Exercise Order: Solving the Puzzle
Putting an exercise program together is like trying to configure a puzzle. You need to find the right pieces to get the finished product that you are looking for. Your exercise order is just one of the many pieces that help solve this challenging, and often confusing puzzle.
Scientifically speaking, it is ideal to do all of your multi-joint movements and movements that have the highest neurological demands first. You want to be as fresh as possible for these movements and you want to use the heaviest weights you can for your desired rep range. This will increase your gains and make your time in the gym more efficient.
I have put each type of exercise into a category. These categories are rated from the highest neurological demands to the lowest.
1. Plyometric Work: Sprinting, Jumping, Power Skips
2. Olympic Lifts: Clean, Snatch, Jerk, Push Press
3. Compound Exercises: Thrusters, Squat to Row, SLDL to Upright Row
4. Lower Body Exercises Without Support from an Outside Source: Deadlift, Sumo Deadlift, Squats, Lunges
5. Upper Body Multi-Joint Lifts Without Support from an Outside Source: Standing Over Head Press, Pull Ups, Bent Over Rows
6. Multi-Joint Upper Body Movements with Support: Bench Press, Seated Over Head Press, T bar Row with a Pad
7. Multi-Joint Lifts On Machines: Chest Press, Row, Over Head Press, Lat Pull Down, Leg Press, Hack Squat
8. Single Joint Lifts: Bicep Curls, Tricep Extensions, Leg Extension, Leg Curl
Now remember this isn’t set in stone. You still have to consider your goals. If someone is focused on a particular aspect of training, THAT aspect should be worked first. You want to prioritize.
If developing your lower body is not as important, then for YOU it might not be ideal to do lower body movements first even though they have the highest neurological demand.
Remember, everything with exercise and fitness is individualized. Regardless of the amount of studies conducted, your personal experience and your individual goals trump everything.
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