6 Day Push/Pull/Legs (PPL) Powerbuilding 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

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

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!

364 Comments+ Post Comment

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Posted Wed, 04/07/2021 - 00:55
Ahmad

I noticed the lack of chest dips. I love this exercise, it's probably the best for chest. Which exercise should I replace with chest drips? I don't want to simply add the chest dips anywhere, since the workout is long enoigh.

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Posted Wed, 04/07/2021 - 11:13
Abigail_M&S

Hey Ahmad - you can replace the tricep dips on day 1 for chest dips.

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Posted Wed, 04/07/2021 - 12:01
Ahmad

I'm worried about imbalance. Shouldn't I also change a chest exercise to a tricep one so I can I have as much benefit for my triceps as I do for the chest?

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Posted Mon, 04/05/2021 - 09:37
Derek

If we choose a 6RM for the first exercise and only perform 3 reps for each set, how do we know when to progressively overload and increase that weight? Should we target AMRAP for the last of the five sets instead of 3, to see if we can exceed 6?

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Posted Fri, 03/26/2021 - 01:54
Tushar Bhatnagar

Hey,
Loving how you've explained evth so crystal clear. I still have a doubt.
Do I need to progressively overload the weight on the bar/dumbbells as I progress across sets or I should rather focus on volume and Rep totals as per the bulldozer program

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Posted Fri, 03/26/2021 - 10:43
Abigail_M&S

Hey Tushar - you'll keep the weight consistent across all sets.

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Posted Thu, 03/25/2021 - 12:27
Derek

The meal plan is setup for 33% of calories coming from fats and 1.3 g/lb of body mass for protein. Both are notably higher than recommendations I’ve seen, 20-30% and 1 g/lb of body mass for protein, respectively. Is this meal plan setup with high fats for people who struggle to put on mass? Is there a supporting article for the meal plan approach? I currently target 1.2 g/lb of body mass for protein and I was already concerned I was too high. I also target 25% fats at about 0.54 g/lb of body mass.

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Posted Wed, 03/24/2021 - 14:22
Sriniv

One of the best workout program. Can you share Advanced training level for this.

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Posted Wed, 03/17/2021 - 10:25
Syed Umair

Hey, I really love how the program looks, I am starting this, however, I had a doubt. When you say 15 reps over 5 Sets, Does that mean that it's overall 15 reps all the sets combined or Is it 15 reps in each set? It would be great if you could cover this as I seem to be very confused.

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Posted Wed, 03/17/2021 - 10:52
Abigail_M&S

Hey Syed - 15 reps over all of the sets. So if you have 15 reps over 5 sets, you'll aim for 3 reps per set.

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Posted Tue, 03/16/2021 - 08:34
Meshal

I’m following this program for almost 4 weeks now. Great program. Regarding the first excise, I’ve been doing 5 set (6,3,3,2,1) of course the last set is my 1 rip max. Is that the right way or did I understand wrong?

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Posted Tue, 03/16/2021 - 09:50
Abigail_M&S

Hey Meshal - Glad to hear you're loving the program! For the main compound lift, you don't want to be lifting at your max every single week. Ideally, that first exercise would be 5 sets of 3 reps.

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Posted Tue, 03/09/2021 - 05:27
Thế tài

I'm the guy very love coffee, I drink one time in the morning and one time in evening. So I can drink twice a day?

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Posted Thu, 02/25/2021 - 19:05
Joel

I’m about to try this out but would prefer to adjust for lower calories/weight loss. I am currently 95kg, 167cm tall, 34-36% body fat. I do 30-60 minutes of light cardio every morning followed by strength training for around 40-60 minutes (chest/tris, legs, back/Bi’s, shoulders). Would this be suitable for a 2000 calorie diet(200g P, 100g C and 80g F)?

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Posted Mon, 03/01/2021 - 09:48
Abigail_M&S

Hey Joel - I'd recommend doing your cardio after your weight training. This will give you more energy for the weights. The workout above can be used for fat loss as well. As for your calories, that is a good starting point. Keep an eye on your progress and make adjustments as necessary. You want fat loss to be slow and steady, not all at once!

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Posted Tue, 02/23/2021 - 17:19
Brian Herzberg

What is recommended after this 12 week program? Restart or move onto something else?

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Posted Wed, 02/24/2021 - 10:00
Abigail_M&S

Hey Brian - you can repeat this program or choose another. Check out this article for more info on choosing your next program: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/5-frequently-asked-questions-...

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Posted Fri, 02/19/2021 - 21:40
Anthony

Hey great program, I’m about halfway through my 12 weeks. I have a question about the one arm rows. I’ve been doing one arm and then right into the next and then back to other as soon as I’m done...it says 30 seconds rest but is that between arms or do both arms and then take 30 seconds rest? My rest has only been the time it takes me to do the other arm. Hope that makes sense.

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Posted Mon, 02/22/2021 - 10:50
Abigail_M&S

Hey Anthony - great question! You'll do both arms and then rest 30 seconds before starting your next set.

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Posted Fri, 02/26/2021 - 16:25
Anthony

Thanks for the reply! That 30 second break is going to feel amazing since I haven’t been taking it for 7 weeks of the program lol

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Posted Tue, 02/02/2021 - 01:45
Hamza

Hey, I have skinny fat so can i follow this program to fix my skinny fat or should I follow another program please recommend which one will be best for me

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Posted Tue, 02/02/2021 - 09:29
Abigail_M&S

Hey Hamza - yes, this program will help you reach your goals. Remember, diet plays the largest role in losing or gaining weight.

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Posted Mon, 02/01/2021 - 20:02
Austin

What should we do if we hit a plateau or cant add weight the following week?

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Posted Tue, 02/02/2021 - 09:30
Abigail_M&S
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Posted Sun, 01/31/2021 - 07:45
athul

hey i am starting my bulk tommorow, is this a good workout plan to bulk with, thanks

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Posted Mon, 02/01/2021 - 10:32
Abigail_M&S

Hey athul - yes it is.

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Posted Fri, 01/29/2021 - 11:42
JAO

I'm going to follow this program with three on, one off, three on. I understand the importance of following a program as detailed so that there is no overtraining of a certain body part and also so that there are no excuses if there is not the desired results but I like to perform a little more direct ab training (yes I understand abs are worked with heavy compound lifts) and I also like to perform heavy farmers walks, heavy ruck sack HIIT runs and HIIT sleds. Can I add these in someplace as a finisher or maybe perform one or two of them (not all) on the rest day IF I had proper nutrition, proper rest the night before and was not sore or worn out feeling?

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Posted Fri, 01/29/2021 - 14:14
Abigail_M&S

Hey Jao - yes you can. Those are great finisher exercises!

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Posted Tue, 01/12/2021 - 09:21
BG

I just went through my first week, and did 6 days on, one off. My first question was, 5 sets @ 3 reps each and im guessing at high weight, and can i complete the barbell workouts on a smith machine? I feel pretty good, not really sore, so should i add workouts, sets, or weights? I am not a bodybuilder, but been to gym for years so i consider myself pretty advanced since i'm never tired and actually add cardio 6 days a week as well. Dropped 100 lbs in my life.

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Posted Tue, 01/12/2021 - 11:10
Abigail_M&S

Hey BG - it's best to follow the program as written. 5 sets of 3 reps is supposed to be a higher weight movement. You can complete the barbell movements on a smith machine but it is preferred to complete them with a barbell.

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Posted Tue, 01/19/2021 - 09:13
Doc

Idk if you subscribe to Jeff Cavaliere's ideas (I do), but you can either train long or train hard. Seems like you can easily up the intensity and lower the frequency for better results and less time spent (win/win). One of their best points imo is focussing on reps instead of sets, do 10 high quality reps and repeat 3 times instead of plowing through 3x10 and just getting to the number without giving it your all.

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Posted Sun, 01/10/2021 - 19:00
Spazzdaddy

Okay so is it 50 reps per set
Or
Is it 50 reps over 5 sets ?

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Posted Mon, 01/11/2021 - 13:36
Abigail_M&S

Hey Spazzdaddy - 50 reps over 5 sets.

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Posted Fri, 01/01/2021 - 09:31
Vinod

I am planning to use this to tone & achieve fat loss . Would the routine work or do I need to change something up. Even though I will start this as intermediate early lifter , how do I test / decide when to switch to the intermediate ( 3 on 1off manner)

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Posted Tue, 01/05/2021 - 12:05
Abigail_M&S

Hey Vinod - this routine will work for your goals. Remember, successful fat loss occurs mainly through diet. To decide when you should increase to the 3 days off, 1 day on split, you'll need to pay attention to your recovery. If you're feeling like you could consistently hit another workout on your day off, it may be time to move up to the intermediate schedule.

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Posted Mon, 02/01/2021 - 09:59
Abigail_M&S

Hey Brandon - check out our guide on Glutamine: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/supplements/ingredients/glutamine.html

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Posted Fri, 01/29/2021 - 18:05
Brandon Carby Wilson

Will L Glutamine be good for recovery? Doms?

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Posted Thu, 12/31/2020 - 01:59
Kushal verma

For push workout B, shoulders and chest didn’t work out for me. Too much stress on shoulders. Can you suggest any other split?

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Posted Tue, 01/05/2021 - 12:07
Abigail_M&S

Hey Kushal - you will probably benefit more from a body part split vs a PPL split. Check out this workout: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/10-week-mass-building-program...

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Posted Tue, 12/29/2020 - 10:48
Julian Thomas

Hey there - sorry just a bit confused over the bench press about. It is 5-6 at max and then the remaining 9-10 of the 15 total at a lower rate?

Also, for the remaining (for example 3 sets and 25 total) is it 3 sets of 25 or 3 sets that equal 25 total?

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Posted Wed, 12/30/2020 - 09:21
Abigail_M&S

Hey Jullan - a starting weight for the compound lifts is your 5-6 rep max. For the bench press, you'll do 5 sets of 3 reps. That puts you at the 15 rep goal total.

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Posted Tue, 12/29/2020 - 05:20
Supashya Roycho...

Is there any other workout plan similar to this one mentioning rest between sets only PPL plan needed. Please help

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Posted Tue, 12/29/2020 - 09:09
Abigail_M&S

Hey Supashya - have you completed this program?

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Posted Tue, 01/05/2021 - 11:56
Abigail_M&S

We have this PPL workout: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/5-day-push-pull-legs-workout-...

Rest times aren't given, but you can keep rest between 30-60 seconds between each set.

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Posted Wed, 12/30/2020 - 06:59
Supashya Roycho...

Yes.. I m currently on this program. I really loved it. But thinking of switching to different PPL. Please suggest some with time between working sets.

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Posted Wed, 12/30/2020 - 09:14
Abigail_M&S

Since you enjoy this program so much, you can repeat the program after you finish.

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Posted Wed, 12/30/2020 - 20:26
Supashya Roycho...

Yes I m currently repeating this program for months and months now. But I need a bit of change now. So please can u please help with a new ppl program with rest between sets given?

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Posted Mon, 12/28/2020 - 00:22
Kushal verma

Hi, I started as obese and its 2 months working out lost 10 kgs. Initially I trained 1 muscle group per day per week then later changed to 2 muscle group per day twice a week. I am looking for a change. Is this better than my current training? Intensity wise and for muscle gain and fat loss?

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Posted Mon, 12/28/2020 - 09:33
Abigail_M&S

Hey Kushal - this workout will add more intensity to your training. I'd recommend following a split that looks like this: Push A/Rest/Pull A/Rest/Legs A/Rest/Push B/Rest/Pull B/ Rest/Legs B/Rest/Repeat.

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Posted Sun, 12/27/2020 - 11:50
Martin

Hello.

Why do none of your workouts involve decline bwnch press or dumbell press?