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!

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.


  1. Second line under “2. Muscle Order” says
    “Because larger muscles are supported by the bigger muscles”

    I think you meant

    “Because larger muscles are supported by the SMALLER muscles”


  2. But thanks for some good options to keep the workout fresh, and keep our muscles challenged.


  1. […] 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. Related posts:Order Matters: Switching the Sequencing of Your Workout. […]

  2. […] But what is muscle confusion or high intensity interval training?  Collectively, they involve pushing the body past its normal limits.  Dr. Tabata said they that he had his clients train at 170% of capacity, and Mr. Schwarzenegger is infamous for training well beyond the point of puking.  What these systems have in common is pushing the body safely beyond “false limits.”  That’s where proper form and supervision play a role.  Schwarzenegger’s method of muscle confusion is now incorporated and integral to the Crossfit methodology of “constant variation.”  That can take the form of introducing new movements, new equipment, or simply changing the sequence of a workout.  This concept of sequencing is very popular among fitness professionals; accord  Muscle and Fitness, Popsugar, and Davywavyfitness. […]