Muscle development and the order in which exercises are performed

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If our training is intense, regardless of the exercises we perform, the muscles are stimulated to grow. How big this growth will be depends on many factors, including what exercises we will perform and in what order we will do it.

Practitioners generally know perfectly well that some exercises stimulate the muscles to grow more slowly and others less well. That is why they have a long time thinking about which of them should be included in training plans, which ones should be omitted or at least considerably limited. 

Not everyone, however, realizes that muscle growth also depends on the order of exercise. If the order is set correctly, then the muscle development process will be more modest than expected. 

Before I go on to explain how to “set the order of exercises, it is worth answering the question of what is the main driving force behind muscle development? 

It is undoubtedly the power of stimuli. It depends on the strength of stimuli depends on the degree of muscle stimulation to the growth, and thus the growth itself. The stimuli are the result of work, work often on the edge of possibilities, and sometimes even the edge that surpasses it. One thing is for the work to be friendly to muscle, it should be appropriate and timely set. This means that, firstly, it should be adapted to the degree of preparation of muscles for its consumption, and secondly, “given to the muscles in the right way at the right time. The right way is the right technique to do exercises, and the right time – the correct order of exercise and the correct order of muscle group training. Both in the first and in the second case, in the order not fully thought out, may inhibit the process of muscle development. 

Exercises, apart from other divisions, can also be divided into single (straight) and multi-joint (complex) ones. Unitary ones are those that involve only one pond (one pair of joints) for work. A good example of such exercises are lifting the forearms with a barbell in a standing position (exercise for biceps), and a span with dumbbells on a horizontal bench (exercise on the chest muscles). Multi-joint are those that involve more than one pond (one pair of joints) for work. Examples of such exercises include squats (exercise on thigh muscles), deadlift (exercise on the muscles of the back), and bench press on a horizontal bench (exercise on the chest muscles). By engaging more joints, more muscle is involved in the exercise. The order of exercises for individual muscle groups can be set in different ways. Multi-joint before unitary or vice versa. The only question is which of the solutions is the most beneficial for the muscle development process. To answer this question, let’s look at what each of these solutions has the advantages and disadvantages. Let’s start with the advantages. 

Multi-art exercises  

Performing multi-joint exercises before single-dose exercises, ie when the muscles are not yet tired, allows using a greater weight with them than would be possible in the reverse order. As in the multi-joint exercises a large muscle group usually works, all of them, although to a different degree, are stimulated to grow. The heavy weight makes the degree of this stimulation big. How simple. Heavy weights, high stimulation, high gain in muscle mass. However, you must remember that everything happens – as it was mentioned – at the right time. The right one, in this case, means that the rules of progressive training. 

“My trainings consist of both multi-station and single-unit exercises. Mostly, however, I start training every muscle group with multi-joint exercises, my muscles are tired, sometimes even very much. This fatigue (so-called), forces me to significantly reduce the weight that I exercise. This entails a reduction in the strength of the stimuli reaching the muscles to be trained, and thus the weaker stimulation of these muscles to development says the current world runner-up in bodybuilding (category: 90kg), Paweł Brzózka. 

Performing polyarticular exercises in the first place, i.e. before single-unit exercises, makes it easier to fully respect the technical requirements they devote to each of the repetitions. This is particularly important in difficult exercises, such as deadlift, squats with barbells, lifting the barbell to the abdomen in the torso, pulling the bar on the chest, pressing the bar from behind the neck. 

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It is worth mentioning the research that was carried out in the 90’s at Ithaca College New Yprk (USA). Well, the team of students, every day regulars of bodybuilding clubs, was divided into two groups. The first group began training with multi-joint exercises, ending with unitary training. The second group did just the opposite. For all the exercises, the participants of the test were carrying weights, allowing to perform 8 repetitions in series. The results of the test showed that muscle stimulation for development was much better in the first group. The increase of strength was also greater. 

So much about the advantages, it’s time to go to the flaws. The main disadvantage is the derivative of the main advantage, i.e. the ability to train with heavy weights. It’s no secret for anyone that heavy weights are a big threat of injuries and injuries. What this threat can effectively minimize is a well-performed warm-up and stretching exercises. Both warm-ups and stretching exercises are good, apart from joints and muscles participating directly in the exercise – also include the joints and muscles participating in the exercise indirectly. And which are the joints and muscles, each of the trainers probably knows well. 

Single-unit exercises 

Let’s now go to single-table exercises, also known as isolated exercises. Well, the most important advantage is the ability to precisely refine selected muscles, and this is due to the fact that they are our navel of the world in the unit exercises. Performing single-step exercises, without any major problems, we can control the work of the muscles being trained, and in each phase of repetitions. We can control it almost arbitrarily. 

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In some cases, it is even advisable to perform single-step exercises before multi-joint exercises. For example, when during a bench press on a horizontal or skew bench, we find that our triceps are too weak. With weak triceps, sooner or later we will be forced to interrupt the exercise. In this situation, we can do nothing but work on increasing the strength of triceps. We can do it, among others through the use of single-action exercises, targeted specifically at triceps. 

However, by the time we increase the strength of triceps, we can use a substitute solution. It consists in the fact that before we press the bar on this bench, we perform one or two single-track exercises on the chest muscles, for example spuds with dumbbells and pulling the handles of the lifts in front of them. These exercises will cause that if we are forced to interrupt the basic exercise, i.e. press the bar on a horizontal bench, it is not because of the lack of strength in the triceps but in the muscles of the chest. 

At the end it is worth adding that performing single-joint exercises before multi-joint exercises is a great way to stimulate the development of resistant muscles. However, this does not apply to overtrained muscles. 

The main disadvantage of performing single-line exercises is, first of all, that the muscles to be trained after one-joint exercises will be so tired that a significant weight reduction will be required in the following multi-joint exercises. And the effects are easy to predict. It may be that we will compensate for the loss of strength by incorrect repetition, and this is already threatening with injuries. 

 

Posted on: January 25, 2019

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