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Pre-Fatigue Fail


On the advice of a friend (who is much stronger than me and has been training for a lot longer than me) I tried a pre-exhaust type of routine for my chest workout on Sat.

Normal routine

Bench Press
Incline DB Press
Wide grip feet-elevated pushups for a finisher

He said to just put bench at the end instead of the beginning.
What I noticed:

  1. Needed heavier weights for my 'assistance' stuff to feel like I was doing anything.

  2. Pre-fatiguing my pecs made me put more TRICEPS into benching. Not exactly what I'm after.

Now, this type of system seemed counter-intuitive to me in the first place, but I gave it a shot. Any thoughts on how to go about this type of routine? Did I just screw it up, miss the point, or what?


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1. You were surprised that you needed heavier weight for "assistance" exercise even though you were fresh?

  1. That's the idea behind pre-ex. You tire out a specific muscle (group) so that another one takes over from it (triceps in your case).

If you were after trying pre-ex to help develop pecs try pre exing your tri's and then doing something like WG bench, theory is that the tri's will be too fatigued to take over from the pecs.

However if I were you I'd probably bench first then do isolation stuff for my pecs.


That's what I've always considered the 'pre-fatigue/exhaustion' technique to be as well.


post-fatigue > pre fatigue.

only problem is that if youre doing multiple sets, say fot chest, and you do flat bench followed by pec-deck your chest will be weaker than triceps at next set.

thats why i like doing compounds first, then moving to isolation. also if its that serious why not switch to DBs or just dont lock out? especially if youre training for bodybuilding locking out is not nesecary all it does is put more stress on the joints.


No, but the effect was more noticeable than I would have thought.

That's what I've been doing, and I'll keep doing it. Just thought I'd try pre-ex on a suggestion. He said it would work my pecs better. I guess this is one of those cases where the "he's bigger than me" rule doesn't apply.


It worked pretty well for a past Mr Olympia.

However, I can't be arsed to make life that complicated, I just stick to the rest pausing bit.


I've never done a pre-exhaust technique but have thought about it, I am curious...

On a bench press, what 'gives out' first, your triceps or your chest?

For me, almost without exception my tri's are the first to give out. It feels like my chest can push more, but my triceps hold me back from completing the rep. I can push the weight up about 6-8 inches off my chest, but usually the weight stops there.

I figured using an isolation movement on my pecs would let me work with a lighter load on a compound. When I get to the compound, my tri's would be fresh and would be used to higher loads, and (in theory) wouldn't fail as fast and I could focus on going to failure and really straining my pecs.

Also, how hard are you straining on your pre-exhaust?


I pretty much just give out, but I don't lift til failure very often. I bench wide grip, and try to focus on pecs.

I would focus on working my tri's harder. Once they catch up, problem solved. If you keep trying to work chest harder, you'll always have a triceps issue.

I use my compounds to work more muscle, but I also use them to identify weak links that need to be worked up. But now, that's just my opinion and the way I do things. Maybe a few of the more experienced guys will chime in.

I try to have a fair amount of trouble with the last two or three reps, but I don't really strain. I like it when I stall at the sticking point and really have to focus to push past it. Makes me feel like I did something.


You didn't do pre-exhaust. You did incline dumbbell bench press, then flyes.

How is this pre-exhaust?


You apparently didn't read my entire post. I did Inc DB press, Flyes, wide-grip pushups with feet on a bench, and THEN bench press.


Do either of you use this technique? If so, could you give an example routine? I'm making good progress with post-fatigue, but I'm always looking for a better way.


The idea of pre-fatigue is to use a set of an isolation exercise (example: pec dec) before your compound lift (bench press), so you can feel your pecs more during the lift (they was stimulated by the pec dec).

Pre-fatigue does not literally mean fatigue the bodypart with isolation exercises before using compounds.

It means stimulating the muscle with an isolation exercise so you can feel it more during the compound.


Thibs talks about using isolation movements before compounds to help feel your back during workouts.

He also mentions pre-fatigue here:


In the article on motivating lagging muscles, Thibs says pre-fatigue is more of a learning tool than a muscle building strategy. That makes more sense.

Since I don't have a mind-muscle connection problem, I guess this isn't a method I should be using.

Thanks for clearing that up for me, guys. I appreciate it.