Can you build muscle with just a few exercises?
You don't really need to do excessive amounts of exercises to hit properly your muscles.
One of my personal workout plans that I've developed for myself is actually incorporating no more than 2–3 different exercises per muscle group.
But still every now and then I change some of the exercises or other aspects of my training routine in order to continue improving.
With that being said let me give a better perspective.
If you are a beginner I feel like you should stick to a couple of exercises. This is what I do with people that are just starting out.
The reason? - Same thing happens with most of the people. They get overwhelmed by all the different types of exercises and they can give up easily. And this is not what we are trying to achieve.
Do you ask of a first grader to calculate the distance between Earth and the Sun? No - you teach them step by step.
Eventually when you gain some experience you can start mixing in different exercises.
Why so many exercises?
Our muscles are a somewhat complicated mechanism. Oftentimes they are composed of a couple heads. For example the triceps is composed of 3 heads (or 3 individual muscles).
The reason why we need different exercises sometimes is because different exercises, different grips, etc can place greater tension and hit different parts of the same muscle.
For example: Incline bench press hits better the upper part of your chest muscle. And if you never do incline bench pressing that would mean your upper chest will be lacking even if you do normal bench pressing.
That's why varying the exercises every now and then is not a bad idea.
Adding more weight is one of the ways to stimulate your muscles. In order to gain more strength and muscle you need to be aiming for progressive overload.
Some (not all) of the most famous ways to do that is to:
- Change the intensity.
- Change the volume.
- Change the frequency.
If you are interested in taking a peak at an example of what my training routine would look like you can check my answer here: