- Main GoalBuild Muscle
- Workout TypeSplit
- Training LevelIntermediate
- Program Duration12 weeks
- Days Per Week6
- Time Per Workout45-75 minutes
- Equipment RequiredBarbell, Bodyweight, Cables, Dumbbells, Machines
- Target Gender Female
- Recommended Supps
- Workout PDF Download Workout
When it comes to the discussion on which workout training split is the absolute best for building lean muscle, the push, pull, legs (PPL) split comes up a lot.
And, it’s easy to understand why.
With PPL splits, you can effectively train each muscle group twice and with a fair amount of volume each time.
How does this benefit women’s specific training?
Due to the increased frequency and the way the workouts are split apart, you can find a perfect balance between compound lifts that will help you build strength and isolation lifts that’ll help your overall muscle tone.
Now, it does have its shortcomings. It requires you to go to the gym up to 6 times per week - which is a huge ask if you’re a busy individual.
However, for those who have the time to dedicate to the following split - you’ll absolutely love the results.
12 Week PPL Split for Women
The workout below is a push, pull, legs split designed specifically for women who have plenty of time to devote to the gym and who have goals to transform their physique.
The program combines both compound and isolation work. The compound lifts will be heavier by nature, allowing you to get stronger while maximizing the amount of calories burned along the way. The isolation work will be much lighter and the focus will be on feeling the muscle work throughout the movement.
On your heavier lifts, you will want to rest for up to 3 full minutes in between sets. For the lighter isolation work, keep rest fairly low and in between 30-45 seconds.
The workout can be used by either those with fat loss goals or muscle building goals. The main difference between the goals relies heavily on the amount of calories you consume each day and the way in which you progress your workouts during the 12 weeks.
For those looking to build muscle and strength with this program, aim to increase the weight you use during the 12 week period and eat in a slight calorie surplus.
For those looking to lose fat and develop toned muscle with this program, aim to decrease the total duration of your workout over the 12 week period (by decreasing rest periods) and eat in a slight calorie deficit.
Monday: Push Workout for Women
|Dumbbell Shoulder Press||3||8|
|Shoulder Machine Press||3||8|
|Dumbbell Bench Press||3||8|
|Incline Bench Press Machine||3||8|
|Eccentric Only Dips||3||8|
Tuesday: Pull Workout for Women
|Bent Over Dumbbell Row||3||8|
|Seated Cable Row||3||8|
|Lat Pull Down||3||8|
|Underhand Lat Pull Down||3||8|
|Ab Bicycle||3||20 Each|
Wednesday: Legs Workout for Women
|One Leg Leg Press||3||8|
|Leg Press Calf Raise||3||12|
|Seated Calf Raise||3||12|
Friday: Push Workout for Women
|Weight Plate Front Raise||3||12-15|
|Incline Dumbbell Press||3||12-15|
|Rope Press Down||3||12-15|
|Hanging Leg Raise||3||12|
Saturday: Pull Workout for Women
|One Arm Dumbbell Row||3||12-15 Each|
|Cable Face Pull||3||15-20|
|V-Bar Pull Down||3||12-15|
Sunday: Legs Workout for Women
|Dumbbell Stiff Legged Deadlift||3||12-15|
|Bodyweight Glute Bridge||3||15|
|Standing Calf Raise||3||15-20|
Pull, Push, Legs Workout for Women Notes
The workout above is a template of what a PPL workout split looks like for women.
The workout covers every single body part, hitting them each twice throughout the week.
As mentioned, PPL splits require a lot of effort and getting to the gym 6 times a week isn’t always easy. However, it does allow you to maximize your weight training.
For those looking to lose body fat - this means you won’t have to spend all of your time on a piece of cardio equipment. And for those looking to build muscle - you effectively hit each muscle group to promote quality lean muscle growth.
If you have any questions about the program whatsoever, please leave them in the comments section below!
Where I workout the machines and equipment are not always available when I need them when trying to complete the workout routine as shown. My question is, me not following each daily workout in the order as shown, will it make a difference?
As long as you're performing exercises that will work the same muscles as those that you're not able to do, you'll be fine, E. Just give it all you got with whatever movements you need to do. If you need suggestions, check out the Exercises section at the top of the M&S site.
Hello! Excited to start this workout. I’m guessing that the first 3 workouts are with heavier weight and then a little lighter for the next three, just based on the reps per set. Correct?
Exactly, Sina! Hope you enjoy the workouts, and thank you for reading M&S!
Can this program be followed for longer than 12 weeks if we are making steady progress in the lifts? Or should the exercises be swapped out for new ones after the 12weeks are up?
Hello, Sayna. If you're still seeing progress, keep on going! Let us know how you've done so far.
Would the PPL workout work if I only want to tone my muscles and get stronger? I do not want to become bulky.
It will. As long as you don't eat excess calories, you shouldn't notice a major size change.
I think this program fits my goals and current abilities well. However, I can only get to the gym 5 times per week. Is there a way I can arrange this to so I can take Saturday and Sunday off without losing results? Thanks.
Hi, Catherine. Take some of both the second push and pull workouts and combine them into an upper body session. That takes one day out of it, and you should still see positive changes.
Hi there! I’m at the end of week 4 and going strong. I know that every body is different, but I am wondering when I might start to see results? I haven’t missed a workout, and I usually add a 2 mile run as well. I have been working on nutrition, but I’m not 100% there. While I would love to lose about 10lbs, I’m less concerned with that than how my clothes fit and building muscle. Am I being impatient, or should I be seeing results by now? Thanks!
Hi, Stacey. Have you done a body composition test to see if you lost fat or built muscle? Are you moving more weight now than you were when you started? Also, you mentioned you weren't 100% there with the nutrition. How far along are you? That is more important than the training. So, if that isn't right, you're fighting a major uphill battle.
I need to shed lbs on my lower body. If I do this with daily walking or 2 -3 sprint training or moderate cardio will that deliver the fat loss not tackled by muscle gain from weight training?
The nutrition needs to be on point as well, Kelly. If that is the case, then you should see positive results.
Thanks so much for this workout plan! I’m on week 6 and going strong. Definitely feel and see a difference, and ready to increase a bit more volume on the weights for the last 6 weeks.
No major weight loss but I’m not concerned as I think my weight is healthy for my height and good BMI (115 and 5’2).
Following this 12-week program, I may have to cut back on number of workouts per week but would like to continue to build on this with a focus on seeing more definition in the legs which are currently strong and naturally more on the bulky side. Is there a program you can recommend as a follow-up after this one?
Hi, Jenna. This one would be a good choice as a follow up, and it's only 3 days a week.
Are there recorded warm up and cool down exercises or stretches?
Hi, Kianna. You can use this one for both if you like.
Do you recommend doing all 3 sets of each exercise before moving on to a different exercise? Or go through 1 set of each exercise and repeat 3 times? Thanks!
What's good, Brook? Do all three sets of each before moving on. Hope this helps!
Acabo de terminar un programa de entrenamiento para ganar masa muscular y llevo idea de comenzar este, pero un poco más enfocado a la pérdida de grasa, ya que con el anterior me he puesto en un índice de grasa del 25% al aumentar mis calorías. Actualmente peso 45 kg. y mido 1´50 cm. Tengo 47 años.
Como nunca he tenido problemas de peso, soy incapaz de hacer dieta y reducir mis calorías diarias, además me afecta psicológicamente si empiezo a contar calorías, macros, etc.
Es esta situación, cuál sería la estrategia a seguir para eliminar esa grasa sobrante? Hacer algo de cardio? Soy impaciente y cambio de programas con facilidad... Algún consejo sobre esto?
Saludos desde Zaragoza, España!
Sí, Rebeca. Agregue de 20 a 30 minutos de entrenamiento cardiovascular en intervalos de alta intensidad tres o cuatro veces por semana. Sin embargo, la realidad es que puede ser necesaria paciencia. La consistencia es lo que finalmente da sus frutos. Tómate ocho semanas para ver si algo cambia. Si no ve resultados en ese momento, haga un cambio.
For those that can't read Spanish...
I just finished a training program to gain muscle mass and I have the idea of starting this one, but a little more focused on fat loss, since with the previous one I have put myself at a fat index of 25% by increasing my calories. Currently I weigh 45 kg. and I measure 1´50 cm. I am 47 years old.
As I have never had weight problems, I am unable to diet and reduce my daily calories, it also affects me psychologically if I start counting calories, macros, etc.
In this situation, what would be the strategy to follow to eliminate that excess fat? Do some cardio? I'm impatient and switch programs easily ... Any advice on this?
Thanks a lot!
Greetings from Zaragoza, Spain!
My answer: Yes, Rebeca. Add 20-30 minutes of High Intensity Interval Training cardio three to four times a week. However, the reality is patience may be necessary. Consistency is what eventually pays off. Give yourself eight weeks to see if anything changes. If you see no results by that time, then make a switch.
Thank you very much, Roger! Happy New year to all the readers!
I started this program alone but was thinking about restarting it with my brother since he's wanting to hit the gym with me. I know it's advertised for women but would a male be okay following along too? Or should there be any adjustments? Thank you in advance!
Hi, Lorrayn. Your brother could perform this workout as well. I wouldn't worry about adjustments.
Will this split will work for me if I mainly want to grow my legs?
Hi, Joy. You should notice an improvement in leg size so long as you're eating to support gaining size.
Or is there anyway to follow it 4 days a week(push pull leg too)
Hi, Yasmin. Perform each workout once. That makes three days. Next, determine which part needs the most improvement. If it's legs, then do legs twice a week. If it's either push or pull, do that one twice.
So a split may look like this if you choose to do legs twice.
W - Off
Hope that helps!
Thank you so much
Can this routine be done along with Crossfit WODs?
Naomi, you may want to perform this program on its own. If you decide to do it while training in CrossFit, then definitely do these workouts on different days than your WODs. Hope this helps.
Hi! I just want to say thank you so much for this first off. I was in a rut bc I’ve been working out the past 2 years and started building muscle but just felt like there was more I could be doing without overworking myself! I started searching for a trainer and none of my local trainers have a schedule that’s compatible with what I needed so my bf recommended a push pull routine and i stumbled across this. I just completed my first week and I want to say even though I’m not always Drenched in sweat or tired, the intended muscles groups for each exercise always feel like they’ve been worked on and I love it. Your descriptions on form and what not to do are unmatched!
My question is I saw you recommend cardio for 30 mins 2-3 a week after the workout, what type of cardio do you recommend for a small stubborn amount of belly fat ?
Hi, Kei. Glad you like the workout. You can perform steady state cardio on an elliptical or stair master after the training. Those two machines should help you get rid of that bodyfat!
Started this workout this week, though I have been working out off and on for about 2 years, but I was more consistent pre-covid, now staring to get back into a more consistent routine. My goals are fat loss and lean muscle. I am in a calorie deficit eating a high protein diet. My question is I finish the daily workout exactly as written but not winded or really tired. I have added cardio, LISS some days being 20 minutes on a rowing machine or 12% Incline at 3mph on a treadmill. Am I not lifting enough weight or should I add more exercises each day? Want to focus more on burning fat, as I build muscle easily.
Hey Shanna - being winded or tired at the end of a workout isn't a great indicator of how effective the workout was. Stick with the program for the entire duration and progress will come!
How can I introduce cardio to workout plan like this?
Hey Marta - you can do cardio 2-3 times per week after your workout.
I'm excited to start, although I have a couple of questions. I work out at home, and don't have to many options:
1. Machine alternatives will they effect the program?
2. Increasing weight every two weeks might be difficult as I'd have to go up 10 lbs, would increasing reps be an alternative? Or going higher in weight and less in reps?
Hey Rebecca - machine alternatives shouldn't affect the program. Check out this article for ways to make your workouts more challenging without increasing weight: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/7-ways-make-your-home-gym-wor...
What a great article! Thank you so much, I will for incorporate those tips every two weeks!!!
Is this good to gain weight too? Does this workout allow muscle to rest and grow?
Hey Alba - this workout will help you put on muscle. The biggest factor in gaining weight/muscle is being in a caloric surplus.
I wanted to say ‘Thank you’ during a one month period I lost a 14 month great nephew in a tragic accident and a brother to Covid19. 2020 has been the worst year of my life.
During the lockdown I was so down. It was the longest period in my life that I didn’t teach/train. As a group fitness instructor for over 20yrs I’ve never been a fan of weight lifting/machines but as I felt myself heading further towards depression I knew I had to do something. I came across this program and have stuck to it. I’m going into my 6th week and I’m already building not only my physical strength but my mental strength. It has and is continuing to help me with my grieving process. We should never underestimate the benefits of training for mental health.
Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. While I am sorry to hear about your loss, it's such a breath of fresh air to read about your success (both mentally and physically). Our goal is to provide you with the tools and information you need to help you become the best version of yourself. And it's sharing stories of triumph and strength, such as yours, that continue to inspire us along the way. It's why we continue to do what we do. So thanks again, Monique, for being that beacon of perspective.
I wanted to ask that I will keep repeating the previous workout throughout each week until i reach the final 12 week right? Nothing changes in the workout?
That's right, Nancy.
The only thing you'll change is the weight you're lifting. Try to increase the weight every 2 weeks or so
Came across your routine (PPL 5-6 days) and just wanted to make sure I get the most out of it for my goals. I am 25, 5'9 and weigh 140lbs. Ideally want to be around 130-135lbs, I know the scale shouldn't matter much but I just want to lose a little weight (mainly on the abs area) and gain some muscle for toning. I'm pretty strong so I tend to go heavier on the weights (3 sets of 12 reps) but then I naturally "bulk" up pretty easily on my upper body (which I don't want) so I'm wondering if push/pull twice a week could cause that? Or if I should lower my weights/ reps? Or maybe do less upper body in general and more legs?
Thanks in advance!
This workout is more targeted at building muscle mass. For a more focused fat loss approach I'd recommend some type of HIIT training. Here's a great example
Hi josh iam 47 and pre menapause and I eat 1200 to 1300 I train 3days on and one off then back to 3 again and so on I would just love a little advise on people saying that I will not lose wait because iam pre menapause