The pre-ex­haust train­ing sys­tem

The Herald (Zimbabwe) - - Fitness - In­no­cent Choga Fit­ness ◆ Email: in­no­cent­f­

(Part 2)

ATH­LETES cross train with weights as a way of con­di­tion­ing their physiques. They do this as a way of avoid­ing in­juries or mit­i­gat­ing the ex­tent of dam­age and aid­ing speedy re­cov­ery should they get in­jured. Ath­letes also ex­er­cise with weights a way of aid­ing per­for­mance by gain­ing fit­ness com­po­nents like flex­i­bil­ity, strength and power. Al­though tech­nique is the most im­por­tant thing in the ex­e­cu­tion of moves in all sports, some sports also heav­ily rely on strength.

Body-builders build and shape their physiques with lean mus­cle pro­por­tion­ately and sym­met­ri­cally dis­trib­uted us­ing strength ex­er­cises.

Power lifters strive to lift heavy weights in three lifts namely the squat, bench press and dead lifts. These are com­pound ex­er­cises that in­volve sev­eral mus­cle groups.

These ath­letes rely on to­tal body strength, they have to do strength ex­er­cises for the whole body and they can­not af­ford to have any weak ar­eas.

The same ap­plies to weightlifters who have to ex­e­cute dif­fer­ent lifts with heavy weights. These are not the only ath­letes who rely on strength, though. Strength is usu­ally rel­a­tive to mus­cle size, and the growth of mus­cle comes as a re­sult of max­i­mum stim­u­la­tion and in­ner­va­tions (re­gen­er­a­tion) of mus­cle fi­bres. There­fore, ad­vanced ath­letes strive to reach what is called a point of fail­ure in ev­ery ex­er­cise they en­gage in dur­ing train­ing.

This is a zone that is as­so­ci­ated with pain be­cause max­i­mum mus­cle fi­bres will have been stim­u­lated to the limit.

Ex­cru­ci­at­ing pain means you have man­aged to ex­haust a large per­cent of the fi­bres in the tar­geted mus­cle group.

Se­ri­ous weight train­ing ath­letes love this pain and they en­joy shout­ing out en­cour­ag­ing max­ims like ‘No pain, no gain.’

They grunt, they groan, they wince in re­ac­tion to the pain and in cel­e­bra­tion of a suc­cess­ful ex­e­cu­tion of the ex­er­cise. This pain her­alds the growth of mus­cle plus the strength that comes with it. This max­i­mum stim­u­la­tion of mus­cle fi­bres is reached by ex­er­cis­ing us­ing high rep­e­ti­tions or heavy weights.

The logic be­hind the pre-ex­haust sys­tem arises from the fact that, apart from the strong will and the abil­ity to with­stand the pain, there are fac­tors that can make the tar­geted stronger mus­cles fail to reach this point of fail­ure.

Be­cause com­pound ex­er­cises in­volve two or more mus­cle groups, the point of fail­ure can be pre­ma­turely reached when the weak­est mus­cle group within the chain of per­form­ing mus­cles is fa­tigued and can no longer work. This hap­pens while the tar­geted stronger mus­cles have not been worked to their max­i­mum ca­pac­ity.

The weak link can be nat­u­rally weak mus­cles or joints. This weak- ness can be due to a nat­u­ral small bone struc­ture or in­juries. These weak links will pro­hibit the use of heavy­weights and high rep­e­ti­tions for max­i­mum stim­u­la­tion. In such in­stances the pre-ex­haust train­ing pro­gram will help.

The squat ex­er­cise pro­vides a good ex­am­ple of the ap­pli­ca­tion of the pre-ex­haust sys­tem. Be­cause the squat pro­vides max­i­mum ben­e­fits for thighs, it is a must-do ex­er­cise for body-builders weightlifters and power lifters. It is then quite com­mon to see small boned ath­letes forc­ing them­selves to squat with very heavy weights try­ing to match their big boned ri­vals. They feel they will miss out and they force mat­ters but the re­sult can be per­ma­nent in­juries. Aged ath­letes may still want to train heavy as they used to, they fail to com­pre­hend that their phys­i­ol­ogy is chang­ing as they age.

These in­di­vid­u­als need to take the dif­fer­ences in phys­i­ol­ogy into con­sid­er­a­tion and they need to ap­ply al­ter­na­tive strate­gic prin­ci­ples.

In the squat the chain of mus­cles in­volved in­clude the lower back , the glu­teus max­ims ,the hip flex­ors the front thighs (in­ner, outer, up­per. lower) and the ham­strings (the two leg bi­ceps and) ,the knees’ joints ,and the bal­anc­ing feet.

Usu­ally the knees can be a weak link and the sup­port­ing mus­cles of the lower back can also be weak link. The feet also need to be planted on the ground firmly while you squat with the heavy weights. Per­son­ally, I pre­fer to use the old sys­tem of stand­ing on a plank. I find this is good for bal­ance and main­tain­ing good pos­ture dur­ing ex­er­cise ex­e­cu­tion.

With such lim­i­ta­tions for ex­am­ple it is nec­es­sary to start thigh work , firstly by ex­er­cis­ing with di­rect , iso­la­tion ex­er­cises on the tar­geted big ham­strings and the big front thighs, thor­oughly ex­haust- ing them be­fore em­bark­ing on the com­pound ex­er­cise, squats.

You can do all the di­rect ex­er­cises for the big ham­strings.

Af­ter ex­haust­ing the ham­strings you start the front thigh work­out with the leg ex­ten­sion ex­er­cise, which is an iso­la­tion ex­er­cise that iso­lates the front thigh and works the area just above the knees.

This ex­er­cise is also used for knee re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion. Start­ing with this ex­er­cise pre-ex­hausts the front thigh area, thor­oughly warm­ing the knees up and al­low­ing you to squat, some­thing you would not be able to do with cold knees.

By the time you en­gage in the squat there is no dan­ger of get­ting knee in­juries .Even if a knee is in­jured you might be able to train through the in­jury.

Be­cause the tar­geted big strong mus­cles (thighs) are al­ready ex­hausted there is no need to use su­per heavy weights and the rop­ing in of the rest of the fresh mus­cle like the back and the hip flex­ors on squats will as­sist in lift­ing rea­son­able weights that will thor­oughly stim­u­late the ex­hausted tar­geted strong mus­cles with­out stress­ing the vul­ner­a­ble and weak ar­eas through the use of heavy weights.

The al­ready ex­hausted strong mus­cles will tire out at the same time as the weak mus­cles.

Early fa­tigue of the weak mus­cle lim­its the max­i­mum use of stronger mus­cle; thus we can say the chain is as strong as its weak­est link.

This week we dis­cussed how we can use the pre-ex­haust sys­tem to ex­er­cise around weak ar­eas. Next week we will con­clude the is­sue by dis­cussing how we can use the pre-ex­haust to strengthen weak ar­eas.

In­no­cent Choga is a six time Na­tional Body­build­ing Cham­pion with in­ter­na­tional ex­pe­ri­ence. He is study­ing for a sci­ence de­gree in Phys­i­cal Ed­u­ca­tion and Sport

Ath­letes also ex­er­cise with weights a way of aid­ing per­for­mance

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