T Nation

How Many Exercises Per Workout?

How many exercises should one not exceed per workout?

I’ve just been thinking that I should add a workout or two to my routine but that makes my upper body routine have 9 exercises in total with sets of 2-3 per exercise.

Is this too much?

Since you need to ask I am going to say ‘yes’ it’s too much.

When I was starting out I trained in a manner much like you just described and one day a much larger man than myself advised me not to do more than 9 or 10 sets per workout! That’s 1/3 of what you are doing now. Try it for awhile. When you no longer need to ask, you are probably ready for more of a challenge or at least a good change.

Good luck.

It all depends on sets and reps and training levels and…

To keep it simple I usually base it on how many can you do in about 45 minutes? Usually around 20 sets total, so 9 exercises at 2 sets each except for lets say 4 sets on the first exercise would be 20 sets, which to me sounds fine. If you are recovering fine and getting it done within a sensible timeframe then you’re good to go in my book.

I use to write out a plan and then go to the gym with it, if I wrote 10 exercises and only got 7 done, then I would usually go with 8 and speed it up a bit.

Here’s a breakdown of 9 exercises at 2 sets, etc.

2 min set-up for each exercise
18 MIN

30 sec a set for 20 sets
10 MIN

60 sec rest for 20 sets
20 MIN

So in this example it would take you around 48 minutes to complete the workout, usually it takes a little more at first. Note the 60 sec rest periods though, depending on your workout that may or may not be enough. When one gets to the point of adding exercises, then maybe you should consider a larger split and up the intensity?

You want to finish in under an hour, or you start working against yourself due to cortisol release. In addition, the more exercises you do per session, the less energy you have for each. On my current routine 9 in one session would destroy me, I’d be laid out cold, but then I do mostly compound freeweight exercises in the 5x5 range. Currently I do 4 per session. It will also depend on how many sessions you do per week, I tend to prefer more frequent shorter workouts, rather than a couple of marathons.

I am doing 10X10, super setting with 2 antagonistic body parts. If I have anything left, I do another antagonistic superset of 2-3X10 hitting the same body parts from a different angle.

I get to the second superset maybe once a week.

10X10’s are a bitch.

I’m doing 20 sets in total for my upper body split but it takes me less than 45 minutes in general to complete the session.

In regards with recovery, I think I recover pretty well. I train A, day off, B, day off, etc.