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How Many Exercises Should You Do Per Workout?

by grace gallagher - October 17, 2020

Many people wonder how many exercises to do per workout. After all, you want to build muscle and tone, but you don’t want to wind up feeling sore for days. Of course, the amount of distinct exercises you do will vary depending on your goals, how much time you have, and whether or not you’re doing a full-body workout or focusing on one area. Read on to get the breakdown on how many exercises you really need to be doing during every workout.  

How many exercises should you do per workout? 

Like so much about fitness, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer to how many exercises you should do per workout. It will depend on your goals and whether you’re working one muscle or if you’re doing a full body workout. “If you like to train your entire body you’ll do one to two moves per muscle group totaling 12 to 15 exercises. If you’re isolating muscle groups you’ll end up doing between six and eight exercises,”Jamie Hickey, nutritionist and Founder of Truism Fitness, tells Lively.

He adds that at a minimum, he recommends performing at least three exercises of three sets each per workout. As you become stronger and more experienced you can increase this to three sets of five or more exercises per body part. 

Another factor? What muscle you’re training. You will be able to do more exercises with a larger muscle group that fatigues less easily, like the legs, than you would be able to do with a smaller muscle, like triceps, who get tired more quickly. Instead of trying to get through a certain amount of exercises, listen to your body which will tell you when it can push a bit more, and when it needs a break.

how many exercises per workout

How many exercises should be done for each body part? 

How many exercises you should do for each body part will depend on how many muscles you plan on working that day, how much time you have, and your fitness goals.

If you're planning to work different body parts over the course of the week you may be able to do, “two to four exercises per body part,” online fitness coach, Leighanne Stephens tells Lively. For example, if you do a leg workout one day, it won’t matter if you’re sore the next day if you plan to do arms, so you may be able to fit in a few more reps or another exercise. “If you are trying to do a full-body workout then you may want to stick to one or two exercises per body part as you'll likely spend way over an hour for a workout with more and probably be out of energy to complete good repetitions of each exercise.”

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How many exercises should you do a day?

“Exercising each day is not recommended by most,” Stephens says. “Unless you’re a top athlete with a very specific training, recovery and nutrition plan then you should definitely be taking rest days multiple times a week.” She adds that while your body is at rest your muscles repair the micro-tears in the muscle fibers, which results in toning, and allows your muscles to, “cope better at the same level of strain in the future.” If you feel the need to move each day, it’s totally fine to stretch, go for a walk or try some gentle yoga poses.

“If you’re trying to tone up or become stronger you will lift heavier and limit your workouts to two sets of each exercise. There really isn’t a set number, your goal is to either do 8 to 10 reps for size or 12 to 15 reps for strength,” Hickey says.

How many chest exercises should I do per workout?

Generally, a chest day workout should include two to four different moves with three sets each, Hickey says. “Doing any more than three will hinder your results due to overtraining. If you don’t feel that you’re getting a quality workout from the chest exercises then you’re not using the correct amount of weight or you’re doing the wrong chest exercises,” he adds. You could try wearing a weighted vest, for example, if you’re doing calisthenics, varying the placement of your hands while in push-up position, or adding weight.

Vital note: This article has been made available for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Your licensed healthcare professional can best provide you with the diagnosis and treatment of any medical condition and assist you as well in deciding whether a dietary supplement will be a helpful addition to your regimen.

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