The Push Pull Workout

woman lifting weights strengthIf you have newly joined a gym then you might very well feel a little like a fish out of water. In fact you might well be frankly terrified to step into the gym where you can feel the eyes of the huge bodybuilders and model-like women on the back of your neck and where you feel like an Antelope walking into a pride of lions.

Part of what can make this all so intimidating is the fact that we often don’t know what we’re doing when we first start. This has other disadvantages too, causing us to waste time when we could be getting into good shape more quickly, and even potentially leading to injury.

Here then we will look at a possible answer to your woes: the ‘push pull’ workout. While there is no one workout routine that is suitable for everyone, this is a fantastic training programme for most beginners that’s hard enough to cause visible results fast, but that won’t cause you a hernia.

The Best Kinds of Programmes

First of all to appreciate the benefits of the push pull workout, and to help you identify good programmes yourself more easily in future, we will look at what makes a good training programme.

Essentially the mistake that many people make when they begin training is to look for a programme that is completely set in stone and that instructs them on every last move. Many people will hit the gym with a programme that says ‘Monday: 8 x 3 x 15kg bicep curls, 10 x 2 x 20kg lat pull downs’ etc etc. However this is the wrong way to train for many reasons.

For one it means you’re doing the exact same thing very week which quickly stops challenging your muscles as much (even when you increase the weight) and for another it means you’re queuing to use machines that aren’t available when you could be putting your time to better use.

A good programme then is instead an ‘idea’ that will act as a very rough guide. It tells you which muscles to train and how often, but it also doesn’t tell you any specific exercises, reps or days to train on. This allows you to be more flexible and to keep trying new things and to train in an intense and fast way each time. That’s precisely what the push pull workout is – it’s an ‘idea’.

What is the Push Pull Programme?

And that idea is that you are going to split your training regimes into two distinct parts – entirely pushing exercises and entirely pulling (and then you’ll likely use a third day for your legs and abs).

What a professional bodybuilder uses to train is a ‘split’ routine that trains a different body part on each day. This allows them to only target their biceps which allows them to cause far more microtears than they could if they were training them along with 8 other body parts. By doing 10 exercises all just on the biceps, you can get them to really hurt and thus grow. You then get a whole week to recover.

Sadly most beginners are not suited to this kind of training, and using it would only cause them to damage those muscles early on and have to take recovery time out. As a result many beginners instead use a full body routine, meaning they train each muscle group together – one exercise each – and they repeat this three times.

In that time though most people can not cause enough microtears in order for the muscles to have to grow (they grow as a result of being ‘repaired’ by the protein). By coupling all of the pushing and pulling exercises instead however this is a logical combination that allows you to hit each group much harder. You won’t injure yourself, but you will see much faster growth.

How You Can Work Fitness Into Your Everyday Life

exercise at workA growing body of research adds up to an inevitable conclusion: When it comes to exercise,  every little bit counts. Which is either good news or bad news for exercise haters and every person who has no time to get healthy.

For people who want to get healthier, lose weight, or improve a condition like high blood pressure, blood sugar control, or high cholesterol (and who doesn’t?) it means finding ways to add a few minutes of exercise throughout the day.

For true couch potatoes who only pay lip service to getting healthy and make excuses simply because they don’t want to admit it, the bad news is that no time for the gym has become a moot point.

Few things in life are a panacea for everything that ails you, but exercise is exactly that. Adding 30 minutes of exercise to your day will result in improved heart health, better respiratory function, deeper sleep, weight and fat loss, lower bad cholesterol, better blood sugar control, less stress, more happy and a 30% lower risk of post-menopausal breast cancer. It helps you retain your mental acuity as you age and, if you choose gentle exercises that improve flexibility, mitigate general aches and pains.

Baby Steps

I know you’re excited, but before you jump off the couch, throw in a Zumba Fitness video, and wind up in the emergency room, let’s talk about the word “moderate.” Moderate exercises include things like walking the dog, gardening, doing housework, and taking the stairs. Start slow and build up a little more each day. When you’re ready, pick up the pace of your walk, park way out in the parking lot, or put on Chubby Checker loud enough to drown out the vacuum and twist the dirt away.

In the Office

Even in you’re stuck at a desk all day, the law says you’re entitled to breaks for a reason. Take yours outside. Getting outside has the added benefits of letting you soak up a little much-needed vitamin D from the sun and relieving eye strain from artificial lighting, so when you get back inside, you’ll feel refreshed and energized. At your next break, go into the bathroom and stretch or a few minutes. While you’re sitting at your desk, fidget. That’s right, fidgeting counts.

The Hard Part

Ok, you knew it was coming. Sweat. You need to raise your heart rate for at least 10 minutes once a day to really reap the benefits. The good news is that you can multitask while getting the sweaty part done. Some great activities for sustained aerobic activity include mowing the lawn, washing the car, scrubbing floors, and washing the windows. You’ll get a workout and cross things off your to-do list at the same time.

Make it Fun

Ten minutes is a great interval for getting in some exercise in a fun way. While the rice is cooking or the burgers are on the grill, you can dance, hula hoop, or shoot hoops with your kid in the driveway. After work, go to the batting cages and take out your frustrations on a helpless ball. After dinner, walk up to the corner frozen yogurt shop for dessert (isn’t there one on every corner?). Have sex. Lots of it; sex is great or revving up your heart and breaking a sweat.

Add it all up

The real point is to raise your awareness of movement. Writers (like me) sit all day, and often are so focused that they forget to take breaks. The opportunities and the time are there no matter how tight your deadline is or how critical the project. Don’t let stress and distraction stand in the way of a happy, healthy life. You don’t even have to buy spandex. Every move you make, every breath you take (deep ones, anyway) adds up. Adding just a little more can make a big difference in your life, your happiness, your future, and your health.