Lee Haney's Opinion On "Training Splits"

Is a push/pull training routine the way to go?


I’m confused about how I should split up my bodypart training throughout the week. Some say to train pushing and pulling bodyparts separately; others say it doesn’t matter. What do you think?


I always recommend pairing a push bodypart with a pull bodypart as opposed to two from the same group. Let me tell you how I came to this decision. 

When I was training for the 1982 NPC Nationals and then for the 1982 IFBB World Amateur Championships, I experienced joint problems, particularly in my elbows and shoulders. I was training fairly heavy at the time and using a straight six schedule, which means I trained six days in a row with only one day of rest a week. That was the only way I knew how to train, but the pain in my shoulders became so severe at one point that I could barely lift an empty Olympic bar to perform shoulder presses. 

When I moved to California in 1983 and saw some of the iron game’s legends training at Gold’s Gym and World Gym, I noticed that they used a three-on/one-off split. This meant that each bodypart had three days to recuperate, rather than the two I was giving them. Plus, these trainers would pair a pushing bodypart with a pulling one, rather than train two of the same type in sequence. They did this to alleviate some of the stress that the shoulder and elbow joints receive during the natural course of weightlifting. 

I soon realized that the way I was training was putting my joints through the wringer. By pairing chest with shoulders and back with biceps, I was overloading my joints. Then, to add insult to injury, I wasn’t giving them the time they needed to recuperate. I knew then it was time for a change; otherwise, I risked significantly cutting down the length of my bodybuilding career. 

I consider myself fortunate to have had the chance to learn from more seasoned athletes and equally fortunate to be able to pass this wisdom along to you in the accompanying “Training Split” sidebar.

On day one, pair chest with triceps, which are two pushing bodyparts. However, because the triceps are a relatively small bodypart and because you wind up working them pretty hard when training chest, you don’t have to do too much for them and you don’t have to worry about overstressing your elbows.

I realize that not everyone is able to train twice a day as I did, which is fine. If that’s the case for you, combine your bodypart training as shown in the “Once-a-Day Split” sidebar.

Remember, your bodybuilding career will last only as long as your joints hold out. Therefore, do all you can to protect them now. Pairing pushing and pulling bodyparts is a great preventive measure, not to mention one that will ensure maximum muscle growth, as well. - FLEX


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