Make Sure These Scientifically-Backed, Must-Do Push, Pull, and Leg Day Exercises Are in Your Training Routine

Not all exercises are created equal when it comes to maximizing hypertrophy. With countless routines and influencers vying for attention, sifting through the noise to focus on scientifically-backed exercises can be challenging. Choosing the right exercises can be the difference between plateaus and consistent gains. 

On June 9, 2024, natural bodybuilder and science-based fitness content creator Jeff Nippard listed his most effective exercises for maximizing muscle growth. Check out the complete video below, courtesy of Jesse James West’s YouTube channel:

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Pull Day

Nippard prescribes the following exercises for training back and biceps:

Lat Pulldowns

Controlled negatives maximize lat stimulation. After hitting mechanical failure, perform controlled lengthened partials to optimize muscle growth. 

Use lifting straps and a false (thumbless) grip to improve mind-muscle connection. Nippard suggests maintaining an upright torso to achieve a deeper lat stretch at the top of the motion.

Think about your lats pulling apart on the negative.

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Chest-Supported T-Bar Row

The second exercise helps thicken the mid-back. Squeeze the mid traps at the top and prioritize a deep stretch in the fully lengthened position. Upon hitting mechanical failure, transition to Kelso shrugs by retracting the shoulder blades to exhaust the target muscles fully.

Crossbody Lat Pull-Around

Given the diagonal orientation of the lat muscle fibers, Nippard favors this exercise for maximal lat stretch. Nippard prescribes performing in a half-kneeling position on the floor, with your side facing a cable pulley set slightly above head height.

Reach across with the opposite arm to grasp the D-handle, ensuring a full lat stretch. Flex your elbow and pull the handle across your body until your hand extends past your midline.

Deficit Pendlay Row

Doing Pendlay rows while standing on a 45-pound bumper plate increases the range of motion (ROM), allowing for a deeper stretch at the bottom of each rep. In line with the movement cues from the previous exercises, Nippard recommends using slow, controlled eccentrics to maximize the time under tension (TUT) and promote hypertrophy. (1)

Cable Rear Delt Flyes

Cable machines maintain constant tension on the target muscles throughout the ROM, which can be beneficial for developing the rear delts, a lagging muscle group for many lifters.

Don’t think about pulling; think about sweeping.

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Low Pulley Dual Cable Curls

This exercise pre-stretches the biceps and puts them under the most tension in the fully lengthened position, which has been shown to be most conducive to muscle growth. (2) Keep the elbows pinned behind the midline throughout the exercise to maximize biceps brachii stimulation. 

Leg Day

Nippard’s picks for leg day include:

Barbell Back Squat

Proper form through your full ROM is crucial. Nippard recommends wearing a weightlifting belt during barbell back squats to increase intra-abdominal pressure and optimize quad activation.

Romanian Deadlift & Smith Machine Good Morning 

Romanian deadlifts (RDL) primarily target the hamstrings and glutes. Ensure a neutral spine throughout the ROM and avoid excessive knee bending. Nippard suggests lowering the barbell to mid-shin level during the eccentric and pausing at the bottom for a deep stretch.

During the Smith machine good mornings, push the butt back with relatively straight knees until the hamstrings feel a stretch. Then, squeeze the hamstrings to return to the starting position. 

Leg Extensions & Reverse Nordics

If your gym has multiple leg extension machines, pick one that allows for the most extensive ROM to emphasize a deep stretch at the bottom. 

If the leg extension machine at your gym offers a limited ROM, Nippard advises performing reverse Nordics. It involves kneeling on the floor and slowly lowering your back to the floor by flexing your knees while maintaining a straight line between the knees, hips, and shoulders. For support, use a resistance band anchored to a stable object.

Seated Leg Curls

Nippard favors seated leg curls, citing research demonstrating their superiority in promoting hamstring hypertrophy compared to the lying variation. (3) The former exercise places maximum tension on the hamstrings in the fully stretched position.

Leg Press Calf Raises

Nippard prefers leg press calf raises over the standing variation, emphasizing superior calf isolation achievable in the seated position. He stresses pausing in the fully lengthened position to maximize calf muscle adaptations. 

Push Day

Below are Nippard’s push-day favorites:

Barbell Bench Press

Drive through your toes and push your back into the weight bench during concentrics. Be as explosive as possible on concentrics to maximize strength gains.

Cable Flyes & Lateral Raises

After a compound movement, Nippard prescribes an isolation exercise. He prefers seated cable flyes to achieve a deeper stretch at the bottom of his ROM. Keep the chest proud, the scapula retracted, and control the weight throughout the movement. 

Nippard recommends eliminating leg drive while performing dumbbell lateral raises and controlling the negatives. You can also perform this exercise on an incline bench for a deeper delt stretch.

Overhead Triceps Extensions

To load the triceps, use a staggered stance for stability, keep your elbows tucked in, and maintain a straight back throughout the exercise. Emphasize the eccentric of each repetition, focusing on stretching in the triceps.


Burd NA, Andrews RJ, West DW, et al. Muscle time under tension during resistance exercise stimulates differential muscle protein sub-fractional synthetic responses in men. J Physiol. 2012;590(2):351-362. doi:10.1113/jphysiol.2011.221200

Pedrosa, G. F., Lima, F. V., Schoenfeld, B. J., Lacerda, L. T., Simões, M. G., Pereira, M. R., Diniz, R. C. R., & Chagas, M. H. (2022). Partial range of motion training elicits favorable improvements in muscular adaptations when carried out at long muscle lengths. European journal of sport science, 22(8), 1250–1260.

Maeo S, Huang M, Wu Y, et al. Greater Hamstrings Muscle Hypertrophy but Similar Damage Protection after Training at Long versus Short Muscle Lengths. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2021;53(4):825-837. doi:10.1249/MSS.0000000000002523

Featured image: @jeffnippard on Instagram

The post Make Sure These Scientifically-Backed, Must-Do Push, Pull, and Leg Day Exercises Are in Your Training Routine appeared first on BarBend.


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