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8 exercises for one single muscle group

A back only workout

Yesterday I targeted back – and back only. I have recently written about the benefits of targeting one single muscle group throughout a workout session. Now I felt it was time once again to harvest some of these benefits.

The workout session

It went as follows:

1. Chins 1, 3x8-12

2. Lats pulldowns, one side at the time, 4x8-10/side

3. Rowing, machine, 3x6

4. Bent over dumbbell rowing, 3x8-10/side


5. Cable rows, standing, 3x12-14

6. Chins 2, 3x6

7. Cable pulldowns, 1-handed, 3x8-10/side

8. Body rows (also known as inverted rows in Smith machine), 3x10

9. Bent over barbell rows, 3x10-12


Daniel Schou 28 sets of back

What defined this workout was the fact that I performed as many as 8 different exercises for one single muscle group. Sometimes you will hear it being argued that there are drawbacks to such an approach. Most programs and fitness authors recommend that one perform only 2-4 exercises per muscle group/session. They fear that a higher number of exercises will result in overtraining. But in my opinion there are benefits to be had from occasionally increasing the numbers like I did yesterday.

The benefits of doing many different exercises:

1. It is fun. I love training and lifting weights. The results are a big part of it, for sure – but I do love the lifting in itself. A session that offers so much variation is simply more fun in my opinion. One of the great things about gym training is its endless possibility of variation and this kind of workout session allows one to truly enjoy this aspect.

2. Even though all these exercises were employed in order to target the back they still differ somewhat. 28 sets of back spread over only 2-4 exercises would mean risking fatigue of the bad kind, by putting a lot of stress and strain on the joints and the assisting muscles.

3. A great variety of exercises allows for higher tempo and intensity. I did some duo sets – and even a bunch of trio sets, going in between exercises without any rest whatsoever, while still being able to perform rather well in each and every one of them.

4. It was mentally invigorating. As you can see I most often stopped at a modest 3 sets per exercise. This allowed me to feel fresh throughout the workout, despite the fact that I was really blasting my back muscles. Everything kept feeling inspiring all the way. I felt that I performed each and every set with enthusiasm. I have written about the importance of being present and the high number of different exercises helped me to achieve that.

5. It has been stated here at that prioritization will help you build muscle mass. You could use this approach to compose a workout routine where you give each major muscle group a whole workout session on its own every week (similar to what, for example, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson likes doing – which I will elaborate on in an article that will be coming soon here on, or you could use it as a powerful tool in the quest for good prioritizing.

6. There are many bonus benefits of high volume training that will kick in very clearly if you try this kind of workout.

The importance of good technique

If you want to try this out it becomes extra important that you first master the technique for each exercise that you want to involve. Hitting the same area in this intense fashion will result in fatigue – and in a fatigued state you are more likely to start being sloppy with the technique.

I'll wrap this article up by recommending anyone wanting to add visual muscle mass quickly to try this approach every once in a while.

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/Daniel Schou

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