Does the order of the exercises you do matter?
I get that question a lot … and yes, it does.
After properly warming up and specifically preparing for the movements we’re focusing on, we have our clients tackle the most challenging, “biggest” strength exercise first. Think back squats, deadlifts, RDLs, bench press, overhead press, or row variations. These are multi-joint movements and generally require some technical skill and a lot of exertion (though, rarely more than 7-8 on a scale of 1-10 if we’re trying to avoid injury and promote joint health, which we should be).
We want to do the big exercises first, while our central nervous system, muscles, and joints are fresh and mobilized.
Yes, I know there are certain fitness modalities that prescribe challenging, high-exertion strength exercises while in a state of severe fatigue. That’s a really bad idea, and it’s why I prefer a fitness program based on science, not theory :-)
Plus, if we performed proper movement prep, why not do the exercise we just prepared for right away … instead of doing a whole bunch of unrelated stuff first?
Here’s another question I get a lot.
What about “cardio?”
There’s a time and a place for cardio, but I think of it more as metabolic conditioning. And this is best done in short, intense bouts, with varying rest intervals … after you’ve done the main strength exercise that you’re trying to improve that day.
High-intensity conditioning, or HIIT (high-intensity interval training) causes muscle fatigue, and taxes the cardiovascular and central nervous systems. Don’t try doing a heavy deadlift after — or, for goodness sakes, during — such an activity.
There’s one more thing I want to cover today, and that’s the concept of “muscle confusion.”
If a trainer tells you that his or her plan for getting you fit is “muscle confusion,” the only person who’s confused is the trainer.
Doing a bunch of random stuff that makes you tired isn’t a training program.
It’s a recipe for injury, frustration and disappointment.
Don’t fall for it.
The best approach is to do the simple, proven exercises over and over again, so you can become really good at the basics.
Your body — and joints — will thank you later.
Come check out how we program here in Scottsdale!
Building from the ground up.