Use Pre-Exhaustion Supersets to Get Stronger

These supersets will help you crash through your training plateaus.

One question that strength coaches constantly get asked is: "How do I push through a plateau?"

There are lots of ways to train around your main lifts to increase your size, strength and power to improve your performance.

Westside Barbell has invented the conjugate training method, where the main lifts are rotated in and out so athletes can constantly push themselves and hit new personal bests without risking overtraining injuries. The philosophy with their system is to identify and train the weak points in your kinetic chains. The same philosophy can be applied to pre-exhaustion supersets.

If when performing Pull-Ups, your grip fatigues before your lats, then your back muscles aren't being pushed as hard as they could be. Pre-exhaustion supersets would fix this problem by fatiguing the lats and making sure that both vertical pulling strength and grip strength are both being trained to the same extent. Here is an example of how a pre-exhaustion superset would work for the example above:

  • 1A) Tall Kneeling Straight Arm Cable Pull Down - 3x15
  • 1B) Neutral Grip Pullup - 3xMAX reps

The Cable Pull-Down works the lats but does not tax the grip. Another instance in which using pre-exhaustion supersets is a good idea is when you want to blast one body part. For example, if at the end of a workout you want a crazy biceps pump, performing the following circuit will make sure that happens:

  • 1A) Seated Cable Rows - 3x10
  • 1B) Palms Up Dumbbell Front Raises - 3x10
  • 1C) Dumbbell Bicep Curls - 3z12-15

By the time the Curls come around the biceps will already be tired, making the last set of Curls even tougher. This is a great way to add difficulty to a session or just to keep things interesting.

Below are a few of pre-exhaustion supersets for you to give a try. For all supersets perform 3-4 sets give yourself between 1.5-2min of rest between sets.

Upper-Body Pushing:

  • 1A) Push-Up - 3-4x15-20
  • 1B) Incline Alternating DB Bench Press - 3-4x6 each side

Upper-Body Pulling:

  • 1A) Incline Barbell Row - 3-4x5-6
  • 1B) Incline Dumbbell Row - 3-4x8-10
  • 1C) Band Pull Apart - 3-4x20

Lower Body:

  • 1A) Prone Hamstring Curl - 3-4x10
  • 1B) Barbell Hip Thrust - 3-4x6-8


  • 1A) Sit-Up - 3-4x20
  • 1B) Front Plank - 3-4x30-40 sec.
  • 1C) Sit-Up - 3-4x10

Sit Up