Best Push Day Workout Routines: Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced

Push day workouts are key for building strength and muscle in your chest, shoulders, and triceps.

We’ll dive into the best routines for beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels to maximize your gains—keep reading for a detailed guide on how to tailor your push day effectively.

Understanding Push Day Fundamentals

Understanding the fundamentals of push day is crucial for anyone looking to enhance their strength training regimen.

This section will provide a comprehensive overview of what push day entails, its significance in your weekly workout schedule, and the key muscle groups and exercise types involved.

Definition of push day and its place in a workout week

Push day is a workout session focused on exercising the muscle groups responsible for pushing movements, primarily the chest, shoulders, and triceps.

It's a critical component of a balanced workout split, often found in regimens like the popular push-pull-legs (PPL) program.

Typically, push day is scheduled one to three times per week, depending on the overall intensity and frequency of the workout plan.

This separation allows for targeted muscle engagement and adequate recovery, ensuring that each muscle group is worked thoroughly and then given time to rest and grow.

Importance of targeting the pectoralis major and minor, deltoids, and triceps

The primary muscles worked on push day are the pectoralis major and minor (chest), deltoids (shoulders), and triceps (back of the upper arm).

Focusing on these muscles is essential for developing upper body strength and aesthetics.

The pectoralis muscles are pivotal for pushing movements like bench presses and push-ups, while the deltoids are key for overhead presses and raising motions.

The triceps, being the primary extensors of the elbow, play a vital role in most pushing exercises.

Training these muscle groups together can lead to synergistic growth and strength gains, as they often work in concert during compound movements.

Overview of compound vs. isolation exercises

Push day workouts typically incorporate both compound and isolation exercises.

Compound exercises, such as the bench press and overhead press, involve multiple joints and muscle groups working together, offering a comprehensive way to build overall strength and efficiency in movements.

These exercises are fundamental for beginners and advanced athletes alike because they simulate real-world or functional movements and offer high-calorie burn and significant strength development.

On the other hand, isolation exercises target a specific muscle group with minimal involvement from other muscles.

Examples include tricep extensions and dumbbell flyes.

These are particularly useful for addressing muscle imbalances, focusing on muscle hypertrophy, and ensuring that all aspects of the pushing muscles are adequately trained.

Incorporating both types of exercises in a push day workout ensures a well-rounded approach to muscle development, allowing for focused strength gains and aesthetic improvements.

Beginner’s Guide to Push Day Workouts

Starting with push day workouts can be exciting and a bit daunting for beginners.

This guide will walk you through the essentials of mastering form and technique, provide detailed instructions for beginner-friendly exercises, and offer tips on managing workout intensity and volume.

Importance of mastering form and technique

For beginners, it’s crucial to focus on learning the correct form and technique before increasing weight or intensity.

Proper form ensures that you target the right muscles, maximize the effectiveness of each exercise, and minimize the risk of injury.

It’s beneficial to start with lighter weights or even body weight to practice the movements and gradually increase the load as you become more comfortable and your strength improves.

Detailed breakdown of beginner exercises with step-by-step instructions

  • Flat Barbell Bench Press
    1. Lie flat on a bench with your feet planted on the floor.
    2. Grip the barbell slightly wider than shoulder-width, and unrack it with straight arms.
    3. Lower the bar slowly to your mid-chest, keeping your elbows at a 45-degree angle from your body.
    4. Push the bar back up to the starting position, exhaling as you press.
  • Standing Military Press
    1. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, holding a barbell at shoulder height with an overhand grip.
    2. Press the barbell upwards until your arms are fully extended overhead.
    3. Lower the bar back to the starting position in a controlled manner.
  • Assisted Dips
    1. Use an assisted dip machine or bands if necessary to support your weight.
    2. Grip the handles and lower your body, keeping elbows close to your sides.
    3. Push back up to the starting position, focusing on using your triceps and chest.
  • Incline Dumbbell Fly
    1. Lie on an incline bench set at 15-30 degrees, holding dumbbells directly above your chest.
    2. With a slight bend in your elbows, lower the dumbbells out to the sides.
    3. Squeeze your chest to bring the weights back up to the starting position.
  • Dumbbell Lateral Raise
    1. Stand with feet hip-width apart, holding dumbbells at your sides.
    2. Raise the weights out to the sides, keeping a slight bend in your elbows, until they reach shoulder height.
    3. Lower the dumbbells back down slowly to your sides.
  • Skull Crushers (EZ bar)
    1. Lie on a flat bench holding an EZ bar above your head with arms extended.
    2. Lower the bar by bending your elbows, keeping your upper arms stationary.
    3. Extend your arms to return to the starting position.
  • Tricep Pressdown
    1. Stand in front of a cable machine with a bar attachment set at a high position.
    2. Grip the bar with palms facing down and elbows pinned to your sides.
    3. Push the bar down until your arms are fully extended, then slowly return to the starting position.

Tips for managing workout intensity and volume

  • Start with weights that allow you to perform exercises with proper form. If you can’t maintain form, reduce the weight.
  • Aim for 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps for each exercise as a beginner, gradually increasing the weight and sets as you get stronger.
  • Ensure you rest for 60-90 seconds between sets to allow for sufficient recovery without letting your muscles cool down too much.
  • Listen to your body and adjust the volume and intensity based on how you feel during the workout. If you experience pain (beyond normal muscle fatigue), stop and assess your form and the weight used.
  • Consistency is key. Aim to perform push day workouts 1-2 times per week, allowing for rest or training other muscle groups on other days.

Intermediate Push Day Strategies

As you progress from beginner to intermediate, your push day workouts should evolve to challenge your increased strength and endurance.

This stage introduces more variety and intensity to promote further muscle growth and strength gains.

Transitioning from beginner to intermediate level

Transitioning to the intermediate level means you've likely mastered the basic forms of key exercises and built a solid foundation of strength.

Now, it’s time to increase the complexity and intensity of your workouts.

This includes varying exercises, adding more weight, and implementing advanced techniques like supersets or increased sets and reps.

The goal is to continually challenge your muscles, forcing them to adapt and grow stronger.

Intermediate workout routine with detailed explanations

  • Incline Barbell Bench Press
    • Targets the upper chest and shoulders. Set the bench to a 30-45 degree incline. Perform the press similar to the flat bench, focusing on a full range of motion and controlled movement.
  • Seated Dumbbell Overhead Press
    • Sit on a bench with back support. Hold dumbbells at shoulder height, palms facing forward. Press the dumbbells overhead until your arms are extended, then lower them back to the starting position. This exercise emphasizes the deltoids and triceps.
  • Wide Grip Chest Dips
    • Use parallel bars, leaning slightly forward to engage the chest more than the triceps. A wider grip focuses on the outer chest. Lower your body until your upper arms are parallel to the ground, then push up to the starting position.
  • Dumbbell Bench Press
    • Lie on a flat bench, holding dumbbells with a neutral grip. Press the dumbbells up and together, squeezing the chest at the top of the movement. Lower them back down with control. This variation engages the chest and stabilizing muscles more than the barbell bench press.
  • Close Grip Bench Press
    • Performed with a barbell, hands placed about shoulder-width apart. Focuses on the triceps, while also engaging the chest and shoulders. Lower the bar to your chest, then press up, keeping the elbows close to your body.
  • Lateral Raises
    • Stand or sit with dumbbells at your sides, palms facing in. Raise the dumbbells out to the sides, keeping a slight bend in your elbows, until they are parallel to the floor. Lower back down with control, focusing on the deltoid muscles.

Adjusting the workout for progressive overload

  • To continue making gains, progressively increase the weight, sets, or reps for each exercise as your strength improves. This concept, known as progressive overload, is crucial for advancing in your training.
  • Incorporate variation in your exercises to continually challenge different muscle fibers and promote balanced muscle development.
  • Regularly assess your progress and adjust your routine as needed. If you find an exercise becoming too easy, it’s time to increase the intensity or switch it up to avoid plateaus.
  • Ensure you’re allowing adequate recovery time between push days to prevent overtraining and allow for muscle repair and growth.
  • Consider integrating advanced techniques such as drop sets, supersets, or pyramid sets to further enhance intensity and stimulate muscle growth.

Advanced Push Day Techniques

Advanced push day routines are designed for those who have surpassed the intermediate level, demonstrating significant strength, endurance, and proficiency in weightlifting.

These routines incorporate complex exercises, high-intensity techniques, and a focus on optimizing muscle growth and strength gains.

Characteristics of advanced push day routines

Advanced routines are characterized by their complexity, intensity, and use of diverse training methods to target muscles from various angles and maximize growth.

They often include:

  • Heavier weights and lower repetitions to increase strength.
  • Compound movements that engage multiple muscle groups simultaneously, promoting functional strength and muscle coordination.
  • High-intensity techniques like supersets and drop sets to push the muscles beyond their comfort zone.
  • Precise focus on muscle contraction and mind-muscle connection to enhance muscle activation and growth.

Advanced exercises and their benefits

  • Barbell Bench Press
    • A staple in push day workouts, at the advanced level, you focus on lifting heavier weights to build chest mass and overall pushing strength.
  • Push Press
    • Combines the overhead press with a slight leg drive to lift heavier weights, enhancing power and coordination while targeting the shoulders and triceps.
  • Dumbbell Pullover
    • Works on the chest, back, and core simultaneously, improving upper body strength and flexibility. This exercise also enhances thoracic mobility and engages the serratus anterior.
  • Cable Lateral Raise
    • Provides constant tension on the deltoids, leading to improved muscle isolation and growth compared to dumbbell raises.
  • Dip
    • At an advanced level, dips are performed with added weight to intensify the workout, focusing on the lower chest, triceps, and anterior deltoids.
  • EZ Bar Skull Crusher and close grip bench press
    • This combination targets the triceps intensely. Performing skull crushers followed by close grip bench press without rest increases muscle fatigue and growth.

Incorporating intensity techniques

  • Supersets
    • Combine two exercises back-to-back with no rest in between, such as doing a set of bench presses immediately followed by push presses. This increases the intensity and allows more work to be done in less time.
  • Drop sets
    • After completing a set of an exercise to muscle failure, reduce the weight and continue with more reps until failure. This can be applied to exercises like the bench press or dips, enhancing muscle endurance and growth.

Customizing Your Push Day Workout

Customizing your push day workout is essential to meet your specific fitness goals and adapt to your individual capabilities.

This personalization ensures that you are effectively progressing, avoiding plateaus, and minimizing the risk of injury.

Adjusting sets and reps based on individual goals and capabilities

The number of sets and reps in your push day workout should align with your fitness objectives, whether you aim to increase strength, build muscle, or enhance endurance.

For strength gains, focus on heavier weights with fewer reps, typically in the 3-6 rep range across 4-6 sets.

If muscle growth is the goal, aim for a moderate weight where you can perform 8-12 reps for 3-5 sets.

For endurance, lighter weights with higher reps, such as 15-20 per set for 2-4 sets, are most effective.

It's crucial to start with a load and rep scheme that matches your current level of fitness and then gradually increase the intensity as your strength and endurance improve.

Importance of rest periods and recovery

Rest periods between sets are vital for muscle recovery and performance.

The length of rest depends on your workout’s intensity and goals.

For strength-focused workouts with heavier lifts, longer rest periods of 2-3 minutes allow for sufficient recovery of the muscles and central nervous system.

In contrast, muscle growth-oriented workouts can benefit from shorter rest times, like 60-90 seconds, to induce more muscle fatigue and metabolic stress, which are key factors in hypertrophy.

Recovery extends beyond the gym, with adequate sleep, nutrition, and stress management playing crucial roles in allowing your body to repair and grow stronger.

How to tailor workouts for specific muscle growth or strength goals

To tailor your push day for specific goals, consider not only the exercises you select but also the way you execute them.

For muscle growth, incorporating a mix of compound and isolation exercises ensures comprehensive muscle stimulation, using techniques like time under tension, slow negatives, and partial reps to maximize muscle strain and induce hypertrophy.

For strength, prioritize compound movements that allow for maximal load lifting, focusing on improving your performance in these lifts through consistent, progressive overload.

Monitoring your progress through tracking weights, reps, and overall workout performance can guide your adjustments, ensuring that your push day remains challenging and effective.

Tailoring your workout should also reflect an understanding of your body's response to training, including recognizing signs of overtraining or the need for more recovery time, and adjusting your routine accordingly to optimize results and maintain health.

Common Mistakes to Avoid on Push Day

Navigating the intricacies of a push day workout requires awareness of common pitfalls that can hinder progress and lead to injury.

By understanding and avoiding these mistakes, you can ensure a more effective and safe workout experience.

Incorrect form and its consequences

One of the most prevalent errors on push day is using incorrect form.

This mistake not only reduces the effectiveness of the exercises, targeting the wrong muscles, but also significantly increases the risk of injury.

For example, performing a bench press with improper arm alignment can lead to shoulder strain and does not engage the chest muscles effectively.

Similarly, executing overhead presses with excessive arching of the back can cause lower back injuries.

To avoid these issues, it’s crucial to learn the correct technique for each exercise, ideally under the guidance of a qualified trainer.

Starting with lighter weights to master the form before gradually increasing the load can also help prevent the negative consequences of incorrect form.

Overtraining and lack of recovery

Another common issue is overtraining, where the intensity and volume of workouts exceed the body's capacity to recover.

Overtraining can lead to symptoms like persistent fatigue, decreased performance, insomnia, and increased susceptibility to injuries and illnesses.

It’s essential to balance the intensity of your push day workouts with adequate rest and recovery time, allowing your muscles to repair and grow stronger.

Incorporating rest days and ensuring you’re not excessively targeting the same muscle groups without sufficient recovery time are key strategies to prevent overtraining.

Listening to your body and adjusting your training regimen in response to signs of fatigue and overuse is crucial for long-term progress and health.

Neglecting nutrition and hydration

Proper nutrition and hydration play a fundamental role in supporting your push day workouts and overall fitness goals.

Neglecting these aspects can impair muscle performance, recovery, and growth.

A diet lacking in essential nutrients, particularly proteins and carbohydrates, can hinder your body’s ability to repair and build muscle tissue after workouts.

Similarly, inadequate hydration can lead to decreased strength, fatigue, and reduced workout effectiveness.

To support your push day efforts, focus on consuming a balanced diet rich in whole foods, lean proteins, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, and ample vitamins and minerals.

Ensuring regular, adequate water intake before, during, and after workouts is also vital to maintain optimal hydration levels and facilitate muscle function and recovery.


In summary, crafting an effective push day workout involves understanding and implementing exercises that suit your experience level, with a focus on proper form, progressive overload, and balanced nutrition and recovery.

Tailoring your routine to align with your fitness goals, and being mindful of common mistakes, can significantly enhance your strength and muscle gains.

Regularly assessing and adjusting your push day strategy will ensure continuous progress and help you achieve optimal results in your fitness journey.