Here a 6 basic rules to stick to that will maximise your output over time:
- Start with your weak spots. The strength of the muscles you train at the beginning of your workout will improve the most. So if you feel your shoulders are weaker than your chest muscles for example, do the shoulder press before the chest press.
- Train larger muscle groups before smaller muscle groups. For example, do squats (quadriceps) before sit-ups (rectus abdominus) and chin-ups (latissimus dorsi – upper back) before curls (biceps). If you train smaller muscles first, you’ll fatigue the auxiliary muscles and in turn limit your ability to train the larger muscles to the fullest.
- Alternate upper body exercises with lower body exercises. This is a good way to fit a lot of exercises in when you don’t have a lot of time. Plus alternating between upper and lower body exercises vastly increases the metabolic boost that you’ll get from the workout. In other words, you’ll burn a heck of a lot of calories and continue to do so for up to 38 hours after you’re done.
- Do any low-rep exercises (used to increase maximal strength) at the beginning of your workout. Maximal strength is defined as using 5 repetitions or less. Always perform the lower reps exercises before the higher reps exercises. This will enhance the progress of both goals.
- Train opposing muscle groups together. By alternating between opposing muscles, pressing and pulling movements for example, you can increase both the efficiency and effect of the workout. You’ll also save time because you won’t need to rest as long in between sets of different activities such as the chest press and seated rows. And when one opposing muscle relaxes, the opposite is contracted so you’re better able to increase strength since there’s less resistance from the opposing muscle group.
- Complete any power weightlifting movements first. If you do any quick lifting movements with a barbell such as power snatches, power cleans, push-jerks or sled chest presses (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, you probably don’t do them) it’s important to do them at the beginning of your session. They’re very technical and require a lot of coordination, which can decrease with fatigue later on in your workout.