Push-pull routine

Our Push-Pull Routine is one of the most basic routines we have. It is the only upper body routine without any isolation exercises. All exercises are multi-joint. The purist will state that all muscles pull, they do not push. However, to simplify the process we state there are two types of upper body multi-joint movements:

  • Pushing movement
  • Pulling movement
    A pushing movement primarily incorporates the following major muscle groups:
  1. Pectorals (chest)
  1. Deltoids (shoulders)

3. Triceps (back of the upper arm)

A pulling movement primarily incorporates the following major muscle groups:

  1. Lats (upper back)
  1. Biceps (front of the upper arm)

The basic multi-joint pushing movements we use in our program include the following:

  1. Bench Press
  1. Incline Press
  1. Seated Press
  1. Dips

Changing the exercising angle will place the body in a position to force a specific muscle group to contribute more than the others. The pectoral muscles are in a better position to perform more of the work while executing the supine bench press. The triceps and deltoids are working but they are not in a position to contribute as much work as the chest muscles.

Changing the exercising angle will place the emphasis on the deltoids. Pressing overhead (seated press) will place more emphasis on the deltoids and less on the pectorals.

The basic multi-joint pulling movements we use in our program include the following:

  1. Lat pull-down
  1. Seated Row
  1. High-Row
  1. Chin-up

The format for our Push-Pull Routine is pretty simple, alternate pushing and pulling movements. We utilize six pushing movements and five pulling movements. If you use strict form during the lowering of the weight, and pause momentarily in the muscles contracted position, your forearms will begin to fatigue.

Training tip: Do not over-grip or squeeze too hard while performing the pulling movements.

We change the angle of exercise and the type of equipment used. Some of the exercises are performed with equipment that provides a fused movement arm (both arms work together) and some of the exercises are performed with non-fused movement arms (each arm works independently).

For many years we allowed ninety seconds to recover between the completion of one exercise and the initiation of the next. After experimenting with our players and receiving good feedback, strength coach Ray Wright suggested that we modify the routine.

We now have our players perform a pushing movement and a pulling movement back to back without any rest. They move from a pushing movement to a pulling movement immediately. The recovery time has now been increased to two minutes followed by another push-pull sequence.

Remember that the key to generating maximum gains from the Push-Pull Routine or any of our Texans routines is:

  1. Strictly adhere to the four Texans Rep Rules listed in the intro of our 10 – 8 Routines.
  1. Keep accurate records each workout.
  1. Attempt to add more weight and/or increase the number of reps you perform each workout until you are satisfied with your progress.

During the Push-Pull Routine our players perform ten reps of each exercise. Several warm-up sets are performed before beginning the workout. Once we begin the workout our players use as much weight as they can safely handle for each exercise. Our goal is to go up in weight whenever they successfully complete ten reps of any exercise.

Before executing the first exercise in a workout we ask our players to perform several warm-up sets. After the warm-up our goal is to select a weight that barely allows the player to complete the designated number of reps.

Our players perform somewhere between eight and twelve repetitions. For maximum gains our players use as much weight as they can properly handle for each set without sacrificing good form (observe Texans Rep Rules).

We ask our players to perform each rep strictly adhering to our Texans four Rep Rules:

Rule # 1– Raise and lower the weight through the muscles full range of motion.

Rule # 2 –Eliminate momentum during the raising phase of each exercise.

Rule # 3 - Pause momentarily (stop for a count of 1001) in the muscle's contracted position with a smooth transition from the raising of the weight to the lowering of the weight (no sudden drop).

Rule # 4 –Emphasize the lowering of the weight (take longer to lower the weight).* *

Push-Pull Routine Exercise Sequence

  1. Barbell Bench Press – 10 reps (followed immediately by Avenger Seated Row)

2.    Avenger Seated Row – 10 reps



Rest two minutes

  1. Smith Machine Press Level Two – 10 reps (The setting on the multi-purpose bench is between a flat back bench press and an incline press) followed immediately by Avenger Underhand Lat Pull-down

4.    Avenger Underhand Lat Pull-down – 10 Reps



Rest two minutes

  1. Hammer MTS Incline Press – 10 reps (followed immediately by Hammer Row 1 arm)

6.    Hammer Row 1 arm – 10 reps



Rest two minutes

  1. Seated Dips or Bodyweight Dips – 10 reps



8. Parallel grip Lat Pull-down – 10 reps



Rest two minutes

  1. Hammer Isolateral Seated Press– 10 reps

10.    Nitro Seated Row – 10 reps



Rest two minutes

  1. Avenger Seated Press – 10 reps

We periodically substitute different pushing and pulling movements to create new variety. There is no magical sequence to any push-pull routine. In our Push-Pull routine we begin the pushing movements in a supine (flat back) position and gradually increase the angle to a near vertical position (seated press).

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