focuses on upper body push and pull workouts, it doesn’t mean you should forget about everything else. Remember that the push-pull concept is a foundation to build your workout from, not a stopping point.

It’s essential that you also make time to focus on your legs and endurance for full-body fitness. Make sure you treat your leg day with the same importance as the other two days. You should also try to mix cardio exercises into your schedule a few times a week after your strength training.


Because a push-pull routine hits all of your muscle groups, it is essential that you get adequate rest. After all, the more muscle groups you use, the more that will need to recover. Muscle growth happens more during rest outside of the gym than in the gym, so make sure you work hard but rest even harder.

Part of a strong recovery program is making sure you get enough sleep and eat right. Aim for at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night so your body has time to repair and build muscle. By providing your body with the necessary rest and support, you can maximize your gains and come back to the gym feeling even stronger, leading to better performance and results.


If there was such a thing as the perfect workout routine, the push-pull split may just be it since it offers so many benefits. At EōS Fitness, we provide you with the tools to get the most out of your workouts and reach your goals. From our free weight sections to our strength training machines, you can find the tools you need to build a routine that supports your specific goals.

If you need help developing a push-pull workout routine that works for you, you can set an appointment with a Personal Trainer. When you sign up with EōS Fitness, you also receive a Complimentary Welcome Workout to gain even more support.

Are you ready to start building your routine? Find an EōS location near you. 

My EōS Fitness: