Does Exercise Order Matter?

This is a common theme that I wanted to briefly discuss as a new study has emerged that hormonal markers of post exercise recovery which need to be elevated to get stronger and build muscle (IGF-1, growth hormone and testosterone) are elevated regardless of exercise order. This is interesting because it means that for muscle growth and maintenance that picking your exercise order may not matter. In contrast though the following review highlights this in a common-sensical type of way that exercise order depends upon your goals.


These pieces of research show two things. You can prove anything with science in fitness, reading a scientific paper highlights that in theory you could do things in a random order and still see a hormonal response. Secondly, this is all fine in new exercisers who seem to be the sounding ground for  most modern research. If the sole gain is deemed to be a hormonal response then indeed as how the human body works most adaptive changes occur very quickly- be it strength, hormones or flexibility. Ultimately the stimulus needs to change in order for adaptations to progress.

Also understanding a “workout” based study does not define a programme- short term hormonal responses may be shown in this study but is this the same every workout over a three month period. A lot of research seems to deal with this more snapshot approach highlighting a pretty interesting title but understanding how to read the research is key to it’s applicability to training.


Published by ianmellis

Ian Mellis MSc. CSCS is the co-founder of Results FAST ( in Ware, Hertfordshire. Specialising in athletic development, physique improvement and injury rehabilitation he provides personal training, strength and conditioning and nutrition coaching for motivated exercisers and those looking to make a long term change to their health, fitness and performance.

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