75 Exercise Order

Dawn Markell and Diane Peterson

Exercise Order for Resistance Training

The general guidelines for exercise order when training all major muscle groups in a workout is as follows:

  • Large muscle group exercises (i.e., squat) should be performed before smaller muscle group exercises (i.e., shoulder press).
  • Multiple-joint exercises should be performed before single-joint exercises.
  • For power training, total body exercises (from most to least complex) should be performed before basic strength exercises. For example, the most complex exercises are the snatch (because the bar must be moved the greatest distance) and related lifts, followed by cleans and presses. These take precedence over exercises such as the bench press and squat.
  • Alternating between upper and lower body exercises or opposing (agonist–antagonist relationship) exercises can allow some muscles to rest while the opposite muscle groups are trained. This sequencing strategy is beneficial for maintaining high training intensities and targeting repetition numbers.
  • Some exercises that target different muscle groups can be staggered between sets of other exercises to increase workout efficiency. For example, a trunk exercise can be performed between sets of the bench press. Because different muscle groups are stressed, no additional fatigue would be induced prior to performing the bench press. This is especially effective when long rest intervals are used.3

Dawn Markell & Diane Peterson, Health and Fitness for Life. MHCC Library Press. Sept 4, 2019. https://mhcc.pressbooks.pub/hpe295


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Introduction to Exercise Science for Fitness Professionals Copyright © 2021 by Dawn Markell and Diane Peterson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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