If you are someone who has frequented the bodybuilding misc forums in the past, you may have heard of Coolcicada’s PPL routine.
All sorts of people ask for a good routine to get started in bodybuilding, and oftentimes the recommendation would be a push pull legs routine with an emphasis on heavy compound lifts.
Why It Makes Sense To Train Push Pull Legs
Most bodybuilders who do not plan on competing are training simply to look good. Choosing a push pull legs routine is a great choice if you’re focused on aesthetics because you’re able to hit many muscle groups for high volume twice a week.
Your typical push day consists of shoulder, chest, and tricep work.
A pull day usually consists of back and bicep work.
And finally, leg day is just leg day… You hit all the muscles in your legs with intensity on this day.
When you look at this set-up, it hopefully makes sense: you’re training your body the way it wants to be trained. On any given day, you’re training muscles that like to be trained in conjunction with one another. Training in such a way is much more efficient than choosing your typical “bro split”.
Your typical bro split would likely consist of hitting one muscle group on a given day. In most cases, this results in a problem because you’re either a) only training 3 days a week and not targeting major muscle groups with enough intensity. Or b) not incorporating compounds and enough volume overall.
A push pull legs routine allows you to get away with training 3 days a week because there’s enough volume and intensity. For this reason, it is widely accepted that these routines are responsible for the most symmetrical physiques.
The Original Routine
The above photo is the original copy of coolcicada’s ppl routine. Notice how each day starts with a compound lift (or many) to prime the muscles for accessory work in a hypertrophy rep range.
Coolcicada makes note that you can incorporate deadlifts in addition to barbell rows on your pull days. Although you would benefit from adding deadlifts, I recommend picking one or the other as a compound, especially if you’re a beginner.
Another note regarding the original routine – shrugs should be on pull days. A shrug is a pulling movement because you’re pulling your traps to your ears essentially.
Other than this, you can choose to edit the program however you’d like. Although accessory lifts are provided for you in the routine, I encourage you to do exercises you enjoy. As long as you are challenging yourself and performing 8-12 repetitions you’ll be fine.
It makes the most sense to train either 3 or 6 days a week if you’re doing push pull legs. Doing so will ensure you’re training respective muscle groups equally and will prevent muscular imbalances. I generally train P/P/L/ off day P/P/L and repeat. Another common variation would be P/P/L P/P/L off day.
Text Routine For You To Copy:
Flat Barbell Bench Press: 3×5
Seated (or Standing) Barbell Shoulder/Overhead Press: 3×5
Incline Barbell Bench Press: 3×5
Dumbbell Side Lateral Raise: 3×10-12
Rope Pushdowns (circuit machine): 3×10-12
Overhead Dumbbell Extension or similar triceps exercise: 3×10-12
Barbell Rows: 3×5 (or Deadlifts 3×5)
Lat Pulldowns : 3×8-10
Seated Rows: 3×8-10
Shrugs(circuit machine or dumbbells): 3×10-12
Barbell Bicep Curls (Alternate between close and normal grip): 4x-10-12
Choice of one other bicep exercise (typically Hammer Curls): 3×10-12
Barbell Squats: 4×5-6
Leg Press (optional if already doing above squats): 3×8-10
Leg Extensions (circuit machine): 3×10-12
Hamstring Curls (circuit machine): 3×10-12
Standing Calf Raises (circuit machine): 5×10-12
Conclusion: You Will Make Gains on Coolcicada's PPL Routine - I Know I Did
I spent a lot of time on the bodybuilding misc forums back when I was first getting started. Stumbling upon this routine was one of the best things that happened to me in terms of improving my physique.
The emphasis on compounds with enough proceeding volume will ensure that you make gains. I personally edit the accessory lifts to my own personal liking but the overall structure is the same.
If you are looking for one of the best bodybuilding routines for both strength and aesthetics, I encourage you to give this routine a try. All credit goes to Coolcicada for the original blueprint.
You can choose to try this routine while cutting or bulking. If you’re a beginner, muscle will be gained regardless.