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Pre-Exhaust Chest Workout

by Jason Stallworth

October 2, 2020

Have you ever finished a chest workout but didn’t feel like you got a good pump?

It’s easy for us to get into the habit of just going through the motions in the gym. And for chest, it’s also easy to focus on ‘how much you can bench’ instead of actually building your chest.

But that’s all about to change after you do this chest workout that I’m going to give you!

I’m going to show you how to pre-exhaust your chest muscles. Here’s what this routine will do for you…

  • Help you build a bigger chest (meaning build the muscle, not your ego…lol!)
  • Get an insane pump in your chest
  • Make you really feel your chest muscles work harder than they ever have

Now, go mix up your pre-workout drink to sip on while you read this because you’re going to want to hit the gym after you finish this post!

Video: Pre-Exhaust Chest Workout

You can watch the pre-exhaust chest workout video below. However, I encourage you to also read the rest of this post as you’re going to learn some more details about each exercise you’re going to do!

I also have the entire workout written out for you below.

**For better pumps, be sure to read my post about Alpha Lion’s Superhuman pre-workout! I also have a discount code for you to use here: Alpha Lion Superhuman

How to Pre-Exhaust Your Chest Muscles

Before we get into the workout and each exercise, let’s talk about how to pre-exhaust your chest muscles. There are different methods you can use, but I’m going to give you the most simple and effective method.

The way to pre-exhaust your chest muscles is to start your workout with an isolation exercise that directly targets those muscles, like flyes.

In a nutshell, that’s really all pre-exhausting is. You’re fatiguing your muscles with an exercise that directly targets that specific muscle, which in this case is your pecs.

Once your muscles have been fatigued, it’s going to force those muscles to work harder on every exercise thereafter in your workout.

Why Should You Pre-Exhaust Your Chest?

Pre-exhausting your chest muscles may not be something you do all of the time or for every chest workout. Rather, there may be specific times in your training where you can use it to build that deep separation in your chest muscles and to build that mind-muscle connection with your chest.

Here are some reasons why you should consider pre-exhausting your chest:

  • You’re just not feeling the pump in your pecs anymore
  • You’re at a sticking point and want to break past your muscle growth plateau
  • Your top priority is your physique and building muscle
  • You want to get that deep muscle separation and define your chest
  • You want something new to try to spice up your workouts

There’s one thing I need to mention. exhausting your chest will take a little strength away from the rest of your chest exercises for that workout. This is okay because remember, your goal here is to build, shape, and define your chest muscles, not to merely get stronger.

**If your goal is strength gains, you may not want to pre-exhaust your chest. Rather, you’ll just do some warm-ups before going into the working sets of your main compound exercise (usually bench press).

That said, if you’re going for strength and a bigger bench, I have the perfect source for you in this post: Bigger Bench Press with Critical Bench 2.0

Pre-Exhaust Chest Workout Routine

It’s time for your chest workout. I’ll give you the details below and after that, I’ll show you how each exercise in this workout can help you build more quality muscle.

  • You’re going to be doing a total of 5 exercises for chest
  • For the first pre-exhaust exercise, rest 30-40 seconds between sets
  • You can rest longer, up to a minute, between your sets of incline bench press (this is going to be your main compound movement)
  • Rest anywhere from 30-45 seconds between sets for the remainder of your workout
  • For your first and last exercises (pec dec and cable flyes), make sure you get a good squeeze in your pecs on the final rep of each set

Here’s the workout…

ExerciseSets x Reps
Pec Dec Flyes4 x 12
Incline Bench Press4 x 8
Hammer Strength Incline Press4 x 12**
Dumbbell Pullovers4 x 12
Cable Flyes3 x 12

**There’s a special method I use for Hammer Strength Chest Press, which I’ll talk more about when we get to that exercise below.

Now, let’s go over each exercise in detail, starting with the pre-exhaust.

Chest Exercise 1 (Pre-Exhaust): Pec Dec Flyes

Pec Dec chest flyes squeeze

As we discussed, your first exercise is your pre-exhaust, which needs to be an isolation exercise. Any type of flye movement will workout here though I prefer that you use a machine (like the pec dec flyes as shown here, or cable flyes).

You could do dumbbell flyes but the machine isolate your pecs a little better as there’s no balance involved.

Here’s what you’ll do with your pre-exhaust exercise:

  • Start out light
  • Gradually go up in weight each set
  • Use a weight that will be challenging for you to get 12 reps with on the final set
  • Squeeze your chest muscles for about 5 seconds on the final rep of each set

Chest Exercise 2: Incline Bench Press

Incline Barbell Press chest

Now you’ll move on to your main compound exercise. You could do regular bench press instead. However, incline bench press may help you build and shape your chest better, and here’s why:

  • You may be tempted to let your ego get in the way on bench press
  • Incline bench press can help force your chest muscles to work more than doing regular bench press
  • Many lack upper chest development (it’s been said that you can’t have too much upper chest)

You can pick one weight to stick with or you can go up a little each set.

This is the exercise you’ll really feel the difference in doing the pre-exhaust exercise. And remember, you may not be able to lift quite as much because of that.

But to reiterate, this workout is all about building and shaping your chest muscles, not just lifting a bunch of weight from point A to B.

Chest Exercise 3: Hammer Strength Incline Press

Hammer Strength Incline Press unilateral

You’re going to do another incline movement but with a special method. You’ll start each set by doing unilateral reps.

This means you’ll have constant tension on the muscle throughout this part of the set. Here’s how you perform unilateral reps:

  • Push the weight out with both arms
  • Lower one warm towards your chest while continuing to hold the opposing arm out
  • Repeat with the other arm

You’ll do six reps for each arm and then you’ll pump out six more reps using both arms. Talk about a tremendous pump in your pecs!

**You can learn more about unilateral and other methods for chest in this post: 5 Rule to Building a Massive Chest

Chest Exercise 4: Dumbbell Pullovers

Dumbbell Pullovers chest

Dumbbell pullovers is an old school and often forgotten exercise. But I encourage you to try these on your next chest workout because they can really add shape and development to your pecs.

Here are some things to make dumbbell pullovers more effective:

  • First, make sure your upper back is across the bench so that you don’t fall back
  • Press the dumbbell using both hands directly over your body and get a good feel for it
  • Slowly lower the dumbbell behind your head
  • As you begin to pull the dumbbell back up and over, make sure you tap into your mind-muscle connection so that you’re forcing your chest muscles to pull the weight

**You can learn some interesting techniques on developing your mind-muscle connection in this post: How to Build a Mind-Muscle Connection for Bigger Gains

Chest Exercise 5: Cable Flyes

Cable Flyes chest

You’ll finish your chest workout in the same manner you started, with an isolation exercise. For this workout, I chose cable flyes because you can get a really good stretch and squeeze throughout each rep.

Here are some tips for doing cable flyes:

  • Once you grab the cables, step out a little and lean forward
  • Focus on using your pecs to push the cables, not your shoulders
  • Flex your chest muscles hard at the peak of each rep (when the cables are closer together)
  • Don’t overextend, but make sure you get a good stretch at the top of the eccentric part of the rep
  • On the final rep of each set, hold that pose for about 5 seconds while squeezing your chest muscles

Stretching Your Chest

Chest stretch arm extended

Once you finish your last set of cable flyes you’re not done! There’s one last thing you need to do before you go home and drink your post-workout shake…

You need to stretch those pecs!

This is the case for all of your body parts after training them. Stretching your muscles can help you recover faster and also help you not be as sore.

There are two simple stretches you can do for chest:

  1. Place one hand on the back of your head and place that same elbow against one of the machines, like the cable machine at the gym and lean forward.
  2. Grab onto something, like the cable machine, and with your arm extended, lean forward.

Do these stretches with each arm twice, holding the pose for about 10 seconds each.

You’ll feel your chest muscles stretching. You don’t have to over-stretch. Just apply enough tension to where you can feel your chest stretching.

**To help you recover faster and ensure your body is optimized, read about one of my top muscle-builders in this post: Jason’s TestoFierce Experience

How to Build a Huge and Define Chest

I posted this article two days after doing this exact workout. My chest is still sore! And those muscles also feel full! I plan to do this same workout again next week.

There are a few things to remember when it comes to building a huge and defined chest:

  • Building strength and building muscle size takes two different approaches
  • For building muscle, focus more on the movements and making your muscles work harder, not lifting more weight
  • Incline exercises are your best friend for building a huge chest
  • Make every rep count, and squeeze your pecs on those flye exercises
  • Don’t forget to stretch your chest muscles after your workout

**I mentioned two supplements that can really help you both energy and recovery:

These links will take you to my review pages on this website where you can read about my experience and decide if they’re right for you.

I hope you try this workout! And feel free to share it with your gym buddies!

Train with Passion,

Jason