This 30-Minute Barbell Push/Pull Session Is the Ultimate Upper-Body Workout for Building Size

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This Barbell Push/Pull Session Builds Muscle Fast Hearst Owned

If you want to make your fitness regime stick, the last thing you need is to be faffing around with complicated programmes and multiple machines. It only takes one obnoxiously busy day on the gym floor and your entire plan can go out of the window.

That’s why we’ve put together this thirty-minute, barbell-only ‘push and pull’ workout. Designed to add size and strength across your entire upper body, including your chest, back, shoulders, biceps and triceps, and only requiring a single barbell and some floor space, this no-fuss plan will see you in and out of the gym on your lunch break with enough time to grab a protein shake.

You’re going to be working in three timed ten-minutes ‘blocks’, with each block containing a pair of movements that you simply work back and forth between until the buzzer sounds, before moving into the next pairing.

Use weights for each movement that allow you to comfortably hit the higher end of the prescribed rep range at the beginning of each block, but with minimal rest (just enough to keep your form on point). You should be struggling to even reach the lower end of the range in your final few sets.

Repeat this workout weekly, or twice weekly, each time aiming to add more reps to each movement. Once you can add around 20% to your original ‘score’, it’s time to up the weights, eliciting the coveted progressive overload principle that's necessary for muscle gain.

Block One x 10 minutes

A1. Standing Barbell Press x 6-12

strict press
Philip Haynes - Hearst Owned

Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, gripping a barbell across the top of your shoulders (A). Take a deep breath, create tension throughout your entire body and push the bar above your head, pause here (B). Slowly lower your bar back to your shoulders and repeat. Avoid excessive arching in your lower back throughout.

A2. Pendlay Row x 8-15

pendlay row
Hearst Owned

With feet slightly wider than shoulder-width, step underneath a barbell and hinge at the hips to grip the bar (A). Keeping your torso parallel to the ground, row the bar towards your hips (B), squeeze your shoulder blades together and lower under control to the start before repeating. Control the bar and avoid moving your torso but keep the pulls explosive.

Block Two x 10 minutes

B1. Floor (or Bench) Press x 6-12

a few men in helmets
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Lay flat on the floor beneath a barbell — or take a barbell out of a rack, laying on a bench if you have access — your knees bent, pushing your feet into the floor. Press the bar to full lock out (A). Lower the bar slowly until the bar touches your chest, or the plates touch the ground (B) keep your elbows at 45 degree angle, pause here before explosively pressing back up.

B2. Hang Power Cleans x 6-12

hang power clean
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Stand tall holding your barbell at hip height. Hinge at the hips to lower the bar to your knees (A). Stand back upright explosively. Coming right up onto your toes, use the momentum to pull the bar up towards you chest before rotating your wrists, dipping under the bar and catching it on to your shoulders (B). Stand up straight, then lower back to your hips and repeat.

Block Two x 10 minutes

C1. Barbell Curl x 10-15

muscular young man lifting weights outside barbell curl
Phil Haynes - Hearst Owned

Strip off some plates and stand tall with a lighter bar, your palms facing away from you, shoulder-width apart (A). With minimal momentum, curl the bar upwards towards your chin (B). Squeeze here and lower the bar under control taking a 3 count to bring it down. Repeat.

C2. Tricep Extensions x 10-15

barbell tri extension
Phil Haynes - Hearst Owned

Stand tall with your barbell locked out overhead (A). Bend at the elbows while keeping your upper arms locked in place, slowly lowering the bar down behind your head. Stop just short of the bar touching your back (B) before pressing back up explosively. Repeat.

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