Constantly finding ways to push their barrier with your workout program is important if you hope to get closer and closer to the goals you have set for yourself. One issue that many people struggle with from time to time is a lagging body part – one that just doesn’t seem to respond the same as some of the other muscles in the body.
It’s important when you’re noticing this happening that you start making some adjustments to your workout program so you can get this muscle group responding again and showing progress.
One very effective method of doing this is to use pre-exhaust training. Here’s what you need to know about this form of training and how to work it into your overall training schedule.
First up is learning what pre-exhaust training is. Essentially what you’ll be doing when you use this protocol is fatiguing one of the smaller muscle groups in the body that often acts as a ‘helper’ muscle in the major lifts that otherwise would fully target another muscle group.
For example, when you perform the bench press exercise you are mostly focusing on hitting the chest directly. Because of the nature of the movement pattern however, when you execute the movement you’ll also be stimulating the triceps and shoulders, both of which help you drive the weight upwards.
This in effect reduces the degree the chest muscle is worked, providing you with less of a workout. If your chest muscle is currently lagging behind because of this, that presents a problem.
In order to get past this problem, you’re going to have to find a way to reduce the focus of the smaller muscle groups so that when you perform the exercise, these helper muscles are already fatigued out and will not aid in the exercise execution.
You do this by performing isolated exercises for the helper muscles immediately before moving to the larger lift.
So in this situation, you would perform two or three sets of tricep extensions along with one or two sets of shoulder presses and then move over and begin your usual bench pressing.
Don’t be surprised if when doing this that you find you have to use a much lighter weight as that is very often what happens during this protocol. As long as you can feel your chest muscles working hard, you’re doing everything correctly.
Similarly, if your lagging muscle groups were the back or quads for example, you could perform bicep curls or leg extensions prior to doing the larger movements of rows or squats.
It’s important to remember that this form of training is extremely intense on the body and you must be sure to give it the rest it requires afterwards. Don’t use pre-exhaust training for more than one or two muscle groups max and make sure the rest of your workout stays the same. You don’t want to overburden the CNS or you will quickly become overtrained, which can take weeks to get out of.
You may need an extra day or two between workouts as well so if your body is asking for that, be sure to listen.
So when structuring your workouts for pre-exhaust training, you want to place the isolate exercises closer to the start of the workout, perform the compound movements for the target muscle group next, and then follow that up with the isolation work for that same target muscle group.
Below you’ll find an example workout that you could perform if you were targeting the chest muscle group. Take note that the second workout (the lower body workout) will remain standard while you place the focus on the chest muscle.
You would perform each of these workouts twice per week allowing for one day of rest in between them (usually on Wednesday).
5-10 minute warm-up just enough to lossen up and get the blood pumping.
Cool down with 10 minutes of stretching
|Seated Calf Raises||2||15|
|Hanging Leg Raises||3||15|
Next time you’re dealing with a lagging muscle group, be sure you keep this advanced workout technique in mind. When used properly it can be an excellent way to push your training to a whole new level.