My 4-day Push Pull Split Workout

Back in September, my daughter asked to start going to the gym with me. She wanted to go four days a week instead of my usual two or three, so I needed to rewrite my workout plan. I prefer a whole body workout, so I moved to a push/pull split and have been tinkering with it ever since. There aren’t many push/pull splits out there for women that include a glute focus. Here is the current iteration of mine.

Monday – Push

  • Back squat – 3×8
  • Push-up – 3×8
  • Turkish getup – 1×4 each side (body weight, then cellphone or shoe, progress to 20lb kettlebell)
  • Overhead press – 3×8
  • Donkey cable kickback – 3×10
  • Weighted sit up – 3×10

Tuesday – Pull

  • Jumping pull-ups/negatives – 1×8
  • Single leg Romanian deadlift – 3×8 each side (20lbs or 25lbs)
  • Dumbbell curl/barbell curl – 3×8
  • Reverse fly – 3×8
  • L-sits – 5,10,15 seconds x 2
  • Back extension – 3×10
  • Glute bridge – 3×15

Wednesday – off

Thursday – Push

  • Decline push-up – 3×3
  • Weighted Bulgarian split squat/triple lunge superset – 4×6
  • Dip on bars – 3×2
  • Incline press – 4×6
  • Smith machine hip thrust – 3×15
  • Triceps extensions – 4×6
  • Side Plank – 2 x 30 seconds per side

Friday – Pull

  • Partner assisted pull-ups – 3, 2, 1 x 2
  • Scapups – 4×5
  • Good morning – 4×6
  • Lateral raise – 4×6
  • Hammer curl – 4×6
  • Bent over barbell row – 4×6
  • Face pull – 4×6
  • Hamstring curl w/ball – 3×12

Saturday/Sunday – off

As you see, reps are middle to low. I keep it in the strength training range.

Being female, I’m doing less chest work and squats than a man might prefer, but I do push-ups twice a week because I’m trying to build to 20 consecutive full push-ups. I’m also lightly training for a pull-up, so you’ll see exercises aimed at that. I can’t do a full dip on the bars yet, so for me that’s usually partner assisted. But I’m close! If you can’t dip yet either, the progression I did is bench dips, one-legged bench dips, straight leg bench dips, box-elevated straight leg bench dips, and now assisted dips on bars (not the machine).

I have the most difficult exercises or heaviest lifts first in the routine. I generally dislike supersetting, but my “triple lunge” is a lunge superset. For that I superset forward lunges, curtsy lunges, and jumping lunges. It is fierce. I rotate that with split squats as the mood strikes.

Though typical, I do not have a barbell deadlift in my workout anymore. I do single leg RDLs with a kettlebell instead of barbell deadlifts because I hate setting up for a barbell deadlift at my gym. Ain’t nobody got time for that. If you want a deadlift, just replace it on pull day where I do the single leg RDL.

The Turkish getup is new, courtesy of my new comrade, Pavel Tsatsouline. I am still practicing my form with a cell phone, but I’m left breathing harder after even just one rep. The getup is no joke.

Depending on the length of my warmup, it takes me about an hour to do this workout. At first I did just 5 exercises per day, but I’ve progressed to doing more difficult exercises and spending more time on my warmup, so it takes longer. At first I alternated between a rowing or running 4 minute jogging pace with a one minute flat out sprint to warmup, but now I just do yoga stretching. Really the cardio would be better for me, but I just love the yoga and breathing so much from a mental/spiritual standpoint.

I used Bret Contreras’ book, Strong Curves, as a sort of basis for this, so each day has a glute-focused exercise, except Thursdays now. At first I had a bench press on both push days (flat and incline), but I decided I am just not that interested in benching heavy, and I can already do full pushups. I followed Bret’s advice found in his book, however, and kept the incline press since it works the upper pec where muscle development can actually be seen on women. It has worked, and so has his glute advice. I have violin hips, and they look less awful than they have basically ever. Bret gives great practical advice for the female workout. It’s hard to find weightlifting workouts for women that are not just lite male workouts. I think Bret is great.

The pull-up exercises are from Misty Posey’s work on getting from 0 to 1 pull-up with Marines. I’ve read basically everything out there on women and pull-ups, and hers is the best. In my experience, her specific six week program was the only thing that worked. It was incredibly mentally taxing to fail on every exercise for so long, but it worked. I was 42 when I did this as a Personal Progress value project, and I found my body simply could not recover from doing 5 consecutive days. I had to break on the third our fourth days each week. Some weeks I only did 4 workouts so I could recover. I did FINALLY get a chin-up with her six-week novice training program on Feb 24, 2018 (in case you’d like to nominate it for a national holiday), which was the last day of the fifth week. So now I’m using the principles to try and get a pull-up, but I’m in no hurry. One of the funnest thing my trainer, Lisa, had me doing was a burpee with jumping chin-up. I may add that in with a pull-up instead someday.

If I were a good person I’d do cardio on Wednesdays. But I’m not. :-)

I’d welcome feedback on this. I have tried not to over train any one muscle or group, but if you see that I am, please say so.

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About Jenny Smith

I'm Jenny Smith. I keep up with three cars, two kids, one husband, and I live on 300+ acres of rolling farmland in Northern Virginia where we look after an elderly relative. I like tomatoes, all things Star Trek, watercolor, and reading. I spend most days in the garden fighting deer and groundhogs as I pursue a graduate degree. I'm trying to be like Jesus -- emphasis on the trying.
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