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  1. #1
    Registered User Drb1982's Avatar
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    One Exercise per Body Part

    Kind of a beginner question. I’ve been lifting weights for a couple years but I’m just casual with it. I don’t compete or take it overly serious but I’ve kind of fallen out of shape and I’m looking to get a little more serious with it.

    I have a question about routines or programs. I normally do like 3 exercises and 4 sets per body part. But Ive been wondering lately if this is just something I’ve always done because I thought I was supposed to. If I’m doing chest, is there any real difference between doing just 12 sets of flat bench vs 4 sets of flat, 4 sets of incline, 4 sets of flies, etc ? Same with biceps. Could I not just do only bicep curls but more sets? Does it make much of a difference for muscle growth if you aren’t competing or doing shows?

    I see all these people at the gym doing all these creative exercises and I’m wondering lately if there’s any real benefit other than I guess it keeps workouts from getting boring.

    Thanks!
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  2. #2
    Registered User coachcalande's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Drb1982 View Post
    Kind of a beginner question. I’ve been lifting weights for a couple years but I’m just casual with it. I don’t compete or take it overly serious but I’ve kind of fallen out of shape and I’m looking to get a little more serious with it.

    I have a question about routines or programs. I normally do like 3 exercises and 4 sets per body part. But Ive been wondering lately if this is just something I’ve always done because I thought I was supposed to. If I’m doing chest, is there any real difference between doing just 12 sets of flat bench vs 4 sets of flat, 4 sets of incline, 4 sets of flies, etc ? Same with biceps. Could I not just do only bicep curls but more sets? Does it make much of a difference for muscle growth if you aren’t competing or doing shows?

    I see all these people at the gym doing all these creative exercises and I’m wondering lately if there’s any real benefit other than I guess it keeps workouts from getting boring.

    Thanks!
    Yes, studies have shown that various exercises bring about greater overall development. There are a lot of muscles and for bodybuilding, you want to hit all of them.

    That said, when you don’t feel like doing 3-4 movements, don’t! You can do just one or two.

    Right now I’m doing six sets each of two movements each for chest and back….soon, I’ll go back to doing three movements each. Do I look any different or perform any different? Eh…probably not.
    "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. "By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."

    Old Guy deadlifting: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6zMrim-0Dks
    bench press https://youtu.be/GaRzfueJVJQ

    Fat ol man with 21.5 inch arms pushing for that 1500 pound club mark.
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  3. #3
    Registered User Drb1982's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by coachcalande View Post
    Yes, studies have shown that various exercises bring about greater overall development. There are a lot of muscles and for bodybuilding, you want to hit all of them.

    That said, when you don’t feel like doing 3-4 movements, don’t! You can do just one or two.

    Right now I’m doing six sets each of two movements each for chest and back….soon, I’ll go back to doing three movements each. Do I look any different or perform any different? Eh…probably not.
    Fair enough. So there any benefits to multiple movements, but likely it’s only slight improvement, maybe not even noticeable to others who see you?
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    Registered User BeginnerGainz's Avatar
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    I do upper:
    Chest
    Shoulders
    Triceps
    Back width (some kind of pulldown)
    Back thickness (some kind of row)

    And lower+forearm flexors:
    Biceps
    Forearms
    Hip adduction/abduction warm up
    Calves
    Hamstrings
    Quads

    I do one movement per body part and have 2 different workouts that I alternate for each. I just hit each exercise with as much intensity as I can instead of doing 3-4 different movements at lackluster intensity.
    Age: 29

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  5. #5
    Registered User coachcalande's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Drb1982 View Post
    Fair enough. So there any benefits to multiple movements, but likely it’s only slight improvement, maybe not even noticeable to others who see you?
    Let’s take just the “Quads” as an example…squats do something…front squats do different things…leg extensions hit areas barely touched by either…and studies on the quads have shown that. As a beginner? Focus on best bang for the buck…the squats.

    Now Pecs…
    Bench press is going to stimulate the pecs, delts and tris for sure…incline press is similar but hits the upper chest… and flyes isolates the pecs more reducing the impact on delts and tris…as a beginner…focus on bench…

    For the back…lat pulls or chins give you a different focus than rowing motions…


    As far as bis/tris…one movement, a bunch of sets…meh, probably no different than two or three movements for the bis, but stimulating the forearms, brachial muscles….yes.
    "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. "By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."

    Old Guy deadlifting: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6zMrim-0Dks
    bench press https://youtu.be/GaRzfueJVJQ

    Fat ol man with 21.5 inch arms pushing for that 1500 pound club mark.
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  6. #6
    Registered User pondman's Avatar
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    Part of the equation of getting stronger or developing muscle is to progress. It's much more difficult recording your progress while trying to fit in 12 sets of a bench press in one workout. That's about what I do for the total week. You also need to have a program that meets your needs. Personally I'm a Push/Pull/Leg guy. There definitely are some key exercises such as a deadlift that are going to be my focus during Pull days. Just not anyway else to build the mass and strength, and then I follow with 4 exercise such as barbell rows, lat pulldowns, horizontal cable rows. I keep it to about 5. But I wouldn't get through 12 sets of deadlifts in one workout.

    You might want to consider the big compounds first. Eventually you realize exercises for your arms are just icing on the cake. You can build most of the muscle mass without ever doing arm exercises.
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  7. #7
    Registered User EliKoehn's Avatar
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    I think the point of experience where isolations make a meaningful difference is probably a year or two of fairly serious, consistent training with the major compounds. If you're just getting back into it, I'd not deviate from bench, squat, deadlift, row, overhead press, and pullups/pulldowns for like a year. Maybe lateral raises, additionally, but until you get into solidly intermediate numbers with those, I think they're the highway route to success.

    /personal mentality
    Bench: 320
    Squat: 375
    Deadlift: 495

    "... But always, there remained, the discipline of steel!"
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  8. #8
    Registered User GeneralSerpant's Avatar
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    You can give a lot more attention to one exercise by inflating up the intensity, volume, and/or frequency and making a lot of micro progressions.

    In terms of strength training, doing multiple exercises, there can be a lot of overlap in posterior coordination and technique. Though that mainly worked when I started more foundational training, I've absorbed weight training into it all the same.
    Last edited by GeneralSerpant; 09-22-2021 at 08:28 PM.
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  9. #9
    Kiwi Battler BenMcLeodNZ's Avatar
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    I do this, it's a form of Heavy Duty. It has some fans and a lot of critics, but look it up and try it. I just done it once and I never went back, although of course I change things around a bit.

    Although I count supersets as one set, and sometimes split up a muscle group in two such as upper and lower pecs.

    You will probably find you make sure to do them properly and to utter failure when you realize there is only 1 set of it and no reason to hold back.
    Last edited by BenMcLeodNZ; 09-24-2021 at 08:34 PM.
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  10. #10
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    To the muscle, it's either a volume or intensity game. In the case of volume.. 3, 4, 5, 6 sets for biceps - get the sets however you want, the muscle doesn't care how many exercises achieve that cumulative volume. You can use one exercise if you like, in that instance you'll probably be wanting the best bang for buck exercises - chin ups for biceps, bent rows for back, dips for triceps, stiffleg deads for hams, barbell hack squats for quads, antigravity press for delts, farmer's walks for forearms, power cleans for traps, etc. The exercises where you just feel absolutely tortured to death in the target muscle every set you do with it. If starting out, you can definitely use one exercise a muscle group for your volume, or if you just plain don't have time for more. At some point you may want to use two a muscle to work on your weak areas, but for awhile it won't be needed. I used to use one exercise a muscle and felt it was among my best investments of time in the gym, but recognized certain things were being neglected so I switched to two - but i've never ever saw need for or used more exercises than that - i'd just up the sets or lower them depending.
    Back to basics full body routine: https://pastebin.com/5BgKgrMv

    Training journal: https://forum.bodybuilding.com/showthread.php?t=178059671&p=1598034261#post1598034261
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