Physical Fitness Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for physical fitness professionals, athletes, trainers, and those providing health-related needs. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I have been working out for more than a year now.

As there are multiple exercises for a particular body part, is there any order one needs to follow?

Say for example, for chest, people generally do the bench press first, then go for respective upper or lower chest workouts.

Is it OK to break the order or do I need to follow the same order?

share|improve this question
up vote 6 down vote accepted

Basically, you want to do compound exercises before isolation exercises. Why? Because compounds give you the most 'bang for your buck'. You could do 5 isolation exercises for your legs, or you just squat and hit all the muscles at once. Compounds also have a much better effect on the release of anabolic hormones and central nervous system activation. Some other reasons for going from bigger muscles to smaller ones:

  • Form/Safety: Compound exercises are generally harder to do than isolation exercises, as they are using multiple joints and are normally not guided by machines. As such, you want to do them while you're still fresh to keep good form, as bad form will get you injured. Isolation exercises are normally done with lighter weight, and are often guided through the particular machine, so you don't have to concentrate on form that much.

  • Performance: Since compound exercises use many muscles instead of just one, you don't want to pre-exhaust certain smaller muscles before attempting a compound lift, as that diminishes overall performance (see comment below).

In general, isolation exercises aren't even strictly necessary. If you're bodybuilding/powerlifting though, you will want to adress specific weak points sooner or later, though. That's when isolation exercises should be used, not as the 'bread and butter' of your workout.

share|improve this answer
As an aside: pre-exhaustion of smaller muscles is itself a technique to target specific muscles more during compound lifts. It's very advanced and hard to do right, though. Because of that, it's not part of my answer. Still wanted to mention it out, though. – LarissaGodzilla Apr 23 '14 at 10:53
Now I remember "Compound and Isolation" exercise types. Thanks a lot for d answer. – Braj Apr 23 '14 at 11:23

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.