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
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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.

Dumbbell Press

Starting out with a heavy compound lift will is a great way to increase central nervous system (CNS) activity, increase strength, and gain confidence moving heavy loads.

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
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
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

Bulking eating plan

To maximize muscle size and strength gains on this high volume program, you’ll have to eat big. I recommend starting at no less than 3500 calories per day.

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.

Nutrition for the Day – 3,510 calories, 235g protein, 367g carbs, 132g fat, 59g fiber, 1550mg calcium, 176% daily value of calcium.

3,500 Calorie Meal Plan
Muscle Building Diet
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!

333 Comments+ Post Comment

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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 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?

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Posted Sun, 12/27/2020 - 09:17
Sam

Hi. I assume having a pair of workouts (A & B) is meant to work out a muscle completely, right? But neither in push A nor in push B I see any exercise for rear deltoids. Am I missing something? Thanks for the great guide.

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Posted Mon, 12/28/2020 - 10:40
William Wagner

because your rear deltoids are a back exercise, which is pull day.

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Posted Wed, 12/16/2020 - 02:53
Hunain Adhikari

For each set what should be the amount of weight that needs to be loaded like first set with 30% of 1RM second of x% of 1RM can u please elaborate

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Posted Wed, 12/16/2020 - 09:29
Abigail_M&S

Hey Hunain - for the heavy compound lifts, you'll start using your 5-6 rep max. For the AMQRAP set, you'll use 20% less weight than your previous working sets.

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Posted Fri, 12/11/2020 - 20:09
Robert

I’m confused about the DB lunges. Is it 50 reps for each leg or 50 total?

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Posted Mon, 12/14/2020 - 09:06
Abigail_M&S

Hey Robert - 50 total reps.

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Posted Thu, 12/10/2020 - 18:05
Karel

Hello
I really like this PPL plan, nicely balanced and I have made it couple of cycles. Time after time I look for other PPL plans, to have some alternation. Problem is, I haven't found as good as this one. Have you considered making another version(s) of it?

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Posted Fri, 12/11/2020 - 09:10
Abigail_M&S

Hey Karel - you can 100% keep doing this program. There are ways to switch up your programming to continue to see progress. Check out this article: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/change-your-program-non-stop-...

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Posted Tue, 12/08/2020 - 05:59
Achyuth

Hey
Will this workout plan help to build muscle mass as my body fat percentage is in between 12-15, can you please let me know if this workout plan helps ?

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Posted Tue, 12/08/2020 - 13:31
Abigail_M&S

Hey Achyuth - Diet plays the largest part in putting on muscle mass. A caloric surplus paired with a consistent exercise routine (like this one) will help you reach your goals.

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Posted Sun, 12/13/2020 - 10:43
Achyuth

Okay , I’m starting this from tomorrow
Thanks a lot for your reply

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Posted Mon, 12/14/2020 - 09:43
Abigail_M&S

You will rest between the compound and AMQRAP

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Posted Sun, 12/13/2020 - 10:49
Achyuth

And one more thing
After the compound lifts should I do AMQRAP just after or should there be rest period between compound and AMQRAP

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Posted Sun, 11/29/2020 - 09:33
Shikha Paul

I want to loose weight and also tone my muscles. Is this plan suitable for me??

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Posted Mon, 11/30/2020 - 09:42
Abigail_M&S

Hey Shikha - yes it is.

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Posted Fri, 11/27/2020 - 20:59
Ram

Hi
When i should do abs?
There is any space for abs?

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Posted Mon, 11/30/2020 - 09:43
Abigail_M&S

Hey Ram - you can do abs 2-3 times per week after your workout.

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Posted Tue, 11/24/2020 - 22:32
Jordan

Hi!! I have being doing this exercise for some time now. I have seen very little changes my calorie and macro intake is very good. I feel like my body is not changing and this workout is not challenging me so much. Any tip you would like to give me?

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Posted Wed, 11/25/2020 - 09:43
Abigail_M&S

Hey Jordan - are you trying to build muscle or lose fat? That will be key in re-evaluating your macros. For the workouts, are you using heavy enough weights to provide adequate resistance?

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Posted Mon, 11/30/2020 - 22:05
Jordan

Hi!! Im trying to build muscle. I do use an amount of weight that is perfect for me!!

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Posted Tue, 12/01/2020 - 09:28
Abigail_M&S

Here's another program you can look into trying: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/phul-workout

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Posted Sat, 11/14/2020 - 20:00
Sean

Hi there,
I was wondering if it is really necessary to consume a minimum of 3500 calories daily, as I am worried a lot of this will simply turn to fat.

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Posted Mon, 11/16/2020 - 12:52
Abigail_M&S

Hey Sean - to get a more accurate caloric intake number, use our BMR calculator: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/tools/bmr-calculator

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Posted Tue, 11/10/2020 - 08:52
THOMAS

Would it be ok to add a couple more lifts to each day? Say like on bicep day you also do some hammer curls and preacher curls additionally?

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Posted Tue, 11/10/2020 - 09:26
Abigail_M&S

Hey THOMAS - It's recommended that you follow the program as written.

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Posted Tue, 11/10/2020 - 18:05
THOMAS

But would adding a tiny bit more each day be good or bad?

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Posted Wed, 11/11/2020 - 09:08
Abigail_M&S

I would advise against adding in additional bicep exercises.

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Posted Wed, 10/28/2020 - 03:03
Madhu Sudhan

Can I use this workout for long period

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Posted Thu, 10/29/2020 - 09:31
Abigail_M&S

Hey Madhu - this is a 12 week program and you can repeat the program.

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Posted Sun, 10/25/2020 - 22:06
Austin Kachler

Can the cable work be swapped out for dumbbells? Only thing I don’t have in my garage gym.