Effects of Pre-exhaustion on the Patterns of Muscular Activity in the Flat Bench Press

J Strength Cond Res. 2017 Jul;31(7):1919-1924. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000001755.


Gołaś, A, Maszczyk, A, Pietraszewski, P, Stastny, P, Tufano, JJ, and Zając, A. Effects of pre-exhaustion on the patterns of muscular activity in the flat bench press. J Strength Cond Res 31(7): 1919-1924, 2017-Pre-exhaustion (PE) has been applied in resistance training (RT) to manipulate the order of performing 2 resistance exercises, a single-joint exercise to momentary exhaustion, followed by a multi-joint movement that includes the same muscle group. This method ensures greater recruitment of muscles or muscle groups in the multi-joint exercise to further increase muscle strength and overcome strength plateaus. The purpose of the present study was to investigate muscle activity by electromyography during high-intensity (95% of 1 repetition maximum [RM]) bench press (BP), before and after PE of the pectoralis major (PM), anterior deltoid (AD), and triceps brachii (TB) muscles to determine the effects of PE of the prime movers. Eight healthy athletes, experienced in RT, participated in the study. There were 4 sessions in the experiment. Session 1 was aimed at determination of 1RM during a flat BP. Sessions 2, 3, and 4 consisted of performing a BP after PE of the muscles studied by the incline dumbbell fly, front deltoid raise, and lying triceps extension exercise. Peak concentric TB activation after TB PE (mean ± SD, 147.76 ± 18.6%) was significantly greater by analysis of variance (η = 0.82, F = 5.45, p = 0.004) compared with peak TB activation (114.77 ± 19.4%) before TB PE. The statistical analysis for PM and AD did not show any significant differences. Coaches should not expect the usefulness of PE protocol to elicit higher PM or AD activity or fatigue, but they can use it to increase TB activity before high-intensity BP exercise.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Athletes*
  • Electromyography
  • Fatigue / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Muscle Strength / physiology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Resistance Training
  • Weight Lifting / physiology*