Circuit Training: Push & Pull

In the first blog on circuit training, we explored various ways of structuring a circuit. You can focus on body weight exercises, a specific muscle group, elevating the heart rate through cardio, or a blend of all three methods. You may also consider combining push and pull exercises when designing your circuit. If you do a chest press and then immediately follow with a dumbbell shoulder press, you may lack the energy to properly engage the muscles for the shoulder exercise. Alternating push and pull exercises in your circuit allows one muscle group to rest while the other is working.

The tissue of push muscle groups contract when the weight is pushed away from the body. Chest, shoulders, triceps, quadriceps, glutes, and calves are considered push muscles. Pull muscles contract when the weight is pulled toward the body.  These include the back, biceps, hamstrings.

Here are two examples of push and pull circuits you can try. The first focuses on the upper body. The second is a lower body circuit. Perform each exercise in sequence without stopping. Repeat the circuit two more times for a total of 3 rounds.

Workout #1: Upper Body Push & Pull Circuit

Incline dumbbell chest press: 15 reps

Smith Machine Back Row: 15 reps


Dumbbell Shoulder Press: 15 reps


Barbell 21 Bicep Curl: 7 full range curls, 7 top half reps, and 7 bottom half reps


Tricep Dumbbell Skull Crusher: 15 reps


Workout #2: Lower Body Push & Pull Circuit

3/4 Hack Squat: 20 reps


Unilateral Hamstring Curls: 20 reps each leg


Plate Loaded Glute Kickback (standing donkey kicks): 20 double pump reps (top half pump followed by a full range repetition)


Seated Hamstring Curls: 20 reps


Seated Calf Raise: 20 reps followed by a slow count 10 second top half isometric hold









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