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How Many Sets Per Muscle Group


Ok so this is the good old question of how many sets you do per muscle group currently i am doing

12-15 sets for legs
15 sets for back
14 sets for chest
9-12 sets for shoulders
12 sets for arms

what does everyone else do for sets? I also usually dont go past 10 reps on everything unless its an isolation exercise. I try to stick with high weight low reps between 3-12 reps


Ok, I'll play cause this will be funny. On my current 3-way split (most exercises ramped with 3-5 rep sets)

Leg - 23 sets of extension/squat/press variations; 8 leg curls, 3 good mornings, 12 in total from calf superset, so that's 46 "sets" for a leg session

Pull - 10 sets deads, lots of pullups but technically one big set, 8 sets stiff arm lat pulldowns, 8 sets biceps curls, 1 "big" set of rows per arm (sounds like a crocodile really), so let's just say conventionally that would total 20 sets of back and 8 biceps

Push - 30-35 sets of horizontal push variations, lots and lots of lateral raises (don't really count, just keep going till I can't lift them anymore), then 8-10 sets shoulder press

So yeah, that's how many "sets" I do each day.........but the big question is, does it really matter?


The general consensus seems to be 20 for 'big' body parts, 10 for 'small'. But if you got more in the tank then keep on going. Bodybuldings all about adaptation. See what you feel like on the day and act accordingly. When i was doing a push/pull split i was doing 40-45 set workouts. Push yourself hard every workout and you cant go wrong, if your leaving something in the tank then your not training hard enough!


It is very much dependent on each person. After 2 years of consistent training you'll probably be doing your own thing as it suits you.

But as a general guideline:

1-2 heavy exercises per bodypart. With 2-3 faster/lighter exercises

1-2 sets of 3-8 reps (85-100% effort) on heavy upper body pressing exercises (with 3-4 sets of 40 -> 80% effort to warm up)
1-2 sets of 3-15 reps (85-100% effort) on heavy lower body exercises (again, 3-4 sets of 40 -> 80% effort to warm up)

For pressing exercises, focus on performance (heavy, 2-6 reps). You could throw in a finisher exercise (2-3 sets of 6-12 reps) at the end if you want a pump/improve mind-muscle connection.

For lats/biceps, focus on mind-muscle connection primarily. You could do 5-10 sets of 3 reps with short rest periods (30-60 sec), or 2-5 sets of 8-15 reps with slightly longer rest periods.

For lats, a good exercise that has a balance of performance/mind-muscle connection is the DB row.

For side and rear delt movements, I like to do 2-5 sets of 8-20 reps.

Your question is so generalised its hard to answer...


Wow, can you say "overtraining." you guys seriously need to google DC Training. While I will not say I follow Dc training to the letter, I do follow some of its principles. When I see guys doing 20 sets for chest, Inside, i must say, I'm laughing at you. If guys want to think just doing endless sets is the key to muscle growth, let them keep wasting their time.

thats why year after year, they always stay the same. All these guys that train this way are all a buck 80, if that. While your doing your 20 sets for chest, I do 3. yet i have a 58 inch chest, hows yours doing? There are times i'll only do 1 or 2 sets with a few rest pauses in there.

It seems guys like to brag about how much they do, how long they train for, how many sets they do. If your goal is to just go to the gym and get a really nice long workout in, then keep doing what your doing. But, if your goal is to actually get results, you better start cutting wayyyyyy back on the volume.


The truth is that there are "many roads to Rome" so to speak. What has to be taken into consideration is the volume/intensity/frequency continuum.

In other words, those three qualities must be balanced appropriately to avoid pushing oneself beyond the point of being able to recover and improve from one's workouts. You can't have huge amounts of volume, super intense "smoke blowing out of your ears" sets, and repeat that same process multiple times a day every day without running yourself into the ground.

CT's "HP Mass" program utilizes lots of volume, high frequency, but lower intensity (avoiding failure) and has results to prove that it's effective.

DC training utilizes low volume, low total frequency of training (only 3x per week, though each body part is hit every 4-5 days), and high intensity (lots of failure, as well as rest-pause training and static holds/partial reps in some cases) and has results to prove that it works.

Max OT training utilizes moderate volume, moderate frequency (each muscle group is hit once a week, but you are in the gym 5-6 days a week), and moderate intensity (sets are taken to failure, but no "intensity" techniques are added) and has results to prove that it works.

So, your question doesn't really have a black and white "do x number of sets and reps for each muscle group" answer. Pick a training method which you enjoy and believe in, seek consistent progression with it and your diet, and stick with it for at least 6 months to give it a legitimate chance to work for you/evaluate it and then either continue on with it, or if it's not working the way you want (assuming that you are sure that the nutritional and recovery pieces of the puzzle are solidly in place) change to something else.

No matter what program you pick though, it's going to be the effort and consistency that you put into it that's going to either get you results or not; not the specific number of repetitions or sets.


@ rogue - to be fair people have got results doing all sorts of programs. I have to agree with Sento as far as saying that diff styles/techniques work for diff ppl. To say that DC is the way to go is a bit closed minded. I'm sure its worked a treat for you, im not denying that. But you cant deny that people have also got results going down th HFT principle.

For me, its a matter of seeing what works for you, and adapting it. If HIT works for you, good for you, stick to it. If it doesnt, and i'm sure there are people out there that it doesnt work for, then look at a different style of program.

I'm sure a hell of a lot more people are guilty of not training hard enough or with enough intensity than are overtraining...




Ok, but in general, the number of guys i have seen, all gathered around the bench doing sets for an hour. yet week after week, they still look the same. I should have been a bit more descriptive. I do not do Dc training. I just like some of their principles.

My style of training is low volume, fairly high intensity. i do rest pause sets on occasion and I work each bodypart 2x per week. The differences between my style and dc training is, im in the gym 5-6 days per week. I don't do nearly as long a workout as dc. I like to have all my strength when i work a bodypart.


I don't count sets...but I do a lot


Been working with CT and yesterday for squat workout cranked out a little over 50 sets plus 10 singles with 20 sec rest between them in about an hour and 15min that includes a 10min warm up. Today at least 30 sets for back and 24 sets for biceps. Probably more. Chest and shoulders depends on the week but between 30 and 50 for each. So i guess too much according to lots of people


Exactly!! Which is why my current example of 'lots of sets' is in reality not a huge amount of volume and I'm walking out of the gym in 50-60 minutes (suits my lifestyle etc).


Ignorant post is ignorant

And whats the point of posting your chest measurement if you arent going to post your waist measurement. A 58" chest with a 45" waist isnt impressive. You constantly allude to how impressive your physique is, but does anyone agree with you? Grandma's opinion doesnt count.


Volume is a personal preference. It's all relative to frequency and the goal of the training. Also depends on genetic strongpoints and weakpoints.


While all your points are, IMO, spot on, I think the first point "volume is a personal preference" is hugely overlooked when we think about most aspects of training.

Some guys just need to accrue huge volume, i.e. 2 hours training, to feel like they are doing the right thing. If they have found that works for them (working out their own responsiveness/weakpoints), then great!!


1-3 sets per exercise

1-2 exercises per muscle group


3-4 sets per exercise (same weight, not ramped)

4-5 exercises per muscle group

2x per week

....wut? lol


How many sets you do, and how you do them, should be dependant on what you have recently done and how you are doing on that particular day.

If you want a practical tip then do some volume progression. Much harder to get this wrong than intensity progression. Plus you burn more calories.


I will quote CT, he said in his how to make your own routine article that the optimal is 9-12 sets per muscle max 16. But he said if you do more then 12 sets and feel like you can do more chances are you are not hitting the musdcle group with enough weight. Since there is no one that can bust there ass for chest for example for 12 sets and still do more.


Awesome post, Ive found I can handle a lot of volume hitting muscle 2x per week but if i go to failure I burn out really fast even if the overall volume inst that high so I stay away from failure personally


It also makes a difference whether people choose to count warm-up/ramp-up sets or not though. There are a lot of semantics involved in counting sets.

For instance, someone doing DC training and performing bench might perform:

bar x 15-20 reps
135 x 12 reps
225 x 8 reps
250 x 4 reps
275 x 1-2 reps
315 x 8+4+2 (triple rest-pause set)

But, they might only count the final RP set since it was the only really challenging one. So, they would say that they only performed 1 triple RP set.

Someone else might perform the same number of exact same sets and say that they performed 8 sets (5 sets at submaximal weight and 3 sets at their working weight with little rest between them).

Who is right about the number of sets performed and who is wrong? Both and neither.