Newbies vs. Advanced Lifters

It's common advice: Hit compound exercises first, isolation exercises last.

Makes sense. Lift heavy when you're fresh, right? Well, not always.

For beginners, compound movements should be your bread and butter. Few would disagree. Focusing on the big lifts will lead to more drastic neurological and strength adaptations in the early stages of your training life. But that isn't necessarily true for intermediate and advanced lifters.

While any solid program should incorporate both compound and isolation movements, the order of them isn't as important as it's so often cracked up to be. That's especially true if hypertrophy (muscle building) is the end goal.

Exercise Order Periodization

Periodize your training with exercise order as the main variable. One week, start every workout with isolation work and then finish off the workout with some compound movements.

The reasoning? Isolation exercises are just flat-out more effective for developing a solid mind-muscle connection. If you start your workout by getting into a rhythm and finding your groove for the muscle group you're training, compound movements will feel even more effective. It's all about efficiency.

Why "waste" sets at the beginning of workouts pushing/pulling a lot of weight with no real connection to the muscle and beating your CNS into the ground?

A simple trick is to invert your workout routine. Do you typically bench and then finish with flyes? Flye first and then knock out your sets on the bench. It's brutally simple and effective.

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