Post-Exhaustion Training Method – Great Plateau Buster


Post-Exhaustion Training Method – Great Plateau Buster

Since pre-exhaustion has been found to be less effective than it was previously thought to be, alternative ways of increasing the effectiveness of multiple-joint exercises have to be found. One way of increasing training intensity in the target muscle (groups) when performing multiple-joint exercises is post-exhaustion training method.

What is Post-Exhaustion Training Technique?

Post-exhaust training is similar to pre-exhaust training except that the exhaustive movement follows the initial movement. The goal is to work the target muscle to the maximum using a multi-joint (compound) exercise first. At failure, you immediately (without taking any rest) move to an easier isolation exercise, which allows the target muscle to give everything it has left. Because you perform two-exercises back-to-back, with no rest in between, post-exhaustion is also a form of supersetting.

Step 1: Perform the compound movement for the desired muscle group.
Step 2: Immediately move on to an isolation movement that incorporates the same muscle.

This is considered one post-exhaust set. Once you’ve completed one set, take a minute to rest before performing the second set. Repeat for the recommended amount of sets. Move to another pair of exercises using the same logic.

Here are some of the most popular combinations:

  • Chest: bench press followed by dumbbell pec fly
  • Back: lat pull-down followed by dumbbell pullover
  • Legs: leg press followed by leg extension

The Logic Behind the Post-Exhaust Training Method

The rationale behind this method of training is threefold.

First, performing a post-exhaust exercise immediately after a major movement (compound exercise) increases the likelihood of overloading that particular muscle group. This is especially true if a smaller stabilizer muscle limits maximal performance, as in the bench press example.

Second, post-exhaust training increases the ability to isolate a muscle or muscle group that needs the extra work, especially if it is hard to train or develop.

Third and finally, post-exhaust exercises are a form of conditioning because you will extend the length of a normal set by 30 seconds or more. This makes it a valuable method for muscular endurance training.

Possible Benefits

This type of training is extremely useful for hitting muscles that you may have a hard time developing. Also, this is an excellent way to break out of a plateau and shock the muscles.

Is Post-Exhaustion Training Method Effective?

Researchers suggest that post-exhaustion training method may be superior to popular pre-exhaustion method. Since it is true that the relative weakness of smaller muscles af­fects training intensity negatively when performing multiple-joint exercises, it is obvious that you first have to perform the multiple-joint exercises.

After the set has been taken to the point of momentary muscular failure (PMF), it is immediately followed by a single-joint exercise which does not depend on the strength of the smaller muscles as much as the execution of a multiple-joint exercise does. This is the main reason why this training method is far more effective when compared to the pre-exhaustion method.

If you pre-exhaust your chest muscles with an isolation movement, you will lift less on the pressing movement. That means less overload, and less of the stimulation needed to achieve maximal size and strength. This is the main disadvantage of the pre-exhaustion method. Using post-exhaustion method you will be able to use heavy weights on your compound movements.


Be very careful not to overdo it with this type of training. It’s easy to over train and become stagnant, so listen to your body and maximize your recovery. Post-exhaust training will push you to the limits and for that reason should be used by those considered advanced only. Novice weightlifters should steer well clear of such a technique as it has the potential to overload your target muscles, resulting rapidly in over training and enhancing the likelihood of injury.

Use this advanced bodybuilding method only from time to time to shock your muscles. Post-exhaustion training method gives the best results when used to train big muscle groups like chest, back, quadriceps, and hamstrings.

Example 1: Chest Training Using Post-Exhaust Method

For example, you can easily organize your whole chest training using only post-exhaustion supersets. First, select six chest exercises (3 compound and 3 isolation movements). Now create three pairs of exercises so that the each pair contains one compound and one isolation movement. Perform each pair of exercises in the form of supersetting. It this is to difficult for you, perform only first two exercises using post-exhaustion training method. Do all other exercise in the traditional way.

Chest Workout Using Post-Exhaust Method

Chest Workout Using Post-Exhaust Method

Chest Workout #2 Using Post-Exhaust Method

Chest Workout #2 Using Post-Exhaust Method

Example 2: Full Body Workout Using Post-Exhaustion Supersets

Furthermore, you can organize your whole body training using post-exhaustion supersets. A list of supersets for post-exhaustion is shown below:

  • Chest: Flat bench barbell press and incline bench dumbbell fly
  • Back: Wide grip pull-ups (or lat pull-downs) and dumbbell pullovers (or straight arm pull-downs)
  • Legs (Quadriceps): Barbell squat (or leg press) and leg extension
  • Legs (Hamstrings): Stiff-leg deadlift and lying (or standing) leg curl
  • Shoulders: Front military press and dumbbell lateral raises
  • Trapezius: Upright rows and barbell shrugs
  • Biceps: Chin-ups (close underhand grip) and dumbbell concentration curls
  • Triceps: Triceps dips and cable triceps push-down

In addition, you can work half of the body (upper body) in one session and the other half of the body (lower body) in the next session. Therefore, you have many possibilities how to incorporate this method into your workouts.

Closing Thoughts

Post-exhaust works to fatigue the primary muscle group via the compound exercise so that it can be further fatigued on the isolation exercise that follows. Of course, you will compromise the strength of the targeted muscle on the second exercise. This prevents most bodybuilders from using the post-exhaust method regularly. Finally, like other advanced training methods, post-exhaustion training should only be used for selected exercises and you should limit this method to once a week per muscle group.


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