T Nation

Hypertrophy Effects of Exercise Order


Hey Coach,
How much impact does exercise order have on hypertrophy?
Legs for eg, program might call for this order.
Back squat
Hack squat
Leg press
Leg extension
Romanian Deadlifts
Leg curl.
I notice a lot of pros will do all quads exercises before moving onto hams or vice versa.
What difference would it make to go
Back squat
Leg press
Leg curl
Leg extensions etc
Might be a really silly question but I am honestly not sure!


Exercise order is important and can change depending on the training effect your are trying to get.

First I’m not a fan of doing all the quads work then all the hamstring work, especially if you are doing Romanian deadlifts. The quads do support (they are basically fixators) in the Romanian deadlift and if they are completely trashed, the RDL will greatly suffer.

But that’s just one example.

In MOST normal cases you should do the exercises in order of neurological/physiological demand. (you can use a primer to wake up a key muscle in the first big lift but this is more of a warm-up strategy). This is logical because at the beginning of the workout you have more CNS resources, more energy and fresher muscles.

An exception would be if you are trying to improve a lagging muscle group via enhanced mind-muscle connection; in which case you might do more isolated work for a muscle before doing the big lift.

Another exception would be to put the exercises for the weaker muscle trained that day first. But this only used when you have a severe imbalance between the muscles trained (e.g. if your posterior chain is vastly inferior to your anterior chain).

So in your specific question the second option would be better most of the time. The first option would be better for someone with a dominant posterior chain and weaker quads.


Thanks CT, the above, first option is actually one of your workouts. I did notice by the time I got to the RDL my shaking legs can only do about half the weight I could if I were fresh. So I did swap to the 2nd option before asking and found it a much better workout. I could actually go heavier on all lifts from the small rest between muscles groups. I just wanted to make sure it didn’t negatively effect hypertrophy etc.
Thanks for your help.


Yes, I’ve used tons of different structures depending on the goal of the program. The first option is indeed a very typical bodybuilding split and does emphasize quads. But the second option is better for overall development