Pre-Exhaust Chest: Flyes Before Presses

I remember reading about a pre-exhaust chest workout a few years ago that entailed doing flyes before presses. At the time, it didn’t make much sense. That would kill your ability to go heavy on presses, right?

Yes, I’m a believer in heavy weights to build muscle. That’s how you develop a solid foundation for both strength and your physique. But heavy is relative (and on a side note,  it shouldn’t mean doing sloppy reps only to move the bar from point A to point B). The idea is to work the muscle, not the ego. So we’re going to talk about a pre exhaust workout for chest.

What Does Pre Exhaust Mean?

In simple terms, pre exhaust means starting your workout with an isolated exercise. Normally you would start with a compound movement doing a few warm up sets followed by heavy working sets. That’s 2nd on the menu for pre exhaust workouts.

I’m actually using this morning’s chest workout, in which I started out with the isolation exercise pec-dec flyes. This pumped tremendous amount blood into the muscle and it made the rest of my chest workout way more intense than usual. And that’s the goal of pre exhausting your muscles. You’re almost forced to focus on contracting the muscle and making the muscle do the work.

Pre Exhaust Chest Workout

I want to share my pre exhaust chest workout from this morning. I’ll warn you that you’ll probably need to drop the weight on your pressing exercises about 10-20%. I recommend picking a weight you can do 10-12 reps with and sticking with that. You’ll still go moderately heavy, just not as heavy as you may be used to.

Flyes Before Presses Chest Workout

  • Pec-Dec Flyes
    • 4 sets x 12 reps
  • Incline Bench Press
    • 4 sets x 10 reps
  • Decline Bench Press
    • 4 sets x 12 reps
  • Hammer Strength Chest Press
    • 3 sets x 10 reps
  • Cable Flyes
    • 3 sets x 15 reps

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Flyes Before Presses

The reason I’m using my  pre exhaust chest workout as an example is because this method is extremely effective for developing your pecs. Not to mention there are many who focus on how much they can bench press and fail to work the actual muscle. Doing flyes before presses will make you feel your chest working more during the remaining exercises.

I want to note that I didn’t kill my chest on the flyes. I used a moderate amount of weight and went up a little each set, hitting 12 reps each set. It was enough to where I could feel a nice pump.

Isolation exercises tend to do that; create more blood flow. That’s why you may feel far more pumped after your last exercise as we typically end with an isolation exercise. It’s almost like an extended warm-up, of course it’s a bit more intense than mere warm-up sets.

Pre-Exhaust to Shape Your Chest

Doing flyes before presses will indeed shape your chest and it won’t take long to see these results. It’s not just the first exercise. It’s the way pre-exhausting your chest forces the muscle to work harder during your pressing chest exercises.

I noticed this on my first set of incline bench press after having done 4 sets of flyes. I also knew right away that I was not going to be pushing super heavy weights. However, my pumps were far greater and I could really feel my chest working more during those sets of incline bench press.

Frequency of Flyes Before Presses

I don’t recommend doing flyes before presses for every chest workout. If you’ve never tried this before, then you can certainly do this for 3-4 weeks. Otherwise, I find the the pre-exhaust method works best doing it off and on.

For example, I may do this again for next week’s chest workout. But after that, I may start out with a press for the next few workouts. Personally, I train by how I feel that day. So although I know which body part I’m going to train that  day, I may not decide on exercises or techniques until I get there.

You can also do pre-exhaust workouts in phases. If you’re going through a strength building phase, then you definitely do not want to to do flyes before presses. However, if you’re going for getting ripped and adding more defined muscle, or just looking for a better pump, pre-exhaust workouts are worth implementing into your workout routine.

Train with Passion,


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