Removing the Weak Links

You will find that whenever the larger muscle groups (such as the legs, lats, or chest) are trained with compound movements, other weaker muscles (such as the lower back, biceps, and triceps) are also involved. Consequently, the weaker muscles give out before a true state of muscular failure can be reached in the larger muscle groups. This problem can be alleviated by employing the technique of preex-haustion. It calls for the performance of an isolation exercise before performance of the compound movement (i.e., one in which more than three muscle groups are involved), moving from the isolation to the compound movement with all speed.

This month the weak link will be the smaller and, ipso facto, weaker biceps muscle of the upper arms, which will give out before pure muscular failure has occurred within the latissimus dorsi of the upper back. By performing dumbbell pull-overs first, however, we will be essentially isolating the lats and thereby saving the strength of the smaller biceps muscles for our next lat exercise, lat pull-downs. This will allow the lats to be pushed beyond a state of normal muscular failure, because in this instance, the biceps will be temporarily stronger than the prefatigued lat muscles.

Likewise with shrugs and upright rows: the biceps would again be the muscle that would otherwise give out first in the performance of upright rows. By performing the isolation movement of shrugs first in the cycle, we call upon the strength of the biceps to carry the prefatigued trapezius beyond a regular state of muscular failure with the compound exercise of upright rows immediately following the performance of shrugs. Remember to move quickly from one exercise to another in a cycle. Ideally, there should be no rest at all between exercises. Even as little as three seconds of rest will allow temporary muscle recovery to occur, and the preexhaustion principle would be negated.

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