How Many Exercises Should I Do In Each Workout?


This week rather than give you guys another Grappling & Ground Fight or Exercise video I decided to address one of the performance related frequently asked questions I get from people when talking training and how to plan their workouts.

This weeks question is “How many exercises should I do in each workout?”

This is a great question and like many health and fitness related questions there isn’t a single black or white answer.

There are many things I take into account when designing my clients training programmes. Things such as:

  • Their training experience
  • Their nutritional status
  • Their weaknesses and/ or imbalances
  • Their goals
  • Their likelihood of programme adherence
  • etc, etc, etc…

As you can see, a lot of thought goes into programme design.

That doesn’t mean things have to get complicated though.

90% of the time my clients programmes will have between 4 and 8 exercises in each of their training programmes.

For instance, I may have an advanced client in the third or fourth phase of a Body Transformation programme and one of their programmes may be a heavy Lower Body workout that looks as follows:

PHASE 3 / WEEK 1 – Advanced Client

1 Barbell Snatch – From the Hang 4 5 @ 6RM 120
2 Full Depth Back Squat 6 4 @ 5RM 120
3a Barbell Hip Thrusts 5 5RM 75
3b Glute-Ham Raise 4 12-15 75

Whereas on the other hand I may have a relatively novice trainee with the same goal and in the same phase that has the following programme:

PHASE 3 / WEEK 1 – Novice Client

1a Dumbbell Walking Lunges 3 8e/s 10
1b Standing 2 Arm Cable Push 3 12 10
1c Dumbbell Bent Over Row 3 12 60
2a Kettlebell Front Squats 3 10 10-20
2b Bodyweight Press Ups 3 AMRAP 10-20
2c Seated Single Arm Cable Row 3 12e/s 60
3a Reverse Static Cable Woodchop 2 8e/s 30
3b Plank – Forearms on Swiss Ball 2 30-60sec 30

So irrelevant of whether you know every exercise in the list or not, you can see that things are different depending on the individual.

Now although both individuals have the same goal that doesn’t mean that the same programme is going to be effective for achieving the desired outcome for each person.

Programme 1 would likely be far too intense and for a relatively new lifter and would potentially put them at risk of injury using these types of loads so early in their training and Programme 2 would likely be too ‘generalised’ for the advanced trainee.

You may even find that the relatively novice lifter has to split their programme between body parts at this stage as the whole body workouts may not provide enough stimulus for optimal results anymore – again, this is dependant on the individual.

As you can see, there isn’t really a magic number when it comes to the amount of exercises in each of your training programmes but based on the fact that most good programmes contain between 4 and 8 exercises, it’s safe to say that around 6 exercises is a good average to aim for.

Hope that helps.

Now I’d like to hear from you guys (and girls of course). What problems have you had when designing or finding a programme that fits both you and your goals? Do you find you always stick to the same exercises? Do you find no matter what exercises you do, you still see very little changes?

Whatever it may be, let me know and I’ll answer you back in the comments below.

In health and performance,



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