When designing a workout routine, there are many factors to consider, including exercise selection, order, and intensity. One common question often arises: Should you do compound exercises first in your workout?
Yes, compound exercises should generally be done first in a workout. Compound exercises involve multiple muscle groups and require more energy and effort than isolation exercises, so performing them first will ensure you have the most energy for those exercises.
In this blog, we’ll take a closer look at the benefits and drawbacks of doing compound exercises first and provide some insight into the best approach for your fitness goals.
Does The Order Of Compound Exercises Matter?
The order of compound exercises can impact your workout, but it ultimately depends on your goals and individual needs. If you want to build overall strength and muscle growth, compound exercises like squats, overhead presses, and chest presses can be effective as they recruit multiple muscle groups simultaneously.
However, if you have a specific muscle group that needs more attention, start with isolation exercises before moving on to compound movements.
Additionally, consider the form and weight used for each exercise to prevent injury and ensure proper muscle activation. Varying your exercise order every few weeks can prevent plateaus and challenging workouts.
Should You Do Compound Exercises First?
Yes, doing compound exercises in a workout routine is generally recommended. Compound exercises are multi-joint movements that engage multiple muscle groups, such as squats, overhead presses, and bench presses.
These exercises require more energy and effort than isolation exercises targeting single muscle groups, such as triceps extensions or flyes. By doing compound exercises first, you can prioritize the most challenging movements that require more strength and focus.
Additionally, compound exercises help to build overall strength and muscle mass, which can benefit your entire body. However, maintain proper form and technique to avoid injury and maximize the effectiveness of the exercises.
Benefits of Doing Compound Exercises First
Compound exercises involve multiple muscle groups and joints, making them more challenging and effective than isolation exercises that target only one muscle group. Here are some of the benefits of doing compound exercises first in your workout routine:
Increased Activation of Major Muscle Groups
Compound exercises activate more major muscle groups than isolation exercises, which helps you to build overall strength and muscle mass. When you perform squats or bench presses, you simultaneously engage your legs, core, and upper body, leading to a more significant hormonal response promoting muscle growth.
Improved Energy and Focus
Starting your workout with compound exercises can help improve your energy levels and focus. Compound movements require more effort and coordination than isolation exercises, which helps to stimulate your nervous system and prepare you for the rest of your workout.
Greater Potential for Strength Gains
Compound exercises allows you to lift heavier weights than isolation exercises, which can help you build strength more quickly. When you perform exercises like overhead presses or squats, you activate multiple muscle groups and joints, allowing you to lift more weight than if you were doing a single-joint exercise like triceps extensions.
Time Efficiency in the Gym
Performing compound exercises first can also help you save time in the gym. Compound movements target multiple muscle groups simultaneously, allowing you to get a full-body workout quickly. This means you can spend less time in the gym while still achieving your fitness goals.
Drawbacks of Doing Compound Exercises First
Compound exercises, also known as compound movements or compound lifts, are multi-joint exercises that engage multiple muscle groups simultaneously. These exercises are popular in workouts because they help build strength and muscle mass. However, there are drawbacks to doing compound exercises first in your workout routine.
Increased Risk of Injury due to Fatigue
Compound exercises are often performed using heavier weights and can be more taxing on your muscles than isolation exercises. When you do compound exercises first, you risk fatiguing your muscles early in your workout, increasing the risk of injury.
For example, if you start with heavy squats, you may not have the energy or strength to maintain proper form during other exercises later in your workout, putting you at risk for injury.
Difficulty in Maintaining Proper Form as Fatigue Sets in
As you continue to perform compound exercises, your muscles will become fatigued, making it more challenging to maintain proper form. Poor form can lead to injury and limit your workout’s effectiveness. If you start with compound exercises, you may struggle to maintain proper form during other exercises later in your workout.
Neglect of Smaller Muscle Groups
Compound exercises primarily target larger muscle groups like the chest, shoulders, and legs. While these exercises effectively build strength and muscle mass, they may neglect smaller muscle groups. If you only perform compound exercises, you may miss out on targeting smaller muscles, such as the triceps, biceps, and calves.
Possible Overuse of Certain Muscles
When you perform compound exercises, some muscles may work harder than others. For example, your chest muscles may work harder during bench presses than your triceps. If you start with compound exercises, you may unintentionally overuse certain muscles, leading to imbalances and injuries over time.
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Factors To Consider When Deciding When To Do Compound Exercises
Deciding when to incorporate compound exercises into your workout routine requires considering various factors, including:
Your training goals are one of the most important factors to consider when doing compound exercises. If your primary goal is to increase strength, compound movements such as squats, deadlifts, and bench presses should be a regular part of your workout routine. On the other hand, if you’re more interested in muscle growth or hypertrophy, you may want to include more isolation exercises to target specific muscles.
Individual Fitness Level
Your fitness level is another critical factor to consider. If you’re a beginner or haven’t been working out regularly, starting with lighter weights and focusing on proper form before progressing to heavier compound lifts is essential. It’s also crucial to listen to your body and avoid exercises that may aggravate any existing injuries or weaknesses.
Time constraints are also a crucial factor to consider when deciding when to do compound exercises. If you have a busy schedule or limited time for workouts, focusing on compound movements that target multiple muscle groups simultaneously can be a highly effective way to maximize your training time.
Personal preference is another factor to consider when deciding when to do compound exercises. While compound movements are highly effective for building strength and muscle mass, some individuals may prefer isolation exercises that allow them to focus on specific muscle groups. Finding a workout routine that you enjoy and can stick to in the long run is important.
Best Practices For Incorporating Compound Exercises Into Your Workout Routine
Incorporating compound exercises into your workout routine can effectively improve overall strength and muscle growth. Here are some best practices to remember when incorporating compound exercises into your workout routine.
1. Dynamic warm-up
Before beginning your workout, it’s essential to warm up properly. A dynamic warm-up can help prepare your muscles for the upcoming workout and reduce the risk of injury. Dynamic stretching, such as lunges or leg swings, can help activate the muscles you will target during your workout.
2. Progressive overload
To see continued improvement in your strength and muscle growth, overload your muscles progressively. This means gradually increasing the weight or intensity of your exercises over time. Adding a few extra pounds each week can help you build muscle and increase strength.
3. Proper form and technique
When performing compound exercises, use proper form and technique. The incorrect format can lead to injury and limit the effectiveness of the exercise. Take the time to learn the correct form and technique for each exercise, and don’t be afraid to ask for help or feedback from a trainer or coach.
4. Rest and recovery
Rest and recovery are just as important as the exercises themselves. Adequate rest time between sets and workouts can help prevent injury and promote muscle growth. It’s also essential to prioritize recovery methods such as foam rolling, stretching, and proper nutrition to help your body recover faster and perform at its best.
The question of whether should you do compound exercises first is a complex one that requires an individual approach. If you want to maximize strength and power, compound exercises will likely be beneficial initially in your workout routine.
On the other hand, if you want to improve muscle hypertrophy or focus on form and technique, then single-joint exercises may be the best way to start.
Ultimately, you should consider your goals, current fitness level, and experience when deciding which exercises to prioritize when designing your workout routine.