Using machines in a crowded gym

I have started the hypertrophy stage (I get resistance training now!) and I find that at the gym it’s often difficult to do the sets in order; squats then leg press then curl rest and repeat. Often the next machine is occupied and results in a 5+ minutes rest between excercises.

Is it recommended to do the 3 sets of excercises then move on? For example, Squat 1 & 2, rest, then 3 & 4, rest then 5 & 6, rest then move on to leg press, etc. Is there a better tactic? Does it matter?


Hey Bruce, Each exercise has 6 sets. Rest 90-120 sec between every set. Do all 6 sets of the squats, then all 6 of the leg presses, then all 6 of the leg curls. The greatest benefit comes from totally fatiguing the muscle so switching exercise after each set (i.e. squat, leg press, curl, squat, leg press, curl…) gives too much recovery. Hope that helps.


Hi Bruce,

Yup complete like Gary said. So doing all sets of the same exercise before moving on to the next. That should help.

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Thanks @gary and @Jake for the replies. I’m glad i got it right.

BTW, I just finished week 1 of the hypertrophy stage and I can honestly say Fascat is not my favourite friend at the moment. I HURT!

What doesn’t kill you…

I have a similar problem at my gym. There’s only 1 inverted leg press sleigh. So I often go from Squats to hamstrings and then the leg press if someone is on the machine. If they are doing similar amounts of weight I’ll always ask if I can work in with them but the other day this one guy was doing like 1000 lbs. (Yes, 1000#, 10 plates on either side) so I just had to wait for him to finish and unload. Either way, I never break up the sets of a particular exercise. While hovering to get in on a coveted machine I might do some core work on the floor or even some step-ups or lunges.

I hear you on getting sore! Although the ACSM recommends 48h of rest between training the same muscle group it is true that trained individuals can achieve greater gains by stretching the amount of time spent in net-positive protein synthesis. However, a few studies have found no difference in additional muscle protein synthesis whether athletes did 3-4 sets or 6-8 sets per training session (from Dankel, S. and Mattocks, K. et al. Frequency: The Overlooked Resistance Training Variable… Sports Med. 2017). So, NOT to deter anyone from Coach’s prescription - I personally like to do just 3-4 sets on the lighter day 2 during the Hypertrophy Phase. I still found HUGE gains in prep for the Strength phase but felt safer going this way.

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That’s a really interesting paper. Thanks for sharing. There’s always a wide range of response amongst human beings. Would be great if they followed up with a study to test their hypothesis, although like almost all exercise physiology studies it would probably employ n ≤ 10 leaving the results far from conclusive.