12 Week Push, Pull, Legs Workout for Women

This 12 week push, pull, legs workout was designed specifically for women looking to build lean muscle and lose unwanted fat. Read on to learn more!

Workout Summary

Build Muscle
Split
Intermediate
12 weeks
6
45-75 minutes
Barbell, Bodyweight, Cables, Dumbbells, Machines
Female
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Workout Description

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

Exercise Sets Reps
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

Exercise Sets Reps
Bent Over Dumbbell Row 3 8
Seated Cable Row 3 8
Lat Pull Down 3 8
Underhand Lat Pull Down 3 8
Dumbbell Curl 3 8
Ab Crunch 3 20
Ab Bicycle 3 20 Each

Wednesday: Legs Workout for Women

Exercise Sets Reps
Squat 3 8
Romanian Deadlift 3 8
Hip Thrust 3 8
One Leg Leg Press 3 8
Leg Press Calf Raise 3 12
Seated Calf Raise 3 12

Friday: Push Workout for Women

Exercise Sets Reps
Lateral Raise 3 12-15
Weight Plate Front Raise 3 12-15
Incline Dumbbell Press 3 12-15
Pec Deck 3 12-15
Rope Press Down 3 12-15
Skullcrusher 3 12-15
Hanging Leg Raise 3 12
Plank 3 1 Min

Saturday: Pull Workout for Women

Exercise Sets Reps
Machine Row 3 12-15
One Arm Dumbbell Row 3 12-15 Each
Cable Face Pull 3 15-20
V-Bar Pull Down 3 12-15
Shotgun Row 3 12-15
Cable Curl 3 12-15
Preacher Curl 3 12-15

Sunday: Legs Workout for Women

Exercise Sets Reps
Leg Press 3 12-15
Goblet Squat 3 12-15
Dumbbell Stiff Legged Deadlift 3 12-15
Leg Curl 3 12-15
Hyperextension 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!

55 Comments+ Post Comment

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Posted Thu, 02/27/2020 - 18:18
Tillie

This looks great but I am wondering as this is for Intermediate, is there one for beginners?

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Posted Fri, 02/28/2020 - 10:53
JoshEngland
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Posted Tue, 01/28/2020 - 19:38
Angela

I just wanted to say thank you for creating this program! I was super focused for a little over a year and lost 60 lbs just weight training, not eating as much crap, and a bit of hiking or running on the weekends. Well all of that and I hired a trainer to help me with form etc. I fell on hard times this past May and have been struggling to get back on track and have gained 25 lbs back. I'm really looking forward to trying this training plan out! Quick question, six days might be a bit much for me (and I actually meet with a trainer Thursdays, the only off day), would this still be effective if I were to spread it out more. Basically do a M/T/Th/F and then whatever I didn't do that week, just do it the next week - then repeat. Or would your recommend me going with the basic 3 day a week workout? Thank you!

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Posted Wed, 01/29/2020 - 13:27
JoshEngland

Hi Angela,

There's a lot of factors that goes into this question. What sort of workout is the trainer you're meeting with on Thursdays putting you through? Are they expecting you to perform a certain program as well throughout the week?

With the additional workout already scheduled, it sounds like a 3 day full body weight training program would pair nicely. But, that statement comes with a lot of assumptions.

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Posted Mon, 01/27/2020 - 07:40
Kerri

This is the one I was thinking might be better for me volume wise: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/muscle-mania-10-week-muscle-g...

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Posted Mon, 01/27/2020 - 14:47
JoshEngland

Hi Kerri,

With all workouts you'll find online, they're simply templates and not designed for any one specific person. Most can be customized based on your needs. You can make it more challenging by adding more reps and/or sets if you wish. Or, you can continue to focus on strength progression. Just because you're not gassed at the end of a workout doesn't mean it's not effective. You can perform workouts that are effective without even breaking a sweat depending on your goal.

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Posted Mon, 01/27/2020 - 07:37
Kerri

I was looking for a new, challenging intermediate workout to continue to build strength. I have done this for a week and it seems too easy for me - even lifting heavy with the last few reps being difficult. Plus, the workouts are shorter than I'm used to. I was used to nearly an hour and these are 40 minutes or so. Can you recommend something more challenging for me? 5 to 6 days is best. Thanks!

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Posted Sun, 01/26/2020 - 16:35
J

Hi! I was wondering if it matters if I combine some compound workouts with the isolation workouts for the last 3 days? Would it be too straining if I only did the compound exercises 6 days a week?

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Posted Sun, 01/05/2020 - 12:30
Jessica harvey

Hi there ,
How much cardio should I be doing each day ? Is it best to do the cardio before or after the workout ? Also do you have some sort of diet plan I can roughly follow. Thanks

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Posted Mon, 01/06/2020 - 14:51
JoshEngland

Hi Jessica,

Cardio will be very dependent on your goals and what you're hoping to accomplish. Some may choose to do no cardio at all. Others might choose to do frequent bouts of LISS. Others might get in a couple HIIT sessions per week. Ultimately it's up to you. Focus on crushing your workouts first before adding it to your programs. And always perform it after your weight training sessions.

For nutrition, check these resources out:

Start Here: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/tools/bmr-calculator

Go Here: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/how-to-calculate-perfect-macros

Finish Up Here: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/how-to-create-a-bodybuilding-...

Hope this helps!

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Posted Sat, 10/26/2019 - 23:10
Nina Seeto

Hi Josh

I have been doing this program for about 10 weeks now. It’s been so great. I have just started working again and I couldn’t go to the gym 5 days a week anymore. Can you please recommend another routine fir me? I could go 3 days a week. At the moment, I look bigger everywhere. I know I have more muscles underneath but i can’t really see a lot of definitions. I am looking forward to your reply.
Thanks
Nina

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Posted Mon, 10/28/2019 - 09:18
JoshEngland

Hi Nina,

This workout is a 3 day routine for women: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/8-week-full-body-womens-worko...

Seeing definition during muscle building phases takes time. Years of training, in fact. It comes from the muscle maturing through training.

If you're looking to see more definition currently, and if your lifestyle allows it (stress atm, etc), you may want to alter your calorie intake to put yourself in a slight calorie deficit. This will help you get a little more shredded.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Mon, 10/21/2019 - 08:22
Jane O'Brien

Is there an alternative to squats for legs, at the moment I have a medical issue which mean I cannot squat but still want to work my legs a bit.

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Posted Wed, 10/23/2019 - 11:22
JoshEngland

Hi Jane,

Tough to recommend an alternative when there is a medical issue involved. When this is the case, I always recommend people work with a trainer in person. They'll be able to evaluate your specific situation and prescribe the best alternatives and variations.

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Posted Tue, 08/20/2019 - 15:37
Aya Burt

Hi! I’m excited to start your program. Thank you for creating it and for being open to answer our questions. I have two: I can go to the gym 5 consecutive days Mon-Fri can I try to do the workouts in this amount of days meaning no rest day and one day doubling up? My second question is about how much weight. Should I increase the weight after each set or keep it the same? I was doing a 6rep-4rep-2rep increasing weight each rep. And finishing with a burn out rep. My goal is to get stronger and build more lean muscle. I’ll appreciate your advice.

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Posted Thu, 08/22/2019 - 15:51
JoshEngland

Hi Aya,

You could perform this workout on a 5 day rotation, however, I wouldn't recommend doubling up on any workouts while doing so. Simply rotate the workouts you do on the training days you have available.

For weight selection, you can use the same weight for each exercise or pyramid up. I recommend performing each exercise with a weight that is a 7-8 RPE. This means each time you finish a set you should feel as though you have 2-3 reps still left in the tank. If you really want to push yourself, you could do a 9 RPE on your final exercise of your main compount lifts.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Thu, 08/22/2019 - 19:24
Aya Burt

Thank you. I will follow the advice. I already started this week and I’m sore but the good sore like when you know you worked hard. Again, thank you for the program looking forward finishing the 12 weeks.

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Posted Fri, 08/23/2019 - 09:51
JoshEngland

Good luck! Hope you enjoy it!

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Posted Wed, 07/17/2019 - 23:38
Rachel

Hello,
I joined a gym and started this program which I love so far. Today I had one of those body coach sessions and she told me that I would be disappointed with this program if I was trying to lose body fat. She said due to no cardio that I would end up looking bigger.
Do you think that's true?
Would really appreciate any guidance
Thanks

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Posted Thu, 07/18/2019 - 13:36
JoshEngland

Hi Rachel,

I'll keep it honest since I don't really have anything to gain from you utilizing this program vs hiring a coach to meet your goals.

In short, no. I don't think that's true. I think this program can be utilized for lean muscle growth or fat loss depending on your goals and your nutrition. I also believe there are hundreds of ways you can accomplish the same goal.

However, this program is simply a template. It isn't necessarily optimized for you specifically. It'll work fine to an extent, but exercise selection, tempo, rest periods, etc could all be modified to help you reach your specific goals. I'd argue the training frequency of 6 sessions a week is pretty solid for those looking to build lean muscle and burn more calories, but that's just me. But, you could add in cardio depending on your overall goals.

My assumption would be, and I'm not sure if it's fair or not, that the body coach you visited was trying to get you on board with being a regular paid client. Which, being a coach myself, I understand.

Having a good, qualified coach in your corner can definitely help you with your goals - I would just be skeptical of someone telling you there are not multiple ways you can get to the same exact goal in training.

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Posted Thu, 06/27/2019 - 13:31
Michelle

I'd like to add deadlifts in this program. Would this be considered a "pull" exercise? Could I add it on one of the pull days? Thanks for the awesome program!

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Posted Fri, 06/28/2019 - 15:02
JoshEngland

Hi Michelle,

I'd add it on one of the leg days - perhaps even substituting it for one of the other deadlift variations listed.

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Posted Sat, 06/08/2019 - 20:58
Eleinna Anderson

Hi there,
I have just started this program today and it was great. However, is it okay to add HIIT training 3 or 4 times per week on top of this program? I still love doing the group classes with a group and doing the cardio that way.
Thank you Eleinna

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Posted Mon, 06/10/2019 - 10:08
JoshEngland

Hi Eleinna,

You can depending on the style of HIIT, but I'd be very in-tune and aware of your recovery levels. If you do not feel you are recovering adequately, I'd recommend backing off one of the routines.

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Posted Fri, 05/31/2019 - 05:33
Lizzie

I’m looking to drop body fat and get toned using push, pull, legs but do have a tendency to bulk quite quickly which I want to prevent.
How do you think this workout will be suitable and regarding rest time do you think I should lower it in the first 3 sessions to 1min/90secs.

Thanks

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Posted Fri, 05/31/2019 - 16:45
JoshEngland

Hi Lizzie,

Depending on your nutrition program, I don't think you'll run into that issue with this program. That said, everyone's genetics are different and some inherently build more muscle than others.

You can certainly lower the rest periods to speed up the pace of your workouts. That should be fine.

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Posted Thu, 05/23/2019 - 21:32
Shatha

Hi
The first 3 days of the program are 8 reps and the last 3 are 12- 15
Why this difference ???

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Posted Tue, 05/28/2019 - 14:50
JoshEngland

Hi Shatha,

Rep range variety to promote both strength and muscular endurance.

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Posted Wed, 05/15/2019 - 02:20
Amber mckee

I am curious about the ab part of the work out ,could I add a couple more ab moves to work my core better?

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Posted Fri, 05/17/2019 - 11:25
JoshEngland

Hi Amber,

Sure, you can do that. This program is simply a template, you're more than welcome to alter it in any way you feel would be beneficial for your individual goals.

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Posted Tue, 05/07/2019 - 08:52
Jane O'Brien

Is it possible to do this programme doing 4 sets of 10 reps?

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Posted Tue, 05/07/2019 - 10:01
JoshEngland

Hi Jane,

Yes, that should be fine.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Wed, 05/08/2019 - 08:48
Jane O'Brien

Thanks. I am looking to get upper body definition but not get big (if you know what I mean)so is this the best workout to achieve this? Thanks

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Posted Wed, 05/08/2019 - 12:13
JoshEngland

Hi Jane,

Yes, this program would be perfect for someone with those goals.

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Posted Mon, 05/06/2019 - 22:37
Sara

I really enjoyed these workouts last week! I was looking to change up and focus my routine.
Are you supposed to take another day of rest after the Sunday workout (and do the “Monday” workout on Tuesday of week 2) or go right into the Monday workout for the next week?

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Posted Tue, 05/07/2019 - 10:40
JoshEngland

Hi Sara,

As written, you go right into your Monday workout. However, if you need the extra recovery day there's no harm in taking it.

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Posted Mon, 05/06/2019 - 19:52
Camille

My gym does not have the incline bench press. What else could I do in place of it?

Thanks,

Camille

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Posted Tue, 05/07/2019 - 10:41
JoshEngland

Hi Camille,

You could make a regular bench an incline bench by stacking it on a plate. If you do not feel comfortable doing this, any bench press variation will do the trick.

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Posted Mon, 05/06/2019 - 15:23
Stephanie

Hi! Love this workout.. my question is.. for 12 weeks do you Justin do the same things each day? Like same amount of reps and sets??

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Posted Tue, 05/07/2019 - 10:42
JoshEngland

Hi Stephanie,

Thank you! Yes, you would perform the same workout for 12 weeks. This allows you to better track your workouts and accomplish progressive overload via increasing the weight used.

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Posted Tue, 05/07/2019 - 20:06
Stephanie

How do you know when to increase the weights and reps?

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Posted Wed, 05/08/2019 - 12:17
JoshEngland

Hi Stephanie,

It will vary from person to person. IF you're tracking your workouts, track how you feel after each set. When you notice a weight has been fairly easy for a week or two, up the weight the following time you do that particular workout.

Hope this helps!

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Posted Sun, 05/05/2019 - 21:57
Camille

Thank you so much for putting this together and taking the time to write it! This has helped so much! I always wanted to start weight lifting, but never knew where to start! I can’t wait to hit the gym on Monday!

Thanks again this website is an invaluable resource!

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Posted Mon, 05/06/2019 - 11:03
JoshEngland

Hi Camille,

I love hearing stuff like this! We're happy to help! If you have any questions along the way, please feel free to reach out. Best of luck!

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Posted Sat, 05/04/2019 - 20:23
Erica

My small gym does not have many of the machines listed. Do you have suggestions for exercises I can substitute for the ones requiring machines? Thank you!

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Posted Mon, 05/06/2019 - 11:08
JoshEngland

Hi Erica,

It may be easier for you to perform this dumbbell only program: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/6-day-dumbbell-only-workout

It is very similar in structure. I think you'll like it.

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Posted Mon, 05/06/2019 - 17:52
Erica

This is perfect! Thank you so much!

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Posted Fri, 05/03/2019 - 17:43
Morgan

Is there a way to condense this to 4 days a week and get similar results?

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Posted Sun, 04/28/2019 - 12:25
Ashika

Is it possible to do this workout on a 3 day split?