Top 5 Bodybuilding Workout Mistakes (Part 2): Not Doing Enough Sets Per Muscle Group

Continuing on with the Second Installment to my Top 5 Bodybuilding Workout Mistakes Series – Today, we’re going to talk about why you may NOT being doing enough sets to cause your weaker, less developed body-parts to grow.

If you missed Part 1, we discussed why you’re probably resting too long between sets.

Bodybuilding Mistake #2: Not Doing Enough Sets

There’s a trend in the Strength & Conditioning world to view our upper-body exercises as “horizontal” or “vertical” pushing and pulling actions. And, to classify our lower-body exercises as either “knee dominant ”or “hip dominant. At Performance U, we don’t mind this classification system as a shotgun approach to make sure you include one exercise for each basic movement pattern for general strength training purposes in the athletic conditioning realm. Or for a beginner to ensure his or her program is “covering the bases “, but when it comes to advanced bodybuilding workouts, we’re not big on this approach.


Based on the scientific research we’ve seen along with what we’ve learned from many knowledgeable coaches, in conjunction with our own training experience  – The recommend amount of sets to maximize muscle hypertrophy (i.e. to create the optimal training stimulus for muscle growth) is 12-20 sets per muscle group (of approx. 8-15 reps) per week.

That means if you want to increase the size of your pecs, you’ve got to 12-20 sets (of approx. 8-15) of exercises like bench press, dumbbell press and pec fly’s per week. And, if you also want your shoulders to grow bigger, you’ve got to do 12-20 sets of shoulder intensive moves like overhead press and delt-raises.

 muscle growth

Those numbers are far cry from the total work volume any particular muscle group gets when you simply follow the one vertical press and one horizontal press (and maybe one or two) auxiliary moves, then call it a day method.


When it comes to our helping our clients to increase Hypertrophy, we’ve found it’s most effective to follow a traditional bodybuilding, MUSCLE based (body-part) training split over a MOVEMENT Pattern (Push, Pull, Hip Dominant, etc.) based program, which doesn’t apply as well (for us) to a bodybuilding goal as it does to our Sports Performance training programs.

Note: We do like to integrate in some bodybuilding concepts into our Sports Strength programs, which I cover in my Functional Bodybuilding article.

We also make sure we devote at least 12 sets (up to 20 sets) per week toward training the less developed areas we’re trying to develop based on each of our clients goals.

For the body-parts our clients are already happy with the size they’ve currently got; we’ll devote less training volume (i.e. less sets) to because the goal with those areas is just maintanence. So we’ll only give those areas 8-10 sets (in the 8-15 rep range) of volume per week, which we’ve found to successfully help to prevent  losing muscle size in the already well-developed body-parts while we focus primarily on “bringing up” the weaker, leass developed areas.

How Often Do We Train the Less Developed Muscles?

We train the areas that need the most work twice per week (8-10 sets per day) to distribute the volume and training time, so it’s not all in one workout. When doing this, we like to allow at least 2-3 days between bodybuilding workout sessions that hit same muscle groups.


TRAINERS in the NY, NY Area – I’ll be teaching at the 2012 TSI Summit on Nov 3rd, along with a great cast of presenters. Hope to see you there!

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