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13.09.2016


Why it's best to train big muscle groups first and then the smaller muscles

Do your squats first, and then calf presses. Do bench presses first, and then triceps extensions. You train big muscle groups first and then the smaller ones. That's the way most standard training schedules are put together. And now sports scientists at the University of Kurdistan in Iran have discovered why the standard approach isn't so crazy.

Study
The researchers got 26 untrained male students to do a full body workout on two different occasions. The students did nine basic exercises to train the most important muscle groups in their body. On one occasion the students followed protocol A; on the other they trained according to protocol B.


Why it's best to train big muscle groups first and then the smaller muscles


Half of the students were a healthy weight, with an average BMI of 21.83 [N - Normal]. The students in the other group were too heavy, and had a BMI of 30.39 [Obese].

Results
After they'd done a workout, the students were asked to say how tired they were [RPE]. The subjects reported less fatigue after the 'classical' workout [A] than after the workout in which they first trained the small muscle groups [B]. The differences in fatigue were not significant, but the trend is clear.


Why it's best to train big muscle groups first and then the smaller muscles



The researchers found more testosterone in the blood of the healthy weight men after doing the classical workout [NA] than after the workout where exercises were done in a different order [NB]. The way in which the workout was built up had no influence on the testosterone levels [OA & OB] of the obese men.


Why it's best to train big muscle groups first and then the smaller muscles



The researchers found no clear effect of training order on the subjects' cortisol levels. As a result, the ratio of testosterone:cortisol was higher in the healthy weight men after doing the classical workout [NA] than after the workout where exercises were done in a different order [NB].

The same was the case for the IGF-1 concentration. This rose more in the normal weight men after they'd done the classic training than after doing the other training.

Among the overweight men, it made little difference what order they did the exercises in. It seemed that their fat mass inhibited the secretion of anabolic hormones as a result of intensive strength training.

Why it's best to train big muscle groups first and then the smaller muscles
Oh yes. Almost forgot. In this study, the order in which the exercises were done had no effect on the number of reps that the subjects did. So the total amount of work that the students did was the same in both workouts.

Conclusion
"These results indicate that in resistance exercise training, starting with large muscle group and progressing to small group brings about more beneficial muscular gains", the researchers summarised. "Our data also reconfirmed previous findings that obesity blunts anabolic hormonal response to resistance exercise in young men."

"Given the lack of similar studies, further research on a bigger sample size is needed to generalize this result that in a resistance exercise training session more beneficial gain can be obtained by exercising large muscles first."

Source:
Asian J Sports Med. 2016;7(1):e30503.

More:
Isolation exercises? You can do well without them 16.12.2018
How to get more out of your supersets - it's the order of exercises that matters 28.06.2012
Muscle group you train first grows fastest 22.04.2010

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