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I am just starting to incorporate some dumbbell exercises in my workout. I try to reduce pauses between exercises to get more stuff done in the same time and spend less time waiting.

At the moment I am doing a routine of three different exercises:
hammer curl, shoulder press and front squats.
All 5x5, each dumbbell loaded with 2.5kg and 2.4kg bar weight.

I wonder how to order them and which (dis)advantages each order would have.

  • Each exercise on its own:
    5x5 curl, 5x5 press, 5x5 squat.
    Wait between sets.

  • One set of each, then repeat:
    5x (5 curl, 5 press, 5 squat)
    Wait only some seconds between sets

  • One rep of each, then repeat:
    5x5 (curl, press, squat)
    Wait only some seconds between sets

Last time I did this routine I did the last version and it felt OK.
I am still wondering how the order influences what effects I get from the exercises.

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What is your goal? Strength, power, conditioning, mobility, endurance, don't care, maximum return on effort, minimum time spent working out...? Without a goal this is quite open-ended. –  Dave Liepmann Dec 19 '12 at 18:09
    
@DaveLiepmann I got the dumbbells to optimize my upper body workout. At the moment I am aiming for general strength, thus the low reps, in the long run I want to focus on explosiveness and endurance. In this question however I don't want advice on the specific exercises I chose, they are only exemplary, only what effect it has how I order certain exercises. –  Baarn Dec 19 '12 at 18:21
    
How many times can you overhead press 10kg in a row? If it's more than 6 or 7 then 5x5 or low reps won't help, because the whole point of low reps is the corresponding challenging resistance. –  Dave Liepmann Dec 19 '12 at 18:28
    
@DaveLiepmann I just checked that, 8x 9.9kg overhead press was possible, actually I wanted to increase the weight with every go (as in SL). Last time I did only such low weight to be able to complete the whole 5x5 and to have some reference point for myself. –  Baarn Dec 19 '12 at 18:38
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1 Answer

How you organize your sets determines what you get out of them.

Each exercise on its own: 5x5 curl, 5x5 press, 5x5 squat. Wait between sets.

This is the most strength-oriented of the options. It will involve some hypertrophy and some token conditioning. Note, however, that squatting the same weight that you press and curl will not challenge your legs or back nearly as much as your shoulders and biceps.

One set of each, then repeat: 5x (5 curl, 5 press, 5 squat). Wait only some seconds between sets.

I would call this supersetting. It looks like it would primarily work hypertrophy, but there is substantial strengthiness involved too, and a fair bit of conditioning and endurance. Adding weight will eventually become difficult.

One rep of each, then repeat: 5x5 (curl, press, squat). Wait only some seconds between sets.

I would call this a dumbbell complex, which primarily stresses your conditioning, though it will definitely make you stronger. I bet it will be hard to add weight to this for very long, since you're not taking much rest, and you're putting three exercises together instead of doing them individually.

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