Q: How should I structure a workout? In what order should I do exercises?
A: How you order your exercises during a workout is more important than you might think. A properly structured workout optimizes your performance during each type of exercise, so you receive the maximum benefit. Below is a general structure you can use as a base to build your workouts on.
Perform movement-based exercises that warm up your muscles, increase blood flow, improve mobility and prepare your muscles for more intense exercise. Here’s a dynamic warm-up you can perform anywhere.
Explosive or Speed/Agility Exercises
Perform plyometrics, Olympic lifts and speed or agility exercises directly after your dynamic warm-up. These types of exercises must be performed with max power or speed, so you can’t be fatigued when you do them.
Core (Multi-Joint) Strength Exercises
Exercises like Deadlifts, Squats, Bench Presses and Pull-Ups work multiple large muscle groups at once. If you’re an athlete who wants to improve your overall strength and performance, these types of movements should be a major focus of your workout.
Assistance exercises include isolation movements such as Biceps Curls and Leg Extensions. These should not be the focus of your workout, but you can perform them after core strength exercises to address weaknesses in specific muscle groups.
Many of the previous exercises challenge your core. To avoid fatigue during heavy weightlifting, perform your pure core exercises after your strength training. Focus on exercises like Planks, Leg Raises and Med Ball Russian Twists.
Conditioning or Cardio
If you want to improve your endurance or get in some cardio work, this is the time. Doing cardio at the end of your workout prevents fatigue that can negatively affect your power and strength if performed at the beginning of a workout.
When you finish your exercises, it’s important to cool down and stretch. This will improve your mobility and accelerate recovery so you will be ready for your next training session.