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Research clearly shows that you make better progress in exercises you perform first in your training . A good example of this is a 2012 study . The researchers found that when the bench press was prioritized over tricep extensions, bench press strength increased more. This makes sense. The participants simply were less fatigued during the bench press.
So if you want to focus on improving a certain exercise, it is logical to perform this exercise first in your training. This is what I’ve personally done with the incline bench press. I wanted to develop the upper portion of my chest more, so the incline bench press comes before the flat bench press in my training. You can do the same for other muscle groups. For example, training the overhead press first if training your shoulders is a focus.
Now, if we speak about exercise order in general, it also makes sense to prioritize mostly multi-joint (compound) exercises over single-joint (isolation) exercises. Compound exercises engage multiple muscle groups and provide the greatest overload, so they simply provide the most bang for your buck .
An exception is when you consider an isolation exercise important for reaching your training goals (like bringing up a lagging body part) . Say you want to bring up your calves, then doing calf isolation work at the start of your leg day can be a good idea. So there is a time and place for prioritizing isolation lifts.
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