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Difference Between an Upper-Body Push and an Upper-Body Pull Exercise

author image Andrea Cespedes
Andrea Cespedes is a professionally trained chef who has focused studies in nutrition. With more than 20 years of experience in the fitness industry, she coaches cycling and running and teaches Pilates and yoga. She is an American Council on Exercise-certified personal trainer, RYT-200 and has degrees from Princeton and Columbia University.
Difference Between an Upper-Body Push and an Upper-Body Pull Exercise
The lat pulldown is a pull exercise that emphasizes the back muscles. Photo Credit: Polka Dot Images/Polka Dot/Getty Images

Many gym goers fall victim to working the mirror muscles -- those muscles they see readily in their image -- and neglecting the ones they don't see. This is especially true when it comes to the upper body -- people, often men, overwork the chest and biceps at the expense of the back. To maximize your weight workout, though, you need to address all the major muscles in your body. Emphasizing both push and pull exercises helps you work opposing muscle groups to create a balanced and functional physique.

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Pushing and Pulling

Upper-body push exercises generally use the muscles of the chest, front of the shoulders and backs of the arms. These exercises work your muscles as you extend the elbow joint. Examples of push exercises include the bench press and pushups. Upper-body pull exercises target the muscles of the back, back of the shoulders and biceps. The muscles work as you pull weight toward your body -- as in a row or pullup. Incorporate both types of exercise in your weekly routine, either as a total upper-body session or as a split session with one day's workout focusing on pulling movements another focusing on pushing movements.

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