The Muscle Group You Should Work Out First


Q: Is it better to work out your upper body or lower body first?

—Elena P., Santa Rosa, CA

A: Unless you’ve already got guns like Madonna, start up top. Most women’s upper-body muscles are weaker than their lower-body ones, so their upper-body workout may require more focus and effort, says fitness expert Karen Joseph, owner of Fountain of Fitness in Valrico, Florida.

Studies show that plowing through tough exercises while you’re still fresh helps prevent injury (since you move with more control) and maximizes efficiency (since you won’t slack off on form or speed).

Joseph suggests working large muscle groups, like the chest and back, before smaller ones (triceps, biceps, and forearms) and doing multi-joint moves, such as bench presses or pullups, before isolated movements like biceps curls. Get them all in two or three times a week for a leaner, tighter body.