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Push vs. Pull Exercises: Which One Floats Your Boat?

Push vs. Pull Exercises
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Hey there, fitness enthusiasts! Time to dive into the ultimate fitness face-off: Push vs. Pull Exercises! It’s like choosing between the thrill of bench presses and the powerhouse deadlifts. Do push-ups make you feel like a superhero, or do pull-ups get your adrenaline pumping?

Here’s the deal: Your body loves both! Whether you’re pushing or pulling, you’re doing wonders for your musculoskeletal system. Let’s break it down and get you the best tips to rock your workout.

Breaking Down Push and Pull Exercises

No surprises here! Push exercises are all about moving weight away from your body, targeting your chest, shoulders, triceps, quads, and glutes. Think bench presses, push-ups, and shoulder presses. On the flip side, pull exercises bring weight towards you, hitting those biceps, forearms, and back muscles with moves like deadlifts, pull-ups, and rows.

Can you skip one for the other? According to London-based personal trainer Lewis Paris, it’s not quite that simple. “It depends on what you want to achieve,” Paris says. “They are the yin and yang of fitness—doing both provides balance. You need both for symmetry.”

Leading Sports Science agree that Neither is better than the other, They complement each other and must be included in a comprehensive workout routine for the best results.

Benefits of Push Exercises

A solid training plan needs push exercises. When targeting the widest range of muscles, from your pectorals, deltoids, and triceps to your quads and glutes. Push exercises also improve posture and functional movement. Jason Smith, founder of Fit in Midlife, loves linking exercises to everyday activities. “Their functionality helps us lift heavy objects from the floor and raise them above our heads,” he says. Think about fixing a bicycle to a car’s roof rack!

But beware of overdoing it for aesthetics. “While push exercises are great, focusing only on them can overwork certain muscles, often for vanity,” says Paris. “That said, push exercises build good quad, tricep, and shoulder strength, support ankle and knee strength, and open up chest tightness.”

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Benefits of Pull Exercises

Pull exercises are crucial for countering the effects of modern lifestyles. “I always consider real-life scenarios when working with my clients,” says Paris. “Many are hunched over laptops all day, so I encourage working on those back muscles that aren’t always front of mind.”

Pull exercises strengthen the posterior chain—rear delts, traps, rhomboids, glutes, hamstrings, and calves. Keeping these muscles strong helps minimize injury and provides stability. “Pull exercises enhance back, forearm, and bicep strength, improve posture, and mimic daily activities like pulling open doors,” says Putsov.

Smith adds, “Pull exercises develop the lats, traps, biceps, core, and hamstrings, helping us lift and carry heavy bags and improve grip strength.”

Push vs. Pull: Which is Better?

Spoiler alert: both are essential for a balanced, functional body. “Push and pull exercises are complementary and work best together in a balanced workout routine,” says Sarah Carrino, founder and CEO of Just Flex. “They target different muscle groups and movements vital for overall strength and fitness.”

To get the best results, incorporate both push and pull exercises into your weekly routine. Carrino suggests a push/pull split structure, dedicating separate days to each, allowing your body enough recovery time between sessions. “This balanced approach helps prevent muscle imbalances, improves overall functional strength, and ensures adequate recovery,” she adds.

The Best Push and Pull Exercises

Ready to add push and pull exercises to your workout? Here are some of the best, according to experts.

Best Push Exercises:

  1. Push-ups: Start in a plank position, lower your body by bending your elbows, then push back up.
  2. Bench press: Lie on a bench, lower a barbell to your chest, then press it back up.
  3. Overhead press: Standing or seated, press a barbell or dumbbells overhead from shoulder level.
  4. Tricep dips: Place your hands on a bench or dip bar, arms straight. Lower your body until your elbows are at a 90-degree angle. Push back to the starting position and repeat.

Best Pull Exercises:

  1. Pull-ups: Hang from a bar with palms facing away, pull your body up until your chin clears the bar.
  2. Bent-over rows: Bend at the hips, keep your back straight, and pull a barbell or dumbbells up to your lower chest.
  3. Lat pulldowns: Sit at a cable machine, grasp the bar with a wide grip, and pull it down to your upper chest.
  4. Deadlifts: Stand with your feet hip-width apart, barbell on the floor. Bend at your hips and knees to grip the barbell. Lift the bar by straightening your hips and knees while keeping your back straight. Lower it back to the floor and repeat.

So there you have it! Mix in both Push vs. Pull Exercises, keep your routine balanced, and watch your strength and fitness soar. Happy lifting!