What Order Should You Workout Your Muscle Groups?
When creating your routine or strength training sessions, have you ever thought about the order you do your exercises?
Does it even make a difference?
Yes it can. Most experts recommend exercising your larger muscle groups first and then work your smaller muscle groups next. Why? Your large muscle groups use up a lot of energy, so you want to get those exercises out of the way first while you are still fresh. Then you can use the rest of your energy to work the smaller muscle groups which require less energy in the first place.
But remember, this is just a recommendation. A good way to keep from hitting a plateau is to reorder the way you do your exercises. It keeps your body challenged and from becoming to comfortable with doing the same exercises in the same order.
So with an upper body routine, what would that look like?
You would want to exercise your:
- chest and back before your shoulders.
- shoulders before your biceps and triceps.
In a lower body routine, exercise the quads and hamstrings before calves and abs.
Rest Between Strength Training Exercises
Rest is an important component when setting the order of your exercises. The rest we are talking about is the rest between sets. Rest too much or too little and your performance (and ultimately, your goal) will sacrifice.
However to help you figure out your rest cycles, consider these three factors:
The rate at which you do an exercise is the intensity. So if you are doing less reps with more weight, your intensity is greater than if your do more reps with lighter weight. The more intensity at which you exercise, the more rest you need.
Demand, or how hard the exercise is on your body, also affects how much rest you need. The higher the demand, the longer the rest required. For example, when exercising the legs, chest and back, you need more rest than when working biceps and triceps.
And finally your goal affects rest cycles. If your goal is to build endurance, then usually a 20 to 60 second rest between sets is sufficient. However if your goal is to build muscle, then your rest cycle could be 3 to 5 minutes between sets. To get toned and “looking good”, a 1 to 3 minute rest is all you need.
As you complete one set of exercises and are ready to move into starting the first set of another exercise, take the same amount of rest between exercises as you did between sets.
Now you know how the order of your exercises and rest cycles can affect your performance. However, don’t be afraid to “shake things up” a little by changing the order occasionally.
Also to keep from hitting a plateau and to work your muscles differently, occasionally take out an exercise or two and replace with different ones that still target the same muscles.
How Much Rest Do Your Muscles Need In Between Strength Training Sessions?
Many people don’t know that rest is one of the most important parts of a strength training program. Weightlifting breaks down muscle by causing small tears in them. It is during the rest days that the body repairs these tears. Too little rest and you will start to suffer from the over-training syndrome which can take both a physical and mental toll on your body. Rest too much and you will not see progress toward your goal.
How much rest is enough?
So what is the right amount of rest? Actually there are two types of rest – one between sets and one between sessions. The rest between sets helps replenish the adenosine triphosphate (ATP) in your muscles, the primary source of energy. Rest between sets gives the muscle time to recuperate itself.
If you goal is to build up muscle endurance, then aim for a rest between sets of 30 to 90 seconds; allow at least a full day of rest before exercising the same muscle group again. To build muscle, allow for a 1 to 2 minute rest between sets and up to two days between sessions.
Many recreational weightlifters break down their sessions into an upper body routine one day, a lower body routine another day and back to the upper body (same or a different routine) the next day, or maybe throw in a cardio session somewhere during the week.
Hitting the wall
If you do over train, you will find yourself “hitting the wall”. You will know it because you will feel extremely fatigued or weak when training; you won’t be able to lift as much or do as many reps as you did the session before, so you will show a lack of progress. You may also suffer from a decreased appetite and a lack of enthusiasm to exercise. Over-training can also weaken your immune system, so you may even get sick more often.
If you start to show these symptoms, take a week off from weightlifting. Do other types of exercises that don’t work the same muscles as your routines, such as walking or yoga. To prevent it from happening again, identify the cause of over training – usually a lack of proper rest either with sets or sessions – make adjustments and continue training. You will come back both mentally and physically re-energized.
One of the best defenses to keep from over training is proper rest. Listen to your body; it will let you know when you are working it too hard. Be prepared to adjust your training, diet and sleep cycle accordingly to get you back on track.
Most of all keep learning and adjust your routine. As new strength training and fitness information becomes available you’ll find it at MyFitessNut.com or by subscribing to the My Fitness Nut Newsletter that’s exclusive to valued readers like you.