Young woman working out at a gym.

What Is The Maximum Number Of Sets I Should Do Each Session For Each Muscle Group?

One common question that people ask when they’re starting out with lifting weights is how many sets and exercises they need to do for each muscle group. There is no single answer to the question, though. Each individual is unique, and therefore, they have different needs. Nevertheless, in general, the major muscle groups should all be exercised at least twice per week. 

Reps And Sets – An Overview

Two words commonly used in fitness are reps and sets. The term “reps” means repetitions, i.e., how many times you perform a particular exercise. The term “sets” refers to how many reps you’re doing before you take a rest. So, if your workout involves three sets of bicep curls with twelve reps in every set, you’ll be doing 12 reps 3 times i.e., 36 reps in total. 

How Many Sets Of Each Exercise Do I Need To Do?

Again, there’s no single answer to this. Firstly, you have to determine your goals and your level of experience as well as your fitness level. In general, though, it’s recommended that two or three sets of eight to twelve reps is ideal.

When it comes down to the number of sets you need to do each week for each muscle group, that depends on your muscle growth goals. People who do four to six sets for each muscle group each week see about 80% more growth than those who only do one set for each muscle group each week. But in some cases, higher sets may actually prove detrimental. Evidence shows that ten sets for each muscle group is the maximum you should aim for to achieve a beneficial outcome. 

How Many Repetitions Do I Need To Do For Each Exercise?

You need to align the number of repetitions you do of each set with the goals you want to achieve. If you want to increase your power, you should do one to three reps of large compound movements. To increase your strength you should do four to six compound movement reps. To build up muscle, between eight and fifteen reps of isolation and compound movements is best, while increasing endurance requires more than fifteen reps of small isolation and compound movements. 

How Many Exercises Should I Do In Each Workout?

You should try to do between 15 and 25 sets during each workout, and complete two or three sets of eight to twelve reps in each exercise. That means doing between five and eight exercises in a single workout. You need to determine how many exercises you do for each muscle group based on your own goals and individual circumstances. However, it’s important not to overtrain. 

Which Muscle Groups Do I Need To Target?

The body has more than 600 muscles, but there are twelve major groups of muscles that you need to target in your regime. They are:

  • The trapezius
  • The back
  • The chest
  • The shoulders 
  • The abdominals
  • The biceps
  • The triceps 
  • The forearms
  • The glutes
  • The quads
  • The hamstrings
  • The calves

The Trapezius

This muscle is in the upper back and is triangular in shape. It helps with moving and rotating the shoulders and to keep them stable. Some of the best exercises for building up this muscle include: 

  • Snatches
  • Cleans
  • Deadlifts
  • Shrug variations 
  • Military press
  • Lateral raises 
  • Upright rows

The Shoulders 

The rear, side, and front deltoid shoulder muscles are essential for everyday tasks like lifting the arms and picking things up as well as for supporting pectoral function. Some popular shoulder exercises include: 

  • Single arm overhead presses
  • Handstands
  • Wall push ups
  • Upright rows
  • Front, side, and rear raises 

The Chest

Sometimes called “pecs”, the chest muscles or pectoralis muscles can be found connecting the shoulder and upper arm bones to the chest. When the arms are moved across, down, or up, the pecs are working. The best chest exercises include: 

  • Decline and incline presses
  • Weighted dips
  • Push ups 
  • Flys
  • Cable crossovers
  • Pullovers

The Back

The back has twenty pairs of muscles that help with good posture and with moving the shoulders and arms while stabilising and protecting the spine. Some top back exercises include: 

  • Deadlifts
  • Chin ups and pull ups 
  • Rows
  • Back extensions 
  • Pulldowns

The Abs

There are four groups of muscles in the abdominal area which allow us to balance while moving and while protecting the spine. The top abs exercises include: 

  • Crunches
  • Planks
  • Hanging leg raises

The Triceps

These muscles are found on the reverse of the upper arms and they allow the arms to straighten, supporting the body when pressing and pushing objects. The top tricep exercises include: 

  • Pushups
  • Overhead presses
  • Dips
  • Pullovers
  • Press downs

The Biceps 

Closely related to the tricep, the bicep is also in the upper arm, supporting the forearm when it bends and flexes. The top bicep exercises include:

  • Rows
  • Closed grip chin-ups
  • Pull-ups 
  • Crossbody Curls
  • Incline Curls

The Forearms

Forearm muscles are vital for moving the fingers, hands, and wrists. The best exercises for building up the forearm muscles include: 

  • Wrist Curls
  • Pinwheel Curls

The Glutes 

These muscles are essential for jumping, walking, and running. Some of the best glute exercises include:

  • Fire Hydrants
  • Glute Bridges

The Quads

These muscles are on the thigh at the front of the body and support knee extensions, making them vital for walking and standing. Some top quads exercises include: 

  • Lunges
  • Squats 

The Hamstrings

These leg muscles help with extending the hips, knee flexion, and external and internal leg rotation. The top hamstring exercises include: 

  • Deadlifts 
  • Kettlebell Swings 

The Calves 

The gastrocnemius is vital for jumping and running while the soleus is responsible for flexing the foot. Top calf exercises include: 

  • Seating and standing calf raises
  • Leg press calf raises 

There are no set numbers of reps, sets, and exercises you need to do to build muscle and maintain a good level of fitness. You must, instead, take your own personal journey to determine the right numbers for your needs. 

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