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Pre-exhaustion Technique for Muscle Mass

 

Pre-exhaustion for Muscle Mass

by: Robbie Durand

Pre-exhaust is a technique in which you perform single-joint or isolation moves first, before multijoint or compound exercises. A practical example would be leg extensions before front squats (for the quadriceps) or cable flyes before the bench press (for the chest). The point is to fatigue the muscle group of interest with an isolation move so that when you perform the multijoint exercise, which involves other muscle groups, the target muscle is already exhausted. Pre-exhaustion will lead to greater muscle fiber recruitment because muscular fatigue will set in before neurological fatigue. This technique was popularized by Arnold Schwarzenegger in the movie Pumping Iron. If you watched it, you’ll remember Arnold performing leg extensions before squats. Although for years, most people looking to put on muscle size have thought that training heavier is the only way to increase muscle mass, several studies have raised the question: Do you have to train heavy to increase muscle mass? One study by McMaster University of Canada showed no difference between heavy and light loads for muscle hypertrophy. The study basically showed, when training to failure, light weights increase muscle size as much as heavy weights. Scientists compared the effects of workouts ranging from 30% of a 1RM to 80% of a 1RM. Another interesting finding is that blood flow occlusion techniques in which blood flow is cut off while training leads to increases in muscle mass without using heavy weights. The principle behind occlusion is that by reducing blood flow to your slow twitch muscle fibres prevents oxygen delivery and leads to pre exhaustion. As a result of this the intermediate and fast twitch muscle fibres are recruited earlier. These fibres are usually only recruited when you go to failure or use heavy weights. A 2003 Swedish study found that when subjects pre-

pre-exhaustion, infinite_labs
Pre-exhaustion will lead to greater muscle fiber recruitment because muscular fatigue will set in before neurological fatigue.

exhausted their quads with leg extensions, they had less muscle activity in the quads during the leg press. Brazilian researchers later reported similar results with the chest muscles when subjects pre-exhausted with the pec deck before the bench press. These studies support the theory that the pre-exhaust technique exhausts the target muscle, as shown by the lower muscle activity it was able to produce during the multi-joint exercise. Researchers recently published a study in the European Journal of Applied Physiology that per-exhaustion leads to increases in muscle mass.

Pre-Exhaustion Workout 1: Upper Body (Chest, Back and Shoulders)

Muscle Group

Exercise

Sets

Reps
Chest Dumbbell flye

4

8-12
Bench press (barbell or dumbbell)

4-6

8-12
Back Lat pull-down

4-5

8-12
Seated row
Shoulders Lateral raise

4

8-12
Shoulder press (barbell or dumbbell)

4-6

8-12

Pre-Exhaustion Workout 2: Lower Body (Legs, Arms and Abdominals)

Muscle Group

Exercise

Sets

Reps
Quadriceps Leg extension

4

8-12
Hamstrings Lying leg curl

4

8-12
Quadriceps /hamstrings / glutes Leg press

4-6

8-12
Calves Standing calf raise
Seated calf raise

3

8-12
Biceps Barbell curl
Concentration curl

3

8-12

Triceps Lying triceps extension
Triceps pushdown

3

8-12

Abdominals Crunch
Oblique crunch
Reverse crunch
2
15-20

Aguiar AF, Buzzachera CF, Pereira RM, Sanches VC, Januário RB, da Silva RA, Rabelo LM, de Oliveira Gil AW. A single set of exhaustive exercise before resistance training improves muscular performance in young men. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2015 Mar 10.

Augustsson, J., et al. Effect of pre-exhaustion exercise on lower-extremity muscle activation during a leg press exercise. J Strength Cond Res. 17(2):411-416, 2003.

 

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These results suggest that the inclusion of a single set of exhaustive exercise at 20 % of 1RM before traditional hypertrophic training can be a suitable strategy for inducing additional beneficial effects on quadriceps strength, hypertrophy, and endurance in young men.

The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of an additional set of exhaustive exercise before traditional hypertrophic training on quadriceps muscle performance in young men. Subjects performed maximal dynamic strength (1RM), local muscular endurance (LME), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) tests before and after an 8-week hypertrophic training program using a knee extensor machine. After baseline testing, the subjects were divided into 3 groups: untrained control, traditional training (TR), and prior exhaustive training (PE). Both the TR and PE groups trained using the same training protocol (2 days week-1; 3 sets of 8-12 repetitions at 75 % of 1RM); the only difference was that the PE group performed an additional set of exhaustive exercise at 20 % of 1RM before each training session.After 8 weeks, the PE group experienced a greater (P < 0.05) increase in 1RM, cross-sectional area, and LME than the TR group. Additionally, no changes (P > 0.05) in daily dietary intake were observed between groups. These results suggest that the inclusion of a single set of exhaustive exercise at 20 % of 1RM before traditional hypertrophic training can be a suitable strategy for inducing additional beneficial effects on quadriceps strength, hypertrophy, and endurance in young men.

 

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