Use This Push-Pull Workout to Boost Upper-Body Strength

For upper-body strength, alternating between pushing and pulling exercises is a common and efficient way to make gains.

For upper-body strength, alternating between pushing and pulling exercises is a common and efficient way to make gains while reducing overall time in the weight room. This push-pull workout is a great fit for pre-season or in-season weight training.

Why Push-Pull?

Bench Press

It's important to get quality reps into your strength training session. If your session has several pushing movements done consecutively, the most used muscles—such as chest and triceps—fatigue faster. The same is true if you do too many pulling movements consecutively. The back and biceps fatigue more quickly, and less quality work happens.

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By alternating exercises, pulling muscles can rest and recover while you use the pushing muscles, and vice versa. This allows for more quality repetitions later in the training session and greater strength gains. While this style could be used in a superset, it is better to have longer rest periods, such as two to three minutes or more, when training for strength. Shorter rest periods or superset techniques are better when muscular growth or endurance are the goals.

The alternating method will make the session more efficient and reduce overall time in the weight room.

RELATED: 3 Exercises To Help You Do More Pull-Ups and Build a Stronger Back

The Push-Pull Workout


Complete all sets of each exercise in the order listed before moving on to the next. For the first four exercises, take a minimum rest period of two minutes between sets. The remaining two exercises can be performed with 60- to 90-second rest periods between sets. Begin with a dynamic warm-up that prepares your upper body for the workout that follows.

  • Bench Press - 4x6
  • Pull-Ups (or Lat Pull-Downs) - 4x6
  • Incline Dumbbell Press - 4x8
  • One-Arm Dumbbell Rows - 4x8
  • Close Grip Bench Press - 3x10
  • Barbell Curls - 3x10

This basic format can be used with different exercises substituted or for lower-body training.

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