What does ‘sequence’ mean in terms of exercise?

Personal/Fitness Training Blog

The sequence in which you perform your workout is one of the main factors that will determine how effective it will be. In this article, we’ll discuss what the sequence you should perform your exercises in during your workout regimens.

Strength or Cardio first?

This depends on what your goal is. For strength training it is not recommended to do more than five to 12 minutes of low- or moderate-intensity cardio just to warm up. More than that may tire your muscles too much before you’ve even started.

If you do want to incorporate cardio into your workout do it last. First warm-up, do your strength training and end with some cardio.

When training for a marathon or if you want to build up your cardio endurance, you should start with cardio and then be careful with weight training after or do weight training on days when you aren’t doing cardio or want to do cardio last.


It is recommended that you do plyometric movements only once or twice a week. Do them directly after warming up and before any other activity.

Plyometrics is a definitive way to accomplish getting firmer and faster, but they should not be performed when you are tired. They should be done with good form and effort. Performing them at the end of a workout will make them ineffective because they won’t be as explosive as when they are done at the beginning of your exercise session.

If you seriously want to finish your workout with a cardiovascular activity consider squat jumps, burpees or something similar and stop when you can no longer maintain good form. Plyometric activities that are single-legged should not be considered because you could get seriously injured if you are already tired from your training.

Multi-joint before single-joint

If strength training is priority multi-joint exercises should be prioritised over single-joint exercises. Multi-joint exercises, which are also known as compound exercises, are motions that work multiple joints and muscle groups all at the same time, for example, the deadlift, push press and back squat. These exercises improve coordination, balance and full body strength as well as increase the heart rate quickly.

When doing compound exercises you want to be as fresh as possible because they require more technique than an exercise that only works one muscle group.

Do high-energy bodyweight moves first

Bodyweight movements also need to be done in order when working out as the risk of injury can be high for a newbie at the gym.

For an experienced exerciser, the risk of injury when doing bodyweight movements is low, therefore the order of exercise doesn’t matter that much. If you are just learning to do full-body exercises – like air-squats and push-ups – it is best to do them at the start of a workout so you can maintain your form and gain all of the muscle-building benefits.


A circuit allows you to perform a variety of moves in succession. If you are able to perform up to 15 – 20 reps safely, then order doesn’t matter. Some circuits include free weights, such as in HIIT classes, so if you need to perform up to 15-20 reps, pick a weight you can safely perform that many reps with.


Muscle groups should be mixed up during each workout. The different movement patterns help to increase muscle growth and reduce the risk of injury. More reps of the first exercise can be performed during a workout, therefore alternate what you do first at each workout.

End with abs

Core exercise should be saved for the end of a workout. Compound and full-body movements already work your core, therefore save abs for last or you will get exhausted when doing those compound movements.

Spend some extra time planning your workout routine to get the most out of your time at the gym. This additional thought will go a long way towards ensuring that you meet your fitness goals!

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