Strength training can be, at times, a dizzying maze of rules, protocols, and fads. In the midst of all confusion, there are principles that always remain true. Over the next couple of months, I will review these principles with you. Let’s look at the first two.

Exercise Selection

  • Choose and incorporate at least one exercise for each major muscle group.
  • Major muscle groups include the chest (pectorals), back (latissimus dorsi, trapezius and rhomboids), arms (biceps and triceps), shoulders (deltoids), core (abdominals, obliques and low-back), legs (quadriceps and hamstrings), hips (adductors and abductors) and gluteals.

Exercise Sequence

  • Work from the largest muscle groups to the smallest muscle groups.
  • Sequencing exercises from largest to smallest muscle groups allows individuals to perform the most demanding exercises first with the greatest amount of effort. If the smaller muscle groups are pre-fatigued, they are unable to effectively contribute to multi-joint exercises. For example, triceps assist in chest exercises. If the triceps musculature is fatigued prior to performing a chest exercise, the chest exercise is less effective.
  • The general sequence for the lower body is hip and gluteal musculature prior to quadriceps, hamstrings and calves. The general sequence for the upper body is chest and back musculature prior to shoulders, biceps, and triceps.

How is your strength training program measuring up so far? Is it following the principles?