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The Ultimate Push Day Workout Guide + 7 Best Exercises

Written by the Boostcamp staff
Jun 17,2024|11 min| 7102
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Push Day Workout: The Ultimate Guide + 7 Best Exercises

Push day is a workout routine that focuses on building strength and building muscle in the upper body areas such as the chest, shoulders, and triceps. It is typically one of the day in a 3 day in a push/pull/legs ("PPL") split routine. However, there are so many different ways to go about doing a proper push day, as well as exercises to choose from, so which ones do you choose?

Certainly you do not want to go into the gym and try to complete every possible push day exercise with your workout routine, including pull day exercises, you'd be there for hours. To properly target your push muscles, it is important to incorporate compound pressing exercises like the bench press, the overhead press, and push-ups, as well as isolation exercises such as tricep extensions and lateral raises.

We have developed a guide to walk you through a proper push day routine, as well as the 7 best push day exercises that you can do. Let's dive in.

What is a PPL Routine?

A push, pull, legs, or PPL routine is a type of training program that divides up the body into the following three different muscle groups and bases the training sessions off of them:

  1. Pushing muscles (chest, shoulders, triceps)

  2. Pulling muscles (back, rear delts, biceps, and traps)

  3. Leg muscles (Quads, hamstrings, and calves)

Each group is trained on separate days, with a focus on both strength as well as muscle mass. This type of training allows you to hit each muscle group with maximum intensity and frequency and can be done as a 3 or 6 day per week workout, as long as you take the time to recover in between sessions for some serious muscle growth.

In this article, we'll give you a step-by-step guide to doing a proper push day workout, as well as 7 of the most effective push exercises that you can do to build quality muscle mass in you chest, shoulders, and triceps. So if you're ready to get started, let's go!

Workout Plans & Routines That Use the PPL Structure

There are dozens of proven workout plans available right on the Boostcamp App, many of which use the PPL split structure. A lot of these programs are even free, and written by some of the best coaches out there. Below are a list of our most popular routines:

7 Most Effective Push Day Exercises

Let's take a look at the most effective exercises to use on your push day.

Dumbbell Bench Press

This is a great exercise for building strength and mass in your chest muscles. It allows for a deeper stretch than the barbell bench press, and gives you the ability to improve your mind-muscle connection in the pectorals.

To do a chest press, lie on your back on a weight bench or other sturdy surface, with a dumbbell in each hand. Then, slowly extend both arms up so that they are directly over your chest. Hold the position for 1-2 seconds, then slowly lower your arms back down. Repeat this movement 10-15 times, or try incorporating the incline press, flat bench press, and chest fly for more upper pec activation and growth.

Barbell Bench Press

One of the big three compound lift, this variation of the bench press allows you to lift a heavier weight, making it a great choice for using progressive overload to build strength and mass in your chest muscles.

To do a barbell bench press, set up a weight bench with the barbell on top of it. Then, lie down on the bench so that your back is flat and your feet are firmly planted on the ground. Pick up the barbell and hold it just above your chest with your arms extended straight, using a grip that is slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Retract your shoulder blades and then, slowly lower the weight down until it almost touches your lower chest, around your nipples, and then push back up to starting position. You want to get a full range of motion and maintain good form, which is why recording your reps and weight lifted is a good idea. Repeat this movement 10-15 times, incorporating other exercises such as the overhead press, to create a well-rounded push day workout.

Dumbbell Shoulder Press

This exercise targets the shoulder muscles and helps build strength in that area, hitting the triceps as a secondary muscle.

To do a shoulder press, hold a dumbbell in each hand and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Then, slowly lift both weights up to your shoulders, keeping your arms bent at a 90-degree angle. Hold for 1-2 seconds, then lower back down. Repeat 10-15 times.

Triceps Extension

This exercise helps build strength and mass in the triceps area of your arm.

To do a triceps extension, hold a dumbbell or weight plate with both hands behind your head, keeping your elbows bent at a 90-degree angle. Then, extend your arms straight up until they are directly over your head. Hold for 1-2 seconds, then slowly lower back down. Repeat 10-15 times.

Side Lateral Raises

This exercise is great for building mass and definition in your shoulders, specifically targeting the lateral deltoid and anterior deltoid. To do side lateral raises, hold a light dumbbell in each hand and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Then, raise both arms out to the sides until they are at shoulder height, keeping your palms facing forward. Hold for 1-2 seconds, then slowly lower, making sure to use proper form to avoid injury.

Dips

This exercise is one of the most effective ways to build strength and mass in your triceps, and can also work the chest as well as the front delts. The best part is, you can do bodyweight dips and they are just as effective.

To do a dip, you will need an elevated surface such as a bench or chair that you can hold onto with both hands. Then, slowly lower yourself down until your arms are straight, then press back up. Repeat 10-15 times.

Tricep Push Down

This is an isolation exercise that is another great way to strengthen and build mass in the triceps area.

To do a tricep push down, also known as a triceps pushdown, head over to the cable machine and grab an ez bar attachment or straight bar with both hands and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Then, slowly pull the cable or bar down so that your arms are behind your head, keeping them straight and engaging the elbow joint. Hold for 1-2 seconds, then release and repeat.

Sample Dush Day Workout Routine

The first step to doing a push day workout is to choose several different exercises that you can do for each muscle group. Some of the most popular exercises for building strength and size in your chest, shoulders, and triceps include:

1. Bench press - Classic compound exercise done on a flat bench that works your chest and triceps by pushing a barbell off your chest. Perform 3 sets of 8 - 12 reps each.

2. Incline bench press - This variation of the bench press allows you to isolate your upper chest by lifting a weight off at an angle. Do 2 sets of 8 - 10 reps each.

3. Barbell shoulder press - This exercise targets the shoulders by lifting overhead. Perform 3 sets of 8 - 12 reps each.

4. Lateral raise - This exercise works your shoulders by lifting a weight out to the side. You can do the seated dumbbell later raise or do them standing, whichever you prefer. Aim for 2 sets of 12 - 15 reps each.

5. Triceps rope extension - This exercise targets your triceps by pushing a weight down from above your head. Perform 3 sets of 8 - 12 reps each.

How Many Exercises Should I do for Push Day?

There is no definitive answer to this question, as the number of exercises that you should do for push workout will depend on a variety of factors, including your training experience, caloric intake, overall workout routine. You may want to start with doing 3-5 exercises on push day, starting on compound movements such as dumbbell bench press, barbell bench press, dumbbell shoulder press, and dumbbell press, followed by some accessory triceps exercises such as triceps extension, triceps push down.

Wrap Up

If you want to build strength and mass in your chest, shoulders, triceps, or other areas of your arms, try incorporating some of these effective push exercises into your workout routine. Whether you use weights, cables, or your own body weight, these movements are sure to help you reach your goals and achieve the toned and muscular arms, chest and shoulders you desire. So why wait? Start incorporating these push exercises into your workouts today and see the results for yourself! Don't forget to also include exercises that target the upper arm, such as the triceps pushdown, to ensure overall arm development, specifically targeting the long head of the triceps.

For finding the best training routines, check out the Boostcamp App, where you can choose from over 50 free training programs or even create your own. Boostcamp also allows you to track progress, so you know how to adjust each week.

Be sure to follow Boostcamp on Instagram and subscribe on YouTube!