7 Week Push / Pull Program

7 Week Push / Pull Program

7 Week Push / Pull Strength Program

Program Objective:

If you can’t do one strict pull up or one real push up without your elbows flaring out and hips sagging to the floor then this is for you! I’ve laid out 7 weeks of upper body pushing and pulling strength work with the sole objective to get you your first pull up and push up. There is also a TON of core work in here. So much of the pull up and push up stems from a strong core.

Program Guidelines:

There are 3 accessory workouts per week. PLEASE space these days out. They’re not meant to be hit on consecutive days and your body needs time to recover. Ideally something like a M/W/F or a M/W/S or a M/TH/S. Be smart about what else you’re doing in addition to this program. If you’re always doing this program as accessory work following a tough upper body workout, the likelihood of you getting a lot out of this and seeing results is slim. Plan out your week and find the right days to fit it in where your not overtraining muscle groups.

How To Read Tempo Prescriptions:

When you see four numbers (or an X) with an exercise, this tells you the speed in seconds for each component starting with the eccentric (down) movement. X means as fast as possible in an explosive movement. Even if a movement starts with an upward motion, such as a pull-up, begin counting the rep with the downward component.

The order of the tempo numbers is always Down, Hold, Up, Pause

For example, a push up with the tempo of 32X0 would look like this:

3 – Moving smoothly, use 3 seconds to lower down to the bottom of a push up

2 – Hold for 2 seconds at the bottom

X – Explode up as quickly as you can

1 – Start the next rep after a 1 second pause at the top

*Tempo explanation courtesy of Marcus Filly

Week 1 – Day 1 (cycle 1)

A1) Tempo Inverted Row 4×8 (DEMO VIDEO)

  • Set the barbell/rack up to a height that allows for slow, controlled, beautiful reps. Make sure legs are fully extended. 21X1

~ rest 60 seconds ~

A2) Tempo Elevated Box Push Up w/band around elbows 4×8 (DEMO VIDEO)

  • Pick a height that allows for great body position but will be hard enough that reps 6-8 are a fight. Tempo: 22X1

~ rest 2 minutes ~

B1) Tempo Dumbbell Skull Crushers 10-10-7-7 (DEMO VIDEO)

  • With a pair of dumbbells. Use the same weight for the sets of 10, then increase the weight for the sets of 7. Tempo: 2111

~ rest 60 seconds ~

B2) Tempo Dumbbell Curl 10-10-7-7

  • With a pair of dumbbells. Use the same weight for the sets of 10, then increase the weight for the sets of 7. Tempo: 2112

~ rest 2 minutes ~

C1) Weighted straight arm plank 3 x :45

  • Really focus on keeping your shoulders stacked directly on top of your hands. It should feel as if your body is slightly forward. Protract your shoulders and pull your belly-button towards your spine.  

~ rest 30 seconds ~

C2) Crossover Symmetry: banded row 3 x 10

~ 1 minute ~  

Week 1 – Day 2 (cycle 1)

A1) Tempo Dumbbell Bench Press 10-10-10-10 (DEMO VIDEO)

  • Palms facing in, elbows in. Weight can be the same across or building. Quality position and sticking to a strict tempo is most important. Tempo: 32X1

~ rest 60 seconds ~

A2) Tempo banded pull up 5-5-5-5 (DEMO VIDEO)

  • Use a challenging band and use additional assistance if necessary on the way up from a spotter. This is all about the negative. Tempo: 31X2

~ rest 2 minutes ~

B1) Dumbbell Prone Row w/tempo 4×10 (DEMO VIDEO)

  • Palms facing in, elbows in. Same weight across. Tempo: 21X2.

~ rest :45 seconds ~  

B2) Banded Tricep Push-Down 4×12  

~ rest 1 minute ~

C) 3 RNFT

12 lying leg raises

20 banded bicycles  

Week 1 – Day 3 (cycle 1)

A1) Assisted Pull Up (using a barbell)  w/tempo 4×8 (DEMO VIDEO)

  • Set up the barbell on a squat rack to a height that when you’re kneeling, you can fully extend your arms and you’re just able to reach the bar. Use your legs AS LITTLE AS POSSIBLE through this exercise and try to make it all arms/back. Tempo: 3112

~ rest 60 seconds ~

A2) Banded Push up 4×8 (DEMO VIDEO)

  • Strive to move with great position and a controlled tempo. ELBOWS IN!

~ rest 90 seconds ~  

B) 3 RNFT

12 ring row w/ring rotation

Crossover Symmetry: ATYT 3×6

30 Second Static Overhead Hold w/pair of dumbbells

~ rest 90 seconds between rounds ~

C) Hollow tuck hold 8 x :20 on / :10 off   

Week 2 – Day 1 (cycle 1)

*A1/A2 are repeat exercises from week 1. As an option to make this week slightly harder, lower the height of the rack of A1 and box for A2, BUT ONLY IF YOUR FORM IS ON POINT.

A1) Tempo Inverted Row 4×8

  • Set the barbell/rack up to a height that allows for slow, controlled, beautiful reps. Make sure legs are fully extended. Tempo 21X1

~ rest 60 seconds ~

A2) Tempo Elevated Box Push Up w/band around elbows 4×8

  • Pick a height that allows for great body position but will be hard enough that reps 6-8 are a fight. Tempo: 22X1

~ rest 2 minutes ~

B1) Tempo Seated banded pull ups w/PVC 3×12

  • When done right your lats and biceps should be on fire. Tempo: 3112

~ rest 20 seconds ~

B2) Dumbbell Skull Crushers 3×12

~ 90 seconds between sets ~   

C) 3 RNFT

15 lying leg raises (do these slow)

15 Dumbbell Russian Twist (R/L=1)

Week 2 – Day 2 (cycle 1)

*A1/A2 are repeat exercises from week 1.

A1) Tempo Dumbbell Bench Press 10-10-8-6

  • Palms facing in, elbows in. Weight should increase with each set. This is the same exercise as week 1 however the reps are going down. Tempo: 32X1

~ rest 60 seconds ~

A2) Tempo banded pull up 5-5-5-5

  • Use a challenging band and use additional assistance if necessary on the way up from a spotter. This is all about the negative. Tempo: 31X2

~ rest 2 minutes ~

B1) Bent Over Row w/ Pair of kettlebells 3×12. (DEMO VIDEO)

  • There’s no tempo here, however reps should be pretty and you should not feel your form slip one bit. Quality over heavier loads.  

~ rest 30 seconds ~

B2) Seated Overhead Tricep Extensions w/Plate 3×15

~ rest 90 seconds between sets ~

C) Weighted Straight Arm Plank 3x:45

~rest 1 minute between sets~  

Week 2 – Day 3 (cycle 1)

*A1/A2 are repeat exercises from week 1. Don’t change anything in your set-up or band tension. Just strive to do the work better.  

A1) Assisted Pull Up (using a barbell)  w/tempo 4×8

  • Set up the barbell on a squat rack to a height that when you’re kneeling, you can fully extend your arms and you’re just able to reach the bar. Use your legs AS LITTLE AS POSSIBLE through this exercise and try to make it all arms/back. Tempo: 3112

~ rest 60 seconds ~

A2) Banded Push up 4×8

  • Strive to move with great position and a controlled tempo. ELBOWS IN!

~ rest 90 seconds ~  

3 rounds of:

B1) 10 Barbell Curls w/Tempo + 30 Second Gun Hold w/plate

  • Complete 10 curls, then put the barbell down and immediately pick up a plate and hold in the “gun” position for 30 seconds. If your arms are not screaming after the hold you’re doing something wrong.

~ rest 15 seconds ~

B2) 15 Banded Tricep Push-Down

~ rest 15 seconds ~

B3) 20 pike ups

~ rest 90 seconds between each round

Week 3 – Day 1 (cycle 1)

*A1/A2 are repeat exercises from week’s 1&2. Next week we move to cycle 2 and exercises will change. As an option to make this week slightly harder, lower the height of the rack of A1 and box for A2, BUT ONLY IF YOUR FORM IS ON POINT.

A1) Tempo Inverted Row 4×8

  • Set the barbell/rack up to a height that allows for slow, controlled, beautiful reps. Make sure legs are fully extended. Tempo 21X1

~ rest 60 seconds ~

A2) Tempo Elevated Box Push Up w/band around elbows 4×8

  • Pick a height that allows for great body position but will be hard enough that reps 6-8 are a fight. Tempo: 22X1

~ rest 2 minutes ~

B1) Tempo Seated banded pull ups w/PVC 3×12 (DEMO VIDEO)

  • Use the same set-up and band tension from last week. When done right your lats and biceps should be on fire. Tempo: 3112

~ rest 20 seconds ~

B2) Banded overhead tricep extension 3×12 (DEMO VIDEO)

  • Pause and squeeze your triceps for 2 seconds every time you lock out the rep.

~ 90 seconds between sets ~   

C) Weighted straight arm plank 3 x 1 minute

  • Really focus on keeping your shoulders stacked directly on top of your hands. It should feel as if your body is slightly forward. Protract your shoulders and pull your belly-button towards your spine.

~ rest 45 seconds to 1 minute between sets.   

Week 3 – Day 2 (cycle 1)

*A1/A2 are repeat exercises from week’s 1&2. Next week we move to cycle 2 and exercises will change.

A1) Tempo Dumbbell Bench Press 8-8-6-4

  • Palms facing in, elbows in. Weight should increase with each set and we should be using HEAVY dumbbells. Reps are lower than week’s 1&2. Tempo: 32X1

~ rest 60 seconds ~

A2) Tempo banded pull up 5-5-5-5

  • Use a challenging band and use additional assistance if necessary on the way up from a spotter. This is all about the negative. You’re most likely using the same band tension as the first 2 weeks, which is OK. Tempo: 31X2

~ rest 2 minutes ~

B1) Single arm bent over dumbbell row 3×10 (that’s 10 on each arm) w/tempo

  • Your non-working arm will be resting on a box or bench. Make sure your shoulders are not slouching forward when doing these. Same weight for all sets. Tempo: 3112

~ rest 30 seconds ~

B2) 3 x :30 second hold in the bottom of the push up w/hands elevated on 25 lb plates.

  • These are hard! Nothing should be making contact with the floor, including your thighs/knees.

~ rest 90 seconds between sets ~

Week 3 – Day 3 (cycle 1)

*A1/A2 are repeat exercises from week 1&2. Don’t change anything in your set-up or band tension. Just strive to do the work better.  

A1) Assisted Pull Up (using a barbell)  w/tempo 4×8

  • Set up the barbell on a squat rack to a height that when you’re kneeling, you can fully extend your arms and you’re just able to reach the bar. Use your legs AS LITTLE AS POSSIBLE through this exercise and try to make it all arms/back. Tempo: 3112

~ rest 60 seconds ~

A2) Banded Push up 4×8

  • Strive to move with great position and a controlled tempo. This is the 3rd week of these and they should already be feeling stronger. ELBOWS IN!

~ rest 90 seconds ~  

3 rounds of:

B1) 16 alternating hammer curls w/slow negative

~ rest 15 seconds ~

B2) :45 second overhead hold with a pair of dumbbells.

~ rest 1 minute between rounds ~

Week 4 – Day 1 (cycle 2)

A1) Football bar bench press w/tempo 10-10-8-6

  • If your gym doesn’t have a football bar a regular bar is fine, just go a little narrow with your grip and keep your elbows in. Increase the load with each set. Tempo: 22X1

~ rest 30 seconds ~  

A2) 4 x 30 second chin over the bar hold.

  • Palms facing towards you. Your chin should not be resting on the bar. This is all about accumulating time under tension at the top. You can either do a jumping pull up to get yourself up OR use a band to take off some of your bodyweight. If you are struggling to keep your chin over the bar in the first set, you need a band.

~ rest 90 seconds between rounds ~

3 rounds of:

B1) Seated banded row 3×10 (slow and controlled) (DEMO VIDEO)

B2) Top down alternating dumbbell skull crushers (3×14 – that’s 7 per arm).

~rest 1 minute between rounds~

C) Hold a max forearm plank.

  • I want you too seriously go for this and hold for a max. Go into this with a goal in mind and don’t sell yourself short. If you see a friend nearby, tell them what you’re about to do so they can keep you accountable and cheer you on.

Week 4 – Day 2 (cycle 2)

A1) ½ kneeling dumbbell press with tempo 4×8 (that’s 8 on each arm) (DEMO VIDEO)

  • Same weight for all sets. Last 2-3 reps of each set should be hard. Tempo: 31X2

~ rest 30 seconds ~

A2) Barbell prone row w/tempo 4×8 (DEMO VIDEO)

  • Same weight across, as heavy as possible. Tempo: 21X2.

~ rest 60 seconds between sets ~

3 rounds of:

B1) 10 Banded lat pull downs  

B2) max rep push ups off a box in 30 seconds

  • Go with a box height that will allow you to move for the full 30 seconds without stopping. It should almost feel a little easy when you do a few warm up reps.

~ rest 1 minute between rounds ~

Week 4 – Day 3 (cycle 2)

A1) Banded Bar dips w/tempo 4×7

  • Select a band tension that allows for full range of motion and be strict with the slow descent and pause in the bottom. Tempo: 32X1

~ rest 30 seconds ~

A2) Banded chin ups 4×5

  • Palms facing towards you. Be sure you don’t lose any tension on on the way down. No crashing in the bottom. Full range of motion is priority 1, but it should still be hard. If you’re not struggling on these it’s not working.

~ rest 90 seconds between each round ~  

3 RNFT

10 hanging knee raises

30 hanging high knees (R+L = 2 reps)

14 seated lateral leg raises over a kettlebell

~rest 1 minute between sets ~

Week 5 – Day 1 (cycle 2)

A1) Football bar bench press w/tempo 10-8-6-4

  • Increase the loading from last week. Reps are less this week. Tempo: 22X1

~ rest 30 seconds ~  

A2) 4 x 30 second chin over the bar hold.

  • Identical from last week. If you used a band last week, use the same band.

~ rest 90 seconds between rounds ~

3 RNFT

1 minute straight arm plank

20 pike ups

~ rest 1 minute between rounds ~

Week 5 – Day 2 (cycle 2)

A1) ½ kneeling dumbbell press with tempo 4×6 (that’s  on each arm)

  • Same weight for all sets but should be heavier than last week since reps are less. Last 2-3 reps of each set should be hard. Tempo: 31X2

~ rest 30 seconds ~

A2) Barbell prone row w/tempo 4×6

  • Same weight across, as heavy as possible, most likely the same as last week. Tempo: 21X2.

~ rest 60 seconds between sets ~

B) Barbell skull crushers w/tempo 3×15.

  • Yes more skull crushers…they work! For this high of reps, the empty bar is probably plenty. Tempo: 31X1

Week 5 – Day 3 (cycle 2)

A1) Banded Bar dips w/tempo 4×5

  • Band tension this week should be harder from last week since reps are less. Select a band tension that allows for full range of motion and be strict with the slow descent and pause in the bottom. Tempo: 32X1

~ rest 30 seconds ~

A2) Banded chin ups 4×5

  • Same as last week. Palms facing towards you. Be sure you don’t lose any tension on on the way down. No crashing in the bottom. Full range of motion is priority 1, but it should still be hard. If you’re not struggling on these it’s not working.

~ rest 90 seconds between each round ~  

B) Hold a max forearm plank.

  • Your goal is to add at least 30 seconds from what you did earlier in this program. I want you too seriously go for this and hold for a max. Go into this with a goal in mind and don’t sell yourself short. If you see a friend nearby, tell them what you’re about to do so they can keep you accountable and cheer you on.

Week 6 – Day 1 (cycle 3)

*You will notice that there is a decrease in volume in cycle 3, our last cycle. That is by design. This is primarily low rep strength work. The level of difficulty/struggle during this cycle should be turned up.

A1) Elevated push up out of the rack using a barbell 5×5 (DEMO VIDEO)

  • No tempo here, just smooth controlled reps with your elbows in. You’re going to see this a lot in the last cycle. PLEASE make note of of what pin height you’re using to set the barbell up on. Each week I will be asking you to lower it with the goal of you getting your hands closer to the floor and closer to a real push up. For this exercise it should be HARD! The 5th rep of every set should be a challenge.

~ rest 30 seconds ~

A2) Banded pull up 5×3

  • This is a different variation of the banded pull up so make sure you watch the demo video. It’s only a set of 3 so make sure you don’t have too much band assistance.

~ rest 90 seconds between sets ~

B1) Weighted straight arm plank 3 x 1:00

  • Really focus on keeping your shoulders stacked directly on top of your hands. It should feel as if your body is slightly forward. Protract your shoulders and pull your belly-button towards your spine.

~ rest 30 seconds ~

B2) Dumbbell “21” curls (3 sets total)

  • 7 reps at the bottom half ROM, 7 reps at the top half ROM, 7 reps at full ROM.

~ rest 90 seconds between sets ~

Week 6 – Day 2 (cycle 3)

A1) Dumbbell floor press 10-8-8-6 (DEMO VIDEO)

  • Elbows in, palms facing in. The floor press should be substantially heavier than what you would normally do for bench because the ROM is much shorter. Experiment with weight as your warming up to make sure your challenged. Increase the weight with each set.

~ rest 45 seconds ~

A2) Ring row with your feet elevated on a low box 4×8

  • Slow and steady reps. Video yourself to make sure you are not cheating with your hips and your keeping tension on our arms through the full ROM.

~ rest 90 seconds between sets ~

B) 3 RNFT

30 second hollow hold

30 dumbbell russian twist (R/L = 1)

15 second hollow hold

~ rest as needed between rounds ~

*That’s not a typo, there are 2 hollow holds per round.

Week 6 – Day 3 (cycle 3)

A1) Low box isometric push up hold 4 x 30 seconds

  • You might not need a box and can do this with your hands on the floor. Think of lowering yourself down into the bottom of a push up but hovering an inch off the floor/box so the tension is never lost. Your chest, hips, and thighs should NOT be touching the floor.

~ rest 30 seconds ~

A2) Single arm ring row 4×8 (that’s 8 reps per arm)

  • Be sure to watch the demo video. Try to prevent any twisting of the torso. Shoulders and hips should stay square. Keep the tension on and don’t let your body collapse/sag at any point.

Week 7 – Day 1 (cycle 3)

A1) Elevated push up out of the rack using a barbell 7×3

  • This is a progression from last week. Lower the pin on the rack by at least 3-5 holes from last week. Your body is now closer to the floor compared to last week. It’s only sets of 3 for a reason. This should be very challenging. If you’re not feeling challenged then lower the pin even more.

~ rest 30 seconds ~

A2) Banded pull up 7×3

  • Same style and band support as last week.  

~ rest 90 seconds between sets ~

Week 7 – Day 2 (cycle 3)

A1) Dumbbell floor press 8-8-6-4

  • Elbows in, palms facing in. Going heavier than last week since reps are decreasing.

~ rest 45 seconds ~

A2) Ring row with your feet elevated on a low box 4×8

  • Same as last week. Slow and steady reps. Video yourself to make sure you are not cheating with your hips and your keeping tension on our arms through the full ROM.

~ rest 90 seconds between sets ~

Week 7 – Day 3 (cycle 3)

A1) Banded Push up 7×3

  • Use the least amount of band tension as possible while still keeping perfect form (full range of motion, elbows in, no saggy hips).

~ rest 30 seconds ~

A2) Jumping Pull Up w/ 4 second negative 7×3

  • Set the box up as low as possible where you’re challenged but can still get your chin over the bar.

~ rest 1 minute between sets ~

Week 8 – Test Day!

Attempt a full unassisted push up and pull up.

*Please know, it is possible that when you go to test you still can’t do a rep. That’s ok, things take time, but there’s still more work to be done. Email me and I can send you the next progression.