Push Pull Training for Strength and Mass
4 (INTENSE) Push Pull Training Exercises for Building Strength and Mass
Before we dive into this blog article about building size and strength, we first need to understand how size and strength are developed. Hypertrophy, increasing muscle size, can be developed through a variety of different methodologies with the three main mechanisms including mechanical tension, load and time, muscle damage and metabolic stress, breakdown of fibres through metabolites. If we can stress any of these mechanisms in the correct manner then, we can develop muscular hypertrophy. A bigger muscle usually equals a stronger muscle or at least provides the foundations to build a stronger muscle. In this article, we will talk about push pull training for strength and mass.
Why Push Pull Training?
Push pull training is more commonly known as a reciprocal superset. This is where we perform two exercises back to back which, work antagonistic paired muscles for example, squat and Nordic hamstring curl or bench press and bench row. Benefits of super setting these movements together include reduced antagonistic inhibition and greater storage of elastic energy within tendons which, can increase the force production from an agonist.
Other benefits to these supersets include the ability to perform more repetitions within any given time frame. If your session time is going to be cut short, performing these supersets will allow for a greater efficiency of your session as you don’t need to adjust the intensity significantly despite less recovery time. Increasing the work done within a shorter time frame may also augment metabolic stress compared with performing traditional hypertrophy and strength training as a result of a greater build-up of metabolites.
THE VIDEO: 4 (INTENSE) Push Pull Training Exercises for Building Strength and Mass
Programming Considerations for Reciprocal Supersets for Hypertrophy
We need to think of the biomechanics involved and rather than focusing on specific muscles, we want to programme around movements. For example, shoulder flexion of the bench press and shoulder extension of the bench row rather than simply chest and back.
Mechanisms of inducing hypertrophy require high repetitions, 8-12, with relatively short rest times, to induce metabolic stress, 60-90 seconds, for 3-4 sets of each exercise within the pair. As you can calculate, time to completion of total sets can be almost halved with reciprocal supersets, compared with traditional strength training, highlighting efficiency but also how metabolic stress can be achieved.
For strength development, performing reciprocal supersets may not elicit the same benefit as it would for hypertrophy as the mechanisms of adaptation are different. Predominant energy systems, structural adaptations and motor recruitment are 3 key differences between training for hypertrophy and training for strength. For strength training, it is recommended to use traditional strength training, working in a lower rep range, 1-5, with a heavier load stimulus, >80% 1RM, and adequate rest time to be able to maintain quality of repetition, >2 minutes, including form, load and tempo.
To conclude, there are advantages to performing reciprocal supersets including efficiency of sessions with some potential physical benefits. Reciprocal supersets may provide a variation to traditional hypertrophy training. It is not recommended to perform supersets for strength development as traditional strength training will elicit greater performance benefits.