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In 1968 (not yet famous) bodybuilding writer Bob Kennedy, who would go on to found the MuscleMag empire, came up with a unique manner in which to work the muscles. He titled his new approach the "pre exhaust" training technique. The pre exhaust approach is built around prioritizing isolation movements prior to using compound movements.
Bob first centered the pre exhaust on the shoulders. He suggested performing the isolation movements before the heavy pressing. Why? To hit the specific muscle fibers in question. Many compound movements work several muscle groups at once. Bob wanted to isolate the particular muscle groups being trained and the pre exhaust system allows you to do just that.
One example - for the chest, you would perform cable crossovers before the bench press so that the specific pec muscles would already be on fire before you did the bench pressing. The bench pressing would further pump up the chest area.
The pre exhaust system became quite popular and Bob promoted it through his magazine and books.
The pre exhaust system can be quite intense and also allows for a super concentrated workout. That is, you can zero in on a muscle group and really tax it fully. A muscle can be almost fully pumped up via the isolation exercises, and then get hit with the demands of a compound movement, which really fatigues the muscles further.
The pre exhaust system requires a strong commitment to pushing all the way through a routine as the muscles can be worn out before the "big" training even starts. It may take a bit of conditioning to be able to get the most out of a pre exhaust workout but if you keep at it over the course of several sessions you will start to realize the effects of this front loaded training approach.
The pre exhaust training style is best used as a cycle but if you find you like it you can cycle it frequently.
Note: For more information on High Intensity Training see The Colorado Experiment Workout
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