Pre-exhaust Workout


Bring your muscles into sharp relief with this strategic pre-exhaust training plan.

We’re all familiar with the concept of a “weak link.” In an actual chain, it’s (sometimes purposefully) designed to break first under stress. Among people, it’s the one making the least contribution to the achievement of the group.

And in your workouts, it’s the smaller muscle group that gives way before the larger one, stopping you from taking the latter to its ultimate failure zone. For instance, think back to the last time you benched: As you reached your final reps, what was it that caused to you terminate your set: Your chest … or your triceps?

Same thing on the flip side. Say you’re doing rows. What’s more likely to hit failure first: The big, strong muscles of your back, or the smaller-sized forearms and biceps that are involved in the movement?

The idea of a “weaker link” compromising the ability to max out a major body part has been inherent in bodybuilding since its inception. However, there is a potent counterattack.

Pre-exhaust training is a technique combines two exercises back-to-back: The first is a single-joint move that directly works the target muscle group, while the second is a compound multi-joint move that brings ancillary muscles (like the triceps in a press) into play. Thus, the target will be “pre-exhausted,” and more likely to fail first during the second exercise. Which is exactly what you want to squeeze every last benefit out of the training session.

The following slate of sample workouts all incorporate the idea of pre-exhaust. Pick and choose whole workouts to try, or just borrow some of the supersets for your own existing routines. Either way, by eliminating your weakest link, you can guarantee yourself much stronger results.

LegsWarm-up: Walk/run 1 mile
Exercise Sets Reps
Leg Extension superset with 3 12
Leg Press 3 5
Dumbbell Stiff-Leg Deadlift superset with 3 10
Barbell Sumo Squat 3 5
Lying Leg Curl superset with 3 12
Barbell Squat 3 5
Exercise Sets Reps
Peck-Deck Flye superset with 3 20
Barbell Bench Press 3 6
Low Cable Crossover tri-set with 3 5
Mid-Cable Crossover tri-set with 3 5
High Cable Crossover 3 5
Incline Dumbbell Press 3 12
Shoulders, Back & Arms
Exercise Sets Reps
Dumbbell Lateral Raise superset with 3 12
Standing Barbell Press 3 15
Dumbbell Front Raise superset with 3 12
Seated Dumbbell Press 3 8
Bent-Over Lateral Raise superset with 3 12
Barbell Upright Row 3 8
Standing Barbell Curl superset with 3 8
Pull-Up 3 8
Standing Cable Curl superset with 3 15
Bent-Over Barbell Row 3 8

Note for all workouts: Choose a weight that will cause muscle failure at the listed rep goal.

Perfectly execute your pre-exhaust workout with fresh gear. Here’s what you’ll need:

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