Does it matter which muscle group you train first during strength training?
If you train with weights because you just want to become leaner and more muscular, the order of the exercises in your workouts doesn't really matter. But if you want to make specific muscle groups stronger, then it does matter which muscle group you deal with first. Scientists from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro come to this conclusion in a small human study.
The researchers divided 30 women, who were on average 64 years old, into 2 groups. One group was the G1 group, the second the G2 group.
The researchers got the women to do strength training twice a week for 12 weeks. Both groups did 3 sets per exercise. The women trained with 70 percent of the weight with which they could just make 1 rep.
The women in the G1 group did the leg-press first, then the lat-pulldown, then the leg-extension, then the pec-deck, then the calf-raise and finally the triceps-pulldown. The women trained their large muscle groups first, and then their small ones.
The women in the G2 group did the same exercises, but in the opposite order. So they trained their small muscle groups first, and then their large ones.
The researchers saw no differences between the two training principles when they looked at the women's body composition. In both groups, the women roughly lost a kilo of body fat and gained a kilo of muscle mass.
Click on the figures below for a larger version.
When they looked at the increase in strength of the different muscle groups, the researchers saw small but significant differences between the G1 group and the G2 group. All women gained strength in all their muscle groups, but that increase in strength mainly took place in the muscle groups that the women first trained.
"Exercise order should be considered when specific muscle weaknesses are a priority, so those muscles are trained first," the researchers summarize.
Int J Exerc Sci. 2019;12(4):657-65.
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