If 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.