A lot of clients ask me why I get them to do the pattern of exercises I give them when they first start with me because they have heard that you should finish your workout with exercises for the core muscles where I start their programs with them.
Of course I always tell them that you can’t really divide the body into body parts because there is nearly always other parts of the body involved in an exercise, no matter how you try to isolate a specific muscle group, but I like to start their programs working the core for two reasons. 1. Is that they are a good warm up and they ensure people are concentrating on engaging these muscles as this stabilizes them before they start weight bearing exercises. I use core exercises that work other parts of the body here…particularly the plank and side plank. 2. Is that I know from experience and observation a lot of weight exercisers miss the core exercises out, particularly when they are tired at the end of a workout.
The second muscle group I get them to do is the exercises that work their legs. It is amazing to me that people have an imbalance of development between the upper body and lower body and to me it looks most peculiar! I remember referring an International Powerlifting contest where one lifter had an attempt of the World Bench Press record and afterwards I asked how he found most gains with this upper body lift? He told me that if his Squat Lift improved, so did his Bench Press. It just goes to show you how connected the body is. So this is the second muscle group I get them to do and I always start them with the various versions of the Step Up and Step Down exercises as well as the Pistol Squat. Seeming only body weight is used to start with, there is no stress on the spine.
Moving on to the Upper Body I usually get them to do a Compound Superset with a Pulling movement followed by a Pushing movement (with no rest between these two movements) and in this sequence. The reason behind this is because usually people are stronger in the Pushing movement as compared with the Pulling movements. So pull first followed by push. I start them off with a Reverse Row (on a waist height Pull Up bar) and Press Ups. Of course Press Ups are a Plank exercise as well and mostly people display a weak core and this is where I see that it is most important to work the core as a priority! People will gain most improvements in weight training once they gain a stable core…
The next muscle group I get them to work is their shoulders and one exercise I get them to do as a priority at least once a weak is a series of movements I call Round Worlds (which I have explained in a previous post) and it has six movements within the one repetition (so has 60 movements if they are completing 10 repetitions per set!) so it obviously doesn’t require a heavy resistance! I add variety by also getting them to do the various standing push and pull exercises that work the shoulders.
If they have the energy I finish them off with exercises that work the arms. The best exercises here are the various forms of Chin Up (but I prefer to call it Pull Up as they should be able to pull their chest to the bar, not just the chin). The various forms of Close Grip Press Up are a great exercise for the Triceps muscles. The arms, being such a small muscle group that are worked doing any Pushing and Pulling movements only need to be worked once a week.
Usually my clients work out three times a week, with at least one rest day between workouts and for no longer than 30 – 40 minutes (closer to 30 minutes is best). I have them do at least one Circuit a week that involves whole body movements.
This is my personal opinion as to the correct sequence of exercises and I have given you my reasons as to why. These reasons come with over 50 years of experience but I always tell you to question everything!