I read on this site that a full workout consists of a pushing exercise, a pulling exercise and a legs exercise.

  • For the pushing exercise I have bench presses.
  • For the legs exercise I have weighted squats.

It's the pulling exercise that I'm mainly concerned about, I'm doing dead lift as I read it somewhere but after doing it for the first time I felt like the dead lift was more of a legs exercise. Is it an appropriate exercise to fill the "pull" slot in my workout?

What would be a pull exercise that I could use instead if deadlift does not meet the pull criteria?

  • 1
    The deadlift is more of an "everything" exercise. As long as it doesn't cause any harm, it should not be replaced. I'd throw in some sort of rowing movement though or chin ups / pull ups.
    – Alex L
    Commented Oct 2, 2015 at 0:29
  • Deadlifts are fine but for a push/pull/legs I'd rather go with something like a pull-up or barbell row. Commented Oct 2, 2015 at 8:57

2 Answers 2


As mentioned earlier, deadlifts, when performed correctly, require lower back, core, and even upper back strength. However, pull-ups are extremely effective as a pull exercise, because:

  1. like a deadlift, they're a compound movement (require multiple large muscle groups);
  2. relatively easy for progressions (assisted pull-up machine through to weighted pull-ups);
  3. bodyweight movement (therefore safe and low impact when performed correctly);
  4. simple to adjust to target different "pull" muscle groups i.e. biceps (chin up); lats (wide grip pull up), inner back/rhomboids (close-grip pull-up) etc...

All the best!


This is where the pull/push division breaks down :)

Deadlifts use (if you do them correctly) your hamstrings, which is definitely a pulling muscle, but they also use your quads, which is a pushing muscle. It also uses your ass, and what's that really? Probably more of a pulling muscle... They also use your back a lot, which is mostly pulling muscles.

I would recommend doing a 3-split instead:

Monday. Pull, upper body

Wednesday. Push, upper body

Friday. Legs + deadlift

That's the best way of getting enough rest between workouts for all muscles I think. The legs get their own day, and the back work on friday doesn't interfer too much with the pull work on monday.

  • could you recommend an exercise for Monday, since I'd have Bench presses for tuesday and squat and deadlift on friday
    – Aequitas
    Commented Oct 2, 2015 at 6:20
  • I would need to know your full schedule to say anything about that.
    – Mårten
    Commented Oct 2, 2015 at 6:46
  • Those are the only other exercises that I would be doing currently, I just want a good solid base to start with of a handful of exercises that cover pretty much everything. I haven't got a set schedule yet, I've just started out and doing them with light weights to try and learn the form properly. Doing it whenever I feel like however many sets I feel like in the moment etc
    – Aequitas
    Commented Oct 2, 2015 at 6:49
  • The whole point of the pull/push binning is that it doesn't rely on muscles, but rather joint movements taken holistically. The part where the deadlift breaks down as push/pull is that push/pull is meant for the upper body (really, the shoulder complex), and the deadlift, while a teensy bit pull-y for that, is classified as a lower body exercise (really, the hip complex) with whole-body effects. Commented Oct 2, 2015 at 8:56

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