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Push Pull Legs Routine For Mass (Ultimate PPL Guide)

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The Push Pull Legs (PPL) workout split is one of the most popular of them all, thanks to its efficiency and simplicity.

But it’s also one of the most butchered.

In this article, I’m going to use 20+ years of personal training experience to show you how to put together a safe and effective push pull legs routine.

This will make sure you don’t end up looking like this…

I’ll explain how to balance exercises to maximize both workout efficiency and results.

You’ll learn how to think about your programming in greater detail and understand how a personal trainer structures apparently simple programs like a push pull legs routine.

Push Pull Legs Routine: Benefits of the approach

Push pull legs routine benefits

The beauty of the PPL workout program lies in its simplicity. It’s usually three workouts per week, but delivers great results. 

As a general rule I’d use it for general fitness programming, where size or strength aren’t the #1 priority.

It’s a great program for making sure you tick your resistance training box, whilst allowing time for other things. 

When I follow a push pull legs split, I use it as a framework for my resistance training, and perform my cardio around that. 

Here’s three of the many benefits of the approach…

Benefit 1: Reduces injury risk

By reducing the training frequency (not volume) you can help to reduce injury risk.

There is a lot of researching highlighting the link between training frequency and intensity, and injury risk. 

In a 2023 study by Rodrigues et al titled The Association between Training Frequency, Symptoms of Overtraining and Injuries in Young Men Soccer Players, researchers concluded the following…

‘The current study supports prior studies that found a link between training frequency, overtraining symptoms, and injuries in young men soccer players.’

Whilst the study focussed on young soccer players, the physiology and impact of training volume are the same across the board.

Higher training volumes on bodies that aren’t used to it ends one way – with injury.

Whilst there’s definitely a place for high volume and high frequency training, it has to be balanced with training load and the physical capabilities of the person training.

In the case of a workout like this, the load and volume in the given workouts means three is sufficient for the muscles and connective tissues.

Benefit 2: It’s an efficient way to train

Unless you have the luxury of unlimited training time, a workout program you can do in three days per week is a great luxury.

It saves you time to attend to your other obligations – work, family, friends, education etc.

By hitting three good workouts per week, you’ve got a lot of time left to rest and recover.

This means that you can get other elements of your fitness trained (cardio or flexibility in some cases), and give yourself the opportunity to develop a great level of general fitness.

We have to remember that not everyone wants to be bigger and that a lot of us want to hit resistance training workouts as part of an overall training program, rather than making resistance training the entire thing.

For the general fitness enthusiast, a push pull legs routine is perfect.

Benefit 3: More recovery = push yourself harder

The harder you work, the greater the recovery time needed. It’s a simple equation, but it holds true.

Run a mile, you’re good to go. Run a marathon and you’re going to need some time off!

When you’re hitting three resistance training workouts, with one focus per workout, you’ve got time to rest and recover.

It means that you can push yourself more than you perhaps otherwise would during that workout.

For most workouts, I tend to program 5-7 exercises with multiple sets. Sometimes on a push pull legs routine, I’d be willing to nudge that up slightly.

I can do this knowing that the person I’m training has more recovery time available to them. 

There’s also an argument that if you are training less frequently, you need to achieve more movements in a workout.

That’s largely anecdotal, but it stands to reason. I follow this approach and it has served me well both personally and professionally.

It means that the workouts I program here will be longer than usual (60-75 minutes on average)… alternatively simply spilt each workout into 2 workouts and perform 40 minute sessions 6 days a week!

5 Steps to use the Push Pull Legs Routine to maximize training gains

Push pull legs routine general infographic

The reason the PPL workout is so often butchered is because people lose their focus.

They throw together random exercises across the three workouts without any thought or attention.

That means they end up with a Frankenstein program that serves no purpose.

Here’s 5 steps to make a push pull legs routine work more effectively…

Step 1: Use volume approaches intelligently

You have to use your available workout time as effectively as you can. The approaches I like are supersets, drop sets, pre-fatigue sets etc.

This kind of approach was made popular by Arnold Schwazenegger and his training buddies in the 1970’s.

This approach stood the test of time because they’re so effective. In the case of a PPL workout, we can use them to help maximize the effectiveness of our workouts across the three days.

The research supporting these beliefs is solid. A 2017 study titled “The effects of traditional, superset, and tri-set resistance training structures on perceived intensity and physiological responses” by Weakley et al concluded…

‘Supersets and Tri Sets can enhance training efficiency and reduce training time. However, acute and short-term physiological responses differ between protocols.

Athletes can utilize SuperSet and TriSet resistance training, but may require additional recovery post-training to minimize effects of fatigue.’

As long as we allow for recovery, these approaches are proven to make workouts more effective.

Step 2: Combine movements with clever exercise selection

In a push pull legs routine, we can be creative with our exercise selection. This means we can hit body parts more than we realized, which increases results.

I’ll give you a couple of examples…

A deadlift is a pull exercise, but it also hits the legs hard too.

If we include a deadlift in a pull day, it means we also give our legs a workout at the same time as we’re focussing on pulling movements. 

Some types of pushing exercises, such as push press or thrusters will recruit the legs as well.

By putting these exercises into your program you can add extra leg work into the program too, without detracting from the main focus of the workout.

I don’t just think that this approach is a good idea – I think it’s absolutely necessary to maximize the impact of the program.

You want to create as much overlap as you can in order to bring about the best results.

Step 3: Warm up appropriately

Push pull legs routine warm up

Each different workout has a different movement pattern, so warm up accordingly. The cardio elements will be the same – they exist for the same purpose.

This is to stimulate blood flow, make tissues more elastic and raise core temperature. 

Beyond that, we need to get slightly more specialized…

Push and Pull Day – We need to warm up the thoracic spine, a pushing pattern and the shoulders.

This is to improve overhead mobility and reduce spinal stiffness. In doing this, we reduce injury risk. We use body weight exercises and band work to warm up here.

Leg Day – For this workout we need to focus on a couple of different areas – the lower back, because of its potential vulnerability.

The other area to focus on is the hips, because they can limit the quality of the movement we have on leg day. We do that by using different movement patterns.

Step 4: Use downtime wisely

With a push pull legs routine, you have 4 rest days per week. How you use them will depend on your training goals.

To make my point clear, I’ll give you a couple of different scenarios that can help you decide how to use your rest days…

#1 – PPL workout is used for general fitness

If this is the case, and the PPL workout routine you’re following is the resistance training element of a wider fitness regime, then you can use your rest days to perform some form of cardio and flexibility training. 

That would enable you to tick all elements of your fitness across the week and still maintain a good quality training program with a couple of rest days per week.

#2PPL workout is your entire training regime

If this is the case and the push pull legs routine is your whole training plan, then you might want to use one of your rest days as a cardio day, and the other as a day to work on your stretching and mobility.

These both have a beneficial impact on the rest of your training.

You’d want to ensure you maximize volume on your PPL training days, meaning you would have really earned those rest days!

There’s a temptation in some people to over-do it on a rest day.

Don’t be one of those people – rest is a vital aspect of a training program. It’s there to allow you to recover well in time for your next session, so use it wisely.

Step 5: Focus on the goal

Your approach to a push pull legs routine will depend on your goals. That’s the beauty of a program like this – it offers you versatility.

If you want to keep it as a general resistance training program, then stick to rep ranges in the 8-12 mark.

Keep your rest periods around 60 seconds in length. You’ll be hitting compound exercises and there’ll be enough volume in there for it to work well for you.

Likewise, if you want to use it to build strength, it’ll be helpful too. You can adapt the workout to ensure that you are making the most of the big compound movements.

All of the movements in the workout can be performed at a lower rep range, which will be perfect for building strength.

With a workout program that can be used in different ways, it’s important to stick to your goal and not approach the program in a haphazard way. 

Push Pull Legs Routine – how to structure it

Here’s the three workouts I suggest for your weekly program.

There might be exercises that serve as a crossover (training several different body parts in one go), but that’s merely an increase in efficiency!

The workout set ups are compound exercises followed by accessory exercises.

The volume might be higher than you’re used to, but it’s a three-workout-per-week program.

Push workout

As we’re treating the ppl workout as a general resistance training program in this case, so I haven’t included any dedicated strength, power or super high volume (20+ reps) sections.

It’s a relatively high volume approach, with medium weights. Adjust if you want/need to.

Flat Dumbbell Bench Press510
Weighted Push Ups412
Landmine Press410
Incline Flies412
Close Grip Bench Press315
Tricep Pushdowns315
Overhead Tricep Extension315

Push pull legs routine push workout infographic 1

1. Flat dumbbell bench press

The dumbbell bench press is the go-to push exercise as far as I’m concerned.

It’s unilateral (and we all know how much I love those) and it hits your chest, shoulders and triceps hard.

It’s home gym friendly, easy to set up and delivers great results. We’re going high volume here.

Equipment needed for dumbbell bench press:

SMRFT Nüobell 80LB Adjustable Dumbbells

SMRFT Nüobell 80LB Classic
Read our best adjustable dumbbell guide here

These are the dumbbells we recommend for ‘most people’.

We have spent over 50 hours of research and compared over 100 dumbbells. Adjustable dumbbells make sense for most home gyms as they save space.

The Nüobell dumbbells go all the way to 80lbs per hand. This means they are much more versatile than most 50lbs adjustable dumbbells. You can use these for heavy shrugs, squats and bench press etc.

The main reason they are the top pick is because of their shape. They actually feel like real dumbbells and are not awkward to lift like some others.

Strong Home Gym dumbbell bench press form tips:

  • Lie back on the bench
  • Dumbbells directly above your chest
  • Lower dumbbells to torso sides
  • Feel a deep stretch
  • Drive bar up from chest powerfully

Common mistakes to avoid:

  • Not lowering the dumbbells fully
  • Arching the back excessively

2. Weighted push ups

Weighted push ups are an excellent way to make the exercise much harder without changing the position.

They’re also a great way to encourage scapular control, which is an important element of shoulder health on push days.

Equipment needed for weighted push ups:

  • A bumper plate

Rogue Fleck Bumper Plates

Rogue Fleck Bumper Plate
Read our best bumper plates guide here

Bumper plates are ideal for a home gym.

They can last a lifetime and allow you to do additional lifts which require you to drop the bar.

Our team has compared over 100 types and the Rogue Fleck plates came out on top.

They are great value, use color allowing you to quickly see how much you’re lifting and the pattern will give your home gym a unique look.

Strong Home Gym weighted push ups form tips:

  • Position a plate on your upper back
  • Start with arms fully extended
  • Lower yourself until chest reaches the floor 
  • Slowly press yourself back up to a straight arm position.

Common mistakes to avoid:

  • Using too heavy a weight
  • Not going low enough

3. Landmine press

The landmine press can be used as both a shoulder and a chest exercise.

It also works the core and lower back too, because you have to prevent the rotation through the core. Finally, it’s a unilateral exercise so it balances the body well. 

Equipment needed for landmine press:

Strong Home Gym landmine press form tips:

  • Stand leaning slightly forwards.
  • Keep your core tight.
  • Take the loaded barbell in your hand.
  • Press the barbell away from you.
  • Return it to the starting position.
  • Resist rotating your torso on return.
  • Repeat as many times as required

Common mistakes to avoid:

  • Going too heavy and rotating
  • Not stabilizing torso with opposite site
  • Overuse of the legs

4. Dips

Dips hit the chest muscles from a lower position, plus they require a lot of input from the triceps and shoulders.

They’re a safe exercise, stretch the chest and shoulders effectively and allow you to strengthen stabilizing muscles as well.

Equipment needed for dips:

REP PR-4000 Power Rack

REP-PR-4000 Power Rack
Read our best squat rack guide here

Looking for an affordable yet high quality power rack?

Look no further!

After comparing over 100 types of squat racks the PR-4000 came out on top.

You can add any attachment to it (including cables, dip bars and plate holders). You can even add additional uprights to back to make it even more of a beast!

The 1 inch westside hole spacing means you can position the spotter arms to the ideal height when you bench press. So you can safely drop the bar and have a full range of motion when you lift.

And the 3×3″ 11 gauge steel make this the best value rack we could find.

Strong Home Gym dips form tips:

  • Leaning forward, dip by pushing elbows back
  • Continue elbows reach a 90 degrees 
  • Feel a full pectoral muscle stretch
  • Pause and push back to full extension
  • Repeat as many times as necessary

Common mistakes to avoid:

  • Not going full depth
  • Not adding weight when it’s too easy

Push pull legs routine push workout infographic 2

5. Incline dumbbell fly

With a huge range of movement and the incline hitting the top of the chest, these are great a exercise.

I love the impact it has on both muscle development and shoulder health and flexibility.

The incline means you’ll target the upper pecs as well, so it’s a nice variation on the standard fly.

Equipment needed for incline dumbbell flyes:

  • Bench
  • Dumbbells

REP AB-3000 Bench

REP AB-3000 Weight Bench
Read our best weight bench guide here

This is the weight bench we recommend for ‘most people’.

We compared over 70 benches against 12 criteria. This is our highest-ranked flat, incline & decline (FID) bench.

Some adjustable benches can be a bit wobbly when on the incline. But the AB-3000 is very sturdy.

With a height 18mm it’s comparable to benches that cost twice as much.

Strong Home Gym incline dumbbell fly form tips:

  • Set the bench to a slight incline
  • Lie back and hold dumbbells ahead
  • Lift you feet off the floor
  • Lower dumbbells out to the sides
  • Open as wide as possible
  • Maintain an almost-straight arm throughout
  • Feel a full stretch
  • Bring the dumbbells back up and to the center
  • Repeat as necessary

Common mistakes to avoid:

  • Not reaching full stretch of chest
  • Bending elbows too much
  • Rushing the return

6. Close grip bench press

The close grip bench press is a variation of the standard press that focuses some of the effort onto the triceps.

It doesn’t avoid the chest completely – in fact it still does most of the work, but there’s a lot of contribution from the arms too.

It’s a way to fire up the arms and lift heavy with them.

Equipment needed for close grip barbell bench press:

  • Barbell or EZ bar
  • Weight plates

Strong Home Gym close grip barbell bench press form tips:

  • Position the hands 6-8 inches apart
  • Lift the bar over your chest
  • Lower the barbell to your chest
  • Drive it back directly back upwards
  • Repeat as many times as required.

Common mistakes to avoid:

  • Hands too wide
  • Lifting too heavy – hard to control

7. Tricep pushdown with rope

Rope pushdowns allow for better control of the movement, and they’re more elbow friendly.

I like the rope most for any form of pushdown for both of these reasons. You can also use a neutral grip which tends to allow more weight to be used. 

Equipment needed for tricep pushdowns with a rope:

REP FT-5000

REP Fitness FT-5000 Cable Machine
Read our best cable machine guide here

This is the cable machine we recommend for ‘most people’.

We compared over 100 cable machines against 10 criteria. This is our highest-ranked cable machine.

The main reason is this is commercial-like quality for a reasonable price.

It also boasts a 224lbs weight stack on both sides. Comparable models have sub 200lbs.

Some cable machines can feel a bit wobbly during certain exercises, but the FT-5000 provides exceptionally stable and smooth resistance throughout the entire range of motion.

Strong Home Gym tricep pushdowns with a rope form tips:

  • Set the rope to head height
  • Pull the rope down, keeping elbows tight to the body
  • Take the elbows from a full bend to straight down
  • Keep elbows tight to your sides throughout 
  • Once the arms are straight, pause 
  • Return back to the start position and repeat

Common mistakes to avoid:

  • Don’t allow hands to flare out
  • Not going full range

8. Overhead tricep extension

I like the use of a rope for this movement, because I think it allows for a more joint-friendly technique.

It’s a better way to isolate the triceps than with a straight bar in my opinion. As with the other direct arm work in this program, I treat it as a high volume exercise.

Equipment needed for overhead tricep extension:

  • Cable station
  • Rope grip

Strong Home Gym overhead tricep extension form tips:

  • Turn your back to the cable station
  • Set the rope set as high as possible
  • Hold on to it from behind your head
  • Bend forwards, keeping your back straight
  • Pull the cable down with you
  • Keep arms up and bent 
  • Straighten the arms to full extension 
  • Repeat as necessary

Common mistakes to avoid:

  • Not extending arms fully
  • Not bending arms fully on return

Pull workout

The pull workout is going to follow on as a ‘more of the same’ type thing here. We’re not going crazy with weights, and we’re sticking to tried and trusted movements.

With certain combinations of exercise, we’ll be recruiting legs etc too, which will increase overall effectiveness. 

Low Handle Trap Bar Deadlift510
Chin Ups410
Feet Elevated Inverted Row410
Pendlay Row48
Single Arm Row410 (per side)
Incline Bicep Curls312
EZ Bar Curls312

Push pull legs routine pull workout infographic 1

9. Low handle trap bar deadlift

The low handle trap bar deadlift really increases the leg work here, activating your quads, core, glutes and hips more than the high handle version.

Many people find this type of deadlift safer and easier on their lower back. It’s also much more balanced, without the load being out in front of you. 

Equipment needed for trap bar deadlifts:

Strong Home Gym trap bar deadlift form tips:

  • Hold the handles centrally
  • Bend your legs, keep your back straight
  • Chest up, drive through your legs
  • Keep your arms straight as you lift
  • Squeeze the glutes together at the top
  • Reverse the movement on the way down
  • Repeat as many times as required

Common mistakes to avoid:

  • Rounding the back
  • Not driving hard with the legs
  • ‘Shooting’ the legs too quickly

10. Cleans

The cleans are another way to recruit almost every muscle in the body, so although they are a pull, you’re getting plenty of leg and abs training included in the movement also.

They’re lower in reps here, because we want to focus on the powerful, explosive nature of the movement. 

Equipment needed for cleans:

  • Barbell
  • Bumper Plates

Strong Home Gym clean form tips:

  • Assume overhand or hook grip
  • Tilt your chest forward 
  • Push your hips back
  • Keep back straight throughout 
  • Drive hips forward, pulling the bar to chest 
  • Drive elbows underneath the bar
  • ‘Drop’ into a squat position
  • Stand up to finish the movement
  • Repeat

Common mistakes to avoid:

  • Not keeping back straight
  • Not catching bar in a deep squat

11. Chin ups

I like chin ups in this case because they’re slightly easier (thanks, mechanical advantage) and they hit the biceps more.

It’s a way of ensuring a little more volume than most people can get with pull ups. If you can do lots, add weight.

If you can’t do 10, add assistance until you fail at 10 (or close to it).

Equipment needed for pull ups:

Strong Home Gym pull up form tips:

  • Hold the pull up bar with an overhand grip 
  • Grip slightly around shoulder width
  • Lean back and pull chest to bar 
  • Squeeze your shoulder blades together 
  • When chest reaches the bar slowly lower yourself
  • Repeat the movement

Common mistakes to avoid:

  • Not lowering to full extension
  • Not pulling chest to bar

12. Feet elevated inverted rows

Feet elevated rows take the inverted row and makes it much harder!

A lack of upper body stability means the stabilizing muscles in the upper back and shoulders fire up here, adding to the exercise.

Just make sure you’re balanced before starting the exercise. Keep your core engaged throughout too.

Equipment needed for feet elevated inverted rows:

  • Squat rack
  • Barbell

Strong Home Gym feet elevated inverted row form tips:

  • Secure your bar in place
  • Secure your feet
  • Engage your core
  • Lower yourself away from the bar 
  • When arms are straight, pause
  • Pull yourself back up to the bar 
  • Squeeze the shoulder blades together
  • Repeat as many times as required

Common mistakes to avoid:

  • Not lowering to full extension
  • Not pulling chest to bar

Push pull legs routine pull workout infographic 2

13. Pendlay row

I think of the Pendlay row as an explosive, powerful version of the standard bent over row.

That’s why there are only 8 reps here – I want you to focus on being explosive with the movement.

We tick the movement box in other ways here. Make sure the bar touches the floor between reps. It encourages you to use as much explosive power as possible.

Equipment needed for the Pendlay row:

  • Barbell
  • Plates

Strong Home Gym Pendlay row form tips:

  • Start with torso parallel to floor
  • Hinge at the hips, bend knees 
  • Overhand grip, just outside shoulder width 
  • Pull the bar powerfully to your chest
  • Don’t lift torso during pull
  • Lower under control 
  • Lower bar to the floor
  • Repeat as necessary

Common mistakes to avoid:

  • Lifting the back during pull
  • Not maximizing range of movement
  • Not pulling explosively

14. Single dumbbell arm row

Single arm rows are very effective because they force each side to work independently.

They require shoulder and trunk stability to maintain good torso position throughout the lift too.

You should really focus on a full extension of the arm at the bottom here, to maximize range of movement with the lift. 

Equipment needed for single arm dumbbell rows:

  • Dumbbell
  • Bench

Strong Home Gym single arm dumbbell row form tips:

  • Place hand and knee on a bench
  • Place other leg on the floor
  • Hold the dumbbell in the free hand
  • Hold your arm straight down. 
  • Pull dumbbell up to the rib cage
  • With dumbbell at rib height, pause
  • Lower to the start position
  • Perform 10, then switch sides

Common mistakes to avoid:

  • Lifting the back during pull
  • Not lowering dumbbell far enough
  • Rotating during the pull

15. Incline dumbbell curls

The incline dumbbell curl might be one of the best bicep curl exercises there is.

The combination of stability from the bench (helping to prevent you cheating), full range of movement, unilateral nature of the exercise and a different lifting angle.

They’re also MUCH tougher than you expect them to be!

Equipment needed for incline dumbbell curls:

  • Dumbbells
  • Bench

Strong Home Gym incline dumbbell curl form tips:

  • Set bench to 45 degree incline
  • Dumbbell in each hand, elbows tucked
  • Arms straight palms facing outwards
  • Bend elbows and curl up
  • At the top of the movement, pause
  • Lower dumbbells to full extension
  • Repeat as required

Common mistakes to avoid:

  • Not lowering dumbbells to full extension
  • Going too heavy 
  • Arching your back to help

16. EZ bar curl

EZ Bar curls activate the biceps more effectively than a straight bar. The bar itself is a little more elbow and wrist friendly too.

This allows you to increase the lifting volume and in many cases, the load you use too. Just make sure you lift through a full range of movement with each rep. 

Equipment needed for EZ bar curls:

  • EZ Bar 
  • Weight plates

Strong Home Gym EZ bar curl form tips:

  • Hold EZ bar on ‘upward’ diagonals
  • Keep elbows tucked in by sides
  • Curl bar towards chest
  • At the top movement, squeeze to maximize contraction
  • Lower bar to starting position
  • Repeat as required

Common mistakes to avoid:

  • Not lowering bar to full extension
  • Not tucking elbows into sides
  • ‘Swinging’ to help the curl

Leg workout

This is a high volume leg workout, designed to get the maximum out of your session.

There’s crossover with the pull exercises, but that’s to maximize the frequency of leg muscle stimulation. This is certainly not an easy leg day, but it’s an effective one!

Back Squats512
Stiff Legged Deadlifts510
Front Squats48
Dumbbell Walking Lunges420
Kettlebell Swings520
Split Squats410 (per side)
Step Ups412 (per side)
Calf Raises425

Push pull legs routine leg workout infographic 1

17. Back squats

The back squat is the go-to leg exercise for a ppl workout. It’s a huge exercise, trains all of the legs, the core and has a fantastic sporting crossover.

It’s a whole leg day on its own if you want it to be! We’re going high volume here, so work hard!

Equipment needed for back squats:

  • Barbell
  • Plates
  • Squat rack

Strong Home Gym back squat form tips:

  • Place the bar on the upper back
  • Stand tall, brace core
  • Keeping the chest up
  • Push hips back and bend knees 
  • Make sure thighs are parallel to floor
  • Drive feet into the floor to stand
  • Repeat as required

Common mistakes to avoid:

  • Not squatting deep enough
  • Placing bar on neck, not back

18. Stiff legged deadlifts

The stiff legged deadlift eccentrically loads the hamstrings, and allows you to lift very heavy weights.

There’s an additional benefit in that it also helps to build the lower back and glutes too. The stiff legged deadlift is a fantastic hamstring exercise that beats most others.

Want to check out some others? Then be sure to read our hamstring exercises article.

Equipment needed for stiff legged deadlifts:

  • Barbell
  • Plates

Strong Home Gym stiff legged deadlift form tips:

  • Grip the bar just outside shoulders
  • Deadlift the bar into starting position
  • Keeping back and legs straight
  • Tilt hips back, tip torso forward
  • Keep legs straight
  • Feel your hamstrings stretch fully
  • Push hips forward stand back up
  • At the top, squeeze glutes together
  • Repeat as required

Common mistakes to avoid:

  • Bending the knees
  • Arching the back

19. Front squats

Front squats are a great leg exercise. Apart from allowing you to really load up the quads, they reduce the force on the lower back and they recruit the abs well.

These combine to give a lot of benefits to several body parts from a single exercise. 

Equipment needed for barbell front squats:

  • Barbell 
  • Weight plates
  • Squat rack

Strong Home Gym barbell front squat form tips:

  • Hold the bar in the rack position
  • Open hand grip, elbows up, chest up
  • Stand straight and engage the core
  • Push hips back and bend knees 
  • Make sure thighs are parallel to floor
  • Drive feet into the floor to stand
  • Repeat as required

Common mistakes to avoid:

  • Not squatting deep enough
  • Leaning forward during lift

20. Dumbbell walking lunges

In this context, the exercise is used to add volume to the leg workout.

It means you need to park your ego at the door and lift lighter weights than you’d normally expect to! Keep the form tight and hit depth with every step. 

Equipment needed for dumbbell walking lunges:

  • Dumbbells

Strong Home Gym dumbbell walking lunge form tips:

  • Hold weights by your sides
  • Chest up, core tight
  • Step forward, lower back knee
  • Back knee should almost touch the floor
  • Stand to straight legs
  • Step forward with opposite leg
  • Repeat as necessary

Common mistakes to avoid:

  • Back knee not going deep enough
  • Leaning forward during lift
  • Losing balance

Push pull legs routine leg workout infographic 2

21. Kettlebell swings

The kettlebell swing is used here to hit the hamstrings with maximum volume. We’ve hit the quads with volume, so now it’s time for the reverse.

The beauty of the kettlebell swing is that it also trains the glutes and the lower back, so more bang for your buck. 

Equipment needed for kettlebell swings:

  • Kettlebell

Strong Home Gym kettlebell swing form tips:

  • Hold kettlebell with an overhand grip
  • Back straight, tilt hips back
  • Drive hips forward using your glutes
  • At top of the swing, squeeze your glutes
  • Keep your legs mostly straight
  • Repeat as many times as required

Common mistakes to avoid:

  • Not enough hip drive
  • Bending the legs
  • Lifting, not swinging

22. Dumbbell Bulgarian split squats

This exercise is superb for building leg strength, muscle mass and coordination. It’s also unilateral, so it builds both sides at the same time.

You’ll stretch the hip flexors, so help with lower back health too. Only problem? It’s SUPER TOUGH! Enjoy…

Equipment needed dumbbell Bulgarian split squats:

  • Weight bench
  • Heavy dumbbells

Strong Home Gym dumbbell Bulgarian split squat form tips:

  • Make sure legs are stable
  • Hold dumbbells at your sides
  • Engage the core for balance
  • Keep your chest up throughout
  • Bend your back knee towards the floor 
  • Lower front thigh until parallel to floor
  • Drive front foot into the floor
  • Stand back to the start position
  • Repeat as required

Common mistakes to avoid:

  • Feet not stable
  • Losing balance
  • Leaning forward
  • Not squatting deep enough

23. Dumbbell step ups

As a single leg exercise, dumbbell step ups offer no hiding place for a weaker side, forcing it to strengthen.

Secondly, there’s a stability element to them which activates the glutes and quads, improving injury resistance.

This is another high volume exercise, but it’s really worth including. 

Equipment needed for step ups:

  • Box or weight bench to step on
  • Dumbbells

Strong Home Gym dumbbell step up form tips:

  • Place the front foot on the step 
  • Hold the dumbbells at your sides
  • Engage the core
  • Step up onto the box
  • Push up through the front foot
  • Don’t spring off the floor using bottom foot
  • Stand with both feet on box
  • Lower the leg back down
  • Repeat as required per leg

Common mistakes to avoid:

  • Pushing off the bottom foot
  • Not controlling descent properly

24. Dumbbell standing calf raises

Too often, calf muscles are ignored. We can’t have that happen on my watch! This is a high volume finisher for your legs.

By this point, your legs should be cooked, with only the calf muscles able to do any kind of work! Time to finish them off…

Equipment needed for dumbbell standing calf raises:

  • Dumbbell
  • Plate or bench to elevate the feet from the floor

Strong Home Gym dumbbell standing calf raise form tips:

  • Place a thick plate on the floor
  • Place balls of your feet on it
  • Hold a dumbbell in one hand
  • Get your balance
  • Stand to a tiptoe position
  • Slowly lower yourself
  • Switch the dumbbell side 
  • Repeat as many times as necessary

Common mistakes to avoid:

  • Not maximizing range of movement

What about abs?

Push pull legs routine abs workout

You’ll notice here that I haven’t included any dedicated abdominal training – that’s because I think there’s room for some abs work every workout.

These two exercises are ones I’d put in each workout…

Side plank clamshell

  • Assume a side plank position
  • Upper body weight on a single forearm
  • Lower body weight on the side of the foot
  • Lift your body weight up by lifting the hip
  • Once you reach the top, pause
  • Lower back to start position

Hanging leg raises

  • Hold on to a pull up bar
  • Straight arms and back extended
  • Keep a stable, still position 
  • Lift your legs up to horizontal with the floor
  • Pause briefly at the top
  • Lower legs back to start
  • Keep the movement slow throughout

Push Pull Legs routine: The bottom line

A lot of what we should do in the gym is around efficiency, and this is an efficient program. It’s high volume, but it’s a great framework for general weight training.

You’ll cover all of your body across three big workouts per week. Fit your cardio in on your days off, and you’ll look and feel great.

If you want to be stronger, fitter, and don’t have any specific fitness goals to hit, the push pull legs routine is the ideal way to go.

Read the article again, save the workouts, and get busy in the gym!

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Steve Hoyles is a certified personal trainer and gym owner. Since graduating with his Sports Science degree in 2004 he's worked in the fitness industry, helping thousands of people reach their health and fitness goals. His writing has been read by millions of people in over 200 countries as he inspires to help as many people as possible live a healthy lifestyle.

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