Correct Exercise Selection - Does It Matter?

Beyond following a good training split it is imperative that correct exercise selection is something you know, and know well! Too many people use the same exercises every week and quite often the wrong exercises leading to an inevitable plateau. Exercises are our way of targeting muscle fibres through motor unit stimulation – therefore it becomes a skill in choosing the correct ones. If up until now you had thought exercise selection wasn’t that important carry on learning and see if you still feel the same way afterwards.

More Bang For Your Buck

When you are chasing mass especially in a short period of time you have to be intelligent with exercise selection. If you are after monster triceps there is not much point hitting tricep kickbacks, the volume of high threshold motor units you will recruit (which are notoriously hard to stimulate, BUT when stimulated lead to 10 times the amount of muscle fibre recruitment) is going to be low compared to using close grip bench press for example. When you go about selecting an exercise make sure you are able to make the target muscle fibres work hard, doing an exercise for the sake of it is not going to do that.

Order Of Exercises

Sticking with the same example as above, when you train triceps there is nothing wrong with using a more intricate exercise such as the tricep kickback, however you must choose your exercises wisely and also perform them in the correct order. To excite high threshold motor units make sure that you use a compound exercise such as close grip bench press, straight bar pushdowns or even weighted dips. All of these exercises will force all the heads of the triceps to work hard. More delicate isolation exercises are a great way to finish a workout off once motor unit stimulation and muscle fibre recruitment is already up. These exercises help you flush blood into the area before the end of your workout.


Over the years exercises have been labelled and put into groups which state which muscle group they are going to target. Along the way I think some may have been misplaced which leads us to the final point. Always question the function of the target muscle group and the exercise you are doing. As you do the exercise are the target muscles working, is there engagement or not? Bench press is a fantastic example, many will feel it across their anterior deltoids and triceps more than their pectorals – however dumbbell pressing allows a different range of motion which inevitably leads to a better muscle contraction within the chest muscles.

Now do you feel correct exercise selection is important? By making some relatively small changes on this front you could unlock new levels of potential within your own physique!

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