How Many Exercises Per Workout Session Should You Perform

How Many Exercises Per Workout Session Should You Perform

A lot of fitness newbies get confused about how they can optimize their workouts by wondering how many exercises they should incorporate into a workout session.

As soon as people step into the gym, the first thing that they should have ready is a workout plan. Beginners, novices, and pros are not an exception.

Determining the exact amount of exercises per workout can seem daunting. However, it doesn’t have to necessarily be that way.

Now, let’s get back to the question. How many exercises should gym-goers perform per workout session?

The simple answer to that is 3-5 exercises.

This also helps answer the question: How many exercises need to be done per muscle group?

Why Go for the 3-5 Range?

There are tons of advanced lifters out there who perform 6 or maybe even 7 exercises in just one workout session. Unfortunately, a lot of newbie lifters tend to copy their workout programs because they see the results that advanced lifters have achieved. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way.

As a new lifter, you must start slow. The reason why these pro-lifters perform 6-7 exercises is that their muscles require more volume to stimulate them. That does not apply to beginners.

Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Go for More

It may hamper your performance

Too many exercises can cause muscle fatigue. You don’t have to go too far with your workouts. It will harm more than good affecting your performance for your next workout session.

For best results, give your full attention to a limited number of exercises and train with appropriate intensity.


45 minutes to 1 hour is an ideal length for each workout session. If you’re a busy person, the 3-5 exercise range is best for you. Fewer exercises involved means less time.


With enough intensity, going for the 6th or 7th exercise might just be a waste of time. You have most likely already used up most of your energy and performing more exercises will not be beneficial.


Incorporating lots of exercises in a single session can affect performance for the next workout session. This is because you’ve pushed yourself too hard resulting in less recovery time.

Creating the Perfect Workout Plan

The very first thing every gym-goer should do to create an ideal workout plan is to pick out their exercises smartly. What do we mean by picking their exercises smartly? Let’s dig deeper into it.

Prioritize Compound Exercises

What are compound exercises? These are exercises that involve working multiple muscle groups at the same time. These are a couple of compound exercises that you must include in your workout plan:

  • Squats
  • Deadlifts
  • Bench Press
  • Overhead Press
  • Pullups
  • Barbell Bent-Over Rows

It’s vital to include compound exercises into your workout plan due to their efficient use of time. You’d hit multiple muscle groups at once. Aside from the fact that compound exercises save time it is also beneficial because performing them burns more calories since multiple muscle groups are involved. It also improves strength and flexibility.

It would be best to start your workout session with a compound exercise. Do at least one or two compound exercises at the beginning of your workout. This is gonna be the hardest and most effective exercise of your session. In this exercise, you’ll be able to lift the maximum weights.

Do 2-3 Isolation Exercises After

While compound exercises work for multiple muscle groups at a time, isolation exercises seek to stimulate only one muscle group to provide muscle growth. Isolation exercises target just one muscle group, so you can focus on good form and technique as you build muscle, which can help prevent pain or injury from occurring.

Advanced lifters perform isolation exercises to target muscles that aren’t being worked to their full potential. Isolation exercises can help build more definition in an area that was overlooked by compound exercises.

Now that you have your compound and isolation exercises in place, you need to decide what workout split you’ll be using.

The 3 Types of Workout Splits

You can split your workouts based on how you divide your time. These are the three splits you should consider:

The Upper Body / Lower Body Split

It is possible to train all the major upper-body splits on one day, followed by all the major lower-body splits the next day. This split would be suitable for intermediate lifters.

The Full Body Split

A full-body split involves mixing and matching exercises from both upper body and lower body muscle groups into the same workout session. While you’re not tackling every single muscle in your body at once, you are training a lot in a short amount of time. It’s a good split for beginners.

The Push-Pull Split

Finally, you have the push-pull split option. On one day, all the pulling muscles are trained, and on the next day, all the pushing muscles are trained. In a sense, this is another variation of the full-body split.

The Importance of Warming Up

Any type of physical activity requires a proper warmup. Warming up enhances body temperature by preventing injury. Warm muscles produce more energy, which improves reflexes and makes muscle contractions faster. During a good warm-up, you should expand your range of motion and mentally prepare yourself for exercise. If you’re only going to work out a few muscle groups, a full-body warm-up is still important.

As you get closer to the workout, the intensity of the warm-up exercises should increase. Dynamic movements stretch you throughout your range of motion, but they are not held in place in the end. Stretches held in the finishing position do not draw blood to the muscles and are not ideal for a warm-up. A cool-down should include static stretches after a workout. While they improve flexibility, they do not support the purpose of a warm-up.

Rest Periods

The importance of rest goes beyond just catching one’s breath so you can exercise more, but it also allows muscles to recover. During resistance training, muscles get energy from a substance called creatine phosphate. The levels of creatine phosphate can take up to a minute to return to normal after a set of exercises.

It depends on the amount of weight you’re lifting and your overall goal as to how long you should rest between exercises or sets. Everyone has different workout goals, but for the majority of people seeking to improve their muscular fitness, it’s best to rest for 30 to 90 seconds between sets. The goal is to feel energized for your next set, but not to feel so relaxed that your heart rate drops and you cool down.

Timing is more important for people with specific goals. Perhaps you are trying to build muscle endurance. Your rest between sets should be less than 30 seconds, so your muscles will keep working throughout long workouts.

When lifting heavier weights, you should wait two to five minutes in between sets if you are trying to build strength and power. Unlike powerlifters, who may wait quite a while to perform another exercise, bodybuilders lift heavy weights and rest for 30 to 90 seconds.