Pre-exhaustion is a popular method many bodybuilders employ. It involves performing an isolation movement before a compound movement to fatigue the muscle before the heavy lift. The idea is that it might increase muscle activation in the compound lift since you have to recruit more muscle fibers to produce the same force, but studies show that’s not the case. Perform compound movements first in your workout, then finish with isolation exercises. If your goal is to fully fatigue the muscle, immediately perform an isolation movement following a compound movement to fatigue a target muscle. This method is safer and allows the same benefit.
Source: Augustsson, J., Thomee, R., Hornstedt, P., Lindblom, J., Karlsson, J., & Grimby, G. (2003). Effect of pre-exhaustion exercise on lower-extremity muscle activation during a leg press exercise. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 17(2), 411-416.
From being a mediocre athlete, to professional powerlifter and strength coach, and now to researcher and writer, Charlie combines education and experience in the effort to help Bridge the Gap Between Science and Application. Charlie performs double duty by being the Content Manager for The Muscle PhD as well as the Director of Human Performance at the Applied Science and Performance Institute in Tampa, FL. To appease the nerds, Charlie is a PhD candidate in Human Performance with a master’s degree in Kinesiology and a bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science. For more alphabet soup, Charlie is also a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), an ACSM-certified Exercise Physiologist (ACSM-EP), and a USA Weightlifting-certified performance coach (USAW).