5 Day PPLUL Split (Push, Pull, Legs, Upper, Lower)

PPLUL leads to muscle growth across all major muscle groups. Picture - man demonstrates his chest and arm muscles.
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The PPLUL workout split is a 5 day routine that divides exercises into five categories: push (chest, shoulders and triceps); pull (back, biceps and rear delts); legs (quads, hamstrings, glutes and calves); upper body (chest, back, shoulders, biceps and triceps); and lower body (quads, hamstrings, glutes and calves).

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A PPLUL split is effective because it targets each muscle group at least twice per week. It does this by working multiple muscle groups on each day of the split, while ensuring enough time between workouts for rest and recovery. This can lead to greater hypertrophy when compared with bro splits.

You can tailor this PPLUL split to your individual fitness goals and easily adjust it to include specific exercises or focus on certain areas of the body.

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Goals of the PPLUL split

Hypertrophy

Using a PPLUL split allows you to maximize hypertrophy in the most efficient way possible. It does this by targeting all the major muscle groups in your body with a combination of compound and isolation exercises. Because it works multiple muscle groups on each day, it allows you to hit each muscle twice per week, making the most of the hours you spend in the gym.

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The PPLUL is designed to allow enough rest and recovery time between each session. This allows maximum muscle growth without the risk of overtraining or injury.

Balanced development

Because you work the same muscle groups twice per week, with different exercises, it is easier to prevent muscular imbalances or weaknesses from developing. When you see an imbalance, it’s easier to tweak your program to target the imbalance, compared with once-per-week routines like the bro split.

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Problems with the bro split

The bro split is another kind of 5 day workout routine that divides your training sessions to target a specific muscle group on each day. For example, Mondays might be chest day. Tuesdays, shoulder day, and so on.

A typical bro split might look something like this:

  • Monday – Chest
  • Tuesday – Shoulders
  • Wednesday – Legs
  • Thursday – Back
  • Friday – Arms
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Bro split structure

While this type of split can be appealing to beginner trainees, it does have several downsides that can hinder your progression.

Lack of frequency and volume

With a bro split, you only train each muscle group once per week. This means less volume overall, and it may not be enough to see significant progress.

Muscle growth is driven by a process called muscle protein synthesis. Studies show that the protein synthesis process peaks 24 hours after you exercise and returns to normal after about 36 hours. Since a bro split waits a full week before hitting the same muscle group again, it leaves a lot on the table!

You can see then how a bro split constrains your training frequency and overall volume, and makes it difficult to progress if you are at an advanced level of training.

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Muscular imbalance

Because the bro split focuses on a single muscle group on each day, it is easy to neglect other important muscles. This can ultimately lead to muscular imbalance. If you have a muscular imbalance, it may effect your performance in other workouts and exercises, and puts you at a greater risk of injury.

Plateau

Performing the same exercises for each muscle group every week can lead to a plateau in your progression. Without changing the intensity and variations of the exercises you use, your muscles will adapt and could stop responding effectively to your routine.

Structure of the PPLUL split

The PPLUL (push, pull, legs, upper, lower) split divides your workouts into five types of exercise: push exercises, pull exercises, legs, upper body and lower body.

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In this type of split, you work chest muscles both on push and upper body days, back muscles on leg and lower body days, etc. In other words, you hit each muscle group twice during the week, increasing the frequency and volume of your workout routine.

Structure of PPLUL split

This increase in frequency and volume is the key advantage of PPLUL over bro splits, since it promotes greater muscle hypertrophy and uses your training time more efficiently.

A typical PPLUL split will be structured like this:

  • Day 1 – Push day: Chest, shoulders and triceps.
  • Day 2 – Pull day: Back, biceps and rear delts.
  • Day 3 – Leg day: Quads, hamstrings, glutes and calves.
  • Day 4 – Rest day.
  • Day 5 – Upper body day: Chest, back, shoulders, biceps and triceps.
  • Day 6 – Lower body day: Quads, hamstrings, glutes and calves.
  • Day 7 – Rest day.
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The workout

Day 1 – Push

Day 2 – Pull

Day 3 – Legs

Day 4 – Rest day

Day 5 – Upper Body

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Day 6 – Lower Body

Day 7 – Rest day

Tips for the PPLUL split

Cardio

It’s a good idea to add some cardio alongside your PPLUL split workout routine. Cardio enhances your overall fitness and can increase your endurance. Here are some ways you could include cardio into your routine:

  • Cardio on rest days: This is a practical option that separates cardio from your strength training. Try to engage in light to moderate cardio like jogging or cycling on these days.
  • Post-workout cardio: After completing your strength training, incorporate a short, high-intensity cardio session. This burns calories efficiently without draining your energy for lifting.
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Rest between sets

Allow 2-3 minutes of rest between sets for your muscles to recover and to prevent injuries.

When lifting heavier weights with a lower rep range, you will need a longer rest period than with high-rep, low weight exercises. Compound exercises typically need a longer rest period than isolation exercises.

References

MacDougall, J. D., Gibala, M. J., Tarnopolsky, M. A., MacDonald, J. R., Interisano, S. A., & Yarasheski, K. E. (1995). The time course for elevated muscle protein synthesis following heavy resistance exercise. Canadian Journal of applied physiology20(4), 480-486.

Schoenfeld, B. J., Ogborn, D., & Krieger, J. W. (2017). Dose-response relationship between weekly resistance training volume and increases in muscle mass: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of sports sciences, 35(11), 1073-1082.


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