Terre Pruitt's Blog

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Push-Pull Workout

Posted by terrepruitt on November 17, 2009

Recently I was listening to a discussion about Push Workouts and Pull Workouts.   One person wasn’t understanding the Push/Pull phrase because technically (as the other person pointed out) all muscles pull on bone to move it.  We move because a muscle contracts and pulls the bone in the direction of the contraction so the Push/Pull workout wasn’t registering for this person.

What the Push/Pull Workout phrase means is that the muscles USED to push or pull are being worked.  So a push workout would primarily work the muscles in the front of the body and a pull workout would work the muscles in the back.  That is just a generalization for some people it helps and some people it doesn’t because it is not entirely accurate.  As you know for some muscle groups and for some exercises it is not possible to JUST use one muscle group or one side of the body

A pull workout works “primarily” the lats, back, biceps, glutes, and hamstrings.  Where a push workout includes exercises that “primarily” work the chest, shoulders, triceps, quads, and calves.  It would typically be done on alternating days.

This type of workout could be seen as a functional type workout since when you think about it we do a lot of pushing and pulling.  Think of grocery shopping, who has not had to yank a cart out of a row of carts, then pull the groceries out of the cart once they are bagged, then push them into the back of the SUV, then pull them out again.  Pull, push, pull, push . . . . Its a very functional workout.

2 Responses to “Push-Pull Workout”

  1. Hi Terre…I’m interested to know if there is actually a set of exercises called “Push/Pull”. I use a kind of Push/Pull verbiage when I’m doing the Tai Chi element of Nia. Push the palms out, pull the palms (palms up) back.

    I totally get the muscles that each of these aspects (Push/Pull) uses…just interested to know if there’s an actual fitness element called Push Pull.

    Thank you for the information!



    • Well, my thoughts were to post a Push Workout and Pull Workout, in fact that is how this post actually started. I had written my list for each and started to type and it morphed into this post instead. So, yes, in a sense there are exercises that are referred to as push or pull exercises, but they still need more exact names. Because in a gym there isn’t a bag of groceries sitting on a counter that one can just push and pull. The weights and machines that are available are utilized to activate and work the push/pull muscles.

      So for most you wouldn’t just say “do pull exercises”. You would decide to do “pull” exercises then do the exercise that work the “pull” muscles.

      Is that what you meant?

      In Nia we can just say push and pull because we are pushing and pulling against objects in our imagination. And we can gain strength with that by an Isometric contraction (yet another post in the works).

      LOVE seeing you here!


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