This push/pull/legs routine is a simple, yet effective workout split that hits the whole body in just 3 days a week, and helps you increase strength and build muscle.
Workout Summary
  • Main Goal
    Increase Strength
  • Workout Type
  • Training Level
  • Program Duration10 weeks
  • Days Per Week
  • Time Per Workout60 minutes
  • Equipment Required
    Barbell, Cables, Dumbbells, Machines
  • Target Gender Male & Female
  • Recommended Supps
  • Workout PDF Download Workout

Workout Description

If you’re new to working out and are driven to make yourself bigger, leaner, or stronger, then you want to channel that passion and energy in the right direction. This 3-day push, pull, legs (PPL) routine will get you started on the right foot. You will learn the ropes of serious training while improving every week for the next 10 weeks. 

Editor's note: If you’ve been training for a while, this one will likely be too simple for you. Check out our 6 Day Push/Pull/Legs (PPL) Powerbuilding Workout Split & Meal Plan for a more intermediate/advanced option.

What is a PPL Routine?

PPL stands for push, pull, and legs. Each workout focuses on one group of muscles for that corresponding function. The muscle groups for each function are below.

  • Push – Chest, Shoulders, and Triceps
  • Pull – Upper Back, Lower Back, Rear Deltoids, Trapezius, Biceps
  • Legs – Glutes, Quadriceps, Hamstrings, Calves

You can also throw ab workouts in with each group as part of your training that day or complete a separate workout focusing on the abs alone. I suggest doing abs with either push or pull muscles, so you have it done without taking another training day.

Recommended: The Best 15-Minute Warm-Ups

Fit man doing standing cable chest presses in the gym.

Benefits of PPL Workout Splits

There are three key benefits to utilizing a PPL routine, especially for beginners. First and foremost, you will learn how to train for a purpose and figure out how those corresponding muscle groups work together and on their own. 

You should know that any time you perform a chest press, the triceps are involved. The same applies to an overhead press for shoulders. The same is true for the biceps with pulling motions.

Second, PPL routines are simple to follow but provide the necessary challenges to push yourself. You will likely see benefits sooner because you can execute the workouts with minimal trouble. Additionally, most gyms are set up so you can stay in a certain area while performing the workouts.

Last but not least, you are more likely to see strength increases because PPL-style workouts focus on strength and improving muscle size. You won’t isolate each area as in a traditional single-body part routine. Those are great for when you advance, but PPL is great for laying a solid foundation.

Iron rookies and people who want to improve their power can see great results from a PPL routine. These routines are an initial programming style for many powerlifters and strongmen/strongwomen. Even some bodybuilders like to focus on PPL routines.

About the Workout

This is going to be a three-day program. You will train for Push on Day 1, Pull on Day 2, and Legs on Day 3. Beginners should take a day off between each workout to focus on recovery and preparing for the next training session. I understand that as a beginner, you may have a lot of enthusiasm and believe the myth that more is better. 

Eventually, you may need to add more volume to a program like this or choose something different. But for now, this will be enough for you to see benefits, improve in the ways you want to, and minimize the risk of injury as long as you train safely with a spotter. Even though you’re a beginner, these exercises are chosen so you get the most bang for your buck. If you insist on changing an exercise from one to another, you can go to our Exercises section to find a replacement.

These workouts include several exercises, sets, and reps so you can feel like you’ve done solid work, but honestly, leaving the gym wanting to do more is the best thing for you at this stage.

Fit man doing a cable tricep extension in the gym.

3 Day Push/Pull/Legs Workout

Workout 1: Push Day

Exercise Sets Reps Rest
Military Press (AKA Overhead Press) 5 5 1-2 min
Dumbbell Bench Press 3 5 1-2 min
Tricep Dip 3 8 1-2 min
Lateral Raise 3 8 1-2 min
Lying Dumbbell Extension 3 8 1-2 min
Tricep Pushdown 3 8 1-2 min

Workout 2: Pull Day

Exercise Sets Reps Rest
Pull Up (or Lat Pull Down) 5 5 1-2 min
Bent-Over Barbell Row 3 5 1-2 min
T-Bar Row 3 8 1-2 min
Dumbbell Shrug 3 8 1-2 min
Preacher Curl 3 8 1-2 min
Hammer Curl 3 8 1-2 min

Workout 3: Leg Day

Exercise Sets Reps Rest
Barbell Squat 5 5 1-2 min
Deadlift 3 5 1-2 min
Leg Press 3 8 1-2 min
Lying Leg Curl 3 8 1-2 min
Leg Extension 3 8 1-2 min
Seated Calf Raise 3 8 1-2 min

How to Progressive Overload in a PPL Routine?

Some of you may already be looking at this and asking yourself how to make it more challenging. That is what progressive overloading is. The good news is that it will be easy to make this more challenging. 

When you perform these sets, the first two should be light to moderate so you can prepare for that last heavy set. On the exercises with sets of five reps, you will be doing three work sets with the same weight.

Keep notes on all of your workouts. Each time you train, the goal is to increase the reps you do or the weight you use. For example, if you can do the Standing Barbell Press with 75 pounds for three of the five sets of five reps, you can jump up to 80 pounds. You could also try for six reps with 75 pounds. That choice is up to you.

You may not improve everything on each workout, but you will see small improvements at different points, and those will build up for you to reach those initial goals you set for yourself. 

Fit man recovering in the gym in between sets.

Specific Rest Times

Remember that we want you to be as prepared for the next set as possible, which is why we have two minutes of rest between each set and exercise. That means you change the weight if desired, then take two minutes to lock yourself in mentally to execute physically.

You will also have one or two days off in between each workout. If you can perform this on a Monday/Wednesday/Friday or a Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday schedule, that would be ideal. If you have to train two days in a row because of work or school, do it. However, do not train for three days in a row on this program.


When you’re away from the gym, you should prepare for the next session by making the most of your recovery time. Focus on getting quality sleep, following a sound nutrition plan, doing cardio such as Zone 2 level exercise, and taking supplements

Recommended: 3 Active Recovery Workouts for Your Next Rest Day

You could also throw in things like massages, percussive gunwork, stretching, and yoga. Recovery is just as important as the training if you want to get in the best shape possible, so don’t neglect it. Tomorrow’s workout can be better than expected because of what you do today.

Posted on: Mon, 07/08/2024 - 15:42

Just did day 1, arms definitely feelin it, but why just one exercise for the chest in the whole routine? Is that really enough? I progressive overloaded my bench till failure but still don’t really feel it afterwards.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Thu, 07/11/2024 - 05:59

Hey Ryan, the dips can also hit the chest, which is why I added those in. If you wanted to add an incline movement in after the military presses, go for it. I tried to keep this on a time limit while still making it effective, but more can be added if you have the experience in the gym.

Posted on: Mon, 07/01/2024 - 14:02

How can i adjust the goal to be "muscle gain" instead of "strength increase"? please reply as soon as possible.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Fri, 07/05/2024 - 12:40

Adam, you could up the reps and lower the weight if you like.

PS, I always reply "as soon as possible." That extra emphasis is not necessary.

Posted on: Fri, 06/28/2024 - 21:09

As a total beginner and over 60 years old, I would fear for my life doing barbell exercises, in particular the Military Press (AKA Overhead Press). To me, they look like a guarantee for injuries that I can't afford at my age.

I could: Just skip them; or do them with very light weights e.g. <10kg; or replace them with something else. Or perhaps I should look for a barbell-less beginner program. What would you recommend?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Sun, 06/30/2024 - 07:49

Hello there, would you be training in a gym or at home? If you are training in a gym, then dumbbells or machines can serve as great alternatives.

As long as you use weight you can control and have a spotter, then you should be okay with barbell work, but if you are that concerned, don't force it.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Fri, 07/05/2024 - 12:01

That works, and we are here to support you along the way. Keep us posted on your progress!

Posted on: Sun, 06/30/2024 - 21:01

Thanks much! I am really trying to gain confidence, and your comment helps me.

At home for now. I do have dumbbells and will try them, but here is a gym not far from here that I would like to try as well. I will just leave out those exercises that I don't feel comfortable with.

Posted on: Thu, 06/20/2024 - 12:52

I hope this is t dumb to ask, can I do the exercises in any order? For example for the push day, can I do the lying dumbbell extension after the dumbbell bench press? I ask because there are limited benches at the gym I started going to and I don’t want to wait too long for one to be free.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 06/24/2024 - 05:50

Hi Ted, not a dumb question at all. The first exercise still needs to be first, but after that feel free to switch things around. Just keep in mind your strength on the exercises may change. Best of luck, and thank you for reading M&S!