My chest is underdeveloped, so I've been doing five or six exercises for those muscles, twice a week. But I'm wondering how much is too much? Is there a maximum number of exercises recommended per muscle group in one workout? And which ones should I be sure to include?
A 2001 Toronto Pro Invitational and Night of Champions winner Orville Burke answers: "Although I don't know how many sets per exercise you're doing, five exercises seems a bit over what's typically recommended for one bodypart. If you overwork your chest, it takes a longer time to recover. It's also possible to overtrain your muscles, which may cause atrophy instead of growth.
- "I'd suggest a program of four basic exercises that starts with incline flyes followed by incline presses, flat flyer and flat presses. Warm up properly with one set, then do 2-3, maximum of four, exercise sets. And for growth, I recommend 8-10 reps - no more, no less.
- "If you want to work chest twice a week, I recommend doing two different routines to avoid overworking the muscle. Try one full exercise session per week followed by a shorter workout on the second chest day with just a few basics like dumbbell flyer, incline presses and dips."
A IFBB fitness pro Timea Majorova answers:
- "Some women are afraid to train chest because they fear they'll look even more flat. But I think training the chest and neck area leaves your cleavage looking even stronger, prettier and more impressive.
- "Keep your goals in mind when designing your workout. For example, when competing, I needed my chest to be strong to complete strength moves such as the one-arm push-up in my gymnastics routine. So before the contest, I trained chest twice a week and a lot heavier than usual. But for a woman training for personal fitness, I'd recommend training chest once or twice a week using light weight for three sets of 15-20 reps.
- "I think five or six different exercises for chest is too much for a woman unless her goal is to be a bodybuilder with really developed chest muscles. For the average woman, I believe two different exercises for three sets is enough. Be sure to include the incline bench in your routine because you especially want to work the upper chest."
2002 Arnold Classic champ Jay Cutler answers:
- "From my experience it's best to train chest once every 5-7 days. I think that two times a week may be too much unless you're eating the diet to match; you need to take in more calories if you work out twice a week. Overtraining just exhausts the muscle to the point where mass building becomes unlikely.
- "I suggest keeping the maximum number of sets per bodypart between nine and 12, no matter how many exercises you choose. And when trying to put on muscle mass, I recommend an 8-12 rep range.
- "Focus on bench presses and flye movements. I recommend starting with a pre-- exhaust movement such as a flye, then going into a pressing movement, then back to another flye and finishing with a press."
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