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!

74 Comments+ Post Comment

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Posted Thu, 08/20/2020 - 15:39
Monique

Hey Josh,
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.
Thanks again.
Regards Monique

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Posted Wed, 08/26/2020 - 12:46
Marina_M&S

Monique,

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.

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Posted Fri, 08/14/2020 - 06:06
Nancy

Hi Josh,
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?

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Posted Fri, 08/14/2020 - 08:46
Yoshi

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

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Posted Mon, 08/10/2020 - 21:45
Renna

Hi Josh!
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!

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Posted Tue, 08/11/2020 - 09:51
Yoshi

Hey Renna

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
https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/spring-shred-starter-workout

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Posted Fri, 08/07/2020 - 06:43
Maria Brown

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

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Posted Mon, 08/10/2020 - 10:56
Yoshi

Hey Maria

If you know what your BMR is and you remain in a caloric deficit then you will lose weight. As long as you're burning off more calories than you're putting in then you'll shed lbs.

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Posted Mon, 08/03/2020 - 10:57
Fitz

Hi Josh,

I saw that you recommended this program for anyone that may be training for race. I'm wondering what you would recommend upon the completion of this program? I'm currently running 3 days a week (16 week half marathon training plan), and I would complete this program 6 weeks before my actual race date. Suggestions?

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Posted Mon, 08/10/2020 - 10:52
Yoshi

Hey Fitz

I would recommend continuing to progress with this program until the week before your race. Take the week before to deload so that you're well-rested for your race.

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Posted Sat, 06/27/2020 - 07:33
Robbi Mclean

Hi Josh,
I have to say it so nice to see a forum where the trainer replies so quickly and with such detail. You're awesome! Anyway this looks like an awesome workout routine and I can't wait to start, but I can only do five days a week. Can I take some of the second pull day exercises and combine it with the first even though the amount or reps are different? Also, what do you recommend for cardio during all this routine? I'm looking to lose about ten pounds and strengthen. Thanks!

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Posted Mon, 07/20/2020 - 15:54
Yoshi

Hey Robbi

If your schedule only allows 5 days a week I would recommend checking out this Upper/Lower program.
https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/10-week-upper-lower-workout-f...

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Posted Mon, 06/22/2020 - 11:48
Cherry

Do we superset any of these exercises or do we complete them one at a time until sets are complete?

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Posted Mon, 07/20/2020 - 15:52
Yoshi

Hi Cherry

Complete each exercise one at a time. If you need up up the intensity you can superset the ab exercises.

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Posted Sat, 06/20/2020 - 19:56
Aideen

Hi, think I forgot to save last comment...anyway, I love this workout, looking forward to getting started. My confusion lies in comprehending how some of these workouts might take 45-75 minutes (i.e. Monday). Am I missing something? Have I been rushing thru my workouts in the past? Appreciate the help, thanks.

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Posted Wed, 06/17/2020 - 21:30
Shawn

Hi Josh, this is a great workout, thanks! I'm having trouble integrating and maximizing all of my workout components and could use your guidance. I want to do it all LOL! I'm 53, a former professional ballet dancer, pretty muscular, and generally have always been fit. I had been working with a trainer for 2 years 3x/week building strength and definition. I am also a runner, a few 1/2 marathons under my belt. Trainer had also been helping me with strength and form for races, including some PT recommended exercises for knee, ankle, piriformis, and psoas problems (so a lot of glutes). My body composition is good, (although since pandemic, could be better.) BUT - nothing leans me out through the hips the way running does. I can eat well, lift, etc, but it's when I'm training for a race that I look my leanest. Trainer has gone AWOL since the gyms closed and I can't get back into/figure out a routine that works for me. I like the *idea* of lifting x6 days, but not sure how to balance the schedule between lifting and running (2 short runs, like 3-4 miles, during the week; longer run on the weekend 6-8 max when not training for a race, which would extend those miles to 10-12 only a few weekends, maybe twice a year. I don't know how to mix in the weight workouts and leave myself enough "legs" on my running days. The trainer had some magic formula that I just can't figure out! Wow. I wrote a lot. This is a big ask. Thanks for whatever thoughts you have.

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Posted Mon, 07/20/2020 - 15:48
Yoshi

Hey Shawn - I would recommend a 4 day split if you plan to also train for distance running. Check out this 4 day upper/lower split we've already written up!

https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/10-week-upper-lower-workout-f...

I recommend a moderate run on your rest day between your strength and hypertrophy days, and a longer run on Saturday.

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Posted Fri, 05/29/2020 - 15:40
Jennifer

Hi; I am wondering what about cardio during this program? Also, what weights would I use?

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Posted Thu, 04/16/2020 - 15:15
Krystal

Should I be mixing in cardio as well?

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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?