Number of exercises per muscle group

This article will help answer the question How many exercises should I perform per muscle group?

Given all things equal you only need one exercise per muscle group. Unfortunately, most of the time all things are not equal. We often have imbalances within our body created through our daily routines. Creating a good workout is a balancing act. It’s important to train all of the muscles in our body and targeting our weaknesses instead of just targeting only our favorites or what some call the “mirror muscles.” An unbalanced workout is like trying to put together an incomplete puzzle set. No one likes missing puzzle pieces.

When I first started training I lived near a military base. I would have a lot of clients that were active duty or retired military. On a side note, I loved my military clients. They have great work ethic and never moaned about the tough exercises. But one thing I would consistently see is shoulder problems. More specifically in the external rotators which are located posterior of the deltoid or back of the shoulders. Most problems or injuries especially sports related stem from imbalances within the body. I quickly realized that the two of the most popular exercises in the military, the pushup and the pullup, were to blame.

Over development of the pectoral and lat muscles and under development of the external rotators and upper back was the key cause of the shoulder instability within my clients. By emphasizing extra external rotator and upper back exercises while limiting chest and lat exercises my clients vastly improved if not eliminated their shoulder problems. As a new trainer, it was a revelation and completely changed how I approach and train new clients.

You can’t build a house on a cracked foundation. Finding your own imbalances can be a difficult task to undertake but it’s crucial to determining what exercises you should emphasize and will help you create a sturdy foundation upon which you can build your house of muscle.

It’s important to understand an overworked or fit muscle is a tight muscle and will have a constant subtle contraction causing a pull on the joint it interacts with. As with the example above my military clients overworking their pecs and lats caused a slouch or slight inward roll of the shoulders. This created instability in the shoulder joint which led to injuries. With proper training, the exercises not only solved their shoulder issues but also improved their posture by tightening the opposing muscles.

You may not suffer from such a severe imbalance as described above but you should always make balance a priority within your workout regimen. As you age those little nagging problems will grow into serious issues if your muscles aren’t balanced especially if your main focus is strength training.

Sometimes it may even be necessary to emphasize your weaker muscles in your routines. I know some of you may be afraid you’ll lose strength by neglecting your stronger muscles. Don’t worry, it’s been my experience that when you come back to these working these muscles you will actually see an improvement.

Keep in mind giving muscle groups extra attention will require more recovery time. I recommend performing posture correcting exercises twice a week on Monday and Friday with a total body routine in the middle of the week. If you suffer from a severe imbalance I suggest avoiding the offending exercise altogether until you have corrected the issue.

Now that you understand the importance of a balanced routine lets check out a well-rounded Weightlifting Routine for Beginners


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