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order | Davey Wavey Fitness


Archive for the tag - order

Should You Switch Up Your Exercise Routine?

It’s generally recommended that exercisers train their larger muscle groups (think chest, back, quads and hamstrings) before the smaller muscle groups (shoulders, biceps, triceps, forearms, calves, etc). Why? Because larger muscles are supported by the smaller muscles. If you exercise and fatigue the smaller muscles, the larger muscles won’t be able to work properly.

Perfect example: Most back exercises require grip strength. If you’ve already exercised your forearms, your ability to work your back will be limited by your fatigued forearms – and not by the muscles you are targeting!

But two new studies are showing that it may also be good to occasionally switch things up, and reverse the order.

Researchers from Federal University of Rio de Janeiro and A.T. Still University in Arizona looked at exercise order in a routine that involved bench presses, lat pulldowns, triceps extensions and biceps curls. When the workout started with bench press exercises, only the bench press gains were greater than the gains when the workout was performed in reverse. Participants’ strength increased much more with the other three exercises when the order was reversed – a finding that flies in the face of traditional thinking.

Another study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that whichever muscle is trained first is going to get the most gain in strength and muscle mass compared to the muscle you train last.

So while there may be good logic to the idea of training large muscles first, there is also great value in occasionally reversing the order and switching things up. Bottom line: Variety, when it comes to working out and exercise order (and life in general!), is a good thing.

Order Matters: Switching the Sequencing of Your Workout.

A few days ago, while discussing the 7 ways that 2011 is the healthiest year of my life, I mentioned adding variety to my workout:

Our muscles become accustomed to our routines, and thus they can become less challenging over time. By changing up our workout variables (like base of stability, rest time durations, sequencing, intervals in cardio training, exercise type, etc.), we can keep our workouts challenging.

Sequencing is the easiest way to spice things up because it doesn’t require any new equipment, tactics or training. But it can be extremely effective.

There are two aspects of sequencing: Individual exercise order and muscle order.

1. Individual Exercise Order

On a bicep day, you may typically start with barbell curls, then do a few sets of 21s and some dumbbell curls. To switch up the sequence, start at the end and work your way backwards. You’ll may be surprised to discover that the reversed sequence is challenging – your muscles may have adjusted to your routine. It’s a great way to switch things up.

2. Muscle Order

When it comes to the order in which you train your muscles, there is less room for variety. In general, it’s wise to train the largest muscles first. Why? Because larger muscles are supported by the smaller muscles. If you exercise and fatigue the smaller muscles, the larger muscles won’t be able to work properly.

The big muscle groups are the thighs (quads and hamstrings), back, and chest – they are centered around your torso. These are generally trained first. The smaller muscles include the shoulders, biceps, triceps, forearms, calves, etc. These are generally trained second.

For example, most back exercises require grip strength. If you’ve already exercised your forearms, your ability to work your back will be limited by your fatigued forearms and not the muscles you are targeting!

Bottom line: Experts recommend changing your workout several times a year – as often as every six weeks! Whether it’s changes in exercises, resting times, base of stability or sequencing – keep your workouts fresh!