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I didn't know how to word the question to actually fit what I wanted to ask, so if you can reword it into a more fitting title, please do.

Over the past couple of months I've done several weight-lifting approaches.

  1. One muscle per day, this was a bit tiring since I was able to do around 5-6 exercises per muscle/area(chest, back, shoulders, arms, legs). After a month I switched to series, but still one muscle per day.

    • Monday: chest1, chest2, chest3, chest4, chest5

    • Tuesday: back1, back2, back3, back4, back5

      and so on

  2. By groups of muscles and in series (leg, chest/triceps/shoulders, back/biceps/forearms) but the way I did it was one muscle at a time, so 3-4 exercises per muscle, jump onto next muscle.

    • Monday: chest1/chest2, chest3/chest4, shoulder1/shoulder2, shoulder3/shoulder4, triceps1/triceps2, triceps3/triceps4
    • Tuesday: back1/back2, back3/back4, bicep1/bicep2, (you get the idea)
  3. My current routine(barely 1 week in) its also by group of muscles but the difference is that each series consists of one exercise per muscle. This one has been the most tiring of all and for the first time in months I'm actually feeling DOMs(not hardcore ones but I feel them)

    • Monday: chest1/shoulder1/tricep1, chest2/shoulder2/tricep2, chest3/shoulder3/tricep3, chest4/shoulder4/tricep4
    • Tuesday: quad1/hamstring1/calf1, quad2/hamstring2/calf2, quad3/hamstring3/calf3, quad4/hamstring4

      and so on

What is it so special about this new approach that can get so tiring? I've been working out for a while, but I'm no expert so I can't explain it myself.

Hope my question makes some sense.

  • what does your first approach mean? if you consider "biceps" a group as per your second approach what do you mean by "per muscle"? – Aequitas Dec 9 '15 at 22:01
  • made appropriate edits @Aequitas , hopefully its a bit more understandable – Just Do It Dec 9 '15 at 22:18
  • It looks like you're getting closer and closer to full-body workouts. – Alex L Dec 9 '15 at 22:39
  • is that a bad thing? D: @AlexL – Just Do It Dec 9 '15 at 22:52
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    Are you perhaps "super setting" (one exercise right after another without rest in between)? Or, performing a "circuit"? – rrirower Dec 9 '15 at 22:58
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One approach isn't inherently better or worse than the other. What I believe is happening is that you are adapting to one way of training after a while, and then changing your approach causes your body to re-adapt.

The SAID Principle

  • Specific
  • Adaptation to
  • Imposed
  • Demands

Basically, your body will adapt to make you more capable of satisfying the demands you place on it. When you change the demands, you change the rules and the body has to re-adapt. After you adapt to your current workout, you could go back to the first approach and see that renewed DOMS.

Further, your body responds specifically. In other words, if you spend time building your back, then your arms aren't going to see the same growth as you would if you built them directly. Same with leg development, etc. If you focus on cardiovascular work, you will build your cardiovascular system.

Ways of Imposing More Demands

So far you've explored exercise diversity to impose new demands on your body, but there are several other ways:

  • More weight
  • More reps
  • Less time to do the same work
  • Focus on fast moving techniques (power cleans, snatch, etc.)
  • Changing exercise selection

Over time you will find ways of employing all of these, and probably more that I didn't mention, to get the results you want. The bottom line is that if you aren't feeling the fatigue like you used to, it's time to impose more demands on your body in some way.

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By combining different exercises into one exercise you target multiple muscle groups at once. This enhances muscle activity and the need to supple the muscles with energy so your body is working harder to breakdown carbohydrate molecules to be used for energy. The harder your body works to breakdown carbohydrates the more calories you burn. This is also called complex training, often used by olympic lifters.

First mentions of complex training appeared after Istvan Javorek introduced them in the 90s.

They are a great tool to burst through a plateau, burn calories and increase stamina and gaining strength.

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