Complete Push Day Workout Routine for Strength & Hypertrophy

Push Day Workout

In my experience as a fitness enthusiast and Faculty of Sport and Physical Education student, undertaking a journey to improve your upper body strength and develop a well-defined chest, triceps, and shoulders requires you to have a well-rounded push day workout routine. 

Delving into unique exercises that are designed for different goals and fitness levels, we will go on a journey to explore all of these, which are useful for both advanced and beginner fitness enthusiasts.

It doesn’t matter if you are beginning or looking to adjust your existing workout routine; this push-day guide will give you enough information and ideas to ensure that each session helps you reach your goals, regardless of your fitness level at the moment.

Push Day Workout Routine: 7 Best Push Exercises to Include

Below, you may find the best push-day workout routine, which includes specific push day lifts that will help you develop muscle hypertrophy and increase your overall strength.

1. Barbell Bench Press

The barbell bench press is one of the foundational compound exercises that will help target your shoulders, triceps, and chest muscles. Nonetheless, this is a classic movement that is performed by lying on a flat bench and lifting and lowering a barbell. 

It is one of the best push day exercises, essential for strength building and improving your overall muscle growth and upper body power.

Radomir performs a barbell bench press exercise.

Steps:

  • Lie down on a flat bench and grip the barbell with hands slightly wider than your shoulder-width apart.
  • Take the bar off the rack, keeping your arms straight and placing it directly above your chest with your elbows extended.
  • Inhale first, then lower the bar to your chest and try to keep a controlled descent.
  • Put the bar gently onto your chest while maintaining control and making sure you have a full range of motion.
  • Exhale and push the bar back to your starting position and ensure that your arms are totally straight.
  • Lock in your elbows on top of the movement, keeping and engaging your chest muscles.

Pro Tip: Try to keep your elbows at a 90-degree angle to maximize chest engagement and reduce the stress on your shoulders.

2. Military Press (Barbell Overhead Press)

The military press, also known as a barbell overhead press, is a gym push day exercise that is perfect for developing stability and strength in your shoulders. This push routine exercise consists of the semi-complex movement of pressing a barbell overhead from a standing position. 

Also, the military press doesn’t just target your shoulders but engages your upper back and triceps muscle groups.

Radomir performs a military press exercise.

Steps:

  • Your starting position should be with you standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, gripping the barbell with hands a bit wider than shoulder-width.
  • Lift the barbell to the shoulder height while also keeping your back straight and core engaged.
  • Exhale first, then press the barbell over your head and fully extend your arms.
  • Make sure your elbows are locked at the top, making sure the bar is above your head.
  • Lower the barbell with the controlled motion to the shoulder height.
  • Repeat the motion while maintaining a full range of motion and a balanced body position.

Pro Tip: Make sure you focus on a full range of motion, lowering the barbell down to your chest and pressing it up above your head to maximize the involvement of your shoulders.

3. Incline Dumbbell Press

The incline dumbbell press is a great exercise for chest muscles that will target your upper pectoral muscles. If you want to emphasize your upper chest, even more, do this push day routine exercise on an inclined bench. 

When you do the exercise, you will hold dumbbells in each hand, which will allow you a full range of motion while also engaging your stabilizer muscles.

Radomir performs incline dumbbell bench presses.

Steps:

  • Set the angle of the incline bench press somewhere between 30-45 degrees.
  • Pick up the dumbbells for both hands at shoulder height and place your palms facing forward.
  • Press the dumbbells upwards while extending your arms fully.
  • After that, lower the dumbbells with a controlled movement but maintain a stable core during it.
  • Touch your chest with both dumbbells, making sure you have a full range of movement.
  • Continue the movement until the desired number of reps is reached, keeping the controlled movement for optimal engagement.

Pro Tip: You must make sure you have controlled and smooth motions, particularly emphasizing the contraction of your chest muscles at the top of the movement for the best results possible.

4. Bodyweight Push-Ups

The bodyweight push-ups are a typical bodyweight movement that is great if you want to strengthen your triceps, chest, and shoulders while engaging the core muscles for stability. Using the different hand placements can make this exercise suitable for all fitness levels, from beginners all the way up to advanced fitness enthusiasts. 

When you do bodyweight push-ups, try not to limit your range of motion by not doing properly the desired variation, and therefore, try to do simpler modifications of a push-up like an inclined or a knee push-up.

Radomir performs bodyweight push-ups.

Steps:

  • Make sure that the starting position is similar to the plank, with your hand placed a bit wider than shoulder-width apart.
  • Engage and tighten your core to keep a straight line from head to heels.
  • Lower your body with control, bend your elbows, and go almost to the ground.
  • Go until your chest touches the ground, or if you cannot do that, go as low as you can.
  • Exhale deeply and press your body back to the starting position by extending your arms completely.
  • Do this movement continuously until you do a certain amount of repetitions, and keep your focus on controlled movement and proper form.

Pro Tip: Keep a straight line all the way from heels to head, and you can use different hand placements like wide, staggered, or narrow to target different muscle groups and make some options easier or tougher depending on the hand placement.

5. Bodyweight Dips

The bodyweight dips are an incredible compound exercise that mainly focuses on and targets your pushing muscles. Like most calisthenic exercises, you can make this movement easier or more difficult, depending on your strength level

It is advised that you always come back to the basics and try to master functional movements to get the perfect form for the best results possible.

Radomir performs bodyweight dips.

Steps:

  • Hold parallel your bars with a stable and firm grip while keeping your arms straight.
  • Elevate your body off the ground, supporting your weight on the bars.
  • Lower your body with a controlled motion by bending the elbows to a 90-degree angle.
  • Push your body back to the elevated position by making sure that your arms are straight.
  • Continue with the movement by focusing on leaning slightly forward to emphasize your chest.
  • If you want to make it more challenging and target other muscle groups, change the width of the bars.

Pro Tip: To target your chests more, lean slightly forward, and to get more stable movement, keep your core engaged.

6. Standing Single-Arm Overhead Dumbbell Extension

The standing single-arm overhead dumbbell extension is an excellent option if you want to do isolation exercises that specifically target the triceps. In addition, this is a push routine exercise that consists of lifting a dumbbell overhead with only one hand and extending it for a full-range movement. 

Using this exercise is valuable for developing and strengthening your triceps, enhancing your upper body aesthetic and strength.

Radomir performs standing single-arm overhead dumbbell tricep extensions.

Steps:

  • Hold a dumbbell overhead with one hand and stand with your feet shoulder-width.
  • When you lift the dumbbell overhead, you need to extend your arm fully.
  • Lower the dumbbell to your head height with a controlled motion.
  • Bend your elbow and lower the dumbbell behind your head without doing any movement with your upper arm.
  • Extend your arm back to the position and fully straighten your elbow.
  • Continue with this movement while focusing on the pace with which you perform a standing single-arm overhead dumbbell extension and on extending your elbow fully.

Pro Tip: Make sure you are keeping your elbows close to the head when performing this movement, and go with a controlled pace to prevent any unwanted strain on your joints.

7. Tricep Rope Pushdowns

The tricep rope pushdowns stand out as one of the best push day routine exercises that can be included in any comprehensive arms training, focusing on isolating and strengthening the triceps for enhanced strength training. 

You can execute it with a cable machine and a rope attachment, and this movement engages your triceps through a full range of movements. If you want to do this exercise at home, you can try performing it with a resistance band.

Radomir performs tricep rope pushdowns.

Steps:

  • Start by attaching the rope to the high pulley of a cable machine and grab each end with an overhead grip.
  • Position your feet flat while maintaining a slight bend in your knees for a stable foundation.
  • Keep your back straight, lift your chest, and retract your shoulder blades while engaging the core to stabilize your body.
  • Start with your elbows close to your side, and to fully extend your arms, push the ropes to the floor to engage the triceps.
  • As you are completing the extension, go back slowly to the starting position and maintain control over the top to prevent momentum from hurting you.
  • Exhale. When you push the rope down and inhale, you are returning to the starting position.

Pro Tip: If you want to make your workouts as intense as possible, focus on squeezing your triceps at the bottom of each rep.

Programming the Perfect Push Day Workout Routine

Making a perfect push-day workout routine consists of strategic planning and a mix of effective pressing exercises to target pushing muscles. 

Here is a list of all pushing exercises in the previous push workout routine and how to program them as well:

The infographic showcases all the exercises and programming required for a push day workout routine.

Barbell bench press:

  • Sets: 4
  • Reps: 8-10
  • Rest: 90 seconds
  • % of 1RM: 75-80%

Military press (barbell overhead press):

  • Sets: 4
  • Reps: 8-10
  • Rest: 75 seconds
  • % of 1RM: 75-80%

Incline dumbbell press:

  • Sets: 4
  • Reps: 8-10
  • Rest: 90 seconds
  • % of 1RM: 60-75%

Bodyweight push-ups:

  • Sets: 3
  • Reps: 15-20
  • Rest: 45 seconds

Bodyweight dips:

  • Sets: 3
  • Reps: To failure
  • Rest: 60 seconds

Standing single-arm overhead dumbbell extension:

  • Sets: 4
  • Reps: 10-12 each arm
  • Rest: 75 seconds
  • % of 1RM: 65-75%

Tricep rope pushdowns:

  • Sets: 3
  • Reps: 12-15
  • Rest: 60 seconds
  • % of 1RM: 55-65%

This is a well-rounded, good push day workout that makes sure you have a balance between isolation and compound movements while promoting muscle development. As you steadily progress over time, consider reassessing your 1RM and adjusting the training in accordance with that.

How Should I Structure My Push Day?

You should structure your push day with 2-3 exercises for each of the major push muscle groups. In addition, you will need to have a push day routine at least 2 times per week.

To help you find the perfect push routine plan for your workouts, I made a list for each day, and which push hypertrophy workout routines you should do that day:

  • Monday: Legs and core workout
  • Tuesday: Push day workout
  • Wednesday: Pull day workout
  • Thursday: Rest
  • Friday: Legs and core workout
  • Saturday: Push day workout
  • Sunday: Pull day workout

How to Get the Most Out of Your Push Day Workout Routine?

To get the most out of your push-day workout routine, you need to implement progressive overload, aim for glycogen supercompensation, and give yourself enough rest between workouts. Incorporating each of these will give you an advantage in your training, and not only will you be able to lift more, but you will feel better than before.

The image showcases different ways to get the most out of your push day workout routine. These include progressive overload, glycogen supercompensation, and recovery principles.

Below, you can find an explanation for each of these terms that might seem unfamiliar at the moment.

Incorporate Progressive Overload

Progressive overload is one of the fundamental principles in the push strength workout that consists of steadily increasing the weights placed on the muscles over time. When applied to a push day, this principle becomes important in promoting consistent gains in muscle mass and strength. 

A push day for strength that is well structured will focus on muscle growth with pushing movements, mostly the chest, triceps, and shoulders. If you want to implement a progressive overload effectively, you should start by changing training variables like intensity, volume, or resistance. 

Increase the weight that you lift while making sure that it challenges your muscles without compromising form. That means you should add light increments to your shoulder press, bench press, or any other pushing movement. 

Another variation you can try is not to add the weight stacks but to increase the volume of reps and sets in training. You will increase the workload and, therefore, stimulate muscle growth and adaptation.

Implementing progressive overload into your workout might involve the incorporation of compound pressing exercises like dips and bench press. These are the compound movements that engage several muscles at once, allowing for efficient overload. 

You should switch up the exercises a bit and incorporate some new ones or even tweak them to target your muscles differently. Therefore, you won’t only prevent the feeling of monotony in your training but also expose your muscles to constant adaptation.

The most important thing in progressive overload is consistency. You need to be able to reassess your strength levels and adjust accordingly regularly [1].

Adapt Your Diet for Glycogen Supercompensation

Having strategic dietary choices will play a huge role in optimizing your performance in the gym, especially if you are aiming for glycogen supercompensation. Glycogen is stored in muscles and serves as a primary source of energy while you are performing an intensive workout. 

If you want to supercharge your glycogen stores and boost your energy levels, you will need to implement glycogen supercompensation via dietary modifications. Before your push-day workout, focus primarily on consuming meals rich in carbohydrates like oats, sweet potatoes, and whole grains. 

Nonetheless, these carbohydrates will release glucose in your bloodstream, giving you more than enough energy during training. In addition to all of this, you can include moderate protein to help your muscles recover and repair. 

After the exercise, there is a wide range of opportunities for glycogen replenishment. You can eat quick sugars like sports drinks or fruits, which will effectively raise your insulin levels. When you pair this with a protein source, like lean meat or a protein shake, it will enhance muscle repair even more [2].

Allow For Enough Recovery Time Between the Workouts

Allowing sufficient recovery time between your workouts is essential for optimal performance. Intense resistance training will stress your muscles, central nervous system, and connective tissues, necessitating an adequate recovery time for adaptation and recovery. 

Ignoring this recovery process can lead to impaired performance and fatigue and will increase the chance of you getting injured. You need to understand that your recovery process is important, and you need to find your specific one. 

Some perform better with more frequent workouts, while on the other spectrum are people who need more recovery periods. Push day training will target major muscles, and to optimize recovery, consider implementing a split routine to allow specific muscle groups to rest between sessions. 

By doing this, you will prevent overtraining and increase muscle recovery. Having quality sleep is a cornerstone of recovery. You should aim for 7-9 hours of sleep each night as it will help with hormone regulation, muscle repair, and overall mental and physical well-being. 

In addition, staying hydrated and having a balanced diet that is rich in nutrients is crucial for muscle growth and repair. Also, think about periodization, incorporating phases into your workout with higher or lower intensity. 

Changing between more intense and lighter workouts that are focused on recovery will allow your body to adapt without that much stress. Active recovery techniques like light cardiovascular exercises, stretching, or foam rolling can reduce muscle soreness [3].

What Is the Best Push Day Workout Routine for Beginners?

The best push-day workout routine for beginners consists of push-ups, bench presses, overhead presses, and others. Also, the beginner’s push day workout is designed to be effective and simple while aiming to develop your overall fitness health. 

It doesn’t matter if you are experienced in exercising from the comfort of your home, or you are just starting out, and this will be your first workout; using this program will emphasize firstly proper form, appropriate rest intervals in between, and a moderate amount of sets and reps. 

So, without further ado, let’s start with your path to a healthier and stronger version of yourself by implementing these well-rounded and accessible exercises specifically tailored for beginners:

Barbell overhead press:

  • Sets: 3
  • Reps: 6-8
  • Rest: 90 seconds
  • 60-80% of 1RM

Barbell bench press:

  • Sets: 3
  • Reps: 6-12
  • Rest: 90 seconds
  • 60-80% of 1RM

Close grip bench press:

  • Sets: 2
  • Reps: 12
  • Rest: 45 seconds
  • 60-70% of 1RM

Push-ups:

  • Sets: 3
  • Reps: Until failure
  • Rest: 60 seconds

Low pulley overhead cable tricep extension:

  • Sets: 3
  • Reps: 15
  • Rest: 45 seconds
  • 60-65% of 1RM

By using a mix of bodyweight and dumbbell exercises, this beginner-friendly push-day training is done so you can improve your strength, muscle endurance, and confidence in your fitness journey. 

What Is the Best Push Day Workout Routine at Home?

The best push-day workout routine at home consists of lateral raises, dumbbell shoulder presses, triceps dips, and others. Make an effective push-day routine while you are targeting the chest, triceps, and shoulders while considering reps, rest periods, sets, and a one-repetition maximum (1RM). 

Here is a deep dive into this balanced and comprehensive workout:

Dumbbell shoulder press:

  • Sets: 4
  • Reps: 8-10
  • Rest: 90 seconds
  • % of 1RM: 65-75%

Incline dumbbell bench press:

  • Sets: 3
  • Reps: 10-12
  • Rest: 60 seconds
  • % of 1RM: 60-70%

Push-ups:

  • Sets: 3
  • Reps: 12-15
  • Rest: 60 seconds

Lateral raises:

  • Sets: 3
  • Reps: 12-15
  • Rest: 45 seconds
  • % of 1RM: 60-70%

Tricep dip:

  • Sets: 3
  • Reps: 12-15
  • Rest: 60 seconds

Close-grip push-ups:

  • Sets: 3
  • Reps: 12-15
  • Rest: 45 seconds

Dumbbell front raises:

  • Sets: 3
  • Reps: 12-15
  • Rest: 45 seconds
  • % of 1RM: 60-70%

Overhead tricep extension:

  • Sets: 3
  • Reps: 10-12
  • Rest: 60 seconds
  • % of 1RM: 60-70%

This routine will give you a balanced mix of isolation and compound exercises that will target different angles of the triceps, chest, and shoulders. Adjust the weight according to your strength levels, making sure that the last few reps of each set are challenging while maintaining a proper form. 

Push Day Exercises List

  • Push-up
  • Dips
  • Dumbbell french press
  • Close grip bench press
  • Cable tricep pushdown
  • Overhead press
  • Low pulley overhead cable tricep extension 
  • Tricep rope pushdown
  • Standing single-arm overhead dumbbell extension
  • Incline dumbbell press
  • Incline barbell bench press
  • Flat bench press
  • Military press
  • Dumbbell bench press
  • Lying triceps extension
  • Dumbbell chest fly
  • Chest press

What Muscle Groups Work During a Push Workout?

Muscle groups like shoulders, chest, and triceps work during push workouts. Additionally, push workouts primarily target the muscle groups that are involved in pushing movements, mostly targeting the upper body.

Some of the compound exercises, like an incline dumbbell bench press, military press, or barbell bench press, will engage your shoulder and chest muscles, fostering muscle development and strength. 

These movements also include the triceps as a secondary muscle in each of these exercises, improving the overall upper body performance. Also, isolation exercises like triceps dips and single-arm overhead dumbbell extensions are specifically designed to target your triceps. 

Having a well-rounded push-day workout won’t only promote an atheistic appearance but also functional strength, which will help you in day-to-day activities and tasks. Implementing various exercises like this will ensure you have a good push-day workout while having a balanced development and overall development of upper body muscles.

What Are the Benefits of a Push Day Workout?

The benefits of a push-day workout are joint health and stability while promoting a symmetrical and complete look. A push-day workout gives you both functional and aesthetic benefits.

These workouts primarily target major muscle groups that are involved in pushing movements like the chest, shoulders, and triceps. Focusing primarily on these muscles will promote its development, definition, and strength in your upper body. 

Nonetheless, enhanced upper body strength is an important advantage, contributing to better performance in everyday activities and sports. This type of workout encourages functional movements like pressing and pushing, directly translating into increased functional fitness and better athleticism overall. 

In addition, this routine serves great for shoulder health and stability.

Strengthening the muscles around the shoulders can severely reduce the risk of injuries occurring while promoting long-term joint health. From an aesthetic point of view, it can contribute to a balanced physique, fostering proportional development of the upper body pushing muscles.

FAQs

Is 4 Exercises Enough for Push Day?

Yes, 4 exercises are enough for a push day. Four exercises for a workout is an efficient and effective amount for most fitness enthusiasts.

Is Push or Pull Day Better?

Both push and pull days are important. The best thing you can do is to split them into different workouts to maximize gains for both types of muscle groups.

Can I Do Push Day Everyday?

No, you can’t do push workouts every day. Push-day workouts generally target major muscle groups, like the chest, shoulders, and triceps, which demand adequate time to recover; therefore, it is not recommended to train the same muscle groups every day.

How Many Exercises Do I Do on Push Day?

You need 3-5 exercises to do on a push day. You can start with compound movements like barbell bench press, dumbbell bench press, dumbbell shoulder press, and dumbbell press, followed by some isolation triceps exercises such as triceps extension or a triceps push down.

How Many Exercises Should I Do per Muscle on Push Day?

For an effective push-day workout, it is recommended to perform 3-5 exercises targeting the push muscles, which include the chest, shoulders, and triceps. This range allows for a comprehensive workout, ensuring each muscle group is adequately stimulated for growth and strength development. Since one exercise will likely target more than one muscle group, there isn’t a definitive answer about how much exercise is enough for a single muscle group.

Are Skull Crushers Push or Pull?

Skull crushers are push. This is an isolation exercise that isolates triceps brachii.

Why Is Programming the Perfect Push Workout So Hard?

Programming the perfect push workout is so hard since you need to choose the exercises and weight according to your fitness experience, or you are risking injuring yourself.

You need to ensure that when you are doing the push day, you are working on all of the pushing muscle groups equally.

So, if you need help with creating the perfect workout, specifically designed for your own needs, you can hop on a quick 1 on 1 call with me to make a new workout plan or improve on a current one.

References:

  1. Peterson MD, Pistilli E, Haff GG, Hoffman EP, Gordon PM. Progression of volume load and muscular adaptation during resistance exercise. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2011;111(6):1063-1071. doi:10.1007/s00421-010-1735-9
  2. Roedde S, MacDougall JD, Sutton JR, Green HJ. Supercompensation of muscle glycogen in trained and untrained subjects. Can J Appl Sport Sci. 1986;11(1):42-46.
  3. Monteiro ER, Vingren JL, Corrêa Neto VG, Neves EB, Steele J, Novaes JS. Effects of Different Between Test Rest Intervals in Reproducibility of the 10-Repetition Maximum Load Test: A Pilot Study with Recreationally Resistance Trained Men. Int J Exerc Sci. 2019;12(4):932-940. Published 2019 Aug 1.
Vanja Vukas

Vanja Vukas

Student at the Faculty of Sport and Physical Education and a hardcore functional training enthusiast. Heavily inspired by Michael Boyle, a strength & conditioning specialist, and by Adam Sinicki, the founder of Bioneer. Vanja believes that transitioning to a movement-based exercise program can drastically improve your fitness, balance out your muscles, and support your current lifestyle.

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