Standard training protocols would advise that you always train larger muscles groups, such as your chest and back before smaller muscle groups, such as your biceps and triceps. The main reasoning behind this concerns injury potential, strength levels and mental capacity, all of which have been proven to be favourable when performing large muscle group exercises primarily.

As with everything however, there’s always an exception to every rule and on this occasion that exception is named pre exhaust training. Pre exhaust training, as the name aptly suggests, involves pre fatiguing a certain muscle group, such as the chest, by initially utilising an isolation exercise before moving onto a compound movement. An example of this would be a set of dumbbell flys followed by the bench press.

This technique, although breaking all the rules, is an incredible means of getting the most out of your exercises and workouts by ensuring muscular fatigue. As your muscles are working at an enhanced level during the subsequent compound movements, you can create a real shock to your musculoskeletal system that has the potential to bring about hypertrophic changes.

Not only can pre exhaust training techniques create a desirable shocking effect to the target muscle group but they can also help you plateaus in your training schedule like never before. Psychologically, it also creates a change of scenery from the norm and can boost your motivational levels to new highs.

Pre exhaust training will push you to the limits and for that reason should be used by those considered advanced only. Novice weightlifters should steer well clear of such a technique as it has the potential to overload your target muscles, resulting rapidly in overtraining and enhancing the likelihood of injury.

The beauty of pre exhaust training is that not only does it give you an alternative training method to incorporate into your week to week training regimes, but it can be applied to each and every major muscle group that you’re looking to develop. All you have to do is think of the relevant exercises. Luckily for you, FitnessBeans is here to help and we’ve devised a list below to get you started. Remember, this list is by no means exclusive and you can add or remove exercises to meet your own unique training needs. As long as you follow the basic principle of isolation movement followed by a greater compound movement then you won’t go far wrong.

Pre Exhaust Exercise Examples
  • Chest:

    Dumbbell Flys followed by Bench Press.

  • Back:

    Hammer Rows followed by Lateral Pulldowns.

  • Shoulders:

    Lateral Raises followed by Shoulder Press.

  • Biceps:

    Concentration Curls followed by Narrow Pullups.

  • Triceps:

    Kickbacks followed by Narrow Bench Press.

  • Quadriceps:

    Leg Extensions followed by Squats.

  • Hamstrings:

    Leg Curls followed by Deadlifts.

Final Word

If you’ve ever finished a gym session and felt like you still had more to give, then pre exhaust training is the one for you. If utilised efficiently and effectively then this technique will guarantee that your target muscle is tried and tested like never before. You will leave everything you possibly have to give in the gym!

So if you’re looking to add size and feel as though you’re at a stage in your training where you’re looking to experiment with exercise prescription, then why not give pre exhaust training a go.