Push/Push Weight Training Program


crossover cables

In the context of a weight training routine, muscle groups can be divided into two general categories: push muscle groups and pull muscle groups. A push muscle group can be defined as a muscle group that contracts when a pushing motion is performed. As such, a push/push weight training program consists of performing a weight training session in which all muscles exercised belong to push muscle groups.

This contrasts with push/pull weight training routines, in which a combination of push muscle groups and pull muscle groups are exercised within a single session.

As mentioned, push weight training exercises are usually exercises where the primary muscle contracts when the weight is pushed away from the body. As the weight is pushed away from the body, the primary muscle performs the concentric portion of the movement (i.e. the muscle shortens). When the weight is returned to the starting position, the primary muscle performs the eccentric portion of the movement (i.e. the muscle lengthens).

For example, when performing the flat barbell bench press, the pectoral muscles (i.e. chest muscles) contract when the barbell is pushed away from the chest (the concentric portion of the exercise), and lengthen when the barbell is returned to its starting position (the eccentric portion of the exercise).

On the other hand, when performing a standing barbell curl, the biceps pull the bar toward the chest. When performing wide grip pulldowns, the latissimus dorsi (back) muscles, with help from the biceps (secondary muscle group), pull the bar down toward the back of the neck. When performing a pull exercise, the primary muscle group required to perform the movement will contract.

More specifically, when performing a standing barbell curl, the biceps will contract (i.e. shorten) when the bar is pulled toward the chest, and the biceps will lengthen when the bar is returned to the starting position. This contraction is defined as a concentric movement, while the lengthening of the muscle is defined as the eccentric portion of the movement.

Primary Muscle Groups


major muscle groups
  • Abdominals: The muscles that make up the front of your mid-section.

  • Biceps: The muscles located on the front of your arms between your shoulder and elbow.

  • Calves: The muscles that make up the lower portion of the back of your leg below your knee.

  • Deltoids: The muscles that make up a large portion of the curve of your shoulder.

  • Forearms: The muscles located on the lower arm between the elbow and wrist.

  • Gluteals: The muscles of your posterior.

  • Hamstrings: The muscles located on the back of your leg between your gluteals and knee.

  • Latissimus Dorsi: The muscles located on the sides of your upper back under the arm pit.

  • Pectorals: The muscles of your chest.

  • Obliques: The muscles on the sides of your mid-section.

  • Quadriceps: The muscles located on the front of your leg between your hip and knee.

  • Trapezius: The muscles located on the sides of your neck.

  • Triceps: The muscles located on the back of your arm between your shoulder and elbow.

Push Muscle Groups


The muscle groups listed below are considered push muscle groups. When performing a push/push weight training routine, you will want to choose multiple push muscle groups and exercise them in a single workout. For example, a push/push weight training routine may consist of working the pectoral, deltoids and triceps muscle groups in one session.

  • Calves

  • Deltoids

  • Gluteals

  • Pectorals

  • Quadriceps

  • Triceps

Many individuals prefer exercising their larger muscle groups first, so their workout may consist of performing their pectoral exercise routine, followed by their deltoids exercise routine, followed by their triceps exercise routine. Ultimately, the order in which you exercise the muscle groups within a single workout will be up to you, and you can change it up regularly if only for the sake of variety

However, one important fact to remember is that the order in which you perform the exercises will determine which muscle groups will be pre-fatigued for subsequent exercises. For example, when performing the flat barbell bench press exercise, the primary muscle group is the pectorals and the secondary muscle group is the triceps. By performing the pectoral muscle group exercises first, the triceps muscles will be fatigued prior to exercising them in your triceps exercise routine.

Incorporating Supersetting


An additional weight training concept that can be added to your push/push weight training routine is supersetting. This can be done using one of the following two approaches. Under the first approach, you could perform the first set of your first pectoral exercise followed by the first set of your second pectoral exercise. The rest period between performing each of the exercises should be as minimal as possible.

Once you complete the first set of the second pectoral exercise, you would then perform the second set of the first pectoral exercise and the second set of the second pectoral exercise. You would continue in this fashion until all sets have been completed for each of the two pectoral exercises.

In addition, you could perform a super set routine with as many pectoral exercises as desired. This approach is defined as performing a super set routine within a single muscle group.

The second approach is to implement the super set technique across multiple muscle groups. For example, you would perform the first set of your first pectoral exercise followed by the first set of your first triceps exercise. Again, minimal rest should be taken between the two sets. Thereafter, you would perform the second set of your first pectoral exercise followed by the second set of your first triceps exercise. Continue in this fashion until all sets have been completed for your first pectoral exercise and your first triceps exercise.

In addition, you could perform a super set routine with as many pectoral and triceps exercises as desired. This approach is defined as performing a super set routine across multiple muscle groups. One benefit to this approach is that you will fatigue the secondary muscle group (triceps) that is required to support your primary muscle group (pectoral) when performing a pectoral exercise. This will force your pectoral muscles to work harder when performing a pectoral exercise, as the triceps will be pre-fatigued. Many individuals use this technique to break through a strength plateau when they're having difficulty increasing the maximum amount of weight they use with a given exercise.

Push/Push Program


front barbell squats

Push/push weight training routines are designed for individuals that have already mastered the following weight training items:

  • Have already developed a reasonable level of structural strength

  • Are familiar with all primary muscle groups and how they are exercised, their range of motion, and their interaction with other muscle groups

  • Are familiar with the various weight training exercises, the intention of each exercise, and how they work each muscle group

  • Able to perform all weight training exercises with the correct form

When performing a push/push weight training routine, most individuals exercise the larger muscle groups first. For example, when performing a push/push routine that includes the pectorals, deltoids and triceps muscles, you may want to consider exercising the pectorals muscle group first, followed by the deltoids muscle group and the triceps muscle group.

Although there are no hard and fast rules as to the sequence in which you exercise the muscle groups, the larger muscle groups typically require a higher level of effort and energy to exercise properly. As such, it's easier to work larger muscle groups at the beginning of your session when you're fresh and less fatigued.

Regardless of your level of weight training experience, you should always ready your body for the weight training session you are intending to perform. Below are a few tips related to weight training in general:

  • For each exercise, select an amount of weight and a number of repetitions that is challenging but not impossible. If the final repetition of a set feels too easy, odds are good that you should use more weight (if the goal is muscle mass and density) or add more reps (if the goal is tone and definition).

  • Consult a doctor if you have any concerns related to modifying or beginning a weight training program. This is especially important if you have a history of medical conditions or any physical injuries that could interfere with strength training.

  • Allow each muscle group 24 to 48 hours of rest before exercising it again. This will give your body the necessary time to recover and repair the muscle tissue that was damaged as a normal part of the strength training process.

  • Perform a warm-up routine before performing your weight training session. An effective warm-up routine should comprise 10 to 20 minutes of light cardiovascular exercise, such as using an elliptical, riding an exercise bike or jogging on a treadmill.

  • Perform a stretching routine after completing your warm-up. Your stretching routine should include exercises that stretch all primary muscle groups and joints, with particular emphasis on the muscles you plan to work during your main strength training routine. Typical stretching routines usually take 5 to 15 minutes.

  • Listen to your body learn the difference between "good pain" and "bad pain." Good pain consists of muscle soreness (and occasionally slight joint stiffness and soreness) due to the weight training workout, and should disappear on its own within a day or two. Muscle or joint pain that persists for longer or feels severe is considered bad pain, and may be an indication that the muscle or joint has been injured or is being overly stressed. This tip is especially important for push/push and pull/pull strength training routines, which distribute stress among fewer muscles and joints.

Pros of Performing a Push/Push Weight Training Routine


  • Performing a push/push weight training routine can facilitate "breaking through" a strength plateau level for the specific muscle group. For example, by performing your pectorals exercise routine prior to your triceps exercise routine, you will pre-fatigue your triceps. When performing your actual triceps exercises, your triceps will be forced to develop in size and strength in order to perform the exercise.

    Once you have performed your push/push weight training routine for 4 to 8 weeks, you can then design a push/pull routine in which your triceps will be fresh when you exercise them as the primary muscle group. This will allow you to use more weight for your triceps exercises during your push/pull routine.

  • Push/push weight training routines promote rapid lean muscle tissue development and strength gains, especially when taking a super set approach to exercising the primary and secondary muscle groups (for example, super setting the pectorals and triceps muscle groups).

  • Push/push weight training routines add variety to your weight training routine and force your muscle groups to adapt to the new and unique demands you are placing on them. This promotes continual muscle growth and development, and keeps motivation peaked.

Cons of Performing a Push/Push Weight Training Routine


  • Push/push weight training exercise routines can place a large amount of stress on the same joints and muscles.

  • Soft tissue and joint injuries may occur more frequently when performing pull/pull or push/push weight training routine due to this stress.

machine calf raises

Regularly modifying your weight training routine is essential for continual muscle growth and development. Adding the push/push concept to your list of modification options provides you with additional choices for ensuring that you are continually forcing the various muscle groups to increase in lean tissue mass and strength.

However, it is important to understand that a push/push weight training routine will increase the level of stress on the muscle tissue and joints that are being exercised.

For this reason, you will want to pay careful attention to how your body is responding to the new pressure that is being placed on your muscles and joints.

Detecting potential muscle and joint problems early is essential to preventing serious injuries down the road. This being said, it is extremely important that you learn to listen to your body and know the difference between "good pain" and "bad pain".

To this end, push/push weight training routines should not be used as your primary weight training approach for an extended period of time. Rather, they're intended as a temporary technique that can force a muscle group to the next level of strength, muscle mass and muscle density. Once achieved, you should return to a weight training routine that utilizes a push/pull approach.

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