Effect of exercise order on upper-body muscle activation and exercise performance

College of Physical Education, Catholic University of Brasilia, Brasilia, Brazil.
The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research (Impact Factor: 2.08). 12/2007; 21(4):1082-6. DOI: 10.1519/R-21216.1
Source: PubMed


With the purpose of manipulating training stimuli, several techniques have been employed to resistance training. Two of the most popular techniques are the pre-exhaustion (PRE) and priority system (PS). PRE involves exercising the same muscle or muscle group to the point of muscular failure using a single-joint exercise immediately before a multi-joint exercise (e.g., peck-deck followed by chest press). On the other hand, it is often recommended that the complex exercises should be performed first in a training session (i.e., chest press before peck-deck), a technique known as PS. The purpose of the present study was to compare upper-body muscle activation, total repetitions (TR), and total work (TW) during PRE and PS. Thirteen men (age 25.08 ± 2.58 years) with recreational weight-training experience performed 1 set of PRE and 1 set of PS in a balanced crossover design. The exercises were performed at the load obtained in a 10 repetition maximum (10RM) test. Therefore, chest press and peck-deck were performed with the same load during PRE and PS. Electromyography (EMG) was recorded from the triceps brachii (TB), anterior deltoids, and pectoralis major during both exercises. According to the results, TW and TR were not significantly different (p > 0.05) between PRE and PS. Likewise, during the peck-deck exercise, no significant (p > 0.05) EMG change was observed between PRE and PS order. However, TB activity was significantly (p < 0.05) higher when chest press was performed after the peck-deck exercise (PRE). Our findings suggest that performing pre-exhaustion exercise is no more effective in increasing the activation of the prefatigued muscles during the multi-joint exercise. Also, independent of the exercise order (PRE vs. PS), TW is similar when performing exercises for the same muscle group. In summary, if the coach wants to maximize the athlete performance in 1 specific resistance exercise, this exercise should be placed at the beginning of the training session.

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Available from: Paulo Gentil, Apr 03, 2015
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    • "However, for trained subjects, it is important to note that resistance training volume can increase the magnitude of muscle strength improvements (Krieger 2010). Moreover, 2 acute studies of Gentil et al. (2007) and Augustsson et al. (2003) revealed that the pre-exhaustion method does not increase muscle electromyographic activity. However, Júnior et al. (2010) found that when the pre-exhaustion method was performed not to failure, the magnitude of motor units' recruitment was higher when a single-joint exercise preceded a multijoint exercise. "
    Applied Physiology Nutrition and Metabolism 09/2015; · 2.34 Impact Factor
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    • "However, acute electromyography (EMG) studies (Augustsson et al. 2003; Gentil et al. 2007; Brennecke et al. 2009) combined with our results suggest the above reasoning regarding application of PreEx may be faulty. Gentil et al. (2007) and Brennecke et al. (2009) suggested that the proposed weak-link in the bench press, the triceps, was more active after pre-exhaustion of the pectorals using an isolation exercise (pec-deck/chest-fly). However, they reported no difference in pectoral activation over and above performing the bench press without the use of PreEx. "
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    ABSTRACT: Pre-exhaustion (PreEx) training is advocated on the principle that immediately preceding a compound exercise with an isolation exercise can target stronger muscles to pre-exhaust them to obtain greater adaptations in strength and size. However, research considering PreEx training method is limited. The present study looked to examine the effects of a PreEx training programme. Thirty-nine trained participants (male = 9, female = 30) completed 12 weeks of resistance training in 1 of 3 groups: a group that performed PreEx training (n = 14), a group that performed the same exercise order with a rest interval between exercises (n = 17), and a control group (n = 8) that performed the same exercises in a different order (compound exercises prior to isolation). No significant between-group effects were found for strength in chest press, leg press, or pull-down exercises, or for body composition changes. Magnitude of change was examined for outcomes also using effect size (ES). ESs for strength changes were considered large for each group for every exercise (ranging 1.15 to 1.62). In conclusion, PreEx training offers no greater benefit to performing the same exercises with rest between them compared with exercises performed in an order that prioritises compound movements.
    Applied Physiology Nutrition and Metabolism 08/2015; 39(11):1-6. DOI:10.1139/apnm-2014-0162 · 2.34 Impact Factor
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    • "According to Simão et al. (2012), even considering acute responses or chronic adaptations, exercise order should be prioritized so that the exercises that best address individual needs and training objectives are performed first. Recently, Simão et al. (2013) showed that several acute studies had examined the effect of exercise order (Chaves et al., 2013; Figueiredo et al., 2011; Miranda et al., 2010; Bellezza et al., 2009; Farinatti et al., 2009; Gentil et al., 2007; Simão et al., 2007; Spreuwenberg et al., 2006; Simão et al., 2005; Sforzo and Touey, 1996), but none of those studies investigated the effect of exercise order on hormonal responses to an exercise session. The volume completed during an RT session has been shown to vary with exercise order, and the magnitude of acute hormonal responses can vary in a similar fashion. "
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    ABSTRACT: This study compared the effects of order of muscle groups' exercised (larger to smaller muscles vs. smaller to larger muscles) on the acute levels of total testosterone, free testosterone and cortisol during resistance training (RT) sessions. Healthy male participants (n=8; age: 28.8 ± 6.4 years; body mass: 87.0 ± 10.6 kg; body height: 181.0 ± 0.7 cm; BMI: 26.5 ± 4.1) were randomly separated into two experimental groups. The first group (LG-SM) performed an RT session (3 sets of 10 repetitions and a 2 min rest period) of the exercises in following order: bench press (BP), lat pulldown (LP), barbell shoulder press (BSP), triceps pushdown (TP) and barbell cut (BC). The second group (SM-LG) performed an RT session in following order: BC, TP, BSP, LA, BP. Blood was collected at the end of the last repetition of each session. Control samples of blood were taken after 30 min of rest. Significant differences were observed in the concentrations of total testosterone (p < 0.05), free testosterone (p < 0.0001) and cortisol (p < 0.0001) after both RT sessions in comparison to rest. However, when comparing LG-SM and SM-LG, no significant differences were found. The results suggest that, while RT sessions induce an acute change in the levels of testosterone and cortisol, this response is independent of the order of exercising muscle groups.
    Journal of Human Kinetics 12/2014; 442014(1):111-120. DOI:10.2478/hukin-2014-0116 · 1.03 Impact Factor
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