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Isolation Movements Before Compound Movements?


Hi Guys, first time posting anything but I would like some feedback/advice on maybe using isolation exercises first before moving on to compound exercises.

The reason I am thinking this may be a good idea for breaking any plateau is because my current regime is strength based compound movements first, then moving on to lower weight, more time-under-tension contraction focused isolation movements. so for example (for a chest routine)I usually start with flat BB press and incline BB press with a strength based rep range, then decline press and/or flyes etc. with a hypertrophy based rep range. moving onto the higher rep ranges for cable work with some supersets/dropsets in there.

Now if I flip this around and start with the higher rep ranges I know it may affect my strength, which im okay with as building size is the main goal. im asking you guys for your opinion to see if this would break any plateau or help me continue building the muscle ?

Many thanks from the UK


it’s an effective way to train. Have at it.


What you described is pre-exhaust training and currently used by bodybuilders. Doing leg extensions before squats is an easy and common example. You’ll have no problem getting smoked by those workouts. If you’ve been running your current program for awhile then a change could do you good.

This is definitely done for hypertrophy but I’m not sure how it’ll transfer to max strength. At the very least if you add some muscle then you can go back to your strength emphasis and teach that muscle how to fire efficiently and move more weight.

Come back in 8-12 weeks and tell us how it worked.


Yes currently im about 4 weeks into this regime, I know strength exercises stimulate different muscle fibres compared to isolation movements so I was worried it would make the plan pointless if I was to switch it around. do you think if I keep the exercises the same but change the order would still be sufficient in breaking any plateau I might get?

But I will definitely try it once I have completed this one so thanks for the advice!


Absolutely. You only need to make subtle changes for continued progression. Regular bench to close grip or incline. Barbell to dumbbell. Add weight or reps. Change tempos. Change exercise order. The list goes on.


The pre exhaust method has been around for decades .


I am fully aware of this, I generally thought the pre-exhaust method was used for specific exercises. for example: lateral raises for shoulders and then a shoulder press of some sort after, to maybe increase the usage of the weaker parts of the deltoids.

I was thinking specifically on the basis of flipping a whole routine around to breaking a plateau (if I am to come across one)

everybody’s input has definitely helped me conclude that this is a good idea though.


Yeah it will work like that also. First few weeks it will hit your numbers pretty hard, then you will gradually progress back up to your previous numbers despite being pre exhausted. When you switch it back around you should be able to progress again, combination of feeling fresher, some extra muscle and possibly firing your primary muscle better in the movement

give it a go, it’s only gonna dint your ego in the short term when your shaking like a shiting dog with lower weights but it will be worth it.



Yeah, what he said.

But also, this is something done by those who train under Louie Simmons in Westside Barbell.

They’ll commonly do something like glute ham raises and reverse hypers before maxing on a box squat variation. Their pretty strong dudes so it must work!


What about rest days. I am addicted to the pump and sometimes make it 3 sessions of the same muscle group before a rest. But i only take 2 days and then pump again.
Should i rest more often or whats better?

I know a week rest can help with platues.


I think it entirely depends on how you feel, I only take a rest day if my body feels like it needs one, I don’t incorporate them into my regime, which might be bad in some peoples eyes, but I love training.

I might take a deload week at the end of the 8 week plan and just do some functional stretching and lower weights but id never take a entire week off, but again its entirely on how your body feels