How many exercises per workout

Most people have no idea how many exercises are ideal per workout session. Plenty of people stroll through the gym doing only a handful of repetitions on each exercise. In contrast, others do so many reps that you wonder if their muscles ever get to rest.

Your goal should be finding your exercise sweet spot. Here is a breakdown of how many exercises you should do per workout session based on your fitness goals.

Also read: Calisthenics vs. weights – Which is better for you?

How many exercises should you do per workout session?

Two to five exercises per workout session are necessary for beginners to build strength and help muscles grow. If you’re looking to lose fat, perform moderate-intensity cardio for 20 minutes after finishing your last set of resistance exercises.

Weight training boosts your metabolism, so adding cardio after will maximize calorie burn. Those looking to build strength should do no more than three sets per exercise. Additional reps don’t necessarily equate to more significant strength gains.

Why are 2-5 exercises optimal?

While it is often believed that more advanced people should do more sets in their exercises, this isn’t necessarily the case. If you’re an experienced exerciser, there is no need to perform more than three sets of an exercise per workout.

The reason for this is that your body becomes less capable of recovering between workouts as you become stronger. If you do more sets, your muscles will be too worn out before the next workout session.

Why shouldn’t you go for more?

Your body can only do so much in one workout session from a physiological standpoint. It is impossible to exceed this limit because the human body can’t produce enough energy for such an overload.

If you do more than five exercises per workout, you will start compromising your results and increase your injury risk.

Exercises based on fitness goals

Muscular endurance

You’ll need to do at least five sets per exercise to improve muscular endurance. Strength produces force, whereas muscular endurance refers to how long muscles can exert that force.

You’d be able to lift a heavyweight only once. But, if you could do it over and over again for 15 minutes straight without breaking form, then that would require incredible muscular endurance.

One set will suffice for those looking to gain muscle mass for each exercise. By lifting heavy weights, you’ll force your body to create more muscle tissue.

Cardiovascular endurance

If you want to lose weight or improve your cardiovascular endurance, then low-intensity cardio should last for at least 30 minutes. As long as you’re working hard enough, this type of exercise can be performed at any time during the day.

Keep in mind that strength training burns fat and builds lean mass and improves bone density. So, it’s an activity worth including in your weekly workout plan.

Three sets per exercise are necessary for building size and gaining strength. You will force muscles to adjust by growing more extensive and robust by lifting heavyweights.

Since each set should involve ten repetitions, doing three sets of eight to 12 reps is an effective workout plan for each exercise. If you’re new to working out, it’s best to start with lower weights and aim for five to eight reps per set.

Well-rounded workout

If you want a well-rounded workout, you should include exercises that target all the major muscle groups in a single session.

Aim for two sets of 15 to 20 repetitions of upper-body exercises, three sets of 10 to 15 reps for lower-body moves, and one or two sets of 6 to 8 reps for core exercises.

This approach will stimulate your muscles from every angle. It makes it an excellent choice if you’re looking to lose weight and maintain your gains.

Strength and endurance gains

Those looking for both strength and endurance gains should do three sets of 10 to 15 reps for each exercise. Since this workout plan involves moderate weights, you shouldn’t need more than 45 seconds between each set.

If you feel like the weight is too heavy after only doing 12 reps per set, then switch out some of your heavier plates for smaller ones. To maximize strength and size, lift heavy weights (between 60 percent and 80 percent of your one-rep max) for 2-4 sets of 6-12 reps.

Don’t go any lower than 6 reps or higher than 12. You’ll need that range to stimulate all the muscles fibers that contribute to building strength and mass. For core exercises, you can simply maintain good form with bodyweight exercises.

Strength building

If you want to build strength instead of endurance, use heavier weights and lift them less often. For instance, if your goal is two sets of 12 reps per exercise, then shoot for lifting a weight that’s close to 80 percent of your one-rep max. Do this only once every five days.

Also, add compound exercises to your workouts. These will work multiple muscles simultaneously. Therefore, they’re worth prioritizing over exercises that isolate a single muscle.

Some compound exercises are:

How many bicep exercises per workout?


Bicep exercises are a prevalent part of any workout routine. The biceps are made up of two muscles in the upper arm, which is why there are so many different bicep exercises. You can do one exercise or up to 3 for bigger arms.

Here are 5:

  • Barbell curl
  • Incline dumbbell curl
  • Spider curl
  • Concentration curls
  • Hammer curls

How many tricep exercises per workout?

Similar to the biceps, there are a lot of different tricep exercises that you can do. You can target this muscle group with 1 or 3 exercises, which will still be effective. Here are 5:

  • Kickbacks
  • Bench dips
  • Close-grip bench press
  • Pushdowns
  • Tricep pull


There is no “best” number of exercises to do per workout. But, generally, 2-5 exercises per workout are optimal. Doing three sets of 8-12 reps is an effective workout plan.

Ensure that your muscles are stimulated, and use compound or isolation movements depending on what you’re trying to do. There are many variations of exercises for each muscle group, so experiment and find what works best for you.

Also read: The best 3 day split workouts


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