A Training Technique that Can Triple Your Muscle Gains


In an previous article, I wrote about the training philosophy I have developed over the last few years, but said very little about anything beyond my basic workouts. Today, I want to talk about one of my favorite advanced training techniques: pre-exhaustion.

I’d recommend waiting until you have a good foundation before employing pre-exhaustion into your workouts, as it taxes muscles significantly more than “normal” sets or workouts, and this extra strain can cause you be unable to finish your workout due to cramping, exhaustion, or worse, injury to yourself.

Pre-exhaustion techniques often involve using isolation movements (those that involve one joint, e.g. leg extensions) to tire out a specific muscle group before moving on to a compound movement (those involving two joints, e.g. squats.) The pre-exhaust method is one of my favorite training techniques for several reasons:

It is a change up from normal workouts
Everyone’s heard the phrase “keep the muscle guessing”, and I am about as guilty as it get when it comes to the changing the exercises I use to train with. It is because of this that I like pre-exhaustion so much, as I can still do my favorite exercises while adding a completely different dynamic to my workouts.

It allows you to overload the muscle you employ the technique on
When you employ pre-exhaustion into your workout, you are using isolation movements (ie: flies, pullovers, leg extensions) before you move onto your compound movements (ie: bench press, lat pull downs, squats). What this causes is for the isolated muscle to be significantly more tired than the rest of the muscles used to perform the compound movement you follow up with. This allows your fresh muscles to “pick up the slack” if you will, and pushes fatigue in the isolated muscle past the point it would have gotten to should you just have done the compound movement by itself.

It allows you to use lighter weights on your compound movements, which makes it a great tool to work around sore joints or ligaments
After a certain point in your training, your muscles will become strong enough to where exerting max effort AND using max weights all the time will begin to take a toll on your body. Obviously we want to keep the effort, or intensity, as high as possible, so one logical solution is to lower the weight, while increasing the reps. Problem with this is, once you reach a certain point, you get out of the range of reps you need to be in, in order to get optimal gains in both strength and size.
Pre-exhausting allows the muscle to work harder, while allowing the load to be lighter.

It creates an intense pump you’ll find hard to get using any other techniques
Besides being an awesome feeling, it does have another function as well. A muscle that is pumped has a lot of blood flow to it, and a muscle with a lot of blood flow to it is an oxygenated and WARM muscle. What I’m getting at is you’ll be much warmer and hence, less prone to injury.

Now that I’ve shared some of the reasons why pre-exhaustion is one of my favorite training techniques, let me share examples of my favorite pre exhaustion workouts. Keep in mind none of these are complete workouts, just the
pre- exhaustion component of that day’s workout. That being said, make sure to count each set as an actual set when planning your workouts. If you count the super sets as just one set each, chances are your probably going to be overtraining your body:

6 sets x15-20 reps leg extension

followed by

4 sets x8-10 reps of squats, leg press, or hack squat (pick ONE! Not all three)

1) 6×15-20 lying hamstring curl

followed by

4×8-12 barbell stiff legged deadlift


2) 6×15-20 lying hamstring curl

super setted with

6×10 dumbbell stiff legged deadlift

4×15-20 pec dec or cable fly

super setted with

4×8-10 Hammer Strength incline or flat press (I prefer the incline, as it puts less stress on the shoulders)

4×10 Pullovers (machine or dumbell)

super setted with

4×8-12 lat pull down

4×12 dumbbell side lateral raise

super setted with

4×8-10 machine shoulder press

About the Author

Hunter LabradaIMG_7760, amateur bodybuilder and fitness author, who got started in bodybuilding via football and now does it with the end goal of being at the Mr. Olympia stage.

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