What Are Pre-Exhaust and Post-Exhaust Sets -- Resistance Training Systems

What Are Pre-Exhaust and Post-Exhaust Sets? Resistance Training Systems

This video and blog will explain What Are Pre-Exhaust and Post-Exhaust Sets? exploring these two resistance training systems and linking to your anatomy and physiology knowledge.

You’ll discover:

  • What Are Pre-Exhaust and Post-Exhaust Sets?
  • 6-minute video tutorial linking pre/post exhaust training systems to your anatomy and physiology knowledge
  • The benefits of exhaust training systems
  • The difference between Pre-Exhaust and Post-Exhaust Training systems
  • And Three Example Mock Questions to test your knowledge

What Are Pre-Exhaust and Post-Exhaust Sets?

An exhaust training system features two exercises, targeting the same muscle, performed back to back with no rest between, much like a superset. However one of the exercises is Isolation (single joint) and one exercise is Compound (multi-joint).

The order that these two exercises are positioned will determine whether it is a Pre exhaust or a Post exhaust training system

Pre-Exhaust Example:

Isolation exercise followed by a compound exercise


Dumbbell Pec Fly 10 reps
Dumbbell Bench Press 10 reps
Rest 90 secs

Post-Exhaust Example:

Compound exercise followed by a isolationexercise


Leg Press Machine 10 reps
Leg Extension Machine 10 reps
Rest 90 secs

WATCH: What Are Pre-Exhaust and Post-Exhaust Sets? Resistance Training Systems

What Are Pre Exhaust and Post Exhaust Sets - Resistance Training Systems

Benefits of Pre and Post Exhaust Training Systems

Removing the rest between two exercises that target the same muscle is more demanding on the neurological system as there is no recovery in between, so muscle recruitment is being used maximally throughout the session.

This is great if your client is short on time, or you want more volume inside the available session duration.

This is more appropriate for intermediate clients, than beginner clients as they have already built a foundation of training through beginner training systems (basic sets, multiple sets and supersets) first.

By using a mixture of isolation and compound exercises on the same muscle you can strategically focus the intensity of the exercise towards specific working muscles

The isolation exercise just works the prime mover

The compound exercise works both the prime mover and the synergist

Therefore you are getting double the work on the big prime mover and only one set of work on the smaller synergist

To understand this better, think of the isolation exercise as a way of pre- fatiguing or post- fatiguing the big prime mover muscle before/ after the main compound lift

Take a bench press for example:

Have you ever reached overload on your set because of the triceps, but know you could lift more reps/ heavier on the pectorals?

That’s why you’d do a pre or post exhaust

Start with compound lift = The Bench Press

Then straight away target just the prime mover (pecs) but without the synergist (triceps) needing to work. A pec fly would be perfect, as it targets just the pecs.

If you programme the isolation first it is a pre-exhaust if you programme the compound first it is a post-exhaust

REMINDER = they must target the same MUSCLE not muscle group or body part

The difference between Pre-Exhaust and Post-Exhaust Training systems

You can have the same two exercises (one isolation and one compound) in either order, but there are benefits to strategically choosing isolation first or last…

Benefits of a Pre-Exhaust – aka Isolation first, compound second

  • This allows for a pre-fatigue of the bigger prime mover so both the prime-mover and the synergist can reach overload at the same time as each other after the second exercise
  • This is good if the isolation movement has a higher risk of injury i.e. dumbbell lateral raise.

Benefits of a Post-Exhaust – aka Compound first, Isolation second

  • The compound exercise requires more energy, so doing this first, whilst you are fresh my allow for more muscle recruitment
  • This is good to maintain core engagement if the compound movement has a higher risk of injury i.e. deadlift.

There’s not just one Resistance Training System

There are over 17 resistance training systems that are taught in the Level 3 PT syllabus which can be overwhelming to distinguish which system to use and when. to plan them. Our FIT-Progressions online programme breaks down each of these in detail with clear protocol to follow for each one.

Plus you learn how to periodise your planning of these systems to allow for logical progressive overload so your client can get their goal every time.

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Test your knowledge with 3 Mock Questions

Having learned about the two types of supersets, look at the three Mock questions below. Jot down your answer on a scrap paper or as a note on your phone.

Then scroll down to reveal the answers.

1) Which training system uses a compound exercise followed by an isolation exercise to maximally fatigue the prime mover?

A. Multiple Sets
B. Agonist-Antagonist Superset
C. Post-Exhaust
D. Pre Exhaust

2) What is a benefit of using a pre/post-exhaust training system?

A. Works opposing muscles
B. The smaller synergist muscle gets targeted twice, and the larger prime mover just once
C. More rest between exercises
D. The bigger prime mover gets targeted twice, and the smaller synergist just once

3) Which of the following is an example of a Pre-Exhaust Training System ?

A. Shoulder Press followed by Lateral Raise
B. Lateral Raise followed by Shoulder Press
C. Shoulder Press followed by Lat Pull Down
D. Press Up followed by Bicep Curl


Q1: Answer = C
Q2: Answer = D
Q3: Answer = B

If you want more mock questions like this, then you can download more Free Mock Questions: DOWNLOAD NOW

Dedicated To More

Hayley “What Are Pre-Exhaust and Post-Exhaust Sets” Bergman

Parallel Coaching

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