Advanced Bodybuilding Training Techniques
Pre-exhaustion is all about isolating a muscle group and exhausting it, followed by compound exercises to finish it off. An example is doing Flyes to exhaust the chest, followed by bench press.
This often makes the compound exercise much more effective, for example the triceps sometimes give out during a benchpress before the chest, meaning that the chest has not actually been worked anywhere near fail. By pre-exhausting we are ensuring the right muscle group is the reason for the failure rep, and with a good spotter you can really push yourself. Pre-exhaustion can effectively be used within supersets also, and is an excellent way to break out of a plateau and shock the muscles.
Supersets are done by using a combination of exercises without a break in between. An example would be completing a set of Flyes, followed immediately by a set of Bench Press (obviously with a reasonably light weight). This is also combining pre-exhaustion.
Supersets can be used to hit the same area of a muscle group, or can be used to target different areas, for example doing a bar raise followed by lateral raises to hit the delts. This will lead to a great overall pump, and good gains. Generally you should shoot for a lower end of the scale for reps in supersets, i.e. 8 reps for the first exercise, and 8 for the second with the expectation to fail before this point.
Dropsets are sets in which you drop the weight during the exercise to get more reps. Sometimes known as pyramid sets, you are essentially maxing out your reps at a high weight, then dropping it to ensure you hit your desired range. An example may be cable pulldowns, starting at 20kg and getting 4x perfect reps, then 4 perfect reps of 10kg. You can pyramid further, and could potentially go 20kg, 15kg then 10kg. Dropsets are ideal at the end of a workout where you are looking to finish off the muscle and ensure you’ve gotten the most out of the workout as possible. If done at the start of the workout, you run the risk of not getting the most out of later sets, and potentially tiring out too early.
Cheat Reps are a very controversial subject, as new guys (with under a year of training) often try to justify them when they simply shouldn’t be used. Cheat Reps should only be used for the last 2-3 reps of a set. While it is true some pro’s use cheat reps much more than this, perfect form is a much better goal for those without the genetics of Arnie. If you can get 8 reps out with perfect form, an extra 2-3 cheat reps can help to push the muscle to the point of overload, and truly make the most of the set, just use it with caution, and be mindful of causing injury by throwing the weight too much.