Arnold Split vs. PPL (Push/Pull/Legs): Explaining the Differences - Inspire US (2023)

Arnold Split vs PPL (Push/Pull/Legs): Differences Explained

Arnold Split vs. PPL (Push/Pull/Legs): Explaining the Differences - Inspire US (1)

published by:Debbie Luna

Arnold Split vs. PPL (Push/Pull/Legs): Explaining the Differences - Inspire US (2)

reviewed by:Daniel Dominick TE, PTRP

Last updated:

2. September 2022

Among the most popular modern exercise routines, few are more widely used than the Arnold Split and Push/Pull/Legs; two fairly effective advanced training programs best known for their unique method of training splits.

However, because of this unique training split, it's important that exercisers understand what differentiates the Arnold split and the PPL.

The biggest difference between the two training programs lies in the emphasis on specific muscle groups, with the push/pull/legs training program offering a more balanced distribution of training stimuli, while the Arnold split places a greater focus on the upper body.

contents Demonstrate

(Video) Push Pull Legs vs. Arnold Split for Hypertrophy: Which is Better?

What is an exercise program?

A training program, or training regimen, is a structured routine that dictates when an exerciser will exercise, what types of exercises will be performed within a workout, and the volume and resistance of those exercises.

In truth, the term exercise program is more of an umbrella term for a variety of different exercise methods and fitness strategies that combine to provide an exerciser with a streamlined physical improvement plan.

Training programs often vary in complexity, difficulty, and compatibility between trainees, since a beginner weightlifter's training program can be very different from that of an advanced competitive athlete.

What is the Arnold split?

The Arnold split is a beginner-to-intermediate training program that divides the body's muscle groups into separate days based on their relative size, with the chest and back muscles being worked on a completely different day than the deltoids and arms, for example .

Arnold Split vs. PPL (Push/Pull/Legs): Explaining the Differences - Inspire US (3)

While the Arnold split has fallen somewhat behind the push/pull/legs training program in terms of popularity, it is still considered quite effective for building muscle mass and upper body strength.

The Level 1 Basic Training Split looks like this:

Training Nr. 1 Montag:chest, back

Training #2 Tuesday:shoulders, upper arms, forearms

Training #3 Wednesday:Thighs, calves, lower back

Training No. 1 Thursday:chest, back

Training #2 Friday:shoulders, upper arms, forearms

Training No. 3 Saturday:Thighs, calves, lower back


note: Belly made every day.

Workout #1 uses the following exercises:

chest: bench press, incline press, sweater

(Video) Push Pull Legs x Arnold Split | Full 6 Day Program Explained

The back: Pull-ups (do as many as you can at once until you reach a total of 50 reps)

strength training:Deadlift (3 sets of 10, 6, 4 reps to failure)

Belly:Crunches, 5 sets of 25 reps

Workout #2 Uses the following exercises:

Shoulders: Clean and press barbell, dumbbell lateral raises

weight training: Heavy upright row (3 sets of 10, 6, 4 reps to failure), push presses (3 sets of 6, 4, 2 reps to failure)

upper arms:Standing barbell curls, seated dumbbell curls, close-grip press, standing tricep extensions with barbell

forearms: wrist curls, reverse wrist curls.

Belly:Crunches, 5 sets of 25 reps

Workout #3 Uses the following exercises:

leg: Squats, lunges, leg curls

calves: Standing calf raises (5 sets of 15 reps)

Lower back/strength training:Stiff Legged Deadlift (3 sets of 10, 6, 4 reps to failure), Good Morning (3 sets of 10, 6, 4 reps to failure)

Belly:Crunches, 5 sets of 25 reps

key properties

The main aspects of the Arnold split are a significant separation of the chest and back muscles from the shoulder, biceps and triceps muscles on separate training days, with the leg muscles of course being trained on another separate training session.

In addition, the Arnold split is particularly suitable for the use of supersets and for the focused and very targeted development of the arm muscles - which makes it particularly popular with bodybuilders or trainees for aesthetic muscles.

There are two main versions of the Arnold split, one where the lifter only trains three times a week, while the second version simply repeats that three-day cycle with the lifter training six times a week instead. It's the 6-day variety that's considered more suitable for overall muscle development (the one detailed above).

Advantages of the Arnold Split

The main benefit of the Arnold split over other training programs is its ability to maximize the development of so-called "show muscles"—the deltoids, pecs, and arm muscles.

(Video) Comparing Training Splits for Muscle Growth (20 STUDIES)

It does this by separating these upper body muscles based on their relative size, allowing for less synergistic muscle fatigue in favor of large muscle group hypertrophy.

Disadvantages of the Arnold Split

Due to the separate nature of the upper body muscle groups, lifters may find that their arms and deltoids can reach a point of overtraining or excessive fatigue when they log on to the six-day variation of the Arnold Split.

Additionally, if proper programming is not followed in terms of volume, the muscles in the arms are likely to be overstimulated since these muscle groups are arguably much smaller and therefore less enduring.

What is Push/Pull/Legs or PPL?

The Push/Pull/Legs or PPL training program is an intermediate level training program that separates the different muscle groups of the body according to their function and range of action, hence the term "push" and "pull".

Arnold Split vs. PPL (Push/Pull/Legs): Explaining the Differences - Inspire US (4)

The push portion of the PPL workout split refers to the triceps, deltoids, and pecs groups—while the pull portion refers to the biceps and back muscles, with the leg portion including all other muscle groups below the waistline.

The push/pull/legs split is generally trained six days a week to stimulate muscle groups twice in a training week, which can develop significant hypertrophy and strength development.

key properties

The most notable aspects of the PPL training program reside in the method by which muscle groups are separated, in addition to the fact that it allows the trainee to split the "big 3" compound exercises into separate days, thereby avoiding excessive fatigue or stabilizing muscle groups overtraining.

Additionally, similar to the Arnold split, Push/Pull/Legs also offers a 3-day variation that only trains the body's muscle groups once a week, saving the lifter time in exchange for more volume of training.

Benefits of PPL

The main benefit of the PPL split is the balanced nature in which it develops the body, producing a more athletic workout and ensuring that overall fatigue is managed between each muscle group.

Push/pull/legs accomplish this by separating muscle groups based on their kinetic function, which equates to smaller muscle groups trained on separate days despite participating in the compound movements of consecutive workouts.

Disadvantages of PPL

As for the cons, the push/pull/legs training program separates smaller muscle groups onto separate days, particularly antagonistic paired muscle groups like triceps and biceps.

This can easily lead to muscular imbalances or poor training specificity if programmed incorrectly, limiting the overall volume and types of exercises that are possible within the training split.

Training frequency and training length of the Arnold Split vs. PPL

Both the Arnold Split and Push/Pull/Legs training programs share the same training frequencies, regardless of the variation used - either three consecutive days a week or six consecutive days followed by a rest day.

However, the two programs differ in the length of these workouts, since PPL engages more large muscle groups than the Arnold Split and therefore takes longer to complete a workout.

As a rough estimate, you can assume that you will be in the studio for about 30 minutes with the Arnold splits, and even more than an hour with the push/pull/legs, which makes the latter training program not only unsuitable for busy people, but also generally more tiring.

Training Intensity and Muscle Focus of the Arnold Split vs. PPL

In terms of workout intensity, the Arnold split represents a higher level of perceived exertion than PPL when it comes to chest and back workouts, although admittedly that intensity drops on the second upper body day, when only the deltoids and arms are worked.

Conversely, Push/Pull/Legs evenly distributes the intensity of any workout to all muscle groups in the body, also distributing fatigue evenly.

(Video) Push Pull x Arnold Split | 4 Day Hypertrophy Program Explained

In terms of muscular focus, however, the Arnold split allows for far greater stimulation of the arm and shoulder muscles—so much so that an entire day is spent training them. This is especially useful for bodybuilders or people looking to increase their arms.

This is not the case with PPL, where the training stimulus and focus are evenly distributed across muscle groups.

Which program is better for bodybuilders?

Appropriately, the Arnold split program is best for bodybuilders—or at least bodybuilders who lack adequate arm and deltoid muscle mass, since an entire workout devoted to training these muscles is a powerful aid to hypertrophy.

However, push/pull/legs are also very effective for bodybuilders looking for a more rounded approach that puts an even level of development on the back and chest muscles, while giving the arms less volume compared to the Arnold split.

Which program is better for athletes or strength?

Invariably, it is the push/pull/leg split that is superior for athletic development or gross strength improvements, as the major muscle groups in the upper body are split between two different workouts, allowing for the highest possible resistance per compound movement.

While the Arnold split also improves strength development in these muscle groups, its combination of chest and back muscles within the same training program doesn't maximize possible training stimuli the way a PPL split does.

parting notes

As can be seen, the Arnold split is clearly better for building muscle mass in the upper body "hamstrings", while the push/pull/legs are better for achieving a well-rounded training stimulus.

In addition, it's also a good idea to tailor the time and energy requirements of each exercise program to your unique circumstances. Busy people or those who have a tiring job may find that the Arnold split is less tiring overall than its PPL counterpart.

However, at the end of the day, both the Arnold Split and the Push/Pull/Legs Split result in essentially the same stimulus, just with different timing and emphasis.


1. Pedersen, H., Fimland, M.S., Schoenfeld, B.J. et al. A randomized study of the effectiveness of split-body versus total-body resistance training in non-resistance-training women. BMC Sports Sci Med Rehab 14, 87 (2022).

2. McLester JR, Bishop E, Guilliams ME. Comparison of 1 day and 3 days per week of equal volume resistance training in experienced subjects. J Thickness Guide Edition 2000;14(3):273-81.

3. M. Krzysztofik, M. Wilk, G. Wojdała, A. Gołaś. Maximizing Muscle Hypertrophy: A Systematic Review of Advanced Resistance Training Techniques and Methods. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2019-Dec-4;16(24):4897. doi: 10.3390/ijerph16244897. PMID: 31817252; PMC ID: PMC6950543.

TwitterFacebookpin is

Arnold Split vs. PPL (Push/Pull/Legs): Explaining the Differences - Inspire US (5)

Debbie Luna
(Video) Push, Pull, Legs Explained | MY FULL WORKOUT PROGRAM

Debbie (Deb) started powerlifting and Olympic lifting in high school as part of programming her track team; She continues to train to stay fit. Inspire US allows Deb to share information on training, weightlifting, biomechanics and more.


Why is Arnold split better than PPL? ›

Parting Notes. As you can see, the Arnold split is clearly better for developing muscle mass in the “show muscles” of the upper body, whereas push/pull/legs is better for achieving a more well-rounded training stimulus.

What is PPL split vs Arnold split? ›

At a Glance – Arnold Split Vs PPL Split

With the Arnold split, one day is allocated to your chest and back, and the other day is allocated to shoulders and arms. With the PPL split, one day is allocated to pushing exercises and the other day is allocated to pulling exercises.

What is the difference between PPL and Arnold split hypertrophy? ›

The main difference between the two is that the Arnold split involves training the chest and back on a separate day to the shoulders and arms. But on a PPL routine, the chest, shoulders and triceps are trained together, as are the back and biceps.

What is the most effective training split? ›

The push/pull/legs split is probably the most efficient workout split there is because all related muscle groups are trained together in the same workout. This means that you get the maximum overlap of movements within the same workout, and the muscle groups being trained get an overall benefit from this overlap.

What split do most bodybuilders use? ›

The Push/Pull/Legs Split

The most popular way to combine your muscle groups into a three-day split is probably the Push/Pull/Legs (PPL) split. That entails training your pushing muscles (chest, shoulders, and triceps) on day one, pulling muscles (back and biceps) on day two, and legs on day three.

What split did Ronnie Coleman use? ›

He loved the push-pull-legs split, which he repeated twice weekly to complete his six-day program. A firm believer in hitting each muscle group twice a week with a massive volume of sets, Ronnie liked to use different exercises for each of his workouts.

How does Arnold split work? ›

In the Arnold split, forearms are hit on the same day as biceps and triceps. He would work his forearms through supersets until the flexors and extensors were torched. The forearms were done towards the end of the workout, working them through a wide range of reps to stimulate the most growth.

What are the benefits of split training? ›

People partake in split workout programs to maximize muscle growth and reduce the number of rest days they need to take. By dedicating an entire day to one muscle group, such as your chest, you can fully fatigue the muscles and target them from a variety of angles, ensuring you develop a muscle to its full extent.

What is the benefit of split exercise? ›

Splits improve joint health to get strong in terms of becoming efficient in all physical activities. It tends to increase the flexibility of a person and, in turn, enables both strength and conditioning of the core. Splits improve the body's balance and strength, which naturally wears off with age.

What is the purpose of split training? ›

Split training allows time for a more intense workout of a body area, with extra days for recovery before that area is worked out again. If you have an hour a day to spend on exercise, a split routine will let you target one or two muscle groups intensively each day with more sets and heavier weights.

Which gym split is best for aesthetics? ›

The Best Aesthetic Workout Plan

Most fitness professionals will agree that an exercise routine revolving around an upper, lower body split is the best way to symmetrically shred your body while also building up your strength.

What training split is best for older lifters? ›

Lower/Upper/Full Splits

On that note, I love using a 3-day Lower/Upper/Full Body split with older lifters. It's probably my favorite 3 day per week plan for ALL lifters, but it works especially well when we're trying to maximize recovery and spread out the stress of doing multiple big lifts per session.

What split does CBUM use? ›

Chris Bumstead trains 6 days per week using a traditional bodybuilding bro split. He trains one major muscle group each workout, such as his chest, back, or quads.

What split do powerlifters use? ›

A 6-Day powerlifting split breaks up the workload of a lifter so they can get the most out of their training each week. By building a program that spreads itself over six days, the lifter can focus each day on a different lift or training method each day to develop their overall strength.

How many hours did Arnold Schwarzenegger workout? ›

He puts in an hour and a half daily, cycling for 45 to 60 minutes and lifting weights for another 30. That's a hell of a daily workout, especially for a 75-year-old, though it's down considerably from his peak bodybuilding days. When he was competing, he would lift weights for five hours a day.

What does a bro split look like? ›

The bro split, also known as the body part split, targets a different major muscle group each day of the week. This typically means you're in the gym five days per week with two days rest, but it can also be structured differently.

Who would benefit from a split routine? ›

While full-body workouts have a wide range of benefits, a split workout regimen may be the best choice if your goal is to increase mass. Because a split workout allows for increased intensity, volume, and recovery time for each muscle group, it is more conducive to building muscle mass.

What are disadvantages of splits? ›

Muscles, hamstrings, and joints are all involved, and could be at risk for injury. “An athlete can tear the soft tissues or injure joints, making it difficult to recuperate and continue training,” says Aoki.

Is split training effective? ›

Split training is an effective way to program strength and muscle-building workouts, especially when lifting weights.

Is split training good for athletes? ›

Split workouts focus on specific muscle groups on different days. It allows you to really put all of your efforts into targeting those muscles, which can lead to better results.

Why Arnold has the best chest? ›

Arnold worked hard and he worked heavy, hitting his chest three days a week and would often work his back on the same day, relishing the feel of a fully pumped upper body at the end of the workout. (Schwarzenegger employed a six-days-on/one-day-off double-split routine throughout much of his professional career.)

Is PPL better than Bro split? ›

The PPL split is great for making your whole body grow, but if you specifically need to improve shoulder caps or biceps or triceps, you may well be better off incorporating the bro split for those areas.

Did Arnold do high reps? ›

"I make a point of never doing less than 6 repetitions per set with most movements, and nothing higher than 12. The rule applies to most body parts, including calves," Arnold said.

Did Arnold ever do cardio? ›

I embraced cardio training when my Hollywood career took of. I didn't have time to train for hours as I used to, so I needed a way to burn extra calories and work my heart in shorter, more efficient workouts. These days, I combine cardio and weight training in the same session.

What is the bro split? ›

A “bro split” refers to any workout routine (or “split”) that trains different body parts (or muscle groups) on different days. For instance, training arms one day, chest another, shoulders another, and so on.

Is PPL split good for muscle growth? ›

The push pull legs (or PPL for short) split is one of the most popular workout programs for building muscle and strength gains. Many athletes and bodybuilders, including advanced lifters, swear by the PPL routine as the best way to train for muscle mass.

Is PPL good for muscle growth? ›

The Push Pull Legs Routine (PPL) is one of the most effective workout routines you can use to build muscle and gain strength. The push pull legs workout split is focused on the major muscle groups based around these movements.

Is PPL good for Bulking? ›

Push/pull/legs routine can be good for building muscle. They were popular because they worked. And there was even a time when they were an evidence-based recommendation. But they aren't ideal for building muscle, with virtually all research favouring a higher training frequency.


1. A Little Life Audiobook/ Part 4(Second Last Part) / By Hanya Yanagihara
(Mr AudioBook)
2. Which Workout Split is Best? (ft. Huberman Lab Podcast)
3. WHY Your Training Split Is NOT Building Muscle (PPL | BRO | FULL BODY!)
(Ryan Humiston)
4. The Best Workout Split To Gain Muscle
(Alex Eubank)
5. Why I QUIT Push Pull Legs (Best Training Split for Strength)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Edwin Metz

Last Updated: 02/02/2023

Views: 5446

Rating: 4.8 / 5 (78 voted)

Reviews: 85% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Edwin Metz

Birthday: 1997-04-16

Address: 51593 Leanne Light, Kuphalmouth, DE 50012-5183

Phone: +639107620957

Job: Corporate Banking Technician

Hobby: Reading, scrapbook, role-playing games, Fishing, Fishing, Scuba diving, Beekeeping

Introduction: My name is Edwin Metz, I am a fair, energetic, helpful, brave, outstanding, nice, helpful person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.