What Exercise Should I Do First?
This is a common question we hear in my field. People often wonder what exercise they should start with during their routine or if order even matters. Well it does!
Compound exercises should be performed first in your workout. These movements can be defined simply as any exercise that requires at least two different joints to complete the exercise. A great example of a compound movement is a bench press. This exercise uses movements coming from the elbow and shoulder joints. Other compound exercises include squats, shoulder presses, deadlifts, lunges, and pull-ups.
Once you complete your compound movements, you should follow up with isolation exercises. Isolation exercises emphasize a single muscle by utilizing movement of a single joint. An example of an isolated exercise is a bicep curl which should only have movement coming from the elbow joint, making it a single joint exercise. Other isolated movements include leg extensions, calf raises, abdominal crunches, and front raises.
There are TWO reasons why you should perform your compound exercises before any isolation. One is to help you get the most out of your exercise while in the gym and the second is to prevent injury. Compound exercises before isolation ensures that you do not limit your large muscle performance by fatiguing your smaller muscles prematurely. If your smaller (or secondary movers – i.e. bicep, tricep, calves) are fatigued, you limit your ability to overload your larger muscles. This order is also recommended to help condition the connective tissue to help prevent injury and damage.
– Mark W., Exercise Physiologist at Dedham Health
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