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Straight Sets or Alternate Muscles?

When training 2 muscle groups in one session (let’s say chest and back), do you do all the back exercises first and then all the chest exercises(or vice versa), or do you do one chest exercise then one back exercise and keep switching until you’re done? I’ve always just chest for the first half of my workout and then back for the second half, but I was talking to some friends today and they said they alternate… just wondering what everyone else does

You can do it either way. It’s probably more efficient to alternate them. You probably won’t see the performance drop from fatigue that you would if you did all of one before the other either.

[quote]conorh wrote:
You can do it either way. It’s probably more efficient to alternate them. You probably won’t see the performance drop from fatigue that you would if you did all of one before the other either.[/quote]

I agree. If I do an antagonistic split (chest/back, biceps/triceps, etc…) then I’d personally alternate. It may even improve your performance on the exercises as the fatigued antagonist won’t be able to apply as much resistance to the movement.

If on the other hand I were not doing an antagonistic split, then I might perform all of my sets of one muscle group before starting on the other group (for instance if I paired chest/biceps I’d do all my chest exercises before moving on to my biceps exercises).

Really it’s just a matter of preference and the program that you’re following.

[quote]Sentoguy wrote:
conorh wrote:
You can do it either way. It’s probably more efficient to alternate them. You probably won’t see the performance drop from fatigue that you would if you did all of one before the other either.

I agree. If I do an antagonistic split (chest/back, biceps/triceps, etc…) then I’d personally alternate. It may even improve your performance on the exercises as the fatigued antagonist won’t be able to apply as much resistance to the movement.

If on the other hand I were not doing an antagonistic split, then I might perform all of my sets of one muscle group before starting on the other group (for instance if I paired chest/biceps I’d do all my chest exercises before moving on to my biceps exercises).

Really it’s just a matter of preference and the program that you’re following.[/quote]

Thanks, good advice from both of you

Depends on your goals.
Alternating will get your workout done quicker and is good for fat loss.
However, if your going for a max, or if your doing a movement that deserves more of your focus, you’ll want to rest more between sets.
Totally up to you.

The best thing about alternating muscle groups is that you don’t end up doing 5 Chest Exercises and say to yourself “Oh Damn! I’ve been here for 90 minutes. Guess I missed working Back.” Also, if your workout is set up like…

Barbell Row
Incline Bench
Rear-Delt Fly
Pec-Deck

Then you can do the big, money exercises for both groups at the very beginning of the workout instead of Cranking down for Flys and cranking back up for Rows.

I think alternating Bi’s and Tri’s also has the benefit of keeping the Arms filled with blood for multiple exercises without needing to drastically lower the intensity from exercise to exercise. If you super-set Barbell Curls with Hammer Curls, then you’re gonna be forced to drop back on the Hammer Curls. But if you Alternate Skull Crushers and Barbell Curls, you’ll still be able to go full blast.

This idea of keeping blood in the arms by alternating Bi’s and Tri’s doesn’t really apply to Chest and Back. The torso already has a ton of blood in it, and there’s a lot more space separating your back and your chest than there is separating your Bi’s and Tri’s.

[quote]FightingScott wrote:
The best thing about alternating muscle groups is that you don’t end up doing 5 Chest Exercises and say to yourself “Oh Damn! I’ve been here for 90 minutes. Guess I missed working Back.” Also, if your workout is set up like…

Barbell Row
Incline Bench
Rear-Delt Fly
Pec-Deck

Then you can do the big, money exercises for both groups at the very beginning of the workout instead of Cranking down for Flys and cranking back up for Rows.

I think alternating Bi’s and Tri’s also has the benefit of keeping the Arms filled with blood for multiple exercises without needing to drastically lower the intensity from exercise to exercise. If you super-set Barbell Curls with Hammer Curls, then you’re gonna be forced to drop back on the Hammer Curls. But if you Alternate Skull Crushers and Barbell Curls, you’ll still be able to go full blast.

This idea of keeping blood in the arms by alternating Bi’s and Tri’s doesn’t really apply to Chest and Back. The torso already has a ton of blood in it, and there’s a lot more space separating your back and your chest than there is separating your Bi’s and Tri’s. [/quote]

I never even thought of that first point… I think I’ll alternate from now on, but instead of doing 1 set of back then 1 set of chest, I’ll do one exercise for chest, do all my sets for that exercise, then do an exercise for back, do all those sets and repeat

[quote]bmitch wrote:

I never even thought of that first point… I think I’ll alternate from now on, but instead of doing 1 set of back then 1 set of chest, I’ll do one exercise for chest, do all my sets for that exercise, then do an exercise for back, do all those sets and repeat[/quote]

I’ve done both. Its easier to break weight records by alternating exercises instead of sets. You also take up less space in the gym.