In this article I would like to make it clear to you once and for all and in a simple way how many sets to do for each muscle group for maximum hypertrophy, whether for calisthenics training, weighted calisthenics, weights or a combination of these.
What I want is for you not to be left with doubts about whether your training has a low volume of work or too much, but rather to find the optimal point based on the most advanced knowledge today, both scientific papers and empirical knowledge from the most prestigious trainers. (Scientific references at the end of the article)
For those who have already planned their training, it will help them check if they have an adequate number of sets, and for those who have not yet planned it, it will help them do it correctly and that from the beginning their training meets the requirements to effective. So let's get to it.
Regarding the division of the training, to make it easier and more effective for you to calculate how many series you perform per muscle group, I recommend a push-pull-legs division as I believe it is the simplest and most effective way to divide a hypertrophy workout. where you will be clear that most of the exercises work the same muscles and therefore it will be easier to count how many sets you dedicate to each of them.
However, if they do torso-leg type routines or full body routines, it is a little more complex, although not impossible, to calculate the volume of work.
Another valid way would be a more specific Weider-type division in which each day you work a specific muscle group, instead of a group of muscles. For example, a chest day, a shoulder day, a back day, a quadriceps day, a femoral day, etc. But current knowledge tells us that it is probably simpler and more effective to do push-pull-legs.
That said, we are now going to specify the number of series recommended for each group, and we will do so depending on the experience and ability of the athlete.
We will start with beginners for whom we recommend a minimum of 10 sets per muscle group per week.
This will be valid for all muscle groups but we must take into account a detail in the case of the legs, since we cannot count the whole legs as a single muscle group, but rather we will have to divide them at least into quadriceps on one side and femoral and glutes on the other.
Therefore, for the legs to get effective work, we should take into account a minimum of 10 series of exercises more focused on quadriceps and 10 series of exercises more focused on the femoral and glutes. And if we do exercises that involve both zones, such as squats or split squats, they would count as half a series for each group.
If this seems very confusing or complicated for you, we can simplify it by saying that the legs require twice as many sets as the rest of the muscle groups and with that you could design your routine effectively.
Also clarify that when I say series I mean effective series, series in which you really feel the work at the appropriate intensity, which in this case would be between 80 and 90% of your capacity. Warm-up sets or sets where you are calibrating intensity do not count.
Now let's go to the intermediate athletes, in which we are going to recommend a minimum of 15 effective series per muscle group and taking into account the same considerations with respect to the legs.
And finally the advanced ones, for whom we recommend a minimum of 20 effective sets per muscle group, again with the considerations mentioned above.
There is another category that is considered elite, which would be athletes who have been training for many years and are very close to their natural limit, in which it has been seen that progress can be made with 25 effective series per muscle group, but it has not been investigated with more sets than that, so if you are an elite athlete with many years of experience I will leave it up to you.
If you already had your routine planned and divided before reading this article, I recommend that you do a count to check if you are in these ranges that I have mentioned, and you can make the necessary adjustments. If you are about to plan your routine, just keep it in mind and you will be able to plan a really effective workout.
As you can imagine, the number of series is not the only variable that affects the intensity of our training and the hypertrophy stimulus, although it is one of the most important. For the rest of the variables we have the cadence of movement, which I recently wrote an article about, and we will work on the rest of the variables in future articles, so stay tuned.
Also keep in mind that in Calisteniapp we have training programs, free routines and smart routines designed by me taking these factors into account, and every month we update it by adding more content of all kinds, reviewing previous content and implementing new functions. So download it If you haven't and stay tuned for news.
References and bibliography:
1. Effects of Resistance Training Frequency on Measures of Muscle Hypertrophy: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
Brad J Schoenfeld, Dan Ogborn, James W Krieger
2. A Systematic Review of the Effects of Different Resistance Training Volumes on Muscle Hypertrophy
Eneko Baz-Valle, Carlos Balsalobre-Fernández, Carlos Alix-Fages and Jordan Santos-Concejero
3. Schoenfeld, B., Fisher, J., Grgic, J., Haun, C., Helms, E., Phillips, S., Steele, J., & Vigotsky, A. (2021). Resistance Training Recommendations to Maximize Muscle Hypertrophy in an Athletic Population: Position Stand of the IUSCA. International Journal of Strength and Conditioning,