Here's an article on a training approach not often used or talked about that I find to be very helpful for bodybuilders. You always hear things like "emphasize heavy compound movements" and "only low reps build mass" and this is good advice for the beginner. After time, the body will adapt to anything and these simple methods will not shock the system and cause a muscular response the way they used to. You must then do something different!
One of my very favorite shock treatments is pre-exhaustion training combined with a slightly higher rep range. This method will allow you to feel the muscle being taxed much more than raw compound sets ever dreamed no matter how heavy you go on them.
If you are not familiar with pre-exhaustion it is easy to learn, but not easy to do. You first perform an isolation exercise targeting a specific body part and without rest, perform a compound exercise that also targets that body part. The reason it works is simple. In compound sets-say bench presses, you push the weight with your tris, chest, and shoulders. Your tris are weaker that your chest because they are smaller muscles and will guaranteed fail before your chest is fully fatigued. If you use nothing but compound sets, you will never be able to tax every last fiber in your chest which will limit overall development.
Performing an isolation exercise directly before a compound set will allow you to overcome this limitation. You will need to lower the amount resistance on the compound set, but DON'T worry about it. I usually like to alternate workouts so one is a power day where I begin with compound sets heavy as possible and then the next one will be a pre-exhaust day. I love this method so much I use it in some spot in every workout. Try a few sets where both the isolation and compound movements are done for higher reps as it can help a lot with cuts, shape, and striations. Now that I have hopefully talked you into trying this, Ill give you some of my very favorite pre-exhaust superset combos.
- Chest - Incline cable crossovers into incline barbell press / Flat dumbbell flyes into flat barbell bench press
- Back - cable pullovers into close grip pull-ups / dumbbell pullovers into wide grip pull downs-also try machine pullovers as your isolation exercise and really stretch out your lats. This method helps with your lat width more than anything! Also try it for reps and you will feel the fire in your lat wings.
- Shoulders - dumbbell side laterals into military press(behind neck only if comfortable and flexible enough) / two armed cable side laterals into dumbbell presses / Also try military press into upright rows
- Legs - leg extensions into leg presses(quads) / leg curls into stiff legged deadlifts(hamstrings)
- Triceps - rope pushdowns into weighted dips This WILL kick the shit out your tris and force them to adapt and respond!
- Biceps - do three sets of concentration curls first in your workout. This exercise really concentrates on the peaks of the bis and gets them worn out first so they reach a higher level of fatigue in your later sets.
Now remember, the possibilities of pre-exhaustion supersets is limitless! These are suggestions so feel free to cook up your own supersets for variety. I have vastly improved many specific areas with this approach like outer lats, inner and upper pecs, side delts, and quad sweep. Try this method with enough effort and you too will notice improvements. Also, don't be afraid to up the rep range for a change of pace as well as using the accepted mass range of 4-8 for size.
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