What Order Should My Exercises Be In?

I received a great question following my last post on the Serape Effect, it went like this…

“Howdy Don,
Great article! Totally interested in this type of training, I had a look at your Speed, Power and Strength routine and I was really excited to try this. However, I was a little unsure about how to execute the workout as you say follow the three stages in succession. This left me a bit baffled because wouldn’t I be training against the laws of periodisation?
thanks for your reply!”

To clarify for those that haven’t seen my Strength, Power & Strength Routine (it was part of a bundle I contributed to Sean Fagan’s Heavy Bag Blueprint Course), I put together a video training all of these qualities in one routine – with no equipment other than a punch bag, Thai pads and a bench or chair. But what was critical, was the exercises I prescribed in the routine were executed in that order: Speed, followed by Power, and then finally Strength.

Yet you’ve probably heard me banging on about programming your training (periodisation) to first develop foundation strength, then converting this to power before finalising with speed and power endurance. So which way round is it?! “Come on Heatrick, stop confusing us!”

Let me explain. It’s essentially the difference between planning long-term development and planning the immediate training session.

Long-term

Periodisation relates to longer term planning to maximise athletic development, and requires that qualities are built in successive order – one block or phase of training serves as the foundation for the following one (you can’t run before you can walk). This means following a progression that first emphasises building strength, then applying that strength quickly (power), before applying that power as fast as possible (speed) and under fatigue (power endurance).

However, I programme fighter’s training using a conjugate approach – whereby all of these qualities are trained in each block (meso cycle), but the emphasis still follows the Strength-Power-Speed planning principle. By emphasis, I mean training volume – the number of sets, reps or exercise duration. So although my programmes train all of these qualities simultaneously (I believe this serves a fighter better, as we can’t afford to let any quality detrain too much), there’s a higher volume of strength exercise in the first block, power in the second block and speed/power endurance in the third block.

Short-term

When training all these qualities in one session, there’s an optimum order to ensure each quality is fully developed. If I want to develop maximum speed, do you think I’ll be fastest straight after a warm up, or after having trained for strength first? If I’m trying to be explosive against resistance (power), again, do you think strength training before hand will slow me up?

Yes, it will. If I want to move as fast as possible, I should do that while I’m fresh (and I’m also better able to coordinate challenging, technical movements better too). Power movements (under resistance) can follow these Speed exercises – which can serve to potentiate – without hindrance. Finally, less technically demanding Strength exercises can be trained without undue negative fatigue. So start light and fast, and gradually go heavier throughout a Speed/Power/Strength training session.

Exercise Order Follows Your Targets

The exercise order can make a massive difference to the outcome of your session. And the order depends on which quality (or qualities) the session intends to develop. If you want fatigue, then your order should reflect this. If you want unhindered speed, power or strength, then you need to maximise rest periods and guard against fatigue.

Work/rest ratios, exercise order, training volume and training intensity are all variables that can drastically change the effect of the even identical exercises in a session. As always, go into your session with a plan to improve something, target that with your session design and go for it!

2 Comments

  1. Alex P January 31, 2015 at 8:42 pm - Reply

    very good article Don! looking forward to the program

    • DonHeatrick January 31, 2015 at 10:12 pm - Reply

      Thanks Alex. The programme will hopefully be available February – I’m cracking on with the online content :)

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