Order Of Exercises And Exercise Substitutions

Q: 1 find it hard to do barbell shrugs right after standing barbell presses. Is it OK to change the order of exercises? Also, I think I do better with decline bench presses than flat bench. Is it OK to make that substitution? A: These questions fall into the same category as the previous one. There is nothing sacrosanct about the order of exercises in Power Factor Training, or in any other training program for that matter. The sequence of exercises should never be made to conform to edict or to unproven hypotheses regarding overload. The only element of variation that is important is this: Will the change 1 am going to make enable me to overload the muscle group in question to a greater degree.7That answer will be evident in your Power Factor and Power Index numbers.

The same is true for substituting exercises. We discovered, through trial and error, which compound movements deliver the most muscular overload for most people. But there is great variation among individuals. If you are a person who discovers, through measurement and comparison, that you get higher triceps numbers from weighted dips than from close-grip bench presses, then do what gives you the higher numbers. Any other answer would be bodybuilding dogma instead of objective rationality.


Q: On my last workout, four of my exercises showed improvement, but one actually declined. How can that be, and what should I do?

A: This is normal. Muscle recovery is both localized and systemic, so it is possible for you to make gains in all areas except one or two. There is also variation in the composition of the muscles in the same individual, so it would be unreasonable to expect all muscle to progress at an identical pace. Your analysis shows that you have a lagging body part or two that cannot progress as fast as the rest of your muscles.

When this happens, try leaving that exercise off your next workout (which is actually two workouts away, as you are always alternating between Workouts A and B)

in order to allow additional rest time for that muscle group. However, if three out of five of your exercises suddenly do not show improvement, it is time to adjust your training frequency by adding one extra day of rest between all workouts. If you again fail to show improvement in three or more exercises, then add yet another day of rest into your training frequency.

Don't worry about losing what you have gained. All the data we have collected suggests that it takes several weeks to lose a measurable amount of strength. It is far more likely that your time off will be more productive than any time you might spend in the gym.


1. Drug free or die, Ironman, 111 (November 1996); Drugs vs. Natural—the future of bodybuilding, Muscular Development, 134 (February 1996).

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