I've recently started a new program, to generally improve strength and get a little bit bigger.

One day sample

  • Bicep curls - 3 sets of 15 - 35lbs
  • Tricep curls - 3 sets of 10 - 35lbs
  • Dumbbell squats - 3 sets of 10 - 30 lbs
  • Overhead press - 3 sets of 10 - 30lbs
  • 3 sets of ten pull-ups
  • 10 pushups

Is there any particular order I should be doing these exercises in, or does it not really make a difference?


4 Answers 4


Yes. The order of exercises matters. The general order of exercises should be:

  • general warm up first, always
  • specific warm-up, leading up to the exact task of the workout
  • skill/technique work (if that is part of this workout)
  • speed work (if that is part of this workout)
  • strength work (if that is part of this workout)
  • endurance work (if that is part of this workout)

This optimizes learning, as well as the recovery and training effect of each kind of stress. (page 14, Tom Kurz, Science of Sports Training) One should also put technically complex lifts like the squat before simpler movements like the pull-up. The fast lifts (snatch, clean, jerk) qualify as skill work and should be performed even before form-dependent slow lifts like the squat.

The order of the exercises you perform should match the priority of those exercises. The ones that go first will get the most energy during the workout and, it seems, the most recovery resources in the days after. Put what's important, technically difficult, and heavy in the beginning.

For your purposes, I'd put the squats and overhead presses earlier in the workout, but otherwise the only reason to re-order them would be to prioritize one lift over another due to your preference.


Do the difficult ones (according to your criterion) at the beginning and the easy ones at the end. In this way you can perform them in the right form, which is essential to obtain proper results.


If you've just started, it doesn't make a significant difference.

The caveat I'd mention is that pushups engage the triceps, so a completely random order might put them next to each other, which could have some impact. The pushup hand location modulates tricep engagement.

I wouldn't call this a mass-building routine, either, although again–if you're just starting, it's fine.

  • Dave, thanks for your reply. I'm not trying to get huge but I would have thought that with eating 180g protein a day and following this program (increasing weight as necessary) I would gain weight...
    – Josh
    Oct 8, 2013 at 22:33
  • Would it be better to keep pushups perhaps last, away from tricep curls and overhead press?
    – Josh
    Oct 8, 2013 at 22:34

Big muscle groups first. Benefits

  1. While getting the work done, warms up the smaller muscles groups which you might train afterwards.
  2. gets the blood pumping.

Then isolation movements.

However, changing the routine is always useful to shock the body.

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