What to know about push and pull workouts

comeStrength training is all the rage these days, and for good reason: In addition to making it easier for you to perform functional movements like carrying a bag of groceries or climbing stairs, it has multiple health benefits, such as stronger bones, better mobility, a healthier heart, and more.

But people aren’t just doing bicep curls and weighted squats then calling it a day. Google’s data suggests that gym-goers may be more interested in strategically crafting their workouts to ensure they’re optimized to hit different muscle groups—and zero in on functional fitness. Evidence? Google says “pull workouts” and “push day workout” were both the top trending searches this year.

What is a push vs pull exercise?

Orienting a workout around push versus pull movements means you’re trying to ensure strength training of equal and opposite muscle groups.

“The push/pull is one of many techniques to organize a workout that targets all major muscle groups and has the appropriate amount of rest between training days for the same muscle group,” says ACE certified personal trainer Chris Gagliardi. “Upper body pushing exercises target the chest, shoulders and triceps while upper body pulling exercises target the lats, back, back shoulders and biceps muscles.”

How do you know which exercises target which muscle groups? Gagliardi says that push-ups typically include “chest and shoulder pressing movements (anything with ‘press’ or ‘extension’ in the name)” while pulling exercises typically include “rows, and pull-ups (‘rows,’ ‘curls,’ or ‘rows’). anything with ‘ . named ‘pull’).”

What are the benefits of push and pull exercises?

One of the main benefits of thinking about your strength training through this paradigm is making a workout well-balanced. But it helps you train for functional strength because it mimics the movements we need in our daily lives.

“Examples of everyday pushing movements include pushing your torso to get out of bed, pushing a shopping cart, and pushing a suitcase into overhead storage on a plane, pulling a door open while pulling movements, starting a gas-powered lawn mower. And walking an excited dog pulling a leash,” Gagliardi says. So if you’re having trouble keeping Fido under control, you might want to consider adding some rows to your workout routine!

How to start doing push and pull workouts

Gagliardi says the first thing you need to do is realistically determine how many days per week you want to devote to strength training. Then, consider how you can fit all the major muscle groups into that routine. If you have multiple strength training days on your calendar, you can split up your push and pull days. But if you strength train once or twice a week, you’ll want to make sure you’re incorporating both types of movement into a daily routine. One way to go is through supersets, where you do two opposite movements, one after the other. For example, you can do a set of book presses (push) followed by pull-ups (you guessed it: pull).

In short, push vs. pull training is about building balanced strength. This is something we can all take from 2022 into the new year and beyond.

Want to start pushing and pulling with ease? Try this 10-minute upper body workout using dumbbells.

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