Ah, yes! A tale as old as time – the Push and Pull workout! Some might call this the ying and the yang of resistance training. A MUST try for anyone who loves to challenge themselves in the gym. Shall we begin?
Before You Begin:
This workout demands a few things of those who dare to pair the push and pull:
- Attention to detail
You’ll need great control to maintain the prescribed tempos while lifting. We’ll discuss tempo training a bit more later on in this blog post.
You’ll really want to pay attention to the details to ensure you can comfortably increase weight on each set while also hitting recommend rep ranges.
Intensity and a little grit will go a long way to push you across the finish line. Put your head down, throw your headphones in, and get to work.
Target Muscle Groups:
- Erector Spinae
Equipment You’ll Need:
- Barbell Plates
- Flat Bench
- Pull-Up Bar
PUSH AND PULL TRAINing:
A1. Bench Press
10, 8, 6, 4, 2
NOTE: Increase weight by 5-10% on each set.
NOTE: Perform with a 3 second down-tempo
Rest 2:00 between rounds
A1. Bench Press:
We’ll be kickstarting this push / pull workout with a strength focus on the most-compound of all push movements – the bench press. Take 2-3 sets to warm-up with great form before jumping into your first working set of 10 reps. Treat sets 1 and 2 (10 reps, 8 reps) as your peak sets. This means that you want these 10 reps to be extremely difficult and take you just shy of mechanical failure. This mindset will be the same for your second set of 8 reps.
As you move into the lower rep ranges, you can still increase weight. However, be mindful of keeping great form. If you can’t increase weight, that’s ok! Simply focus on great form, breathing, and controlling the weight. After each set of the bench press, rest briefly and then move to A2. Pull-Up. No more than 30 seconds of rest here.
We’re mixing the pull-up into this superset as a way to encourage activation in the posterior chain. In turn, this may help you engage your lats more for your bench press.
Instead of cranking out a large number of pull-ups here – lets aim for 4-6 controlled reps. Your goal is to control your scapula (shoulder blades) by driving them down to initiate your pull-up. From there, keep this contraction into the peak of the movement. As you begin to lower, make sure you are braced and aim for a 3 second down-count (eccentric contraction) until you reach the fully-extended hang.
This type of pull-up is substantially harder than a normal pull-up. However, the time-under-tension will help build strength and stability in your lats, scapula, and entire posterior chain.
Rest 2:00 between rounds
Rest ~3:00 before moving to Superset #2
B1. Tempo Barbell Row (Reverse Grip)
10, 8, 6, 4, 2
B2. Tempo Push-Up
10, 8, 6, 4, 2
NOTE: Perform both movements in Superset #2 with a 3 second down-tempo (eccentric contraction).
Rest as needed between sets
B1. Barbell Row:
At this point, your back and chest muscles should be firing on all cylinders. Now, we’re going to work on further exhausting both muscle groups with a little extra hypertrophy and time-under-tension training.
For the barbell row, really focus on keeping your torso in a stable position and pulling the bar towards your naval with a reverse grip (palms facing away). Initiate each movement by contracting your lat muscles and driving back with your elbows. Try to focus on a contraction at the peak of each row, even if that means you take a brief pause as the bar comes towards your stomach.
Time-under-tension is also prevalent in this lift. Take a 3 second down-count as you lower the barbell back to the starting hang position. Pause briefly before contracting your lats and initiating each row. By limiting momentum on this movement, you can ensure your posterior chain is handling the brunt of the load.
Rest briefly and then move to B2. Tempo Push-Up. No more than 15 seconds of rest here.
B2. Tempo Push-Up:
Similarly to the barbell row, we are also incorporating time-under-tension with the push-up. To execute, simply take ~3 seconds to lower from the high-plank position to the bottom of each push-up. Even 10 push-ups with this type of tempo can be relatively difficult. If you can’t complete 10 repetitions unbroken, then rest a few seconds, shake out your arms, and jump back in.
Things to focus on are, as always, core and glue control. Begin in a high-plank position with your shoulders stacked directly over your wrists. Engage your core by pulling your belly button into your spine. Contract your glutes with a slight posterior pelvic tilt. Finally, contract your lats by engaging your scapulae. Lots to think about – but now you’re ready to initiate your tempo push-up.
Rest briefly and then return to B1. Barbell Row. No more than 15 seconds of rest here.
Rest ~3:00 before moving to Metabolic Conditioning.
PUSH AND PULL Metabolic Conditioning:
Complete 3 Rounds For Time
Row – 350m
Deadlift – 20 Reps
Push Press – 10 Reps
To finish off this Push / Pull workout – we’re tacking on a little metabolic conditioning. This may not be in line with your training goals, so feel free to leave this part out (it’s definitely not for the faint of heart). However, conditioning workouts just like this are a great way to challenge your aerobic capacity and mental fortitude.
With this workout – you’re only challenged with completing (3) full rounds. One thing you’ll notice is that we have not prescribed weights for this portion workout. Reason being is this: You should pick moderate weights for the deadlift AND push press that allow you to go unbroken through the first set. That way you can focus on great quality movement; limiting risk for injury.
All in, this should be a relatively quick ‘finisher.’
Move with intent. Move with purpose. Think of control and intensity.
Once completed – you’ve wrapped up a full Push / Pull training session! Congrats on the great work!
Make sure to finish off with a few minutes of posterior chain stretches.
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