T Nation

Pre-Exhausting the Chest


#1

My Chest has been lacking since day one. Either genetically or because im tri/shoulder dominant it just does not want to grow.

Is pre-exhausting worth investing time over? I mean I was trying to get my bench from 275 to 315 and pre-exhausting is going to halt that further. But if it will make my chest grow, it would be defenetely worth it. Or am I better off trying to get my bench up to as heavy as I can and then worry about advanced techniques like pre-exhausting later?


#2

Don't know much about pre-exhaust, but if your using a split you could probably just include a bit extra chest work on one of your other upper body bodypart days if you feel its that lacking.


#3

I only pre exhaust my upper chest with light incline db flys. Before i would never feel or get a pump in my upper chest when i did incline bb press or db presses and now i feel it and can see some new growth. Go for it and find out.

I also do it for my legs prior to squating. I do 2 sets of 25 of reps on leg extensions. Really kills the quads.


#4

I never understood how to do that tho? So if my split is:

Chest (Incline,Flat, Flys, Incl Hammer Str)
Back
OFF
Shoulders/Arms ( I do CGBP Here)
Legs
OFF
OFF

Where do I do i put the extra chest work? And How much do I do and do I go to failure at all?


#5

Yes, pre-exhausting is going to help you to focus on your chest more effectively while pressing. I know there is already a thread about your problem and there is already a lot of good advice in there so I'm not going to repeat it here.

In a nutshell I'd say:

1) getting stronger is one of the most surefire ways to build muscle. However, you have to get strong on the exercises that work best FOR YOU. If flat barbell bench hits primarily your triceps and shoulders, then continuing to pursue getting really strong on that exercise is probably not going to get your to your goal of having a massive chest. Sure, things like pre-exhausting your chest prior might help, but a better approach might be to try to find exercises that YOU really feel in your chest and get as strong as you can on those.

2) If you want to take the pre-exhaust route, then don't worry about the momentary set back in terms of weights used on bench. If your goal were powerlifting, then yeah it might not be the best approach. But, since you are primarily concerned with bodybuilding/building a big chest you might have to take a step backwards to take two steps forwards. When you are back up to your current numbers (and beyond to your 315 goal), after having pre-exhausted your chest (and thus actually performed the movement with your chest muscles doing most of the work) you are likely going to be closer to your massive chest goal that you would have been if you had just continue adding weight on the bar (but with the triceps and shoulders doing most of the work).

All of this has been said in the other thread though (I think).


#6

Throw a couple of sets in on shoulders/arms day. See how it works. If your chest is getting worse and numbers are going down, it's too much volume. Decrease the work you started doing for it on the shoulders/arms day if that happens. If your chest gets better and numbers are going up, you've answered your own question.


#7

That made a lot of sense actually. Question can I pre-exhaust every workout? Like its not gonna overtrain or something? Ive heard its supposed to be used every now and then? Also whats a good exercise to pre-exhaust with? My upper chest is the worst, but id rather hit Incline first, then do a pre-exhaust fly exercise, then flat bench, then something else to end off with. For the pre-exhaust exercise is it better to go high rep and light and do I go to failure at all even on the last set?


#8

I've been experimenting with flat bench DB flies with a slower tempo.

Feels pretty good.

I don't lock out on my bench presses either. Keep it in the chest range, focused on the chest more.

End your session with dips. (doesn't matter when you do it, just include dips)


#9

To be honest I wouldn't worry so much about overtraining at this point. Most people don't train nearly hard enough to reach a truly overtrained state. Doing some pre-exhaust sets for your chest is very unlikely to overtrain you. So, yes, you can do it every chest workout.

What people mean when they say that pre-exhaustion should be used every now and then (or at least how they should mean) is that it's a tool to help you activate/utilize muscle groups which you are otherwise unable to activate/utilize. So, if say your lats and chest weren't seeming to get pumped during your workouts (or you couldn't feel them working) or weren't growing in proportion to the rest of you then you might incorporate pre-exhausting them to help with this. Your other muscles that you did feel working/were growing in proportion though wouldn't need to be pre-exhausted and doing so would only cut into your recovery abilities/add more unnecessary fatigue throughout the week. Make sense?

Good exercises to pre-exhaust with would include any isolation exercise for the chest (DB flyes, cable cross-overs, machine flyes, peck deck). I personally prefer cables or machines because they allow for constant tension and for you to really squeeze the chest at the fully contracted position; flyes (like all free weight exercises) are dependent on leverage and gravity and thus do not allow for as large of a range of motion. But, it's a matter of preference.

If your upper chest is lacking the most, you might want to try cable cross-overs starting from low to high, then once having done a few sets (and having pumped a bunch of blood into the muscle and increased your ability to feel it working) move onto your incline pressing (you could do both BB inclines and HS inclines back to back, or still do the HS incline after flats, it's up to you). By the time you move on to flat pressing your chest should be sufficiently pumped (and you should be able to feel it working). If not you could always throw in a set of high to low cable cross-overs (or whatever other flat fly movement you wanted) prior to doing your flat pressing.

Here are the low to high cable cross-overs:

And here are high to low cable cross-overs:


#10

JJ's chest is ridiculous, talk about a brick wall


#11

after you incline bench, stay on it drop the weight and and do a couple sets bringing the bar to your neck. pause at the bottom. NOTHING aside this has allowed to me actually feel my upper chest and pumps up the rest of the chest as well


#12

Why not do an entire Chest day on one of the off days? assuming you aren't being forced by work to take them off. I do 2 chest/tris workouts, 2 Back/bis workouts, and 2 leg workouts a week (when I can).