When you’ve been regularly working out for a long time like I have, it is pretty easy to get stuck in a rut. Over time, unless you want to start going down the illegal route, your body is going to hit its natural limit on how much it can possibly lift. If you do the same routine week in and week out, you’ll also open yourself up to injury, because most likely you’re overemphasizing one muscle group or missing another one altogether and can potentially create a dangerous imbalance. The long and short is that variety is key, with this entry focusing on the concept of “Pre-exhaust.”
Typically when you start a routine focusing on a specific muscle group (let’s say Chest), you’d start with a compound exercise (for example bench presses). This helps activate the greatest number of muscle fibers and allows you to move the most weight while you’re still fresh. As the routine goes on, you might hit it from different angles or various methods, finally settling on isolation exercises to really burn out the muscle group. There’s nothing wrong with this approach, but it can get pretty stale pretty quickly.
Pre-exhaust training actually takes the opposite approach, by shifting the isolation exercise to before the compound exercise. Depending on your goals, the two main ways this can be done is:
- Shift isolation exercises to the beginning of your workout
- Superset the isolation exercise and compound exercise, doing the isolation exercise first
In both, you’ll see your ability to move weight go down on the compound exercise because you’re pre-exhausting them. Be aware of this and make sure you’re choosing appropriate weight.
I’ll keep you posted on ways to keep your workouts from getting stale!
As always, this is not intended to be advice but to introduce a concept. Please consult a medical professional before starting any new routine.