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How Many Exercises Per Muscle Group Should I Be Doing?

How Many Exercises Per Muscle Group

For many, lifting weights isn’t simply about vanity and trying to build a physique to show off, the gym is instead an escape, a place to ground oneself and forget your troubles and stresses.

When you’re in the gym, it’s just you and the iron, and regardless of your goals, the only bad workout is one that you do not do.

Okay, that might have sounded a little cheesy and cliché, but the simple fact of the matter is that for a lot of people, the gym is a sanctuary, and lifting weights is the perfect release.

If you’re relatively new to training or are simply looking to kick your workouts up a notch and take them to the next level, you’ll likely be looking for tips on what you can do to build a physique that a Mr. Olympia athlete himself would be envious of.

Those that aren’t familiar with weight lifting, often think that it’s easy and that it’s simply a case of lifting things up and putting them down again.

In reality, if you’re looking to build muscle, weightlifting is a science as there are heaps to consider.

One of the most common questions that PTs get asked is how many exercises per muscle group should people be doing.

Well, we’re going to attempt to answer this question right now.

How To Create The Perfect Workout Routine?

How Many Exercises Per Muscle Group

Before we can start looking at what you should be doing, first, we need to talk about the importance of following a workout routine.

If you fail to follow a workout routine, you don’t know what you’re doing in the gym from one day to the next.

Okay, going to the gym is better than sitting on your butt in front of the sofa, but why would you go to the gym and not follow a structured workout properly?

Believe it or not, finding and creating the ultimate workout routine is not actually as simple and straightforward as you may have hoped.

To make the process a little easier, here are some handy tips for you to follow.

Have A Goal In Mind :

First and foremost, before you can even consider starting a workout routine you should first make sure that you have a goal in mind.

You see, each person is different and as a result, we all have different goals and objectives.

Some people are looking to train primarily for strength, whereas others are training to burn fat and get leaner.

Needless to say, a dude looking to burn 60 pounds of fat is not going to follow the same routine as a powerlifter such as Eddie Hall And Stefi Cohen looking to bulk up and add 90-pounds to his max deadlift.

Before looking for a workout program to follow, make sure you are clear about what your goals and objectives are.

Also, you can check more about squat vs deadlift.

Search Online For Ideas:

The good thing about the internet is that nowadays we can search for pretty much anything, at any time, in a matter of seconds.

If you’ve decided that your primary goal with your training is to build muscle and stay relatively lean, you can then search for programs and routines online based on similar goals.

Okay, we aren’t saying that every program you come across online will be any good because it could very well be trash.

However, if you find a few programs that look okay, you could potentially combine them together to create a program that is unique for you.

Know Your Limits:

Another important consideration when it comes to workout programs and routines is your own limitations.

Everybody is different as we keep saying, and consequently, not everybody will follow the same routine as each other.

If you’re fairly new to working out and aren’t very experienced, you wouldn’t follow the same workout routine as a bodybuilder prepping for a professional contest.

When you search for a workout program to follow, it’s vital that you know your own limits as that will help you to find one which you could realistically follow and stick to.

Choose Exercises You Are Familiar With:

Whereas there’s nothing wrong with trying new things and broadening our horizons, when choosing a workout program to follow, it is always best to find one which includes exercises you already know how to do.

Don’t get us wrong, trying one of two new exercises is fine, but for the most part, stick with exercises you know how to do, otherwise, your form will suffer and you’ll spend half of the workout practicing actually hitting the target muscle group properly.

Speak To A Professional:

Finally, if you’re serious about finding a workout routine to follow, one of the best things that you can do is speak to a professional and have them take care of it for you.

Find a personal trainer or coach, either online or in person, and speak to them.

Tell them your goals, tell them about yourself, and tell them that you’re looking for a program to follow.

A personal trainer or coach will be able to tell you how many exercises to perform, how much volume, which exercises, which weights, and plenty more on top of that.

If you really want to find a program to follow, always speak to a professional as they will know exactly what to give you.

Training Sets Versus Reps:

Okay, so, now that you know a little more about finding a routine to follow, it’s important to understand the fundamental differences between sets and reps.

When determining how many exercises to perform, you will need to consider your training sets vs reps.

In terms of training volume each week, the higher the total number of reps that you complete, the fewer sets you will need to perform.

This in turn will most likely result in you using less weight because you’ll be doing more reps.

On the other side of the coin, if you’re performing more sets but fewer reps, you will likely be lifting heavier weights.

Here’s where it’s important to consider your goals.

For example:

If You’re Training For Hypertrophy (Muscle Growth):

You should aim for moderate weights and moderate rep ranges of between 8 and 12 on average.

If You’re Training For Strength:

If you’re training for strength, you will lift heavier weights and perform fewer reps.

Typically reps will be in the 1 – 5 range.

If You’re Training For Muscular Endurance:

If you’re looking to improve upon your muscular endurance, you should go with lighter weights and higher reps in the 12 – 15 range.

Frequency Versus Volume:

Another important consideration is you should be performing is frequency vs volume each week.

This is basically to determine how many training sessions each week you will be performing.

Everybody is different, but generally speaking, you should really aim for at least 3 sessions per week, if not more.

If for example, you only try training twice per week, to get everything in that needed to be done, you’d be looking at one heck of a lot of volumes which could result in fatigue.

On the flip side, if you’re training 3, 4, or 5 times per week, you can hit different muscle groups and perform different exercises, instead of trying to do everything all at once.

To make things better, you will also have more time for each muscle group to recover.

Volume And Exercises Per Muscle Group:

The great thing about training nowadays is that thanks to the breakthroughs in modern research and technology, we now know more about training than ever before.

Workout Volume is Killing Your Gains!

The simple fact of the matter is that there is no one true answer with regards to how many exercises per muscle group you should be doing because it all depends on you and your goals.

With that said, here are some findings that you should find particularly interesting.

  • For strength increases, it is best to perform several sets per exercise, as opposed to just one set for increasing strength. If you are looking to get stronger, you should aim to perform 2 – 3 sets per exercise.
  • If you’re new to training, you will experience what is known as ‘newbie gains’ which basically means because your body is not used to training, it will respond favorably to training for a month or so. If you’re a newbie and are looking to increase your strength, you can get away with less than 5 sets per exercise each week.
  • In terms of building muscle, research has found that 4 sets for every muscle group are sufficient in terms of hypertrophy. For optimal results, however, each week per muscle group you should aim for 10 – 12 sets for best results. So, for example, when building up the chest, each week you should perform at least 10 working sets for the chest.
  • As far as rep ranges go, for muscle growth, you should aim for 8 – 12 reps.

So, How Many Exercises Per Muscle Group Should I Be Doing?

Okay, okay, we know we sound like a politician skating around a question rather than giving a straight answer but the main reason for that is simply because there is no one straight answer as everybody is different.

With that said, if you are training primarily for muscle growth, the type of training program you are following will determine how many exercises you should do.

Here’s a better look:

Full-Body Routine:

 If you don’t have much time to train, or if you just want to try something different, a full-body routine is well worth considering.

The premise behind a full body routine is that for each workout you will train all major muscle groups with just one exercise.

So, you’ll train your legs, chest, shoulders, back, biceps, and triceps in the one workout.

  • With a full-body routine, you will perform 4 – 6 working sets, you’ll go fairly heavy, you’ll choose a compound exercise, and you will do just one exercise for each muscle group.
  • A full-body routine should be followed 3 – 4 days per week.


If you follow a PPL workout or push/pull/legs routine, one day you’ll train muscles that are responsible for pushing and pressing, the next day you’ll train pulling muscles, and the next you’ll train your legs.

Push days are typically chest, shoulders, and triceps, pull days are back and biceps, and leg days are, well, legs so quads, calves, hamstrings, and glutes.

  • Most people on these splits will perform 4 working sets of 8 – 12 reps and will perform 3 exercises for each muscle group.
  • Some people may opt for 4 exercises, but that should really be your limit.

5-Day Split:

5-day splits are very popular amongst bodybuilders and figure athletes.

The basic idea behind a 5-day split is that you will train for 5 days, usually in a row, and will take 2 full days off from training.

On each of the 5 days, you will train a different muscle group, so for example:

  • Mon – Chest
  • Tues – Back
  • Weds – Legs
  • Thurs – Shoulders
  • Fri – Arms

Due to the fact that it will be an entire week before you hit the same body part once again, it’s important to really ramp up the volume and train that muscle to absolute failure.

Typically, you should aim for 4 – 6 working sets, 8 – 12 reps for hypertrophy, and you should perform around 5 – 6 exercises per muscle group.

You can also have a look at the PHAT Workout And PHUL workout.

So, What’s The Bottom Line?

The bottom line on how many exercises per muscle group you should be performing is that it all depends on your goals and which workout routine you happen to be following in the first place.

There is no right or wrong answer, but hopefully, now you’ll have a much better idea of what to do and how many exercises to perform for every muscle that you’re training.


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