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Soljah_Grl 06-25-2013 11:53 AM

Exercises per Body Part
I'm fairly new to bodybuilding and have a question since reading some of your individual training journals.

I normally split up my body parts and concentrate on one, perhaps two at the most at a time. ie( biceps/triceps, chest, legs, back, delts, cardio/abs)

What I noticed is that I am using approximately 7 to 9 different exercises per body part. Is that too many? I noticed that from most of the journal entries I've read, 5 seems to be the average?
Is there any benefit to do be doing more excerices, or doing fewer?

Commander 06-25-2013 04:32 PM

Wow, that is a ton of exercises.

What happens when you do that many is that you don't give your body a chance to become really efficient at a movement. It is a good idea to have several main exercises that you use most of the time. It is perfectly acceptable to have some accessory exercises that you rotate in and out of your routine, but once again, try to keep a few exercises in your routine/split nearly 100% of the time.

What that allows, is your body to become neurologically efficient at those motor pathways. As you become efficient, you will recruit more muscle at those movements. As you recruit more muscle, you will become stronger. As you become stronger and use more weight, you will be placing more tension on the muscles. Placing more tension on the muscles provides a great stimulous for hypertrophy and a great hormonal environment. As you add lean mass and create this positive hormonal environment, your metabolism improves and it is easier to stay lean.

Honestly, it doesn't really matter the goal; be it hypertrophy, strength, fat loss, athleticism, slowing down natural aging, mobility, etc. I would recommend regular squatting, deadlifting, pressing and rowing for anyone.

Once your routine includes those basics and you start to get good at them, you will be happy with the results. If you spend 75 to 80% of your time in the gym on those exercises, than it really won't even matter what you do the other 20 to 25% of the time, that's how important it is to get strong/efficient at the basic human movement patterns.

Hope that helps.

Commander 06-25-2013 05:02 PM

I'd like to come at this from another perspective as well.

Everything you do in the gym comes at a cost. Each rep/set costs ATP, Creatine Phosphate, Glycogen and drains the nervous system.

We choose to do these sets and incur these costs because we believe there will be a benefit, i.e. repair of muscle tissue and ultimately new growth and improved strength.

However, lets look at two scenarios.

1. Doing 1 exercise, 15 sets

First couple sets are just warming up and preparing the nervous system.

Have you ever noticed that the 3rd or 4th set of an exercise felt easier than the first first couple? That is because your nervous system is really in tune at that point and firing efficiently.

After the first few sets, every work set afterwards will be efficient at creating a stimulous for strength/hypertrophy.

Lets say 3 inefficient sets vs. 12 efficient.

2. Doing 5 exercises, 3 sets each, 15 sets total

Well, like before the first couple sets will be inefficient as you are warming up and getting the nervous system firing. And subsequent exercises won't take as long to prepare your body for, but it is pretty safe to say that when switching exercises, you won't be as efficient that first set.

So maybe 1 efficient set the first exercise, and I think I can be generous and say 2 efficient sets of the next 4 exerciss (2 out of 3).

6 inefficient sets, 9 efficient

Which scenario do you like better? 12 efficient or 9?

When you combine the difference in total efficient sets with the fact that when doing multiple exercises you are likely picking some isolation movements which recruit far less muscle, the overall stimulous you create with a wide variety of exercises versus a more narrow approach can be far less.


I am not saying you have to do only 1 exercise per bodypart, I used 1 exercise vs. 5 to illustrate a point. I am saying that in general, it is best to simplify your routine and go with less total exercises, but more sets per exercise.

Soljah_Grl 06-26-2013 01:54 PM

Thanks for the advice. It all makes perfect sense and I'll be tweaking my program accordingly! :)

Commander 06-26-2013 04:07 PM


Originally Posted by Soljah_Grl (Post 926601)
Thanks for the advice. It all makes perfect sense and I'll be tweaking my program accordingly! :)

Good luck, feel free to ask more questions if you have them.

Soljah_Grl 06-26-2013 07:20 PM

I'm sure to have lots coming your way! lol
I have been doing a ton of reading so I can start off on the right mind feels like it's about to burst from all this info!! Supplements, Calories, Carbohydrates, Diet, Macronutrients, Glycogyn, Proteins, .... I'm so confused!! lol

Jemimasmith 07-01-2013 06:51 AM

the post about the workout and timing suited me most as i was not sure with this kind of workout organization ...

saltie 07-03-2013 04:21 PM

May I add that it also depends on what your goals are...if you want to be in all-round shape, you may be better utilising a 3 day full body workout, punctuated by cardio on your off days...this would only be one exercise per body part, but would focus on compound movements...if you are a beginner then the 6 day split that you indicate may not be seems you have one day for arms and one day for cardio / abs? I guess with all of the advice / tips out there it can be advice would be to read everything, try everything and see what works for your body type and goals...I usually hit 5 or 6 exercises per body part on a 4 day split...try to vary the number of reps/sets in each workout so your body doesn't adapt to your workout...that means you can try 5x5, 4x8, 3x10 and 2x12 in one my opinion, abs and arms can be trained during your other workouts...biceps get a workout on back day, triceps on chest day and to some extent delts day...I occasionally throw in an 'arms' day just to mix things up, but your arms will grow insanely if you do pull ups / rows and narrow grip bench press can throw in a couple of sets of abs at the end of a workout...check out Dorian Yates' advice on abs...forget endless sets...I know people will disagree with this, that's why I said you should see what works for you...good luck...

Soljah_Grl 07-04-2013 11:47 AM

Thanks for all the advice! I have narrowed down the amount of exercises I am doing to around 5-6 and going until failure (around the 9-12 rep mark) with 3 to 4 sets per exercise. Seems to be working. I am lifting a lot heavier since making that one change!

Jemimasmith 07-04-2013 12:22 PM

just do what your body can bear

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