6 Day Push/Pull/Legs (PPL) Powerbuilding Workout Split & Meal Plan

Nick Ludlow
Written By: Nick Ludlow
July 21st, 2014
Updated: March 23rd, 2021
6 Day Push/Pull/Legs (PPL) Workout Split & Meal Plan
This 6 day push/pull/legs workout routine split is a high volume, rest-pause system designed for intermediate lifters looking to gain muscle and strength.
Workout Summary

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.

Push/Pull/Legs Workout Schedule

  • 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

6 Day Push/Pull/Legs Workout

Push Workout 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 Workout 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 Workout 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 Workout 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 Workout 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 Workout B - Quads, Hamstrings & Calves

Legs Workout 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

Healthy breakfast foods flatlay.

Push/Pull/Legs Workout 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.

Sample 3,500 Calorie Muscle Building Meal Plan

Nutrition Totals:

  • 3,510 calories
  • 235g protein
  • 367g carbs
  • 132g fat
  • 59g fiber
  • 1550mg calcium
  • 176% daily value of calcium.
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.

Post your post-workout swolfies in M&S gear on IG and tag @muscleandstrength, #muscleandstrength, or DM them to us to get a shoutout on Muscle & Strength stories!

735 Comments
Armando
Posted on: Mon, 05/13/2024 - 03:17

I want to cut. Will this program help me with that?

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Roger
Posted on: Fri, 05/17/2024 - 20:08

If you are dieting, doing cardio, and recovering properly, then yes. It can help you lose weight and get leaner.

Sohaibmojaddedi
Posted on: Wed, 05/08/2024 - 15:07

Hi
I am 23 years old my weight 68 and my height is 180
Is ppl/6 days is good for gain weight

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Roger
Posted on: Fri, 05/17/2024 - 20:08

As long as your diet and recovery are in line with this training, then yes.

Bryan
Posted on: Thu, 05/02/2024 - 20:49

What do you mean by Rep goal total?
For example in flat bench press, 5 sets and 15rep goal total.
Is it 5sets or 3reps or 5sets of 15reps? Thanks!

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Roger
Posted on: Fri, 05/17/2024 - 20:07

Hi Bryan, this means you should strive to get 15 total reps within all five sets.

5 sets of 3 would be 15, 5 sets of 5,4,3,2,1 would also be 15. I hope this clears it up.

If you can do the 15 total reps in three or less sets, add weight. The goal is to get stronger. So, push yourself when you reach that target.

Thanks for reading M&S!

John
Posted on: Wed, 04/24/2024 - 03:42

I only have the option to complete the routine across 5-days (Mon-Fri). Is this plan adaptable to that?

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Roger
Posted on: Sat, 04/27/2024 - 20:54

You can simply do the sixth workout at the start of the second week, John. Then, pick it back up with the first workout the following day. Hope this helps.

Brett
Posted on: Wed, 04/17/2024 - 12:50

Should you pick a wieght so that you're going to failure on every set but not reaching the the goal total reps after all the sets? Like hypothetically 14,12,10,8,4. Or pick a weight and let say stop at 10 reps and do 10,10,10,10 and fail at 8 on the last set

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Roger
Posted on: Wed, 04/17/2024 - 17:23

Hi Brett, you should be using a weight that results win failure every set, but you should at least get close to the total rep goal.

For example, if you are on the 5 sets of 15 total reps, then sets for 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1 would get you there. You would reach failure on all five sets but still hit the target. Of course, if you get a rep or two short, that is ok.

Allen
Posted on: Mon, 04/15/2024 - 01:11

Most programs are always based around afternoon/evening workouts. How to change for those of us who train early morning 5am?, 6am? Normally coffee and pre-workout and into it. If meal before then, I'd have to be up even earlier than 4-430am. Any suggestions? Thanks in adavance.

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Roger
Posted on: Mon, 04/15/2024 - 10:16

Hey Allen, I understand this issue because I dealt with it myself at one time.

Eat a decent meal before bed so you have the calories in you. Then, get up at 5, hit the coffee and pre, and get into it. Drink either a shake or aminos while you're training so you are giving the muscles something at least. Then, eat as soon as you can after you train.

Allen
Posted on: Wed, 04/17/2024 - 19:37

Thanks Roger. I work afternoon/night shift so make sure i get meals in during work and eat before bed. Yes, aminos while training :)

Bill
Posted on: Sun, 04/14/2024 - 15:55

Something else I can do instead of shrugs and snatch deadlifts? Also how long do I stick with this routine im an advanced lifter and what routine should I do after this?

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Roger
Posted on: Mon, 04/15/2024 - 10:07

Do you mind sharing what you need or want to replace those movements, Bill? That would help me make the best suggestions.

Stick with this one for 8-12 weeks, then you can find another program here.

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/how-to-choose-your-next-train...

Jackie Danno
Posted on: Mon, 04/08/2024 - 22:34

The description for the 6 day push pull says it is targeted for men and women, however,the meal plan sample is only for men. Is this workout good for women also?

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Roger
Posted on: Wed, 04/10/2024 - 18:08

Hi Jackie, thank you for pointing this out. I wish it did have a women's plan overall, but perhaps I can help. Mind sharing what your goals are and where you're starting? I want to provide the best assistance possible.

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Roger
Posted on: Sun, 04/28/2024 - 19:03

Hi Marky, thanks for the question.

Based on what you've shared here, I would suggest slowly increasing up to 2,000. Jumping up to 2k right off the bat may not be the best move. So, using the top end of your range (1500), I would go up 100 calories/day per week. So, 1,600 this week, 1,700 the next week, and so on. This could be a combination of protein and slow-digesting carbs. Also, believe it or not, I would suggest backing off the cardio one day a week. This may help you with the sleep and recovery. Your body is needing more time to recover than work. I believe the extra day off of cardio combined with the slow increase in calories will help you get the recovery back on track.

I would say start there and see how that goes. I would make getting your sleep back on track the number one focus right now. Once that is in order, then you could start making adjustments based on getting shredded.

Marky
Posted on: Fri, 04/26/2024 - 00:06

I had the same question and would love your input.
My goals are to maintain if not increase strength slighty since im not rating at a surplus, I have a pretty good baseline that ive worked on over the years but havent been lean enough to enjoy my hard work. My focus is to shred body fat but I also love lifting heavy.

I do A PPL split too with cardio everyday, avg 20k steps, some days, I may run, incline walk etc but I have found that my energy levels are working against me and Im not getting quality sleep. Ive been averaging 1200-1500kcal, im finding the low amount of calories are hindering my hard work. I want to reverse diet and im finally in a mental headspace where im prepared to see fluctuations on the scale as long as I know my body is Recomping.

I am 5ft5, 30year old female, currently weigh 146lbs. I have a goal number of 135lbs but whichever number allows me to have the physique I want. Im considering boasting my calories to 2000kcal and seeing how that affects my workouts, sleep, mood, scale etc. your thoughts & suggestions are much appreciated

B
Posted on: Tue, 04/02/2024 - 12:52

Should I train to failure?

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Roger
Posted on: Thu, 04/04/2024 - 05:43

Yes, the goal is to get the rep number TOTAL, not each set. So, if it's 5 sets of 15 total reps, you should be lifting weight that you can get for 3-5 reps because you're going to keep counting on the next set.

Uke247
Posted on: Sun, 03/31/2024 - 06:36

I see that eating big is recommended, but my goal is to cut down. Should I alter this workout due to my goal or is this workout good for someone cutting down?

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Roger
Posted on: Sun, 03/31/2024 - 07:51

As long as the diet and cardio supports fat loss and you make the most out of recovery, you should still see positive results on this program.'

Let us know if you have questions along the way as well as how you do. Thanks for reading M&S!

Arjun
Posted on: Sat, 03/16/2024 - 10:28

Can i do conventional deadlift instead of snatch grip deadlift?

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Roger
Posted on: Sun, 03/24/2024 - 16:22

You can.

Trevor
Posted on: Tue, 02/20/2024 - 19:42

Would you recommend adding core movements to this program?

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Roger
Posted on: Wed, 02/21/2024 - 08:40

You can if you like, Trevor. We have plenty of options for you here. You can either do them after the training session or on an active recovery day.

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/abs

Kris
Posted on: Tue, 02/13/2024 - 06:58

In the compound lifts are they 5 sets of 15 or are they 5 sets of 3 with a total of 15 reps?

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Roger
Posted on: Wed, 02/21/2024 - 08:38

The goal is to achieve 15 reps in five total sets. That could be 3,3,3,3,3, or 5,4,3,2,1, or any other combination that leads to 15 reps. If you can do it in less than five sets, add weight so you can stay challenged.

marios vasalos
Posted on: Tue, 01/23/2024 - 12:08

in legs B isnt it better to do lunges or leg extensions instead of both and in the place of one of them i put calf raises

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Roger
Posted on: Mon, 01/29/2024 - 19:29

Both is recommended for this, but you can add calf raises in as well if you like.

Heath Watson
Posted on: Mon, 01/08/2024 - 17:15

Can some of the accessory work be done as supersets do you advise against that?

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Roger
Posted on: Tue, 01/09/2024 - 20:49

Hey Heath, thanks for reading M&S. If you've been in the training game for a while, you can superset some of the exercises. I would only suggest keeping the first exercise or two on their own.

Bill
Posted on: Mon, 01/08/2024 - 11:30

Will my bench press go up with this program only benching once a week

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Roger
Posted on: Tue, 01/09/2024 - 20:47

Hi Bill, we believe it will, yes. If you try it, let us know how it works for you. Hope this helps!

Arjun
Posted on: Thu, 12/28/2023 - 23:13

How many reps should I do in 1 set of 25 rep total

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Roger
Posted on: Sat, 12/30/2023 - 20:08

See my answer to your previous question.

Arjun
Posted on: Thu, 12/28/2023 - 22:50

In first workout 5 sets of 15 rep goal total means 1 set 15 reps? For muscle building

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Roger
Posted on: Sat, 12/30/2023 - 20:08

Hi, Arjun. This one is a little different than our standard workouts. The goal is to do the number of reps across all working sets. So, 5 total sets of 15 reps could be 5 sets of 3, or 5,4,3,2,1, or however many reps it takes for you to complete 15. It should be heavy enough that you need more than 3 sets to do it. Same principle applies for the rest of the workouts unless it says specifically otherwise.

Christian
Posted on: Thu, 12/28/2023 - 14:18

I’m loving this workout and I’m really starting to see the results I’ve been hoping for! I really want to continue this progress, is there a workout plan you recommend after I reach the 12 weeks goal?

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Roger
Posted on: Thu, 12/28/2023 - 21:26

We have plenty of choices depending on what your new goals are, Christian. This guide may help.

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/how-to-choose-your-next-train...

Jay
Posted on: Mon, 04/15/2024 - 13:05

How much muscle have you made?
Can you please inform.
As I have started this workout

Arjun
Posted on: Mon, 12/25/2023 - 03:03

Can i do all workouts in 3 sets?

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Roger
Posted on: Wed, 12/27/2023 - 19:56

Following it as written is recommended.

Coulsen
Posted on: Wed, 12/20/2023 - 15:57

When it says 5 sets for 15 reps. Do I do 5 sets of 5? Or 5 sets of 15?

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Roger
Posted on: Wed, 12/27/2023 - 19:56

This one is different than many other programs. The rep total is for all five sets. So, 5 sets of 3 would be 15 total. Or 5,4,3,2,1 would also be 15. The other exercises work the same way on this program unless it says specifically otherwise.

Vyshnav
Posted on: Mon, 12/11/2023 - 11:37

Should i use lightweights because of so many reps

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Roger
Posted on: Wed, 12/27/2023 - 19:55

Choose weight that you can get within one to two reps of the recommended range. Once you can do more than that, go up in weight.

Rob
Posted on: Thu, 12/07/2023 - 19:09

Just curious why there are deadlift exercises on upset body days?

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Roger
Posted on: Wed, 12/27/2023 - 19:54

They really are a total body movement. Some trainers/athletes include them with upper body because of the back involvement.