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Pre-exhaust involves using one isolation exercise prior to one compound exercise.

Post-exhaust involves using one compound exercise prior to one isolation exercise.


Using the bench press as an example: The agonist is the pectorals major, with the main synergist being the triceps. Often, the triceps will fail before the stronger pectoral muscles. By employing either a pre or post exhaust isolation exercise it is possible to “bypass” the weak synergist and permit greater fatigue of the target muscle – in this example pectorals.

In pre-exhaust the pectoral isolation exercise is performed prior to the compound e.g. cable crossovers performed before bench press.

In post-exhaust the pectoral isolation exercise is performed after the compound e.g. bench press performed before cable crossovers.


Both methods result in the primary target muscle, the pectorals, doing more work than if regular bench press was performed by itself.


  •  Select an isolation (single joint) exercise for the target muscle
  •  Select a compound (multi-joint) exercise for the target muscle

then either:

  •  Perform the desired number of sets of the isolation exercise, then move on to perform sets of the compound exercise (normal rest intervals apply)


  •  Perform the isolation exercise immediately followed by the compound exercise (this is an example of a pre-exhaust superset). Rest between supersets and repeat as required.

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