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Exercise sequence during training: more important than expected

The story is known. You create a new training plan and go to the gym fully motivated after work. Unfortunately, you’re not the only person who came up with this idea. The gym is full of people and the machines you would need for each are unfortunately occupied. Two possibilities arise: either you wait until the machine is free, or you use the equipment that is currently free.

If you then answer the question “Why are you doing this exercise?” with “Because the device is currently free.” you have a big problem in the long run. The sequence of exercises, i.e. the sequence of the individual exercises, plays an enormous role.

However, as with most aspects of effective strength training, the training order can vary widely from person to person – depending on what factors are important to you and your specific training goal.

Basic rule

For most people, the correct order of exercises in most cases can be summarized in one sentence as follows: More demanding exercises should be done before less demanding ones.

To clarify what this means, here are a few practical examples:

Exercise for larger muscles should always be done before exercises for smaller muscles. An example: first back, then biceps, not the other way around.

Are you wondering why this recommendation should be followed? The answer is simple: all back exercises involve the biceps. However, the biceps is a smaller muscle that is weaker than the back. If you first train the biceps and then the back, the biceps no longer have enough strength to train the back optimally.

The same applies to the chest, shoulder and triceps. The chest is a big, strong muscle, the triceps are smaller and weaker. If you work the triceps first, if you work the chest it will fail.

So the correct order is: chest or back in front of shoulders, biceps or triceps. Shoulders in front of biceps or triceps. Quads in front of your calves or abs.

Compound exercises should be done before isolation exercises. The principle is the same as in the previous point.

Free weights or own body weight exercises in front of machines, squats or deadlifts in front of leg presses, barbell bench presses in front of the incline bench, pull-ups in front of chest-supported rows of machines.

As already mentioned, it can be useful to deviate slightly from these rules. That depends on the individual training goals. In general, however, this rule should be followed if you want to see the maximum training success.

When you train more than one large muscle group in one workout
You may be wondering what happens when you use more than one muscle group in the same workout – as most people do. In fact, many train with split training, e.g. B. Upper body and legs. Many muscle groups are addressed here per training.

Let’s look at the rule again. We learned that exercises for larger muscle groups should come before those that exercise smaller muscle groups.

That’s easy, of course, with the obvious things, like chest in front of triceps. But what if more than one large muscle group is being trained in one session?

The answer: the rule still applies, even if you end up training each muscle group in the wrong order. This means that instead of doing all the exercises for the same muscle group in a row and then doing all the exercises for the other muscle group, you alternate. First you do an exercise for muscle A, then for muscle B, then A again …

This is absolutely fine and should be done to ensure that you are doing the exercises in the optimal order.

Lots of people often go to the gym and work out like crazy, but then wonder when they don’t get the results they were hoping for. One factor is the exercise order. In the long term, it is more beneficial if you wait for the right machine instead of just always using the one that is currently available. In this sense: have fun training.

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