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How To Order Compound Exercises 

May 14, 2020

How To Order Compound Exercises


There are many benefits of incorporating compound exercises into your routine.

  • More efficient workouts
  • Getting stronger
  • Building muscle

It seems like a no-brainer that you should add these exercises to your program. Our fitness trainers have already done that for you with your workouts at TS Fitness. However, if you want to know why we do it or how to write a workout on your own, we should talk about exercise order.

How To Order Your Workout

There’s a specific system that we use to order the exercises, which helps reduce the risk of injury and increase the benefit of each movement.

Here’s a generalized breakdown:
1. Speed and power exercises
2. Bilateral strength exercises
3. Unilateral strength exercises

Speed and Power Exercises

Speed and power comes first, since these exercises require the most coordination. Kettlebell swings, kettlebell cleans, and squat jumps are all examples of compound movements that use speed and power. Since the moves are so quick, there’s an increased risk for injury. For example, on a kettlebell swing, if you mess up the technique or your lower back gets tired, you can injure yourself. If we do this exercise last, you won’t be able to use heavy weight. Your muscles will be tired and your focus drained, making it hard to keep your form precise. That’s why speed and power exercises come first.

Bilateral Strength Exercises

Next are the big strength exercises. These include deadlifts, squats and the dumbbell bench press. These movements use heavy weights, which means your muscles should be warmed up but not exhausted. While the heavy weight makes these exercises risky, they’re not as dangerous as speed and power exercises, because they require less coordination. The weights tend to move slowly on these exercises, giving you more control.

Now that you’ve done your speed and big strength exercises, you’re probably pretty tired. That’s why the next step in your workout is unilateral strength exercises. Lunges and split squats are examples of unilateral movements, which simply means that you’re using one limb at a time.

Isolation Exercises

Since you’re lifting the weight with one limb instead of two, you naturally can’t use as much weight. While these exercises are challenging, they don’t use as much weight as the bigger strength exercises, making them safer.

If you decide you want to add isolation exercises, like curls, into your program, try to do them at the end. Isolation exercises target one muscle group and tire it out. Even though they may not feel as difficult as compound movements, they still fatigue the muscle you’re targeting.

Doing an isolation exercise before a compound movement can be dangerous, depending on the muscle you work. For example, if you do an exercise that targets your lower back, you shouldn’t do it before a compound movement like the deadlift. That’s because you need your lower back muscles to properly perform a deadlift. However, you could do bicep curls before a deadlift, because it doesn’t really work your biceps. If you’re not sure what muscles you’re using, a good rule of thumb is to just save your isolation exercises for the end of the workout.

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