This 3 day push/pull (and yes, legs) powerlifting workout is a great way to build strength, power, and muscle.
Goal Of This Workout
Most powerlifting workouts train the big 3 lifts in the 5 or less rep range but this workout will train in the 8-12 rep range and produce results fast.
This routine is meant to be run for at least 12 weeks. If you are not planning a powerlifting competition or do not plan on competing any time soon, run this indefinitely.
There are no fancy equipment requirements other than what a gym usually has.
If you are working out at home, be sure you have these things available to you:
- Pull up bar OR ability to t-bar row
- Have a way to do dips… These are pretty important
- Adjustable bench would be nice
- Heavy enough dumbbells to push you to complete 8+ reps
Diet and Nutrition Tips
I would recommend going on a slow bulk for this routine to get the most out of it. It is easier to cut some fat afterwards than trying to make strength gains on a calorie deficit.
If you keep your weight consistent and need some tips to add calories into your diet, here are some of the best and healthiest ways to do so:
- Cream cheese
- Sour cream
- Whole milk
- Heavy cream
- Cheese on everything
- Protein shakes
- Peanut butter
- Olive oil
- Extra dressing
These all add flavor and healthy fats to your diet. Personally, I prefer adding calories through this means instead of going to McDonalds and smashing a couple McDoubles.
You will feel better, have more energy, and your stomach will thank you.
Note: A little bit goes a long way, so be sure to know how many calories you are adding.
Without a good diet, supplementation is mostly a waste of money. I will be the first to tell you to spend money on some good meats than a jug of protein.
For those who have their diets in check, here are the supplements I would use with this routine.
I personally like apple mango, but all flavors are good.
This is a great blend without too many stimulants.
MTS Machine Whey Protein: 5lbs
This is in my opinion the best tasting protein on the market. Period.
Great blend with no secrets, no amino spiking, and it is some of the best in the industry.
So far I’ve had Red Velvet, Cookies and Cream, and Key Lime. All are A+.
Marc Lobliner has his sweetening on point with these supplements.
I’ve used mixed berry and grape and I love them both.
Optimum Nutrition Micronized Creatine
I have a review of Optimum Nutrition’s Creatine and it’s a tried and true supplement. It will help with performance and recovery. I highly recommend this.
Cardio and Conditioning Schedule
Conditioning is one of the most important things you can work on to improve your lifts, endurance, and stamina. Improving conditioning also improves life out of the gym.
This particular routine focuses a bit on conditioning, core strength, and mobility.
Once you start lifting relatively heavier weights, you’re going to start breaking form because of muscle weaknesses, lack of conditioning/muscle endurance and mobility issues; so lets address them here.
For your pre-workout warm up, start by walking for 3 minutes and follow-up with a 30 second balls-to-the-walls high intensity sprint. Finish off with 90 seconds of walking.
This “shock” is going to prime your body to train hard and helps get your core body temperature up.
Post Workout Conditioning
I’m not big on citing research materials and I sure as hell am not interested in doing the scientific leg work, but doing high intensity interval training will help improve your muscle and strength gains.
- 5 minutes brisk walking
- 30 seconds jogging
- 30 seconds walking
- 30 seconds sprinting
- 30 seconds walking
- 45 seconds sprinting
- 1 minute walking
- 1 minute jogging
- 1 minute walking
- 30 seconds full sprinting
- 1.5 minutes walking slowly tapering down to finish
Cardio and Conditioning Tips
This sounds like some special formula but it isn’t; this is a template, if you don’t follow it exactly, you’re fine.
What I want to make you aware of is warming up and priming your body for high intensity training.
Don’t get stuck on the numbers, if you have poor conditioning, add longer walk (resting) periods and strive to recover faster.
Push Pull Powerlifting Routine Schedule
This routine is works by cycling 2 heavy weeks and 2 moderately heavy weeks.
For heavy weeks: You will use an 8 rep scheme.
For moderately heavy weeks: You will use a 12 rep scheme.
But what about training for strength?
Think about it, if you can bench 135 for 8 reps and after a week of training you can bench 135 for 10 reps… you’ve gotten stronger, right?
This is the principle I’m going to work off of; getting stronger in a higher rep range will carry over to your 1 rep max when done correctly.
I typically recommend this type of training to beginners and early intermediates. If you compete in powerlifting (which I highly suggest anyone doing) this is best done in an off-season prep for a meet at least 6 months out.
Calculating Starting Weight of Big 3 Lifts
We’ll calculate your starting weight by a percentage of your known 1 rep or 5 rep max, but mileage may vary. (This means use this as a guideline but not the definitive answer)
Ideally if you know your 5 rep max, you are going to be able to get a better starting point for your training than knowing your 1 rep max.
If you have a known 5 rep max
For heavy weeks, take your known 5 rep max and take 85% of that and use this as your starting work weights.
- Protip: (5 rep max) * .85 = Starting weight
For moderately heavy weeks, take your known 5 rep max and take 75% of that and use this as your starting work weights.
- Protip: (5 rep max) * .75 = Starting weight
If you have a known 1 rep max
For heavy weeks, take your known 1 rep max and take 75% of that and use this as your starting work weights.
- Protip: (1 rep max) * .75 = Starting weight
For moderately heavy weeks, take your known 1 rep max and take 65% of that and use this as your starting work weights.
- Protip: (1 rep max) * .65 = Starting weight
Heavy and Moderately Heavy Week Cycling
Cycle your heavy and moderately heavy blocks every 2 weeks.
12 Week Example:
- Week 1: Heavy
- Week 2: Heavy
- Week 3: Moderately Heavy
- Week 4: Moderately Heavy
- Week 5: Heavy
- Week 6: Heavy
- Week 7: Moderately Heavy
- Week 8: Moderately Heavy
- Week 9: Heavy
- Week 10: Heavy
- Week 11: Moderately Heavy
- Week 12: Moderately Heavy
This is a 3 day routine and you can do them whenever your schedule permits… but I would recommend 1 rest day in between each workout and a 2 day rest period between your weeks.
- Monday – Push Routine
- Tuesday – Off
- Wednesday – Pull Routine
- Thursday – Off
- Friday – Legs*
- Saturday – Off
- Sunday – Off
* – Skipping this day automatically will make you weak.
This routine works off of the basic principle of progressive overloading.
Striving to add 5-10 pounds to the bar every week, recover properly, and eating right will guarantee that you make massive strength and muscle gains.
If you hit a plateau 2 weeks in a row and cannot complete your reps at the new weight, deload for one week.
You will be surprised how much easier the weight moves after a deload.
The Push Pull Powerlifting Routine – Heavy Weeks
|Flat Bench Press||3||8|
|Incline Dumbbell Bench Press||3||8|
|Close Grip Bench Press||4||8|
|Pull Ups / T-Bar Rows||4||AMAP|
The Push Pull Powerlifting Routine – Moderately Heavy Weeks
|Flat Bench Press||4||12|
|Incline Dumbbell Bench Press||3||12|
|Close Grip Bench Press||3||15|
|Pull Ups / T-Bar Rows||4||12|
Form: The goal of this routine is to get stronger and become more efficient at the big 3 lifts. Form is important and needs to be the focus of this routine if you want to get stronger.
ALAP: As Long As Possible. Hold these as long as you can. The trick here is to increase muscle endurance and strength.
AMAP: As Many As Possible. (Think: Burnout sets)
Sharing is caring, and as always leave any comments or questions below!
22 thoughts on “3 Day Push Pull Powerlifting Workout”
Hey Cutty, I’m not really a beginner in body building but I really want to put on some pounds of muscle before I leave for the Marine Corp this summer (August). Do you think this is a good workout routine to do or should I be looking at something more advanced?
You do great stuff Cutty,
Good old fashioned progression with some extra calories goes a long way. Focus on progressing with heavier weights and eat plenty of nutritious foods and you’ll be happy with the results!
Good luck, let me know how things progress.
Ramp up sets to a top end set for everything or same weight for all sets? Thanks
Do your warm ups and then do the same weight for all sets/reps.
If you have any more questions, feel free to ask!
Curious whether you encourage small variations. For example, you listed t bar rows in equipment but not in the routines, do you suggest we add this in or replace barbell rows with it
Thank you for pointing this out to me, I meant to put Pull Ups / T-Bar Rows in the workout. If you are currently doing pull ups and would like to do T bar rows instead of barbell rows then you could do that. It was a typo on my end but yes being able to have variations in a routine is something I try to do.
Hello. I’m highly interested in deadlift results,cuz my bench is not too bad
Competed 2 times (3rd in bench and 1st in push pull) 275 bench and 375 deadlift at 181raw am
Will this program work for me? Thank you
Great job man, I would run this program for 12 weeks and reassess. You are getting close to not being able to just progressively overload but I think you would certainly benefit from this routine.
OK. Thank you
If you start hitting plateaus during this workout – take a deload week and cut weight back a bit and finish the program. I’m going to start writing more workouts for people past their beginner phase – you’re probably close to needing to use periodization, etc.
I have no time for the leg day with work, school, and activities. Will I still make gainz with the lifts I do? My legs have still gotten bigger from deadlift
I mean something is better than nothing. I don’t recommend skipping leg day because you will have some imbalances in your posterior chain but if you can only get everything else, maybe try to throw in a couple leg exercises when you can.
doing push pull legs on a 4 day rotation?
yea or nea
4th I would have accessory or light/speed work if you wanted to do that.
Why would you power train like this in oppose to a 5×5 or low drop set routine?
You build strength lifting for reps. The lower rep ranges like a 5×5 is great and works, but you also can make many strength gains by periodizing and using other methods of stimulation. I’d rather see a beginner or someone still with beginner gains makes best use of them with higher rep ranges than using lower rep ranges. George Leeman also trains people this way.
Hi, what about rest time between sets?
That’s dependent upon your conditioning level. Generally 45 seconds for isolation lifts and 2-3 minutes for heavy compound lifts is a good place to start. If your conditioning needs some work, you may not be ready yet.. just learn to read your body and you’ll be able to dial it in.
I am trying to start lifting with my fiance, she is looking to cut some weight and fat. I on the other am looking to burn some fat as well as gain some lbs. Are we headed in the right direction?
How you both eat will dictate how your body changes. Cleaning up your diet and then following this workout will help both of you.