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Pre-Fatigue Doesn't Make Sense


So i dont really understand the rationale behind pre-fatigue...

As i understand pre-fatigue works like this: you have a muscle that is hard to recruit (for instance it is hard for u to stimulate ur pecs in the bench press because ur delts and triceps take most of the load) so u use an excercise that isolates this muscle before engaging in a compound lift for that muscle (e.g. you would do dumbbell flies followed by bench press)

The reason this doesn't make sense to me is because this seems to only further exacerbate the problem of being unable to recruit the pecs in the bench press since they will be fatigued and thus ur body will be forced to rely even more heavily on the delts and triceps

Thus wouldn't this make more sense as a pre-fatigue option... you do an exercise/excercises that fatigue ur delt/tris (say military press, or delt raise and skullcrusher) then do bench press... this way ur delts and tris are fatigued and ur body is forced to recruit the pecs to a greater degree during the bench press?

or is the concept of pre-fatigue to do a very light isolation in order to get the nerves associated with that muscle stimulated so that they will then be more likely to be used?


I'm no expert in pre-fatigue nor do I use it, but from what i have read the reason why you would exhaust your chest w/ flys before your bench press is so when you do bench press, all your muscles fail at the same time. The idea is your chest can handle more work then your delts and tris so theoretically if you're using bench press for chest you're not pushing your chest to absolute failure as your tris and delts fail first.

When you pre exhaust all of your muscles will fail at the same point thus your chest is possibly getting worked harder. I don't like pre exhaust because I would rather lift a heavier weight then have to bump down to less weight because i fatigued myself.


What austin_bicep just mentioned was what I heard from Mike Mentzer's DVD on HIT. Another explanation comes from CT. By pre-fatiguing a muscle, you feel it more in the compound movement, which helps in the mind-muscle connection. I did pre-fatigue before, and this has been my observation as well. I'd rather do post-fatigue though because I can use more weight in the compound movement.


Rather than search about for explanations, I suggest you try it. Pick a weight you can do about 12 reps with and do flyes to failure, immediately with no rest begin bench press with a weight you can do about 12 reps with (if you were rested) and go to failure again. If you have not done this before (or have not done it in a few months), I can just about guarantee you will feel the worst DOMS you have ever felt in your pecs the next day.

Should you do this all the time? Almost certainly not, but for 2-4 weeks every 6 months, or some other infrequent cycle, to shake things up, and break through or prevent plateaus, sure.


Agreed. I wish people would do this also before they responded to articles.


If you are not using your pecs, prefatigue your tris and then bench.

Your muscle will be forced to grow. Or die.


U shood use it b4 u axe questions.


i have in fact tried pre-fatigue (nowhere in my post did i say i hadn't) and yes my pecs were sore... but soreness doesn't = growth

furthermore an alternate explanation that my pecs were sore would be that i could do more weight in the isolation exercise from being fresher

has anyone tried pre-fatigue in the manner i mentioned... i have yet to try this.. (and will as soon as my chest day comes back around, but id like to hear opinions so i could potentially save some time)

zap it seems like u may have tried pre-fatigue in this manner


so last time i saw you in the gym doing chain dips on the smith, i heard some kid near the DB's say, "Why did that kid make a swing for himself on that machine?" I thought it was pretty classic.


I did, and I couldn't feel my pecs at all.


u betcha.

I really didn't think it did anything for me but detract from my bench. I am more of an intermediate type trainer. Maybe it works for the more advanced guys.


pre exhausting or "fatigue" is a very useful technique although pre exhausting the tris isnt how its done, this is completley backward

on the bench press, your shoulders and triceps will fail before your chest, meaning the chest isnt fully exhausted.

by doing a set of flys or pec dec to failure before doing benchpress or incline bench press, you have "pre-exhausted" the pecs, meaning that the shoulders and tris are "assisting" the chest to further exhaustion, rather than baring the brunt of the weight and the chest not quite getting there!

how often you should use it and how efective it is depending on your level of training is the debatable part.



Maybe another option is to lower the weight and or the technique of the exercise, until you make the desired muscle group work.


I unintentionally did this during my last upper body day on Friday. I have no lats and have been using the Hammer Strength lat pull machine because for whatever reason I can really focus on my lats when I use it.

Anyway that machine was occupied so I did my face pulls, which I normally do after my pulldowns. When I finished those and did the pulldowns, I noticed it was easier to get my lats working.

Today is another upper day so I'll try this again. Try any method and see how it works. If it works good, continue. If not so good, put it aside and try something else.


Rob's got it absolutely right. The point is to use an isolation exercise to pre-fatigue the target muscle of a compound movement. If you do it right, when you fail in the compound movement, you can be sure that the failure is caused by the target muscle getting fatigued before any of the supporting muscles. Pre-fatiguing supporting muscles makes no sense because you will make the compound movement even less stressful on the target muscle, as you will fail even earlier than you would normally.


hah thats amazing


i understand what rob and u are saying but i feel like ur proposing a different scenario... i am referring to if ur shoulders and triceps are overpowering ur pecs... u have both described a situation in which the pecs are stronger than the shoulders and triceps

perhaps i am misinterpreting my body and thinking that my delts and tris are taking over when in fact my pecs are just so strong (relatively) that they are not becoming fatigued at all in the bench


also thank u everybody for ur replies


not to be a jerk, but i think it is a misinterpretation coming into play here. you could do a "normal" set of bench press, or even a few sets, and really pay attention to what forces you to end your set. i would bet that it would be your triceps, and not your chest.

for me, its definitely the triceps that end the set before my chest does. therefore, if your triceps are going to give out on say rep 10, you definitely wouldnt want to pre-fatigue them before a set of bench press, because then they might give out at rep 6 or something, further taking away from the activation of the chest in the bench, if for nothing else because you ended at 6 instead of 10. does that make sense?

in other words, if you really concentrate and find that its your triceps (or maybe the delts) that give out before the chest, then you have to assume something like this: you terminated the set after rep 10 because your triceps (and/or delts) simply couldnt push anymore. but, your chest could have had several more reps left before it would have been ready to give out. by doing a single joint/isolation movement for your chest, immediately before hopping onto the bench, you are taking away the advantage that your chest had over the tris and possibly delts. that way, when the tris and delts are fried and ready to end the set, your chest is also fried.


Still not sure how this works. If your pecs aren't being worked benching and you prefatigue them it seems that you will just become me of a tricep bencher.

I have mostly fucked around with it when I was limited on weights. It does get you sore but I am not sure of the benefit.