6 Day Push, Pull, Legs Powerbuilding Split & Meal Plan

Hungry for some serious gym time and crazy gains? Nick Ludlow helps you to go heavy, go hard and improve your results with this intense, high volume rest-pause workout.

Workout Summary

Build Muscle
Split
Intermediate
12 weeks
6
45-60 minutes
Barbell, Bodyweight, Dumbbells, Machines
Male & Female
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Workout Description

Bulldozer Training inspired me to a created a push/pull/legs routine employing heavy, medium, and light loads during each workout.

Each workout starts out with a compound lift using a 15 rep goal over 5 sets. If you exceed the rep goal by 0-3 reps then add 2.5-5lbs to the working weight the next time you perform the exercise. If you exceed the rep goal by 4+ reps then add 5-10lbs to the working weight.

Starting out with a heavy compound lift will is a great way to increase central nervous system (CNS) activity, improve strength, and gain confidence moving heavy loads. When picking a start weight for this lift I would recommend using your 5-6 rep max (RM).

After the 5 sets of the heavy compound lift you’re going to perform a back-off set in which you decrease the working weight by 20% (round to the nearly 2.5 or 5lbs) and try to perform as many quality reps as possibly (AMQRAP). This set is less taxing on the CNS and allows for some extra volume on the main compound lift of the day, which is helpful for muscle growth and reinforcing proper form. Proportionally increase the working weight of AMQRAP set by 2.5-10lbs every time you increase the weight during the 15 rep goal sets.

After the main compound movement of the day you’re going to perform rest-pause/bulldozer sets for the remainder of the workout. You will be resting 15 to 60 seconds between each set of an exercise and 2 to 3 minutes between each exercise.

The accessory work will begin with compound exercises using moderate loads and will conclude will isolation, pump-inducing exercises using relatively low loads. It’s important that you keep track of your timing in between sets – not only to optimize muscle growth but also to prevent you from being in the gym forever. I program my accessory work with high volumes and rest-pause because I believe it’s an effective way to trigger muscle growth in a short period of time while allowing me to leave the gym with a nice pump.

The exercise selection I lay out in the routine below is by no means set in stone, but I encourage you to be wise if and how you decide to make substitutions. For example, substituting conventional deadlift for sumo deadlift is completely reasonable but substituting chin-ups for another curl exercise is not advisable.  Once you pick your exercises stick with them until you stop progressing; there’s no reason to “confuse” your muscles if you’re adding reps and/or weight to the bar every time you perform an exercise.

If you’re used to low volume routines this routine will initially make you quite sore – you can either power through the soreness or gradually increase the volume over time. For example, instead of a 50 rep goal over 5 sets with shrugs you could aim for a 30 rep goal over 3 sets the 1st week, 40 reps over 4 sets the 2nd, and 50 reps over 5 sets the 3rd week.

Dumbbell Press

Starting out with a heavy compound lift will is a great way to increase central nervous system (CNS) activity, increase strength, and gain confidence moving heavy loads.

Lifting & Rest Day Scheduling

  • Early-intermediate lifters should perform the routine in an every-other-day manner – Push A/Rest/Pull A/Rest/Legs A/Rest/Push B/Rest/Pull B/ Rest/Legs B/Rest/Repeat
  • Intermediate lifters should perform the routine in a 3-on/1-off manner – Push A/Pull A/Legs A/Rest/Push B/ Pull B/Legs B/Rest/Repeat
  • Advanced lifters should perform the routine in a 6-on/1-off manner – Push A/Pull A/Legs A/Push B/ Pull B/Legs B/Rest/Repeat
Push A
Chest, Shoulders & Triceps
Exercise Sets Rep Goal Total Rest
Flat Barbell Bench Press 5 15 90-120 sec
Flat Barbell Bench Press (Use 20% less weight than your previous working sets) 1 AMQRAP N/A
Seated Behind the Neck Press 3 25 60 sec
(Weighted) Tricep Dips 3 30 60 sec
Standing Cable Crossovers 5 50 30 sec
Seated Tricep Extensions (Dumbbell, Rope, or EZ Bar) 5 50 30 sec
Seated Dumbbell Lateral Raises 5 50 15 sec
Pull A
Back, Traps & Biceps
Exercise Sets Rep Goal Total Rest
Barbell Conventional Deadlift 5 15 90-120 sec
Barbell Conventional Deadlift (Use 20% less weight than your previous working sets) 1 AMQRAP N/A
(Weighted) Chin-ups 3 25 60 sec
Chest Supported Rows 3 30 60 sec
Shrugs (Dumbbell, Barbell, or Trap Bar) 5 50 30 sec
Standing Barbell Curls 5 50 30 sec
Standing Cable Reverse Fly 5 50 15 sec
Legs A
Quads, Hamstrings & Calves
Exercise Sets Rep Goal Total Rest
Barbell Back Squat 5 15 90-120 sec
Barbell Back Squat (Use 20% less weight than your previous working sets) 1 AMQRAP N/A
Barbell Good Mornings 3 25 60 sec
Leg Press 3 30 60 sec
Reverse Hyperextension 5 50 30 sec
Leg Curl (Seated or Lying) 5 50 30 sec
Calf Raise (Seated or Standing) 5 50 15 sec
Push B
Chest, Shoulders & Triceps
Exercise Sets Rep Goal Total Rest
Standing Overhead Press 5 15 90-120 sec
Standing Overhead Press (Use 20% less weight than your previous working sets) 1 AMQRAP N/A
Incline Bench Press (Dumbbell or Barbell) 3 25 60 sec
Close Grip Bench Press 3 30 60 sec
Seated Machine Fly 5 50 30 sec
Standing Tricep Pushdown (Rope, V-bar, or Straight Bar) 5 50 30 sec
Standing Cable Lateral Raises 5 50 15 sec
Pull B
Back, Traps & Biceps
Exercise Sets Rep Goal Total Rest
Barbell Snatch Grip Deadlift 5 15 90-120
Barbell Snatch Grip Deadlift (Use 20% less weight than your previous working sets) 1 AMQRAP N/A
Barbell Rows 3 25 60 sec
(Weighted) Pull-ups 3 30 60 sec
1-arm Rows (Dumbbell or Barbell) 5 50 30 sec
Incline Dumbbell Curl 5 50 30 sec
Seated Machine Reverse Fly 5 50 15 sec
Legs B
Quads, Hamstrings & Calves
Exercise Sets Rep Goal Total Rest
Barbell Front Squat 5 15 90-120 sec
Barbell Front Squat (Use 20% less weight than your previous working sets) 1 AMQRAP N/A
Barbell Romanian Deadlifts 3 25 60 sec
Barbell Hip Thrusts 3 30 60 sec
Dumbbell Lunges 5 50 30 sec
Seated Leg Extensions 5 50 30 sec
Hanging Leg Raises 5 50 15 sec

Bulking eating plan

To maximize muscle size and strength gains on this high volume program, you’ll have to eat big. I recommend starting at no less than 3500 calories per day.

Nutrition & Supplementation

To maximize muscle size and strength gains on this high frequency, high volume program, you’ll have to EAT BIG! I recommend starting at no less than 3500 calories per day and adjusting based on how you feel and look in the mirror. If you’re not used to eating this much don’t worry if gain 3-5lbs during the first two weeks; most of that is water and glycogen as a result of your increased carbohydrate and overall calorie intake. After the first two weeks I would aim to gain 0.5-1lb of bodyweight per week.

The meal and supplementation plan outlined below provides at least 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight (for a 180lb male), 0.5 grams of fat per pound of bodyweight, 30 grams of dietary fiber, 1000 milligrams of calcium, 350 milligrams of magnesium, 15 milligrams of zinc, and 18 milligrams of iron.

Nutrition for the Day – 3,510 calories, 235g protein, 367g carbs, 132g fat, 59g fiber, 1550mg calcium, 176% daily value of calcium.

3,500 Calorie Meal Plan
Muscle Building Diet
Time Meal Nutrition

07:00

Wake Up

   
07:30

1 to 2 cups of coffee; 1 serving multivitamin (general health), 2-3g EPA/DHA fish oil (general health & inflammation control).

50 calories, 0g protein, 0g carbs, 5.5g fat, 0g fiber, 0mg calcium

8:00

Breakfast

6 large eggs, 1.5 cups fresh blueberries, 4 slices of turkey bacon, 1.5 cups of sliced mushrooms, 1 cup of sliced green peppers, 1 ounce of Swiss cheese.

845 calories, 60g protein, 43g carbs, 49g fat, 9g fiber, 420mg calcium

12:00

Lunch

0.5 cup dry-measure jasmine rice, 6 ounces of roasted turkey breast, 1 cup steamed spinach, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 large red delicious apple.

886 calories, 63g protein, 122g carbs, 18g fat, 9g fiber, 410mg calcium

16:00

Pre Workout Snack

2 slices of whole wheat bread, 3 tablespoons of peanut butter, 1 cup of whole milk, 1 scoop of whey protein, 1.5 cups sliced strawberries.

737 calories, 49g protein, 68g carbs, 32g fat, 12g fiber, 520mg calcium

17:30

Pre Workout

0 to 300mg of caffeine (energy), 5g creatine (power output), 500mg agmatine sulfate (muscle pumps), 2000mg citrulline malate (muscle pumps), and 3000mg beta-alanine (muscular endurance)

 

18:00-19:30

Workout

10 to 15g of BCAAs intra-workout (recovery & fatigue management). Nutrition – 60 calories, 15g protein, 0g carbs, 0g fat, 0g fiber, 0mg calcium  

20:00

Dinner

4 ounces dry-measure whole wheat pasta, 2 cups of tomato sauce, 2 cups steamed broccoli, 4 ounces raw-measure ground beef (80% lean/20% fat).

931 calories, 48g protein, 134g carbs, 28g fat, 29g fiber, 200mg calcium

23:00

Bed

1 serving of ZMA (relaxation & nervous system recovery)  

Recovery & Sleep

Proper recovery is paramount for a routine with this much volume, intensity, and frequency. Aim for at least 7 to 9 hours of non-interrupted, quality sleep every night.

If your schedule allows for midday napping I would highly encourage this as well. Most of us working the 9-to-5 desk job are unable to nap during the workweek so at a bare minimum, nap 15 to 30 minutes on Saturdays and Sundays. These naps will improve muscular recovery, improve memory recall, and improve short-term alertness.

To optimize sleep hygiene I recommend abstaining from looking at a digital screen 1 to 2 hours pre-bed. Artificial light interferes with your body’s natural circadian rhythm and melatonin release. If you must work on your computer in the evenings consider free software like f.lux, which “makes the color of your computer's display adapt to the time of day, warm at night and like sunlight during the day.”

As you enter your bedroom take note of the room darkness. If it’s not pitch black, consider removing any nightlights, adding blackout curtains to cover the windows, and/or using a sleep mask. Also consider room temperature – most people sleep the soundest when the room temperature is between 75 and 54 degrees Fahrenheit. I have personally found a room temperature of 68 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit to be optimal for me.

Once you lay down, before you drift off to sleep, consider mattress comfort and outside noise levels. Optimal mattress firmness is relative to the individual but if your mattress has become overly soft and saggy, then I encourage you to invest in a new mattress as soon as possible – the benefits far outweigh the financial costs.

If you lay down hear the neighborhood cat caterwauling or the tenants in 3B making a racket then utilize ear plugs or a white noise machine. Ear plugs are an inexpensive and portable but they may fall out of your ears throughout the night. A white noise machine provides constant outside noise minimization but requires electricity to function and is significantly more expensive than earplugs.

Once you’ve optimized your sleep environment based on the aforementioned parameters I guarantee your recovery and energy will improve.

124 Comments+ Post Comment

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Posted Mon, 02/19/2018 - 05:20
Peter

I have a question regarding the barbell back squat,

so 5 sets as stated is that 15 Reps per Set or say 3 Reps across 5 sets?

please elaborate.

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 02/19/2018 - 09:11
JoshEngland

Hi Peter,

15 reps total. 5 x 3 reps would be a fine way to get your 15 total reps.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Mon, 02/19/2018 - 05:18
Peter

Hey for the Barbell Back squat. 5 total sets as stated ok so 3 reps across 5 sets adding to 15? or 5 Sets 3 Reps per set?

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Posted Thu, 02/08/2018 - 16:06
Arve

Hi, i got a question not just regarding to this program. Im a skinny guy, ive been training for 1 year. and im in a situation where i want to get bigger and put on mass, but i dont want get more fat on my stomach as it is getting more then i want already. ive gained about 14Kg in a year, but i dont feel like its showing off. Got any tips for a guy in this situation? is the trick Cardio in the morning or will it prevent me from putting on size?

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Posted Fri, 02/16/2018 - 16:06
adam

Hey Arve u don't need to follow this exact "meal plan" honestly I think this is to much for people to go into it right away. The reason you gained that weight all in your stomach is bc it seems like you did a dirty bulk. What I recommend is finding your maintaince calories, you can do this by just recording what u eat and if u don't gain weight or lose weight than those are your maintain calories. Now to build size you want to do what is called "reverse dieting" which refers to adding more calories to what ur maintain is. so if your eating 2,000 for ex u want to add 100 calories and this will help your metabolism adjust and not add the unwanted fat.

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Posted Thu, 02/08/2018 - 15:35
Don

I'm 53 and have been lifting since I was 18. I currently work out 5 on/1 off - hitting each muscle group 1 in those 5 days. I was told about PPL and want to know if this sort of program is recommended for us "middle-aged" gym rats?

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Posted Tue, 02/06/2018 - 09:04
Ahmad

When you say "6 large eggs", does that mean 6 large eggs as is (drink them)? or you can boil them in water and eat them?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Tue, 02/06/2018 - 09:14
JoshEngland

Hi Ahmad,

You can eat them however you prefer. So long as your calorie totals for the day are aligned with your goals, you'll be ok.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Fri, 02/09/2018 - 03:36
Ahmad

Thanks Josh,
Another question, it says to take 3g EPA, most products contains 180 Mg EPA, do you recommend a god product that contains high amount of EPA?

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Posted Sun, 02/04/2018 - 15:30
Kyle

Is it 50 reps throughout each of the 5 sets, or 10 reps with 5 sets for a total of 50 total reps??

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 02/05/2018 - 10:11
JoshEngland

Hi Kyle,

50 total reps.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Mon, 01/29/2018 - 09:38
Sarwar Noor

Hi,

I have one question regarding nutrition, Do I need to take LIVER SUPPORT also after keeping protien content high in my diet for this long?

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Posted Thu, 01/25/2018 - 12:11
Joe

Is it recommended to find a new program after 12-weeks are up? Is there a recommended endpoint beyond 12-weeks to avoid stagnating gains?......I hate change and like routine :)

Thanks
Joe

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Fri, 01/26/2018 - 15:31
JoshEngland

Hi Joe,

It is not necessary to change routines if you are still enjoying the program and seeing progress. So long as you're creating progressive overload for yourself in one way or another while using this program (i.e. adding weight) you should continue to see results.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Thu, 01/25/2018 - 03:52
Elias

Hi. I’d like a little clarification if you don’t mind. I was always told that heavier weights/ less reps was the key to building big muscles, and I don’t really know what to make of this PPL routine. Should I be using 50% of my 1rm, or closer to 70%? I don’t want to make too many changes to the routine, but packing on muscle is more important than aesthetics or endurance for me. Should I just do the routine as is, or lower the reps/ increase weight?

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Posted Wed, 12/20/2017 - 19:00
Jose C

Hey nick thank you for this amazing routine. I'm looking to start building more muscle which in turn will help me with losing body fat. Would you recommend this to someone who still has fat to lose?

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Posted Sun, 12/03/2017 - 19:48
Kodie Vega

For the high volume accessory work do you use really light weight?? I was thinking of doing medium heavy weight. Would that work and I was also thinking about eating only 3000 calories while doing this cause I'm trying to slim down some more. Thoughts on that??

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Posted Thu, 11/30/2017 - 21:02
Jeremy

Hey there, in the article for this it says to perform rest pause sets throughout the workout, do I perform a rest pause every single set?

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Posted Tue, 11/21/2017 - 12:52
mikey

how do I get the full 12 week program/workouts? I’ve used it before but now it’s not showing me how to go to the next week? I’ve suscribed and created an account. Can I get it emailed to me or something. thanks.

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Wed, 11/22/2017 - 09:02
JoshEngland

Hi Mikey,

You perform the same workouts for the 12 week phase.

Changing your workouts up weekly is kind of an unnecessary practice that has been popularized by other fitness platforms. Having consistent workouts for phases (8-12 weeks at a time) allows you to track your workouts better to ensure you progress during the program by either moving up in weight used, sets performed, or reps performed.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Tue, 11/21/2017 - 08:16
Zakaria Mehrez

In push A Exercice number 2 barbell bunch press, There are no sets or reps putted may i do 4 sets and 10 repetitions on each set?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Tue, 11/21/2017 - 08:56
JoshEngland

Hi Zakaria,

The table lists 1 set of as many quality reps as possible (AMQRAP). Perform one set to mechanical failure (where your form breaks down, not when you can no longer lift the weight).

Hope this helps!

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Posted Mon, 10/23/2017 - 04:52
Peter McGainz

Hi.

I've had shoulder issues in the past, and while I want to try it out I don't think I should.

Can I replace it with Incline Dumbbell Presses? Or Seated Dumbbell shoulder presses?

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Posted Sun, 10/15/2017 - 14:25
Miles Fuchs

Hi. What would you recomand an 18 year old who is been training for a while and wants to look astetic. I have some muscle but also belly fat. So now my question, should I cut First and then start a lean bulk or just continue bulking? I hope this side is still up to date. Hopefully someone can hell me out

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 10/16/2017 - 09:51
JoshEngland
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Posted Sat, 10/07/2017 - 12:26
Ricardo

Hi. Doing the RDL just one day after doing a Snatch Grip DL + Barbell rows isn't putting too much stress on the lower back? I would say this whole workout is very "lower back stressful" but on this specifically case there isn't even 24h to rest... I could be wrong tho, just wanting to know for sure. Thanks!

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Posted Fri, 10/06/2017 - 00:52
Logan

Hi. What is your recommendation for choosing a weight on the heavy compound exercises? For Barbell Bench Press, would you do 5 sets of 3 with the same weight or start heavy and progressively get lighter or vice versa?

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Posted Tue, 10/03/2017 - 12:20
Alan

Hi - When your talking about rep goal, and going over that rep goal, what do you mean? I assume I would not be doing a straight 5 X 3 = 15. Or would it be since its my six rep max more like 6 - 5 - 4 - 3 - 2 = 20 and since I went over my goal rep by 5 I add 5-10 lbs next time.

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Tue, 10/03/2017 - 16:53
JoshEngland

Hi Alan,

Rep goal is referring to the total amount of reps you should aim to accomplish during the prescribed number of sets.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Sun, 09/17/2017 - 07:24
Elias

Great workout routine! It works even with 3 times! It works greatly for martial artists! It keeps me fit and strong! I lift 3 times per week with 1 day off between workout days and the off day, I am training in Kickboxing! I just added some aerobic activity at the start and at the end!

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Posted Fri, 08/11/2017 - 14:57
Cortney Mattila

Doing legs B tomorrow morning and curious what i could do in place of the hanging leg raise ??

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Fri, 08/11/2017 - 16:33
JoshEngland

Hi Cortney,

Any ab movement targeting the lower abs would work here. Since it's not a leg movement and your core is worked frequently during the week indirectly by the compound movements, you could honestly just skip it if you dont have the equipment or ability to perform them.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Thu, 08/10/2017 - 18:38
Cortney Mattila

It says Romanian deadlift for legs B but when I click on it to watch video and get form tips the stiff let deadlift comes up ..which should I do?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Fri, 08/11/2017 - 09:07
JoshEngland

Hi Cortney,

Thank you for bringing this to our attention and I apologize for the confusion. You should perform RDLs. The link has been updated on the website and I'm working on updating it on the PDF.

Thanks again!

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Posted Fri, 08/11/2017 - 10:24
Cortney Mattila

Thank you!!!!! :) love this workout routine! I'm definitely feeling it and it's awesome

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Posted Mon, 08/07/2017 - 13:41
Ernest

Hi,
When you say tricep dips 3 sets of 30 reps, you are wondering 3 sets of 10 reps each no?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 08/07/2017 - 13:48
JoshEngland

Hi Ernest,

3 sets, 30 total reps. So yes, 3 10 could work or 12, 10, 8 - whatever rep scheme you feel most comfortable with.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Tue, 08/08/2017 - 05:58
Ernest

Sure! Thank you :)

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Posted Sat, 07/22/2017 - 12:08
Craig

Hi. I've just started this program I'm 42. Work out over the 7 days and do light cardio 3 mornings a week also .im wanting to lose weight from 17st 6 to get to 15 stone. What do you recommend my calories intake to be..im over weight due to just unhealthy eating. I've been eating healthy for 5 weeks plus training but my weight hasn't began shifting yet in fact gone up but my body shape is looking better.

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Mon, 07/24/2017 - 09:24
JoshEngland

Hi Craig,

You can find you daily calorie needs here: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/tools/bmr-calculator

For fat loss you'll want to be in a slight calorie deficit. Subtract ~250-500 calories from the total the calculator gives you.

Aim to eat that amount of calories each day from quality whole food sources.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Fri, 07/14/2017 - 06:16
Loganj23

Would this be ok for my girlfriend to do with me?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Fri, 07/14/2017 - 09:23
JoshEngland

Hi Logan,

It depends on your girlfriend's weight training experience, knowledge of the exercises listed within the program, and ability to preform and recover properly from the amount of volume this program recommends.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Wed, 07/12/2017 - 10:57
Stevenj101

Hi i think the idea of doing deadlifts and then legs the next day isnt very smart , squats and deadlifts have to ve split by one day so i think pull push legs is the better way to go to get a beter squat and also risk injury less , i usualy squat 170kg for 3 reps , after deadlifting 200kg for reps last night i only get out 140kg for 3 reps and strugling

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Posted Tue, 07/11/2017 - 05:16
stevenj101

hi when you say 6 egss foe breakfast , is that whole egss or just egg white?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Tue, 07/11/2017 - 09:47
JoshEngland

Hi Steven,

Judging by the macro count in the table, I'd say it is meant to be 6 whole eggs.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Thu, 07/06/2017 - 10:47
Colin

I'm wondering with the one arm rows is it 5 sets of 10 with each arm or 50 reps total ?

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Thu, 07/06/2017 - 12:12
JoshEngland

Hi Colin,

It is 5 sets of 10 for each arm. 100 total repetitions, 50 reps per arm.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Fri, 07/07/2017 - 02:39
Colin

Thanks for the reply Josh one more question standing cable lateral raises is that not a pull exercise ?? It's in push B

JoshEngland's picture
Posted Fri, 07/07/2017 - 09:14
JoshEngland

Hi Colin,

You're welcome! Yes, technically you are correct. I can't speak for the author of the article, but I know personally when I designed a push/pull program, a lot of times I break it down by muscle group (i.e shoulders to me are a push muscle), not necessarily movement pattern (a lot of movements that target the shoulders can be pulls). While not technically correct, it shouldn't throw off your workout schedule at all.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Thu, 06/29/2017 - 11:15
Nuance

I don't understand.
When picking a start weight for this lift It would be recommended using your 5-6 rep max (RM).
How can one reach 15 reps with his 6RM?
Do I miss something?