Workout Tips

Strategic Exercise Pairing for More Size

Incorporate pre- and post-exhaustion training into your program to boost size gains.


In most beginner exercise textbooks, it’s common to prescribe multi-joint movements (e.g. squats, bench press, deadlifts, etc.) at the start of your workout, and follow with isolation-type exercises (e.g. biceps curls, leg curls, triceps extensions, etc.). However, in the 1960s, Arthur Jones suggested the opposite (an isolation exercise performed immediately before a compound exercise) and referred to it as pre-exhaustion training. The idea behind this form of training is to avoid the situation where a smaller muscle group fails before a large muscle group during a compound exercise. A simple example would involve the triceps fatiguing before the pecs in a bench press.

However, let’s take this training method to the next level.

Introducing pre- and post-exhaust training

This training method involves a giant set of three exercises and combines both pre-exhaust and post-exhaust training methods. You may be familiar with the post-exhaust training method. Basically, it involves a compound exercise followed by an isolation exercise.  An example of this is a chin up paired with a straight-arm press down (to further fatigue the lats) or biceps curl (to further fatigue the guns). The idea behind this method of training is to further fatigue the major or minor muscle group involved in the compound exercise.

Causing maximal temporary exhaustion in a muscle results in more muscle damage and the accumulation of more metabolic byproducts, both of which are important in muscle building. But be careful not to overdo it with this type of training. It’s easy to over train and become stagnant, so listen to your body and maximize your recovery.