I only do 4 lifts per training session. There are a few reasons why. Mainly, I don’t want to be in the gym all day long. I want to get in, put in the work and get on with my day. I keep the sessions to about an hour.
You can always add complexity. Starting with a few things allows you to make progress faster because you’re more focused. If you based your program on a leg exercise, an upper body push movement and an upper body pull movement, you’ll be set up nicely.
You will quickly find out what works for you and what doesn’t. Not everyone is going to respond the same way to every stimulus. You may find seated dumbbell shoulder pressing yields you better results than standing barbell shoulder pressing. Or it may just feel more comfortable.
Do the things that work, scrap what doesn’t.
It sounds obvious.
Most people don’t need to do three different types of calf raises in order to see improvement. The marginal benefits are usually outweighed by the opportunity cost of the time spent. Concentrate on the most important lifts.
Every minute you spend doing one thing means you can’t spend it doing anything else. Choose carefully how you spend your time. Get the most out of your training time.
Training hard in 4 exercises over 45 minutes to an hour is going to be more productive for you than training 8 over the same time span. (In this instance “core” means central and important, not necessarily the body part we think of as the “core”).
When you get to a point where you stop making gains with a certain lift, it doesn’t mean you have to necessarily add more exercises. Yes, adding more sets and/or more exercises can help you make more gains. But it will also make your sessions longer.
Instead, when you find yourself stalled on a particular exercise, try replacing it with a variation. For instance, you can swap barbell bench pressing with the dumbbell version. You will give your muscles a different stimulus to progress and your sessions won’t be any longer.