Push/Pull/Legs Split (PPL): 3-6 Day Workout Routine

There are very few workout splits that are perfectly designed in terms of effectiveness, balance, frequency, and scheduling options. Full body and upper/lower would be two good examples of this.

The push/pull/legs split would definitely be another.

Push/pull/legs (PPL) has been around for decades and has become one of the most popular and proven workout splits of all time, particularly for intermediate and advanced trainees with the goal of building muscle.

In this article, I’m going to show you 4 different versions of this split (ranging from 3-6 workouts per week), explain the pros and cons of each, help you figure out which version will work best for you, and provide a full sample workout routine for you to use.

Let’s start with the basics…

What Is The Push/Pull/Legs Split?

The push/pull/legs split is a workout schedule that divides the body up into three groups: upper body pushing muscles, upper body pulling muscles, and legs.

Each group is then trained separately on its own day, like this…

The “Push” Workout

The “push” workout involves training all of the upper body muscles that are involved in “pushing” exercises. This includes:

  • Chest
  • Shoulders
  • Triceps

The “Pull” Workout

The “pull” workout involves training all of the upper body muscles that are involved in “pulling” exercises. This includes:

  • Back
  • Biceps
  • Rear Delts

The “Legs” Workout

The “legs” workout involves training all of the lower body muscles involved in “leg” exercises (shocking, right?). This includes:

  • Quads
  • Hamstrings
  • Glutes
  • Calves

Abs are often trained along with legs, but they can really be trained on whichever day you prefer. I usually recommend putting abs at the end of whichever workout is the shortest.

The Benefits Of Pull/Pull/Legs

The main benefit to grouping body parts this way is that it keeps all related muscle groups together in the same workout, which is fantastic for preventing the type of overlap issues that are so common with less-intelligent splits.

For example, compound chest exercises like the bench press, incline press, push-ups, and various chest pressing machines will train the shoulders and triceps in addition to the chest.

Which means if you were using a split that trained chest one day, shoulders on another day, and triceps on some other day, you become a lot more likely to eventually run into problems with insufficient recovery and/or overuse injuries.

However, by pairing up all of the muscle groups that get trained during the same types of exercises, the push/pull/legs split does a damn fine job of minimizing the potential for those types of problems.

Now let’s take a look at the different ways this split can be scheduled.

Version #1: The 3-Day Push/Pull/Legs Split

  1. Monday: Push
  2. Tuesday: off
  3. Wednesday: Pull
  4. Thursday: off
  5. Friday: Legs
  6. Saturday: off
  7. Sunday: off

This first version of the split is what I consider to be the “classic” version, as it’s the oldest and most well known of the bunch. But does that make it the best? Let’s find out…

The Good

As you can see, there are 3 total weight training workouts per week done in an every-other-day format with 2 days off at the end.

With just 3 total workouts that fall on the same days every week, plus the ability to have the weekend off, this version of the split is by far the most convenient and easy-to-schedule for the majority of people, and it’s the least likely to cause any recovery related issues.

However, there is one major downside to this sort of schedule.

The Bad

In this version of the split, every body part is trained just once per week, and we have plenty of research (sources here and here) and real world experience at this point to know that this is usually the least effective workout frequency for someone trying to build muscle or gain strength.

That’s not to say it doesn’t work or it can’t work. It’s just that, with all else being equal, training each body part 2-3 times per week works best.

For this reason alone, I don’t recommend this version of the push/pull/legs split to anyone looking to gain muscle or strength.

But what if I can only work out 3 days per week?

In that case, I’d suggest going with the full body split if you’re a beginner, the 3-day upper/lower split if you’re an intermediate or advanced trainee, or one of the other 3-day options I cover here: The Best 3-Day Workout Splits

Is a once-per-week frequency ideal for any goal?

Ideal? Probably not. Sufficient? Sometimes.

Specifically, if your primary goal at the moment is to simply maintain the amount of muscle and strength you currently have rather than making additional progress, training each muscle group once per week will usually be sufficient for that purpose (sources here and here).

And in that case, this version of the split is a potential option to consider using.

The Verdict

This version of the push/pull/legs split is the best in terms of convenience and scheduling, but it’s the worst in terms of actual effectiveness due to its suboptimal once-per-week training frequency. I don’t recommend it.

Get the Push/Pull/Legs Workout Template that I personally use whenever designing this type of routine for myself or others. It’s 100% free.
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Version #2: The 4-5 Day Push/Pull/Legs Split

Week 1

  1. Monday: Push
  2. Tuesday: Pull
  3. Wednesday: off
  4. Thursday: Legs
  5. Friday: off
  6. Saturday: Push
  7. Sunday: Pull

Week 2

  1. Monday: off
  2. Tuesday: Legs
  3. Wednesday: off
  4. Thursday: Push
  5. Friday: Pull
  6. Saturday: off
  7. Sunday: Legs

Week 3

  1. Monday: off
  2. Tuesday: Push
  3. Wednesday: Pull
  4. Thursday: off
  5. Friday: Legs
  6. Saturday: off
  7. Sunday: Push

Week 4

  1. Monday: Pull
  2. Tuesday: off
  3. Wednesday: Legs
  4. Thursday: off
  5. Friday: Push
  6. Saturday: Pull
  7. Sunday: off

This second version of the split is one that I often refer to as the “rotating” version.


Because unlike the previous version which had 3 workouts over a 7-day cycle (which all fell on the same 3 days each week), this version has 3 workouts that take place over a 5-day cycle, and the days they fall on rotate each week.

What I mean is…

  • The previous version was push/off/pull/off/legs/off/off and then repeat from the beginning.
  • This version is push/pull/off/legs/off and then repeat from the beginning.

For this reason, you end up with 4 total workouts per week most of the time (see weeks 2-4 above), but then 5 total workouts per week (see week #1) every time the “cycle” comes back around to the beginning (this occurs every 6th week).

Now let’s take a look at the pros and cons of doing PPL this way…

The Good

There is one major benefit to scheduling the workouts over a rotating 5-day cycle like this, and it’s all about increasing the training frequency.

The first version of the split trained each body part every 7th day (once per week), which is the least effective frequency for most people. But in this version, each body part is being trained every 5th day (so three times every two weeks).

And while this still isn’t exactly twice per week, it’s a significant improvement over the low frequency of Version 1, which makes this version of the split more effective for most people’s goals. I’ve seen people do quite well with it, in fact.

However, yet again, there are some major downsides to this sort of schedule.

The Bad

This version will be inconvenient for a lot of people.

Aside from the fact that you end up having to train on the weekends (some people aren’t able to do that), the “rotating” nature of it means your training days and rest days will vary from week to week.

So some weeks you’ll be training on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday. Some weeks Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Other weeks Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. And some weeks there are 4 total workouts. Other weeks, there are 5.

And this sort of variance will be problematic for many people from a scheduling standpoint.

So while this version of the push/pull/legs split makes a beneficial improvement in terms of training frequency, you’ll need a fairly flexible schedule in order to make it work and actually get those benefits.

The Verdict

If you have a schedule that will allow you to put this version into action consistently and without any problems, then I highly recommend it.

But if not, or if attempting to make it work would just lead to you eventually missing workouts because it’s too inconvenient for you, then I don’t recommend it. Instead, I’d suggest sticking with a more static 4-day split, such as upper/lower.

Get the entire workout template that I personally use whenever designing this type of routine for myself or others. It’s 100% free.
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Version #3: 5-Day Push/Pull/Legs Split

Week 1

  1. Monday: Push
  2. Tuesday: Pull
  3. Wednesday: off
  4. Thursday: Legs
  5. Friday: Push
  6. Saturday: Pull
  7. Sunday: off

Week 2

  1. Monday: Legs
  2. Tuesday: Push
  3. Wednesday: off
  4. Thursday: Pull
  5. Friday: Legs
  6. Saturday: Push
  7. Sunday: off

Week 3

  1. Monday: Pull
  2. Tuesday: Legs
  3. Wednesday: off
  4. Thursday: Push
  5. Friday: Pull
  6. Saturday: Legs
  7. Sunday: off

This third version of the split is a pure 5-day version, where you have 5 total workouts per week, every single week.

This is done using a schedule where you have two consecutive workouts… followed by a day off… followed by three consecutive workouts… followed by a day off.

Then you repeat it again.

And unlike the previous version, the 5 workout days fall on the same days each week. In the example shown, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday are always the training days, and Wednesday and Sunday are always the the rest days. (Note that the workouts themselves still vary, as one week Monday is a “push” workout, and the next Monday is a “legs” workout.)

Now let’s take a look at the pros and cons of this setup…

The Good

The training frequency is great. Each body part gets trained every 4th-5th day, which is pretty damn close to exactly twice per week, which is ideal. This makes it just slightly more frequent than Version 2.

In addition, this schedule is also much more stable than the previous version, as the training days are consistent from week to week, which will make it more convenient for a lot of people.

However, yet again, there are some downsides.

The Bad

While some people can do quite well with 5 workouts per week, it will be too much for many others, as 5 workouts (with 3 happening on consecutive days) is more recovery intensive than 3-4 workouts per week… which is what tends to suit most people.

This is especially true for those with below-average genetics, people who are older, people with a lot of other activity or stress in their lives, or any combination thereof.

This version also requires training on at least one day of the weekend (which many people can’t do), and also requires 5 total workouts every week, which is often more than a lot of people have time for.

So while this version of the PPL split provides the training frequency we want and does so with a more consistent setup than Version 2, it may be inconvenient for a lot of people to fit into their schedules, and it may be too much for others from a recovery and progression standpoint.

The Verdict

If you have the schedule AND the recovery capabilities needed to do well with a 5-day split like this, then I’d certainly recommend giving it a try.

But if not, I’d recommend sticking with a 3 or 4 day routine instead, such as the 3 or 4 day version of upper/lower, or perhaps Version 2 of push/pull/legs (assuming you have a flexible enough schedule to make it work).

Version #4: 5-6 Day Push/Pull/Legs Split

Week 1

  1. Monday: Push
  2. Tuesday: Pull
  3. Wednesday: Legs
  4. Thursday: off
  5. Friday: Push
  6. Saturday: Pull
  7. Sunday: Legs

Week 2

  1. Monday: off
  2. Tuesday: Push
  3. Wednesday: Pull
  4. Thursday: Legs
  5. Friday: off
  6. Saturday: Push
  7. Sunday: Pull

Week 3

  1. Monday: Legs
  2. Tuesday: off
  3. Wednesday: Push
  4. Thursday: Pull
  5. Friday: Legs
  6. Saturday: off
  7. Sunday: Push

This fourth version of the split is very similar to Version 2 in that it uses a rotating schedule that involves training on different days each week.

The main difference, however, is that Version 2 used a 5-day cycle (push/pull/off/legs/off and then repeat) which meant there’d be 4 or 5 workouts per week, whereas this version uses a 4-day cycle (push/pull/legs/off and then repeat) which means there are 5 or 6 workouts per week.

Now let’s take a look at the pros and cons…

The Good

Once again, the training frequency is great.

Each body part gets trained every 4th day exactly, which makes it the highest frequency version of push/pull/legs, just slightly beating out Version 3 by a very tiny margin.

Unfortunately, there are a few downsides.

The Bad

This is the version most likely to be problematic for people from a recovery standpoint and a scheduling standpoint.

It basically has all of the same inconvenient scheduling issues that Version 2 and 3 had – only worse – plus the recovery issues version 3 had, but to a higher/worse degree.

So while this version of the split nails the frequency aspect of things quite well, everything else about it can be a problem for a lot of people.

The Verdict

Honestly, I don’t recommend this version of the split often.

It can be a good option for certain people (details here: The Best 6-Day Workout Splits), but those people would be in the minority. For this reason, I recommend most people considering using this version go with Version 3 instead.

The Push/Pull/Legs Workout Routine

Now that you’ve seen the different versions of this split and picked the one that’s best for you, the next thing you’ll need is an actual workout routine to go along with it.

And for that, you have two options:

1. Use My Free PPL Workout Template

First, I have something awesome for you. And it’s completely free.

I call it The Push/Pull/Legs Workout Template, and it’s the exact template I personally use whenever I design this type of routine for myself or others.

If you want it, just click here and tell me where to send it.

You’ll then be able to use it to design your own push/pull/legs program to suit your specific needs, goals, and preferences.

2. The Sample Push/Pull/Legs Routine

Here now is one of the many examples of a push/pull/legs routine that was designed using my template.

Push Workout

  1. Bench Press: 3×6-8
  2. Shoulder Press: 3×8-10
  3. Incline Dumbbell Flyes: 3×10-15
  4. Triceps Pushdowns: 3×10-15
  5. Abs: 10 minutes of whatever you want.

Pull Workout

  1. Rows: 3×6-8
  2. Pull-Ups or Lat Pull-Downs: 3×8-10
  3. Face Pulls: 3×10-15
  4. Barbell Shrugs: 3×8-10
  5. Dumbbell Curls: 3×10-15

Legs Workout

  1. Squats: 3×6-8
  2. Romanian Deadlifts: 3×6-8
  3. Leg Press: 3×8-10
  4. Leg Curls: 3×8-10
  5. Standing Calf Raises: 3×6-8
  6. Seated Calf Raises: 2×10-15

And there you have it. That’s everything you need to know about push/pull/legs.

Choose the version of the split that suits you best, use the sample workout shown above (or get my template and design your own), put it into action consistently, and, assuming you’re goal is to build muscle, be sure to combine it with a muscle building diet plan as well.

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152 thoughts on “Push/Pull/Legs Split (PPL): 3-6 Day Workout Routine”


  1. Would u recommend doing this routine three days in a row, then rest 1 day (3 on, 1 off and repeat)? Example:

    Sunday: Push
    Mon: Legs
    Tues: Pull
    Wed: Off
    Thurs: Push
    Fri: Legs
    Sat: Pull
    Sun: off

    Mon: Push
    Tues: Legs
    Wed: Pull
    Thurs: off
    Fri: push
    Sat: legs
    Sun: pull
    Essentially, by doing it this way, u always hit every body part twice a week, while allowing time off for recovery.

    Also, what exercises do u recommend for each Push, Pull, and Legs workout? If you could give a sample routine (I tend to err on the side of too many exercises in a workout!), that’d be really helpful!


    • Some people can make that set up work, but it’s definitely not something I’d recommend most people try.

      The training frequency for each muscle group is good, and the rest days between training sessions of the same muscle group is also good… but the fact that you’re weight training 6 days a week every week is just too much for most people to recover from.

      Like I’ve recently explained, allowing for optimal recovery is about more than just having enough days before training the same muscle group again. This 3 on/1 off version fails to take that into account.

      As for a full sample routine that uses a push/pull/legs split… hang in there. It’s coming.

      • I feel like if I take off more than one day, I actually LOSE my strength and gains. Maybe my program/routine sucks and that’s why rest days don’t seem to benefit me??

        For rest days, does that mean u can’t do anything….or does that mean rest from lifting? I want to incorporate a swim workout into my non-weight lifting days… is this ok?

        • Well that would definitely either just be your imagination (this is kinda like why people never deload or take time off… they “feel” like they are losing muscle/strength) or like you said: your overall routine might just kinda suck.

          As for what “rest day” means, in this context we’re talking about a day off from lifting. Whether or not some form of cardio can (or should) be done on a rest day depends on your exact goals and situation.

      • Hey man! I just found your website and i have to tell….
        You have some really really great stuff in here – honest , down to earth and none of the “do this and you will get jacked!!” bullshit.

        I was browising through the comments in this article and i was wondering… You said that maybe you were going to give away a full sample routine based on the push/pull/legs split.. Is this still in your plans?
        If yes, then, i can’t wait to read it when it comes out!

        Thanks for all the knowledge and information my friend!!!
        Keep going strong!

  2. fantastic website – you rock!!
    Any suggestions for (intermediate) a routine:
    Day 1: Chest, Shoulders, Tri’s and Abs
    Day 2: Legs, Back, Bi’s

    Purpose: build muscle, look good. (frequency: about twice a week)

    If this routine sucks, maybe you can suggest another routine:
    -i do like the push/pull workout – but prefer to work my entire body in 2 days, not 3.
    -i like to keep all leg workouts on the same day – not split them up for push/pull. ex- not doing quads on day one, hams on day two.
    -i don’t enjoy the upper/lower split. (several reasons)
    —— these are just personal preferances. looking for a needed change ——
    any help would be great.

    • Yup, for intermediates looking to build muscle, that’s another split I like a lot… except I’d rather see it done 3 days per week ABA/BAB style rather than 4 days.

      And if you’re looking for a full routine to go along with that split, hang in there. It’s coming.

  3. What is your option on the fascia stretch routine, where you do 7 pump sets on your last exercise of a body part. I read up about it, & was wondering if I should try it out. I’m doing the push, pull, leg split routine now.

  4. Great article, found it very helpful. I have a few questions aswell.

    1. Is it always best to do a Push day before a Pull day if it’s for 2 days in a row, or is there no problem with doing the Pull day before? Like you mentioned, there’s the next day soreness factor that is annoying doing them 2 days in a row, but I find the soreness worse from chest/shoulders/tricep day. Especially the shoulders, that’s a killer doing lat pull downs, etc. the day after, so that’s why I prefer doing Pull then Push.

    What I also do is break it into 2 workouts, each twice per week: ABXABXX, or sometimes ABXAXBX, depending on my schedule. I do legs on Pull day, normally either squats or leg press, and ab’s on Push day. I find that’s enough leg work for me, I do a bit of cardio, and walk a lot, they’re always getting worked.

    • 1. Whether you schedule push or pull day first is mostly up to your own preferences (the reason you mentioned, the fact that you may want to put more emphasis on push or pull, so you train it on the first day when you’re fresher, etc.). It’s up to you, really.

      2. What you’re describing here is what I call the Push/Pull+Legs split, which is another split I like a lot. While it can work ABXABXX and ABXAXBX, I don’t typically recommend it like that because it essentially causes 4 shoulder workouts per week (the shoulder girdle is involved heavily in all push and pulling exercises).

      I prefer it done alternating ABA BAB style (Week 1: AXBXAXX, Week 2: BXAXBXX, etc.).

      In fact, The Best Workout Routines contains a routine called Maximum Muscle Hypertrophy which is built around this exact split.

  5. what do you think would be the best split for someone who is intermediate to advanced and is using a body part split that cannot workout on weekends.

  6. What do you think about to do this program 2 on/1 off/2 on/1 off? With this system the muscles are trained every 4th day. Do you see any negative things and problems with my option?

    • Training frequency per muscle group ends up in a good range, but overall training frequency (meaning total workouts per week) is a bit higher than I’d personally like to see or feel most people would need or benefit from.

      Can it work for some people? Sure. But is it actually worth it? Probably not. Most people will be better off with the extra bit of recovery rather than the extra bit of frequency.

  7. Which routine do you personally prefer to build muscle – an upper/lower body split 3-4 days per week or push/legs/pull 4-5 days per week?

    • Honestly, for me, I like both equally and prefer one over the other at different times depending on my mood or schedule at the time. Can’t really pick a favorite… they both work.

  8. Great Article………I was on a 3 day split routine and have now changed it to 5 day split. I have a few questions in mind

    1) For how long I should continue the push/pull/legs routine ? I have been doing it for 2 months now.

    I am doing the following exercises.

    Push: Military Press, Bench Press, Dips
    Pull: Chin ups, Bent over row, One arm row (I was doing BB curls initially but after pain in my wrist, i left it.
    Legs: RDL, Front Squat and Lunges.

    2) If I should continue with push/pull/legs, should I try to change exercises like can I replace dips with any machine that works on the same muscles ?

  9. wow thanks a lot, my friend
    the 5 day cycle makes perfect sense, both in terms of muscle recovery time and how frequent one should work out
    BTW you don’t need first Monday off for week 3 right? (doing the 2-week cycle again)

    • Nope, that first Monday would indeed be an off day. Basically, you’re doing push, pull, off, legs, off and then repeating it. So if legs end up on Sunday, the following Monday would be an off day.

  10. I follow the rotating Push/Pull/Legs Split (5 Day Cycle) and I think that the 4 day rest is timed perfectly for each muscle part except for abs. I don’t know but it seems like my abs recover so fast. Do you think 5 day cycle is enough for abs? Messed up schedule isn’t a problem for me, thanks in advance

    • Yup, this frequency is fine for abs. They’re getting plenty of indirect work during squats, deadlifts, etc. in the other workouts, so one direct ab workout every 5th day is all that’s needed.

  11. Would you recommend 3 sets 15 reps for each? Say concentration curls
    And which one benefits me more between more sets + more reps + lighter weight vs less sets + less reps + heavier weight?

  12. Would u recommend doin this split twice a week? IE

    Day 1 – Push
    Day 2 – Pull
    Day 3 – Legs
    Day 4 – Push
    Day 5 – Pull
    Day 6 – Legs
    Day 7 – Rest

    Or do you think this might be too much?

  13. Thanks for the info on the 5 day cycle. I was actually trying to split legs into push/pull, but was overworking glutes. It makes perfect sense to do legs all in one day. Two things I thought worth noting:

    1.) “the ‘legs’ workout (which is typically the hardest/most physically and mentally demanding workout of the week) ends up always having a rest day before and after it”. This isn’t totally true. Legs from Sunday of week 2 are followed by “Push” on Monday of week 1. Not too big a deal, I imagine.

    2.) Since Wed. is an off day on both weeks, the program could be shifted to where this consistent day off is best utilized. In my case, Thurs was a difficult day to work out, so I shifted the program up a day to have every Thurs off.

    • 1. Nope, you got that wrong. It’s ALWAYS push/pull/off/legs/off. That’s the cycle, and it always repeats like that meaning there is ALWAYS a day off before and after legs. Week 1 doesn’t repeat after week 2, the cycle just keeps on going from where it left off the previous week.

      2. Nope, this is wrong too. Wednesday of week 3 would be a Pull workout.

      • Oh sorry, I obviously didn’t get that; but now it’s definitely too difficult for me to schedule knowing there’s no consistent pattern. Back to the drawing board, I guess. Though really, alternating the 2 weeks as push/legs/pull works for me well in terms of scheduling. Is there a particular drawback to that pattern?

        Week 1

        1. Monday: Push (Chest, Shoulders, Triceps)
        2. Tuesday: Legs (Quads, Hamstrings, Calves, Abs)
        3. Wednesday: Pull (Back, Biceps)
        4. Thursday: off
        5. Friday: Push (Chest, Shoulders, Triceps)
        6. Saturday: off
        7. Sunday: Legs (Quads, Hamstrings, Calves, Abs)

        Week 2

        1. Monday: Pull (Back, Biceps)
        2. Tuesday: off
        3. Wednesday: Push (Chest, Shoulders, Triceps)
        4. Thursday: off
        5. Friday: Legs (Quads, Hamstrings, Calves, Abs)
        6. Saturday: Pull (Back, Biceps)
        7. Sunday: off

  14. Good info, brother.
    I think I know that 3 sets 8 reps is the ideal for most of my chest/arms workout, but how many exercises would you recommend?
    Eg. for biceps – concentration curls 3×8
    – hammer curls 3×8
    – preacher curls 3×8 and that’s it only 3 exercises?

    • Why would 3×8 automatically be ideal? And 9 sets for biceps after they just got plenty of volume during back work would be way too much, especially when training with an optimal frequency.

      • 3×8 is perfect for me because i’ve tried 3×10/3×12 with a little heavier weight and it’s too much
        i guess i’ll lower it to maybe 6 sets?

        • Honestly, it’s a little more complicated than just being able to say “do x sets of biceps.” It depends on too many other factors specific to you and your overall program/goals/experience/etc.

  15. Hi,
    I have been using the upper/lower routine for a couple of months and have noticed some pretty good results. My only complaint is that I am not getting the results I want in my arms. Do you think the push/pull routine would work better? Also, I have a difficult time working out on weekends, so how could I make this routine work for me?


    • It’s possible, but it’s honestly one of those things you’d have to try and see for yourself. However, the fact that you can’t train on weekends is definitely an issue if you want to use this version of the split.

      So, what you have here is a common ‘schedule vs training preference’ conflict, and you’re the only person who can truly settle it.

  16. What do you think about doing this 4 days a week, skipping weekends for personal scheduling, and on a rotating schedule? Was thinking this may be better than doing the MWF schedule?

    Something like this..

    Monday Pull
    Tuesday Push
    Wednesday X
    Thursday Legs
    Friday Pull
    Saturday X
    Sunday X

    Monday Push
    Tuesday Legs
    Wednesday X
    Thursday Pull
    Friday Push
    Saturday X
    Sunday X

    Monday Legs
    Tuesday Pull
    Wednesday X
    Thursday Push
    Friday Legs
    Saturday X
    Sunday X



  17. My workout is a Push/Pull/Legs routine on Monday, Wendsday and Friday.I find that with the number of exercises, sets/reps that I do along with the days off between workouts is ideal for me.Although you wrote that ” Yes, it can still work if everything else is done right. It’s just NOT what works best for the majority of the population” how should it be done for a natural bodybuilder with a goal to build muscle using this frequency?

    My workout
    Mon. Chest, Shoulders & Triceps
    1. Bench press 4×8-12
    2. Incline press 4×8-12
    3. Flys 4×8-12
    4. Shoulder press 3×8-12
    5. Lateral raise 3×8-12
    6. Overhead triceps extension 3×8-12
    7. Kickbacks 3×8-12

    Wed. Back, Biceps & Forearms
    1. Bent arm pullover 4×8-12
    2. One arm row 4×8-12
    3. Seated row 4×8-12
    4. Seated curl 3×8-12
    5. Concentration curl 3×8-12
    6. Reverse curl 3×8-12
    7. Wrist curl 3×8-12

    Fri. Legs, Calves & Abs
    1. Squat 4×8-12
    2. Lunges 4×8-12
    3. Stiff leg deadlift 4×8-12
    4. Calf raise 4×20
    5. Single calf raise 4×20
    6. Crunches 4×25
    7. Leg raise 4×25

    Rest between sets 1 minute
    Total duration each workout session 40-60 minutes

    • I’m not sure what you’re looking for here. The post explains why I don’t really love this version of the split (along with the version I much prefer instead).

      But, you still like training that way anyway because you feel it’s “ideal” for you. So if it’s ideal as you say, then I’m not really sure what advice you’re looking for.

      • I was curious to know your opinion of how that frequency could work if done “right”.How would you go about doing so, not just for me but for anyone in general.The rest days after hitting the major body parts (tue, thur, sat & sun) are beneficial in my opinion as they are very taxing on ones system.This frequency I believe can work provided that the routine is setup properly, which is why I posted my workout for you to critique.
        My method for natural bodybuilding is…
        Major Muscle Group
        3 exercises, 4 sets/8-12 reps or
        4 exercises, 3 sets/8-12 reps
        Approximately 144 total reps per week

        Minor Muscle Group
        2 exercises, 3 sets/8-12 reps or
        3 exercises, 2 sets/8-12 reps
        Approximately 72 total reps per week

        1-2 exercises, 4 sets/20 reps
        Approximately 80-160 total reps per week

        1-2 exercises, 4 sets/25 reps
        Approximately 100-200 total reps per week

        The frequency you suggest offers a little more rest than a 3 on 1 off routine when looked at from a monthly point of view.
        Would like to know what you think.

        • The guide already covers the basics of how to make various amounts of volume work with various frequencies, including this one. I’d suggest checking that out if you haven’t already.

          But beyond that, the reason you feel it’s so taxing and warrants extra rest days is simply because you’re trying to cram a week’s worth of volume into a single workout. Assuming your goal is building muscle (as opposed to just maintaining it while losing fat), then you can lower the volume which will in turn lower how taxing it is which will in turn allow you to increase the frequency to a more optimal range.

          • Thanks for your input, yes I have looked into it as this is how
            I came up with this solution.
            Your information was very helpful as I cross compared it with other routines that I have done from experience.By far this Push, Pull, Legs 3 day split along with the set/rep volume I have been using is at least for me the best for my goal.
            Thought I’d share and get some more feedback.
            Thanks again for your time.

  18. What are your thoughts on modifying “pull/pull/legs” into “push + quads & calves / pull + hamstrings & abs”? You could then work out either 3 or 4 days per week, and have a consistent weekly schedule without needing to rotate. For instance:

    M: Push + quads/calves
    T: Pull + hamstrings/abs
    W: rest
    Th: Push + quads/calves
    F: Pull + hamstrings/abs
    Sat/Sun: rest


    M: Push
    T: rest
    W: Pull
    Th: rest
    F: Push
    Sat/Sun: rest
    M: Pull

    Thanks for putting this site together, you’re the man!

    • Yup, that’s the basic push/pull split which puts upper AND lower body pushing/pulling together on its own day. The 3 day version is actually a split I use with one of the programs in The Best Workout Routines. I like it.

      Not a fan of the 4 day version, though. Way too much joint overlap (knees, elbows and shoulders) to do 4 times per week AND on consecutive days both times.

      • Regarding the 4 day version: is it mainly the 4 days you don’t like, the consecutive days, or the combination of the two?

        The reason I ask is that one of the reasons why I switched to the combined upper+lower push/pull split from the full body split (which I was doing for a little over a year with pretty good results) is that the full body split doesn’t give you the flexibility of doing two back-to-back days. For me, it’s really convenient to be able to work out on both weekend days, as well as to have the flexibility of working out on back-to-back weekdays in case I have to miss a workout due to a long day, etc. I know that’s backwards from most people’s schedules where they’d rather have weekends free, but that’s just my life at the moment.

        With that limitation in mind, what do you think of Sat/Sun/Wednesday, or Sat/Sun/Tues/Thurs splits?

        Thanks again for all your help!

        • It’s each one individually AND the combination of the two that I don’t like.

          There’s just a lot of overlap between quad and hamstring exercises, and training them on consecutive days (and 4 times per week… gonna be tough on the lower back especially) can be a problem. The same goes for all of the use the shoulder girdle and elbows get during pressing/pulling movements, which again will be trained on consecutive days (and 4 times per week total).

          With your schedule, where you need to be able to train on consecutive days, the upper/lower split is probably the best option… not push/pull.

          • I see your point. I just went back through the Best Workout Routines, and realized that what I’ve been doing is basically your “Targeted Lean Muscle” routine. I guess I’m guilty of falling into the “more = better” trap of wanting to work out 4 days a week rather than 3. But, doing 3 days, one of them on the weekend, gives me enough flexibility to ensure I get my workouts in, even if I have to move a day here or there. I’ll just have to trust you that 3 days will be enough, lol!

          • 3 days will be plenty, I promise. Not just for the split you’re looking to do (where the 4 day version is just too much by itself), but A LOT of people have found they just do better training 3 days per week instead of 4 regardless of the split.

            A little more recovery (for muscle groups, joints, nervous system, etc.) produces better progress and overall results for many people.

  19. could you give me a list of the actual workouts, such as bench press, leg press, squat, curls, ect. for each of the push, pull, and legs? Also what weight percentages should we use of our max, like 80% of our max or just however much we can do?

  20. Is it wrong to train 5 days in a row Monday to Friday? Chest Monday shoulders tuesday
    And arms and abs Wednesday and back to chest thurs and shoulders Friday?
    How many days a week would be best programme? I feel drained after 5 days maybe over training like
    Any help needed thanks

    • For most people, weight training 5 days in a row is not only too much, but completely unnecessary. And the split you laid out is horrible for many reasons besides just training 5 days in a row.

      Read this.

      Start from the beginning and go all the way through to the end without skipping anything. All of your questions will be answered, I promise.

  21. I think I found a nice way to use a push/pull/leg
    and get frequency up with muscles being hit once
    every 5 days.

    and repeat

      • I could see that working, easing into the volume would probably be key I will try it out when I am in a caloric surplus and see how it goes. I really enjoyed this article thanks for responding to everyone’s posts this is a productive website.

  22. I was wondering about getting some extra frequency and volume for particular body parts. For example; training biceps both on push day and also a few sets for biceps on pull days. Would that make the biceps grow better? Using a push/legs/pull split ofc.

    • Honestly, it’s impossible to say. There’s a lot more that goes into making any muscle “grow better” than just throwing some extra sets in on some other training day. If you are interested specifically in improving your biceps more than any other part of your body, you may want to look into some sort of bicep specialization program… assuming of course you’re advanced enough to actually warrant it.

  23. Hello again and thanks for your last answer. I was just wondering why you don’t recommend training 3 days straight and then 1 day rest. I’m doing push/legs/pull and then 1 day rest. Working out 3/4 days will let me have less volume/workout than 3/5 days. Why would it be better working out 2 times in a row rather than 3 but spending less time in the gym if working out 3 times in a row?

  24. Thanks for the split, I really like the way it’s working for me. Though to clarify, when you say shoulders you mean deltoids right? And traps would go on back day? So if I’m doing lateral or front raises with db’s that should be with chest and tri’s right?

    Thanks man.

  25. Hey I find looking at the Rotating version much more appealing to what I want, I’m focusing mostly on the top half of my body and definitely working on my abs at the moment, but would rather add a bit more upper body work in the leg days, what could you recommend for this? Thanks.

  26. Nice Website. after reading some of your articles I’ve decided to change my old routine which was (one frequency per week routine) to 3 days upper\lower split based on your articles I have put together my own routine centred on compound exercises as my goal is to gain strength and put on muscle mass. it’s like this:


    Flat Bench Press
    Inclined Bench press
    Shoulder Military Press
    Barbell front Rows
    Chin ups
    Skull Crushers


    Calf Raises
    Leg Press

    what do you think? on my upper day was that too much of compound exercises or it is okay? any suggestions and thoughts will be appreciated? thanks in advance.

  27. I saw the rotating push/pull legs split 5 day program and would like to start it hoepfully tomorrow. What exactly is the routine and what exercises are in it?
    Week 1

    1.Monday: Push (Chest, Shoulders, Triceps)
    2.Tuesday: Pull (Back, Biceps)
    3.Wednesday: off
    4.Thursday: Legs (Quads, Hamstrings, Calves, Abs)
    5.Friday: off
    6.Saturday: Push (Chest, Shoulders, Triceps)
    7.Sunday: Pull (Back, Biceps)
    Week 2

    1.Monday: off
    2.Tuesday: Legs (Quads, Hamstrings, Calves, Abs)
    3.Wednesday: off
    4.Thursday: Push (Chest, Shoulders, Triceps)
    5.Friday: Pull (Back, Biceps)
    6.Saturday: off
    7.Sunday: Legs (Quads, Hamstrings, Calves, Abs)
    You mention on day one you do chest

  28. first of all I really appreciate your work on this site . Information here impresses me , well done .I have the same question as the first commentator , but slightly different :

    Monday : Push
    Tuesday : Legs & core
    Wednesday : Pull
    Friday : Push
    Saturday : Legs & core
    Sunday : Pull

    I use only my bodyweight ( push ups , dips , hspu , squats , lounges , pullups etc ). I dont do weightraining . Considering this fact, would this workout routine be too much for me ? I havent tried it yet , so I thought it would be better to ask you first .

  29. Man, this is EXACTLY what I have been looking for. I have been doing a chest-tri/bi-back/lower circuit routine for far too long and it has lost it’s luster (and I have not seeing ANY improvement in a while). I have joined MFP to lose weight and have been surfing the net for a simple yet effective weight routine. I looked at the 5×5, the 5/3/1 and so on. They seem a little too complicated. I really like your push/pull/off/leg/off, repeat, routine.

    I re-figured my 1RM earlier today. Do you recommend doing your routines with a certain % of your 1RM for 1 week, then every week increasing the load; something like week 1 at 65%, week 2 at 70%, and so on until you hit 85-90% (increasing the load, decresing the reps), do a deload week then start over with a higher 1RM?

    Thanks for the info and great article. Look forward to reading more and checking out your other routines.

    • Glad to hear it man.

      Regarding progression, the approach you described is perfectly fine.

      My default recommendation (especially when the goal is muscle growth) is to meet the prescribed set/rep goal, then add weight, then meet the prescribed set/rep goal with the new heavier weight, then add weight again, etc. You can see an example of this here (scroll down to “The Method Of Progression”).

  30. Just wanted to say a big thank you for your website – Found it last night and it is very helpful! Keep up the great work! Shazza, Brisbane QLD Australia.

  31. I have been doing the intermediate upper/lower split from a different page of this site, but I have also seen a routine that seems like it could better fit my needs, and it is loosely based on push/pull/legs. It runs something like this:

    Friday:optional-work what you are lacking on or what you think needs more attention

    Thoughts? I’m in the military and I figured I would use the optional day for endurance based workouts, and specific task based workouts. Also if you wouldn’t recommend this then how might I tweak the upper/lower four day split found here to better fit those goals? Putting on size is also still a priority, as it would make forced marches a bit easier so Ive been struggling to find an even medium. Thanks for your feedback and your time.

    • The split you laid out would only train everything once per week. This is fine if you only want to maintain muscle/strength, but for increasing it, a twice per week frequency is ideal.

      A better option might be the 3 day upper/lower split, using that 4th training day for endurance work.

  32. Hey man,
    I think I am pretty close to your pull/legs/push exercise, let me know what you think…

    Monday-Pull (back, biceps)
    Tuesday-Legs (legs, shoulders, abs)
    Wednesday- Push (chest, tricep)
    Thursday- off (light cardio, abs)
    Friday- Pull (back, biceps)
    Saturday-Legs (legs, shoulders, abs)
    Sunday- Push (chest, tricep)
    and so on….

    I know I through shoulders in with legs, is that okay?
    Also, I may throw extra break days in there randomly based on my schedule.

    Thanks for any feedback man!

  33. Hello,
    Are the week 3 and the week 4 looking like this?
    Week 3
    1. Monday: off
    2. Tuesday: Push (Chest, Shoulders, Triceps)
    3. Wednesday: Pull (Back, Biceps)
    4. Thursday: off
    5. Friday: Legs (Quads, Hamstrings, Calves, Abs)
    6. Saturday: off
    7. Sunday: Push (Chest, Shoulders, Triceps)
    Week 4
    1. Monday: Pull (Back, Biceps)
    2. Tuesday: off
    3. Wednesday: Legs (Quads, Hamstrings, Calves, Abs)
    4. Thursday: off
    5. Friday: Push (Chest, Shoulders, Triceps)
    6. Saturday: Pull (Back, Biceps)
    7. Sunday: off
    Thank you!

  34. Hi jay,

    Great article (again ;))! I don’t know if you answer questions like this but I can always ask 🙂

    I’ve been working out with your upper/lower split template for a long time now, and I decided that I’ll try the push/pull/legs split now. I do have a bit of an issue with working out the amount of reps per workout I should use.
    In the upper/lower split I trained 4 days a week with a maximum of 60 reps per workout for the bigger muscles (as you recommend). However, in the push/pull/legs split the frequency is a bit lower (about twice per week or every five days), so I’m kinda having doubts about how many reps I should use. I was thinking about 3 exercises per big muscle group: 3×8 + 3×10 + 2×12 = 78 reps per workout. For the smaller muscle groups: 2×10 + 2×12 = 44 reps per workout.
    Would that seem ok to you? Or would the normal 60 reps per workout do just fine?

    Thanks in advance!

    Best regards, Stefan

  35. Hi Jay,

    I read most of your pages on weight lifting and I’m pretty sure I am a beginner because I have been lifting weights for arms for five months and doing pilates for abs and lower body. I usually work out 6 days a week, an our each day and doing legs one day, abs another, and arms another. I have definitely noticed myself toning up and building some muscle, but I really want to gain more muscle. Will your beginner workout work well for me?
    Thanks! Sara

  36. It’s ok do Pull/Push/legs/pull/push then rest two days and repeat?
    I don’t work with machines, only compounds with weights most of my workout is bodyweight.

  37. Fantastic site. Love the no bullshit approach. ive been on a once a week per bodypart routine for a year. switching to upper lower split as of tomorrow after reading this.
    You are very patient with some of your replys. lol . Even im screaming ‘just read the other f***ing posts!

  38. Really helpful web page you have here mate! I’ve always done the basic 5/6 day split but just started a push/ pull/ off/ Legs/ off/ push/ pull split.

    Would you say 28 sets for push split: 10 sets chest, 11 shoulders, 7 triceps (with 4 of these sets only body weight, and another 6
    /8 sets approx 50% 1RM aiming at increasing reps each set instead of load)
    Is to much or optimal?

    A quick response from you would be great, much respect! (y)

  39. What do you think about this schedule?

    monday push
    tuesday pull
    wednesday legs
    thursday push
    friday pull
    saturday off
    sunday off

    monday pull
    tuesday push
    wednesday legs
    thursday pull
    friday push
    saturday off
    sunday off

    • It would typically be done on pull day, though I personally don’t see a need for the average person just trying to build muscle/lose fat/look awesome to do direct forearm work.

  40. Ideally I’d like to do the four-day Upper/Lower split, but I just don’t have time at lunch to do a complete upper body workout in 45 minutes.

    I’d still like to hit each muscle group on average more than once a week, though (no gym on weekends, can only do weekdays at lunch)

    How about something like this?

    Monday: Push
    Tuesday: Legs/Core
    Wednesday: Off
    Thursday: Pull
    Friday: Push
    Saturday: Off
    Sunday: Off

    Monday: Legs/Core
    Tuesday: Pull
    Wednesday: Off
    Thursday: Push
    Friday: Legs/Core
    Saturday: Off
    Sunday: Off

    Monday: Pull
    Tuesday: Push
    Wednesday: Off
    Thursday: Legs/Core
    Friday: Pull
    Saturday: Off
    Sunday: Off

    That’s 4 times per muscle group every 3 weeks, but obviously not as good as the 6 times that a 4 day Upper/Lower split would allow.

    The only other option would be to lift every day M-F (5 workouts per muscle group/3 weeks) but that doesn’t seem like enough rest:

    Monday: Push
    Tuesday: Legs/Core
    Wednesday: Pull
    Thursday: Push
    Friday: Legs/Core (and so on)
    Saturday: Off
    Sunday: Off

    Any suggestions? I am trying to gain muscle mostly just for looks, but some strength as well. What would be the best for me with only 45 minutes per workout available M-F?


  41. Hi there,

    I love reading your articles and admire your passion and knowledge in fitness! I have been working out on and off for the last 8 years now. I decided to start training again consistently in the last 4 months. My dilemma is that I only have 4 days to train mon- thu when I’m away for work. I really would like to try your program but my schedule doesn’t permit it , I’m home 3 days a week and with 2 small children and family obligations makes it hard to follow your rotating splits. Could you please recommend something that would benefit my goal which is to have my beach body back for the summer. I’m currently on a low calorie deficit phase to lose some body fat. I live in Sweden and would like to purchase your book to increase my knowledge further about proper training and nutrition. Please advise me on the best way to do that !

    Thanks in advance, Iolani.

  42. What do you think about going heavy weight for one split and then light with a lot of reps (to get more toned) for the next split. For example:

    Sunday: Push (Heavy weight low reps)
    Monday: Legs (Heavy weight low reps)
    Tuesday: Rest
    Wednesday: Pull (Heavy weight low reps)
    Thursday: Rest
    Friday: Push (Lighter weight, more reps)
    Saturday: Legs (Lighter weight, more reps)
    Sunday: Rest
    Monday: Pull (Lighter weight, more reps)

    I want to get stronger but I also want to see more definition. Please let me know what you think of this.

  43. Hi,

    First of all great article and thanks for sharing all your knowledge.

    After trying every single workout split possible (you know how many there are)! I have found that Push/Legs/Pull split works really well for various reasons and I am personally applying this one. I like it, and will make this my consistent routine to focus on progressive overload. I want your opinion about the workout routine I have in mind.. Is a 3 day work, 1 day off and repeat with 2 sessions a day.. This is why: My calves are genetically ungifted so I am doing my push/legs/pull workouts in the morning and my calves session at night for about 30-40 min 3 times a week including some HIIT. What I want is to really focus on developing my calves so thats the reason for having a second session at night. Do you think this is too much in a general perspective? What would you suggest? Is worth to mention that I would be taking good care of my nutrition, supplementation and recovery in order to not lead to overtraining.

    Thank you and I deeply appreciate your response.

  44. Why do you recommend to do first muscle groups first ( which I agree ) and recommend in your training program Split Upper B to do first Schoulder press and Dumbell press ( brest ) afterwards while this is a bigger muscle group than shoulders?

    • To provide an equal amount of emphasis and focus to different body parts. The second pressing exercise will always suffer to some extent from fatigue due to the pressing exercise that came before it. So by putting the chest press first one day, and the shoulder press first on the other, both get an equal amount of training focus as the primary lift.

  45. Hi AWorkoutRoutine

    I’ve read your website but I have some unclarities.

    Is it ok if I do the PPL split that you presented here, but instead of

    Monday: Push (Chest, Shoulders, Triceps)
    Tuesday: Pull (Back, Biceps)
    Wednesday: off
    Thursday: Legs (Quads, Hamstrings, Calves, Abs)
    Friday: off
    Saturday: Push (Chest, Shoulders, Triceps)
    Sunday: Pull (Back, Biceps)

    I would do

    1. Monday: Push (Chest, Shoulders, Triceps)
    2. Tuesday: Pull (Back, Biceps)
    3. Wednesday: Legs (Quads, Hamstrings, Calves, Abs)
    4. Thursday: off
    5. Friday: Push (Chest, Shoulders, Triceps)
    6. Saturday: Pull (Back, Biceps)
    7. Sunday: off

    I suppose for the 2nd Push/Pull days you don’t do the same workout routine as the 1st day. I’d like to do different exercises, for example Incline bench press instead of Bench Press for the 2nd Push day and so forth for every other group.

    Thank you

  46. I am now on your routing for a month or so in the 3 day split. I am having difficulty understanding the logic on your theory of Progressive load. Two questions :
    1) You mention either the rep range goes up per session or the weight, if you reached the min rep nr on all sets , say when goal is 3 sets of 6-8 reps then 6x6x6x means move your weight up next session. This means you will probably target or achieve the first set for only 6 rep never the 8x. Or should you always try the 8 reps even in the first set with added weight in that situation?. If I can do 8 reps in the that first set then my next set will suffer and stay below 6,( failed to achieve goal ) if my first set is 6 reps I may be able to reach the 6 reps on next following sets which means again add weight next session. So how should we apply this? Isn’t better to try to target for the 8x8x8x first before adding weight?
    2) The progressive load assumes there is only one way ; and that is up, you must have experienced occasions where the body has lost strength/condition ( holidays. illness, business travel ) how would that affect the progressive laod principle? Do you step back let’s say 10% in either reps or weight to allow the body to catch up or do you remain hitting the same levels from last session even if curent results are less then previous session.?

    • 1. I recommend always getting at least one set of 8 (ideally the first set) before increasing the weight. So 8,7,6 is good. 7,7,6 or something like that would entail staying with that weight again until you get 8 in the first set.

      If getting 8 in the first set prevents you getting even 6 in the next set, you’d be someone who would likely do well with another progression method that involves reducing the weight slightly from one set to the next.

      2. Unless you’re a beginner, you will not progress in reps or weight every single workout. You want to try to, but it’s just not going to happen 100% of the time. And if you miss workouts for some reason, you will always come back slightly weaker… that’s normal. So if you miss 1 week, coming back to 80% of your usual weights is what I recommend. The next week, back to 90%. The next week, back to 100% and attempting to progress again the week after that.

      • Jay that was clear, so target first set is always the max reps from the series ( 6-8 means 8 and 10-12 means 12 ) following reps should as a minimum be the lower boundary ( min 6 in 6-8) . Excellent guidance, thanks a lot. I am still progressing on most of the exercises but I deliberately stepped back a bit when starting your program to let muscles get used to the new sequence of exercises. So far I love the principle.

  47. Great post, very helpful stuff…

    I have been doing a lot of leg work recently so would like to ease off it a bit and focus a bit more on upper body. Also, training Monday-Friday with weekends off suits me best, so im wondering would something like this work, or would it lead to overtraining:


    Any input would be greatly appreciated.

  48. What would do differently if my main goal was weight loss? I want to build muscle too but would I want to build in a cardio day?

  49. I thought we were supposed to get 5 to 7 days of rest for each muscle group to build muscle. Keeping the rep range around 4 to 6 and training one body part per day.

  50. I’m doing the push/pull/leg split. Would it be OK to do 3 compound exercises and 3 isolation exercises per session? Or should I do more/less?

    Great website! Helped alot.

  51. I’m currently in a deficit and I had some questions about this split and cardio. First, would you recommend cardio with this split? Would I do cardio after workouts or on off days? HIIT or Low intensity?

    Love the site. I’ve already done the Upper Lower Split you have available on here and just needed to switch it up!

  52. In context of the “Push/Pull/Legs Split” routine, where would you advice incorporating a core (abs) workout? Perhaps on an rest day or with back/biceps?

  53. Thank-you for the last reply. Also, where would you recommend training traps in relation to “Push/Pull/Legs Split” routine? Their commonly trained with shoulders I believe, but what exercises are best to train both shoulders and traps effectively?

  54. Read your stuff multiple times over now in the past 2 years, and started out with your beginners guide and doing alternate push/pull/legs now. Just had to come back by and tell you thank you for all the effort you have put in to educate people. Just 1 point of criticism regarding you site is the donate button is missing 😉

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