A lot of split routines recommend training chest with triceps and back with biceps. Doesn't fatigue play a role when working out triceps and biceps after a relatively tough chest and back workout respectively? Also, can biceps and triceps be trained before back and chest respectively to alternate the routine and providing equal focus OR should they always be trained afterwards?

  • 1
    not a duplicate, but related: fitness.stackexchange.com/a/24596/7091
    – Eric
    Apr 1, 2018 at 16:37
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    it's supposed that you are no more a 6 years old girl and have the mental strength to train without caring about muscle fatigue like real adult males do. If you don't have such mindset then don't bother with split routines and just train full body bodyweight for high volume to build up endurance and mental toughness.
    – user28091
    Apr 1, 2018 at 17:53
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    You're an idiot to come up with such a reply. I can spend hours in the gym doing all sorts of splits but muscle fatigue is something that can hinder the growth of a particular muscle if always given secondary consideration. This was my question, how to prioritize. Anyways, thanks for the childish reply, I won't bother.
    – Zaitorious
    Apr 2, 2018 at 13:59
  • Personally, I cannot work Biceps and Triceps on the same day. If the 2 muscles both get bigger during the same workout, they start pinching off the blood flow through the veins in my arms, making my hands go numb.
    – jp2code
    Apr 2, 2018 at 16:07

1 Answer 1


Yes, fatigue plays a role when weightlifting, and it should be taken in to consideration when doing any sort of strength training. Muscle building is determined by intensity (the amount of weight carried per rep) and volume (the total combined amount of weight carried). The higher the volume and intensity, the higher the muscle building capacity (up to a point). As muscles fatigue, they are less capable so intensity and volume drop.

However, split routines like the one you described are generally not that hard, so you own't fatigue as much. Especially as you adapt. The reason you would do chest and back first is because the exercises that focus on these are generally more "full body" meaning that... yes while it does focus on your back, you are also working your forearms, biceps, and triceps. Think of a standing barbel row, for example. It's impossible to perform it with just your lats. You have to hold it and row it which uses your arms. Curls on the other hand are just bicep exercises with some small shoulder and forearm usage. Fatigue is less of an issue.

It's recommended to do full body exercises first before anything else. E.g. Squats, deadlifts, bench presses, standing overhead presses, barbell rows, etc. They take more energy to perform safely, and are more effective when you do them with full force. Only after you do the hard stuff do you do the easy spot exercises. In that case, only volume matters so you can lower the intensity which is required because of the muscle fatigue caused by the full body work.

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    Agree with doing Full Body Exercises first. Many of your smaller body parts are going to be worked out anyway when doing these large groups. After you have hit and exhausted yourself on those, then turn to the smaller body parts to isolate them if you still have time. (Example: I never work forearms)
    – jp2code
    Apr 2, 2018 at 16:10
  • Right. A beginner would most likely get away without doing any isolation work for the one or two years. Just have to keep increasing the volume and intensity of the full body work over time.
    – DeeV
    Apr 2, 2018 at 16:14

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