Pre-Exhaust Yourself for Size

Boost your gains with this tried-and-true technique.


I’ve been told that I shouldn’t pre-exhaust to build size. But you use this technique. Why do you think pre-exhaust is effective?


The training strategy that succeeds is going to be different for every bodybuilder. For me, it’s not all about getting up the most weight—it’s about what pushes my muscles harder. Using pre-exhaust makes the rest of the workout more difficult. 

Pre-exhaust consists of taking a single-joint isolation movement to failure before moving on to a heavier compound movement. Examples would be doing lateral raises before shoulder presses or doing leg extensions before squats—like Arnold Schwarzenegger did in Pumping Iron. Fatiguing the muscle this way leads to greater fiber recruitment, which leads to growth. 

I use pre-exhaust a lot before contests. Employing this technique, I can train hard on every set without worrying about using the biggest weights and risking injury. Sure, I could use more weight without it, but pre-exhaust does the job. - FLEX

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