Which muscle should I train first when I workout?

Obviously, it depends on a bunch of factors but I’ll highlight some benefits of training certain muscles before others and let you decide from there.

Proximal to distal– That is the anatomical term for saying “close to far”. By close I mean toward-the-spine or the center of your body. If you were training your upper body you would start with the muscles that are tied to the spine and shoulder girdle; pecs, deltoids, lats,etc. Biceps and triceps, which are located in your arms would be “distal” to the muscles lifted above or “further out”. Since many exercises incorporate the muscles of the arms anyway (ex. Shoulder press uses both deltoids and triceps) training them first may inhibit performance when using the “proximal” muscles during certain lifts.

Larger to smaller– This goes hand-in-hand with “proximal to distal” basically because our larger muscles are located closer to the spine. Our quads are larger than our calves, etc. The idea behind this is that when energy is available (towards the beginning or a workout) it should be used to move the larger muscles.

Weak points– I do recommend that if there is a certain area you want to improve you should train that when you have the most energy and focus. Specific cases could include a muscle being smaller due to injury, a muscle that has a hard time growing, or even a muscle your doctor, trainer, therapist has insisted you develop.

-Josh Gould

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