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So let's say today I'm doing back, and biceps. For simplicity, let's assume I want to do 3 different exercises to target by back (Back 1, Back 2, and Back 3), and 3 different exercises to target my biceps (Biceps 1, Biceps 2, and Biceps 3). Let's assume I want to do 4 sets of each exercise.

How should I arrange them?

Right now, I'm alternating the exercises to give my muscles a rest. For example:

  1. Back 1
  2. Biceps 1
  3. Back 2
  4. Biceps 2
  5. Back 3
  6. Biceps 3
  7. (Repeat until I complete 4 sets for each exercise)

However, I'm noticing some people at the gym who instead just do all four sets of one exercise at once and then move to the next. For example:

  1. Back 1
  2. Back 1
  3. Back 1
  4. Back 1
  5. Biceps 1
  6. Biceps 1
  7. Biceps 1
  8. Biceps 1
  9. And so on.

Some don't even alternate the exercises. They just go:

  1. Back 1
  2. Back 1
  3. Back 1
  4. Back 1
  5. Back 2
  6. Back 2
  7. ...
  8. Biceps 1
  9. Biceps 1
  10. Biceps 1
  11. Biceps 1
  12. Biceps 2
  13. And so on.

So, which is the right way to organize your sets of exercises?

4

You said at the gym, so I will start with gym etiquette.

Don't reserve multiple stations, dumbbell, etc... So in the scenario, unless you use the same machine or dumbbells, the best way to organize your set is to use only one piece of equipment at a time and do whatever you want with it.

Now that basic gym etiquette is out of the way.

There are really two main trains of thought when it comes to "GAINZ". The first one is to trickle down from compound to isolation and the second is to start with the muscle group you want to prioritize first.

If you're doing back/biceps today, in the first case you will start with your back exercise. The reason is that you use your biceps in the majority of your back work outs. Later, once you get to your bicep workout, they have already have a workout. Sure, it will be lighter, but you're doing more volume. If you were to start with your biceps, your back exercise would suffer.

Now, if you work out shoulders and chest on the same day. Say you want a bigger chest, you would start off your day with the bench press. This will allow you to put on more weight or do more volume on the bench, rather than say overhead press. If you want bigger shoulders, start with overhead press for the same reason. The reasoning behind this method is that you have more energy to devote on a body part at the beginning of a workout as opposed to the tail end of one. It is pretty self explanatory.

Another method you can use is just alternate between body parts. From what I've gathered, people tend to take this approach when they have a primary movement and finishers. You would start with bench, then do overhead press, then triceps. Move onto flies, shrugs and then more triceps, etc...

There's no wrong order to do exercises. Some people do supersets, others take long breaks between exercises. It depends on your goals, if you need the break before repeating a muscle group, do it. If you need StackExchange to find the answer to this question, you are probably not at the point where you will benefit from this type of optimization.

1

I'd say try different sets and see what works the best for you. Everyone is different and different routines leads to different results in different people. Try out and check the results. The one that you find effective, stick to it.

1

If you want to maximize mechanical and metabolic stimuli you want to be consequential in the exercise order.

The best option is to target for first the muscle group you want to prioritaze.

There's a misconception in the bodybuilding/online community that you can isolate a certain muscle group. That is actually not realistic. There will be always more than one muscle group involved, the difference is in the amplitude of stimuli.

Obviously the fact that biceps ( for exemple ) are fatigued prior to back training is not taking anything away from your back training and vice versa.

It's just a matter of focus and precision.

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