One technique that’s been popular in strength circles for several decades is called “pre-exhaustion” training.
The idea is to pair an isolation move with a compound one for the same muscle group. For example, you might do flys before you bench press, or leg extensions before you squat.
In theory, the strategy allows for more muscle recruitment because supporting muscles no longer serve as limiting factors in an all-out set. Lighter weights must also be used with the compound movements, so injury risk is also reduced.
I think one of the big problems with this method is that it really only works best for very advanced lifters. If you can bench press 600 pounds for example, doing sets of five at 450-500 pounds is just incredibly taxing on the body and joints. Not to mention risky. But for 99% of people who are not lifting THAT much weight in the first place, it actually takes away from your objective, which is to use enough load to actually overload the muscle enough to grow.
For the majority of people who want to get stronger and add muscle, but still go easy on their body, I think there is a better method. It’s called Time-Volume Training.
Time-volume training uses something called training density instead. This method goes easier on your body, but still allows you to use an adequate load to stimulate the muscle.
More on how it all works HERE, but basically, density is a measure of how much work you can do in a certain timeframe. For example, if you bench press 200 lbs twenty times in 10 minutes, that works out to a “density” of 400 pounds per minute. If you can do 25 reps in 10 minutes next workout, that’s a density of 500 pounds per minute.
This increase in density means an increase in total workload, and your body responds to that training stimulus by building MUSCLE.
Check out the details on how it all works and pick up a copy of the program at the link below:
If you are looking to gain muscle and strength while at the same time taking it easy on your body and joints, try Time-Volume training!