How Many Exercises Should You Do Per Muscle Group?
Muscular man in a plank lifting weights to target his biceps

How Many Exercises Should You Do Per Muscle Group?

When it comes to crafting an effective workout routine, a fundamental question arises: how many exercises should you dedicate to each muscle group? The answer, like most things in fitness, isn’t a one-size-fits-all proposition. It hinges on several factors, including your experience level, training goals, and even the muscle group itself. Fortunately, by keeping just a few key things in mind, you can find an optimal number of exercises per muscle group to maximize your results.

Optimal Exercise Volume for Different Goals

The primary driver behind exercise selection often boils down to your overarching fitness aspirations. Are you seeking sculpted definition and increased muscle size (hypertrophy)? Or is superior strength your primary objective?

1. Muscle Growth (Hypertrophy)

For hypertrophy, it’s recommended you incorporate a variety of exercises, typically 3-4 per muscle group (with 3-6 sets per exercise), into your routine. This multifaceted approach targets different muscle fibers and growth pathways, leading to a more complete and well-rounded development. Think of it like painting a masterpiece; more brushstrokes and techniques contribute to a richer, more captivating final product.

2. Strength Building

Strength training, on the other hand, thrives on a more focused approach. Here, compound exercises that engage multiple muscle groups simultaneously take center stage. Squats, deadlifts, bench presses, and overhead presses are prime examples. By progressively overloading these core movements, you build a robust foundation of strength that translates to all your fitness endeavors.

If strength is your primary goal, focus on fewer exercises with heavier weights and fewer repetitions. Typically, 2-3 exercises per muscle group, comprising 3-5 sets of 4-6 repetitions, can be effective.

3. Muscular Endurance

To improve endurance, your routine should include a higher number of repetitions — usually 15-20 per set — with lighter weights. Here, you might perform 2-3 exercises per muscle group but increase the number of sets to 4-5. This method is excellent for those who participate in endurance sports or are looking to improve their overall cardiovascular health and stamina.

The Nuances of Muscle Groups: Size Matters (But Not Entirely)

While your fitness goals can influence how many exercises you complete per muscle group, it’s also important to note that the muscle groups themselves have unique characteristics that influence exercise selection. If you’re unsure about your fitness goals or find it easier to break down your workout routine based on each muscle group, here’s what you need to know about the ideal number of exercises per large and small muscle groups:

  • Larger Muscle Groups (Chest, Back, Legs): Due to their size and complexity, these muscle groups benefit from a wider range of exercises (think 2-4) that target different sections and functions. For instance, your chest workout might include a flat barbell bench press for overall development, an incline dumbbell press for upper pec focus, and a decline cable fly for lower pec activation.
  • Smaller Muscle Groups (Biceps, Triceps, Calves): Though smaller, these groups shouldn’t be neglected. While they might require fewer exercises (think 1-3), employing a variety that utilizes different angles and equipment (think barbell curls, dumbbell extensions, and calf raises on a machine) ensures well-rounded development.

Beyond the Numbers Game: Prioritizing Quality Over Quantity

When trying to attain specific fitness goals, it’s helpful to have an idea of how many exercises you should complete per muscle group. However, achieving results is not all about the numbers. As you develop your workout routine, keep these tips in mind:

  • Focus on Form: Proper form is paramount for maximizing muscle engagement and preventing injury. Don’t chase an inflated number of exercises at the expense of sloppy technique. Prioritize quality repetitions over quantity.
  • Strive for Progressive Overload: To keep your muscles challenged and continuously adapting, gradually increase the weight, sets, or reps over time. This ensures sustained progress towards your goals.
  • Remember That Frequency Matters: How often you train each muscle group is just as important as how many exercises you do. A balanced routine will ensure that all muscle groups are adequately worked throughout the week. For most people, training each major muscle group twice per week is effective in achieving most fitness goals. This frequency allows for optimal muscle recovery and growth, especially if you’re engaging in a mix of compound and isolation exercises.
  • Listen to Your Body: Recovery is essential. Don’t overtrain by including too many exercises per muscle group or neglecting rest days. Listen to your body’s cues and adjust your routine accordingly.

Find Support and Guidance at Bria Method

Whether you’re a seasoned gym-goer or just starting your fitness journey, crafting an individualized workout plan that considers all your muscle groups can be daunting. Fortunately, you don’t have to do it alone! At Bria Method, our certified instructors curate dynamic routines that incorporate a thoughtful selection of exercises for each muscle group. We’ll ensure you get a balanced and effective workout while providing expert guidance on form and technique.

Sign up for a HIIT or LIT class at Bria Method today and experience the transformative power of a well-designed workout routine. Before you know it, you’ll be unlocking your full fitness potential!