The Pre-Exhaust Principle

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The Pre-Exhaust Principle Empty The Pre-Exhaust Principle

Post  Fitness Scientist on Sun Jun 13, 2010 2:08 pm

The Pre-Exhaust Principle

By Fitness Scientist
From: The Fitness Instructor Manual

The pre-exhaust principle may be valid, when considered as a means of increasing fitness. In a commercial exercise center or physical therapy facility, strict adherence to the principle may create some problems.

We do not strictly believe the pre-exhaust is valid for various reasons; however, because some believe it is valid and uses it in all exercise programs, we'll outline the proper procedure, as we understand it.

Pre-exhaust Principle Defined

Proper performance of the pre-exhaust principle requires moving from one exercise to another in less than three seconds. Some claim, deviation from this basic requirement will not produce maximum result.

Pre-Exhaust requires a single joint exercise be performed first and immediately followed by a compound exercise (and exercise that involves more than one joint). An example being, a set of leg extensions, followed by a set of squats or leg presses.

If maximum results are not achieved, many members mistakenly blame it on either: high-tech equipment or the therapist's knowledge or, more precisely, the therapist's lack of knowledge. Therefore, if it is allowed in your facility, insist on proper performance .

For many members, proper performance will be a difficult task. Especially those with injuries.

Some will not be strong enough physically or mentally, to perform, what amounts to as two different exercises, within seconds of each other. In any case, keep control of the situation and design a program accordingly.

Lack of Progress Confusion

If one equates progress with using heavier resistance, progress will appear to be stymied. It will be difficult to use the resistance one expects, if one moves from one exercise to the next in less than three seconds.

A typical ploy, used by those concerned with heavy resistance, is to stall for time and rest between exercises. As an example: While using the Nautilus (or similar) double chest machine, they will perform the arm cross (flying motion).

Then, get off the machine, walk around to the weight stack, change the resistance, get back on the machine, look in the mirror for a while, brush their hair out of their eyes and finally get on with the decline press.

This approach wastes the time of everyone in the facility. If you've ever worked in a facility where this happens, you understand how other clients get annoyed, as they wait in line for the machine.

Other-specifically those who equate the decline press (actually a bench press) with some mystical sense of manhood--will perform the exercises on the double chest machine in reverse. First, they will do the decline press, because this allows them to use more resistance. Then after a rest, they will change the resistance and do the arm cross.

When questioned about it, the only defense offered is "I like doing it that way." Should client's be allowed to establish their own criteria for a workout, or is that therapist's job? We believe it is the therapist's job and responsibility.

It Is Not Mandatory

The pre-exhaust principle is not mandatory in any commercial facility, no matter how hard an equipment manufacturer claims it is. It should only be allowed if is followed correctly. It is our recommendation to create a fitness and/or a physical therapy program without including the pre-exhaust principle.

Elimination of the pre-exhaust principle will improve the traffic flow and the health and fitness results for most members.

Allow One Exercise Per Machine

Discontinue using it, if client's cannot follow the rules. Restrict the workout to only one exercise per machine. By restricting programs to only one exercise per compound machine, it is possible to mix and match the exercise program, allowing more variety.

There are many possible combinations. Think about it, and I am sure you can create programs that will benefit client's.


Boredom is a consideration when designing an exercise program. Physiologically, there may be no need to vary an exercise program.

It is possible to follow the same program year after year and to continue to progress in fitness levels by periodically increasing the intensity of the program. Psychologically there may be a need to add variety to a workout program.
Members tend to become bored after six to eight weeks. Then a request to change the program becomes a common occurrence.

If the request to change a program is not honored, members will lose their interest and enthusiasm. There are several ways to change a program. If your facility is very well equipped, it is a simple matter of allowing the member to add new exercises or machines while eliminating other machines.

If New Exercises Are Added, Discontinue Some Previous Exercises

Many times, left alone to design a program, a client does not eliminate previously recommended exercises, when new ones are introduced. Pay close attention and do not allow them to do more than your philosophy of exercise recommends.

For each new exercise subtract added to the program. If your facility is equipped with a limited complement of equipment, variety within the program becomes difficult. There are several ways of adding variety.

Change The Flow

Pick a day of the week and change the flow of exercises. This can be done in any order, depending on the equipment available.As long as you keep everyone following the same order, no problems will result. You could number the machines so that everyone knows which direction to go

The only problem that will arise, and it is a positive one, is that members will perform more repetitions on most machines because they are doing a different cycle.

As long as the workout is recorded properly on a workout card, everything works out O.K., you will be able to compare progress by using the methods we recommend in this book.

An Example: Allow Only One Movement Per Machine

Instead of following the pre-exhaust principle on compound machines (double chest, double shoulder, for example), allow only one exercise per machine. This permits several variables, depending on which compound machines are available in the facility.

Client's should not be allowed to design their own program. Someone on staff should always be consulted before a change.

The Waiting Line

There is one major problem faced by both fitness centers and physical therapy facilities. The problem is that of the waiting line. It can occur if someone does not follow sequence recommended by the staff.

Most of us have come across the following: everything is running smoothly until the rush hours start. All of a sudden, three or four people walk in together (without an appointment or earlier than expected), they change into exercise clothes, and appear, ready to begin the program. .

If this happens in a fitness center, the client's may complain, that you sold a membership, from the point of view that, it only takes thirty minutes to complete a workout and now they must waste time standing around.

One solution is more equipment. You might consider adding equipment. This, of course, is a major decision. It is a personal choice and one we cannot help with because of the many variables.


Within a fitness center or therapy facility, scheduling appointments can be very rewarding. It allows you to set your own pace, and will eliminate waiting lines.

There are two major drawbacks. You must be careful not to book appointments close together. This would cause one appointment time to run into the other. This creates problems since the basis of the appointment are for everyone to have a reserved time, free of distractions.

When following an appointment schedule, you are forced to work with fewer people, than if one allowed client's to supervise themselves. This is best offset with a fee increase. Because you will be giving personal attention, fitness center members will not complain.

Appointments are a major advantage, both in a fitness center and a physical therapy clinic. This is one area where therapy clinics have an advantage over fitness centers.

It's true that most therapy clinics supervise less total people in a day than most fitness centers; however, the price differential on a client to client basis is astronomical. That is why we strongly recommend to fitness professionals that they get into the therapy field.
Generally, boredom, waiting lines, sequence of exercise, pre-exhaust principles etc., are not management problems, in a physical therapy clinic.

Using Video As A Tool

Another choice would be to allow those waiting to view educational videos. An "Educational Area," where those interested in learning more about the problems associated with injuries, unhealthy diets or lack of proper exercise, can view videos relating to subjects of interest.

This is one approach not capitalized on by either fitness professional's or physical therapist's.

The term "pre-exhaust," became popular in the 1970's and 1980's, and 90's is seemingly a concept contradiction. All muscle contractions, before exhaustion, are pre-exhaust movements. If one muscle group within a group fatigues, it is not carried "beyond failure," with the aid of other contracting muscles. The fatigue muscles are taken along for the ride, as other groups continue to maximally contract.

One of my goals on this site is to show data, established by a great mentor of mine, Professor Stanley Plagenhoef (who worked behind the scenes) in Lake Helen, FL., at Nautilus Headquarters.

If one muscle group fails, others may compensate; in effect carrying a percentage of the load for the fatigued group. And thereby not really carrying a muscle group beyond failure in the strictest sense of the word.

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Fitness Scientist

Posts : 57
Join date : 2010-04-26
Age : 82
Location : Lake Mary, Florida . . . . . .www.bodbuildinghighintens

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The Pre-Exhaust Principle Empty Re: The Pre-Exhaust Principle

Post  AceHIT on Sun Jun 13, 2010 4:51 pm

A diamond mine of information!

Thanks Mr Mullen!

Guys, are you paying heed?!!!

So much to learn and absorb.

Just the information here makes this forum the best on HIT.


Posts : 31
Join date : 2010-04-15

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