How to Use Pre Exhaust Training to Boost Muscle Gains

Bodybuilders strive for balance and aesthetic proportion. But even when we deliberately focus on training each body part with adequate volume and frequency, there are always a few body parts that lag behind others.

You can blame it on genetics, but you should know that it’s OK for everyone to have their strong and weak areas, as long as they do something to bring the lagging muscles up.

The first step, naturally, is to recognize your weaknesses and learn to recognize when other, often surrounding muscles are compensating for them, so that you can develop a strategy that will make those muscles work harder and get stronger.

Next comes pre-exhaust training, which is an excellent technique for bringing up weaker areas and boosting overall muscle gains. Read more to learn more.

What is pre exhaust training ?

Pre exhaust training allows you to isolate the target muscle very effectively from the get go and achieve greater hypertrophy by the end of the routine, which is why lifters also use it to burst through training plateaus.

In other words pre-exhaust training will offset your body’s ability to adapt to a certain exercise stimulus and that’s exactly what you need when struggling with a body part that appears reluctant to grow stronger and bigger.

As the name implies, pre-exhausting stands for pre-fatiguing a certain muscle with the help of a single-joint, isolation exercise, before moving on to multi-joint, compound movements that target the same muscle.

This forces your muscles to work twice as hard on the compound movements, ensuring muscular fatigue will happen first, before neurological fatigue sets in.

During the compound exercises, you will have fresh secondary muscles to help you move the weight, but you will not be able to use as much weight as you normally would.

That’s not a problem, though, because this type of training makes sure that you exit the gym with the greatest number of overloaded muscle fibers possible.

Below you’ll find sample pre-exhaust workouts for a few body parts that have gained notoriety for acting as weak links in otherwise solid physiques. Check them out to learn how to apply this method to encourage great new gains and improve overall strength and appearance!

Pre exhaust leg workout

The legs have a reputation of being difficult to develop, and more often than not, lifters must push themselves to great lengths to get the desired training response from their leg muscles. That is, until they discover pre-exhaust training. Here’s how to powerfully engage your leg muscle fibers and get an insane pump:

LEG EXTENSION: 4 sets x 12-15 reps

You’re probably used to squatting first while you’re fresh and performing isolation moves at the end of the routine, so this will seem easy. Finish your leg extension sets, then go to the squat rack.

SQUATS: 2-4 sets x 8-12 reps

As you try to choose the appropriate weight, you’ll notice that your quads are already nicely fatigued and pumped up, so you need to go a bit lighter than you’d like to. A couple of properly executed sets should be more than enough to blast your legs and make your quads scream.

Pre exhaust chest workout

If you’re like most lifters, you deeply enjoy training your chest – watching the pecs contract to move heavy loads is one of the vital life satisfactions for manly men.

However, the pecs can’t grow if they have too much assistance from the front delts or the triceps, which is the case with most heavy compound movements. If you have trouble isolating your chest fibers as much as you’d like to, this is the perfect method for you.

INCLINE CABLE FLYE: 4 sets x 12-15 reps

These will powerfully engage the upper chest and keep the tension constant, thereby creating a strong training response.

BARBELL BENCH PRESS: 4 set x 8-12 reps

So now you can overload your pre-exhausted chest muscles with some heavier weight. You will actually perform better because your chest will be well warmed up and activated. Give it all you’ve got, but mind your form and technique.

Pre exhaust Shoulders Workout

The shoulders are also a problematic area for most people. They can be difficult to train and are very vulnerable to injury.

Still, most shoulder issues can be overcome with the help of an adequate warm-up routine and an emphasis on completing a full range of motion. (8 Tricks for Bigger, Healthier Shoulders)

Stiff shoulders are a source of pain and injury, so make sure you enhance circulation and prepare the joints by performing a few warm-up exercises before moving on to the working sets.

SIDE LATERAL RAISE: 4 sets x 12-15 reps

Side lateral raises will activate the anterior, lateral and posterior deltoid heads to a different degree. Start with a light weight on the first set and work your way up.


Focus on getting a powerful contraction and maintaining mind-muscle connection. Keep your elbows rigid without locking them at the top of the movement and avoid wiggling the weight.

Pre exhaust back workout

The goal here will be to eliminate trap involvement during compound exercises by performing an adequate amount of isolation work for the lats first. This will ensure that the lats are the primary work force on the big lifts, which is very important because most lifters suffer from overdeveloped traps and weak, shy lats.

STRAIGHT-ARM PUSH-DOWNS: 4 sets x 12-15 reps

Get on a high pulley machine with a wide bar attachment and choose a moderate weight. Focus on the contraction.

WIDE-GRIP PULL-DOWNS: 4 sets x 8-12 reps

Go heavy on this one to really make your lats, lower traps, erectors and rhomboids go through hell. Again, proper form is crucial for good results.

Regardless of whether you choose to train your lagging body parts on separate days or you incorporate them into your regular routine, these 4 simple but highly effective routines can really help you achieve unprecedented muscle growth in body parts you’ve already given up on.

Will you let your weakest points define you or will you turn them into weapons for progress?

The choice is yours! Good luck and stay tight!

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