Last updated on October 30th, 2022 at 03:47 pm
Who else wants to know, “Is PPL Better Than Upper/Lower?”
For all the training plans there are out there, many of us typically settle on push/pull/legs or an upper/lower split.
These are two fantastic ways to train and you can definitely pack on size and strength with both.
However, is one better than the other?
Should you focus more on PPL for muscle?
Or will an upper/lower split produce the greater results?
Allow me to reveal all.
Is PPL Better Than Upper/Lower?
Whether PPL is better than upper/lower will largely depend on the time you have available to train and your powers of recovery. That being said, another way to look at it is whether you feel your upper or lower body lacks development. If you feel your lower body is lagging behind then it makes sense to train an upper/lower split. This means that 50% of your workouts will be focused on your lower body. However, using PPL means that only one-third of your weekly training focuses on your lower body.
How Much Time Do You Have Available?
Realistically, I could never say that one of PPL or upper/lower is definitely better than the other.
This will always come down to you as an individual.
Basically, how well your body reacts to the training stimulus of either split is likely to differ to the next person.
So, I can really only go from what works for me as an individual.
But remember, this doesn’t automatically mean that would also be the better workout for you.
That being said, one of the main factors you need to consider is how much time you have available to train.
And I mean on a daily basis, as well as how many overall days during the week.
A push/pull/legs split is typically used for either 3 or 6 days a week.
However, the best way to probably work a push/pull/legs split is shorter workouts, say 45-50 minutes, 6 days a week.
But, of course, you may not be able to train for 6 days a week due to other commitments.
Nevertheless, you certainly have three days a week available to you that you could easily train for 60-75 minutes per workout.
Now, let’s say that you have the same daily time available, but you can train 4 days a week.
This being the case then the upper/lower split will probably work out better for you.
This will allow you a more even split of training, and can also lead to potential muscle growth.
However, if you do have 5 or 6 days available to you to train then you could actually follow either training split.
I would say that this largely depends on the specific body parts that you wish to focus on more.
So, as an example, if you feel your legs are lagging behind, you could do an upper/lower split 5 days a week with 3 lower body workouts.
Then again, if you feel that your chest is letting you down, you may wish to do PPL for 5 days a week, whereby you only train pull or legs once a week.
This will obviously depend on whether you believe your legs or pull muscles are better developed.
So, as you can see, there is no “one-size-fits-all” or a “better” workout plan for everyone.
Whether PPL or upper/lower is better will largely depend on you, your training goals, and the time you have available to you.
How Well Does Your Lower Body Respond to Training?
Something else to consider is how well your lower body responds to training.
In truth, I could also say the same about your upper body.
However, as the lower body houses the largest muscles in the human body, you can expect certain metabolic and muscle-growth “reactions” from training your lower body more regularly.
Therefore, with an upper/lower split half your training will be solely focused on your lower body.
But, if you do PPL three or six times a week then you’re only going to be hitting your lower body one-third of the time during the week.
So, as I say, this all comes down to how well your lower body reacts to training.
Furthermore, performing the big compound lower body exercises, such as squats and deadlifts, will have a huge impact on your overall muscular growth.
And I’m not just talking about your legs here, as squats and deadlifts can definitely have a carry over to your upper body too.
This is down to you to decide which option is best for you.
So, push/pull/legs will typically be better for you if you respond well to lower body training, but you struggle with upper body development.
Conversely, if your upper body appears to be well stimulated by training, but your lower body is lagging behind, then an upper/body split would work better for you.
As I say, it is a matter of personal preference, but it also makes sense to see how both your upper and lower body specifically react to training.
How Well Do You Recover?
The final thing to look at is your own powers of recovery.
Once again, just as not everyone’s body will react in the same way to training, our powers of recovery will also generally differ from each other.
Now, you could actually train PPL or upper/lower any number of days a week you wish.
That being said, upper/lower is generally viewed as a 4-day workout plan, whereas push/pull/legs is seen as a 6-day a week workout.
Okay, I understand that PPL can be done for just 3 days a week.
However, I would actually say that if you only have three days a week available to train you would probably be better off with three full-body workouts a week.
I say this because I believe the body reacts best when you train each muscle group more than once a week.
This is also why I have never actually trained a bro-split before.
So, once more, whether PPL or upper/lower is better for you will depend on your recovery.
In effect, your upper/lower daily workouts will be longer.
But this is fine, as you have three days every week for rest and recovery.
So, depending on your daily time available you could quite easily train upper/lower 4 times a week for 60-90 minutes per workout.
Now, as PPL means you’ll be training 6 days a week it makes sense to make the workouts slightly shorter.
Personally, if I’m training 6 days a week, regardless of which training split I’m using, I like to keep my workouts to 45-50 minutes.
That being said, which one of the two workout splits is better for you will always be down to how well you recover.
As an example, you may feel completely wiped out after a 90-minute upper or lower body workout.
In fact, even though you have 3 days rest during the week, this still doesn’t feel like enough.
However, working out for 6 days a week, for only 45 minutes at a time, feels absolutely fine.
Of course, there are other factors to think about, such as your nutrition, sleep, and even how physically active you are during the day at your job.
So, as you can see, even when it comes to recovery there is still no “one-size-fits-all”.
Both your training and your recovery will always be an individual thing.
The most obvious thing you can do is try to try both training splits.
I would suggest you pick one, follow it for 6-8 weeks, then take a complete week off training.
Follow this up by performing the other training split for 6-8 weeks again, and then take another week off.
You can then determine which training split produced the better results, plus did you feel better performing one over the other?
This is how you can decide whether PPL or upper/lower is better for YOU.
Best Science-Based Upper/Lower Split
So, I hope you understand that PPL is not better than upper/lower and vice versa.
In reality, which training split is better will always be an individual thing.
In other words, there is no “one-size-fits-all” when it comes to the perfect workout plan.
Which one is better for YOU will depend on the time you have available and your powers of recovery.
That being said, there is another way to look at this.
If you feel that your lower body development is lagging behind then an upper/lower split would definitely be better.
As you’ll typically be training 4 days a week, 50% of your workouts will be focused on your lower body.
However, when using a push/pull/legs split only one-third of your weekly workouts will be focused on your lower body.
You could also say exactly the same thing the other way round.
Therefore, if you feel that your upper body is falling behind then you’d be better off with a PPL split.
However, I still stand by the fact that the best training split for YOU comes down to time availability and how well you recover.
If you’re looking for the perfect training split to build muscle then I suggest you check out my review of Massthetic Muscle, the workout program created by bodybuilder Frank Rich.
Hi, I’m Partha, owner and founder of My Bodyweight Exercises. I am a Level 3 Personal Trainer and Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist through the Register of Exercise Professionals, United Kingdom. I have been a regular gym-goer since 2000 and coaching clients since 2012. My aim is to help you achieve your body composition goals.