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.

About Davey Wavey

Davey Wavey is a certified personal trainer and YouTube sensation with more than 250 million video views. For Davey's fitness tips and secrets, sign up for his free monthly newsletter - or download any of his affordable and effective workout programs.

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