Post-Exhaustion Muscle Building Workouts

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An effective workout routine should give you visibly bigger muscles in four weeks. The more exhausted your muscle fibres are following a session, the more they will recover – and the more they will grow. To exhaust your muscles properly, you need to perform big, multi-joint exercises followed by muscle isolation exercises that focus one final effort on the targeted muscle group.

These three workouts will work and then post-exhaust two different muscle groups in each session. Rest for one minute between sets and three minutes between each exercise, and leave two to three days’ rest between workouts.

If you follow these three workouts, you'll burn calories and maximise muscle growth in your chest, arms, shoulders, back and lower body. Plus by strengthening your muscles you'll help protect your joints. 

Workout A: Chest And Arms

Your chest and arms are the targets of this first post-exhaustion workout.

1 Decline close-grip bench press

Sets 4  Reps 8  

Target: lower chest, triceps

Hold your hands in line with your elbows, which you should keep tucked in at your sides.

2 Incline dumbbell press

Sets 4  Reps

Target: upper chest, triceps 

Pause at the top of the press to control the weight and lower slowly. 

3 Elevated press-up

Sets 4  Reps

Target: chest 

Alternate the elevated side with each set. 

4 Standing reverse curl

Sets 4  Reps

Target: biceps, forearms 

Keep your elbows tucked in to your sides and avoid leaning backwards.

5 Barbell curl

Sets 4  Reps

Target: biceps 

Lower the weight across the whole range of motion before curling up with elbows in to your sides. 

6 Dumbbell single-arm preacher curl

Sets 3  Reps 8 each side

Target: biceps 

Keep your upper arm flush with the bench and lift the weight straight up.

Workout B: Shoulders And Back

Build your shoulders and back with these six moves.

1 Pull-up

Sets 4  Reps

Target: upper back, lats, core

Cross your ankles behind you to stop your legs swinging.

2 Snatch-grip barbell row

Sets 4  Reps

Target: rear shoulders, upper back

Lower your arms all the way down before pulling the bar up to your chest.

3 Single-arm dumbbell row

Sets 3  Reps 8 each side 

Target: lats, rear shoulders 

Keep your lower back unstressed and your torso locked in position. 

4 Dumbbell Cuban press

Sets 4  Reps

Target: shoulder rotators, front and mid shoulders 

Keep your upper arms in line with your shoulders during the rotation. 

5 Neutral-grip dumbbell shoulder press

Sets 4  Reps

Target: front and mid shoulders 

6 Front raise/lateral raise

Sets 3  Reps 8 each side 

Target: front and mid shoulders 

Don’t raise your arms above the line of your shoulders.

Workout C: Abs, Core And Lower Body

Hit everything below the chest with the final moves of this post-exhaustion routine.

1 Romanian deadlift

Sets 4  Reps 8  

Target: hamstrings, glutes, core

Keep the bar in contact with your shins but don’t let the weight touch down between reps.

2 Front squat

Sets 4  Reps

Target: hamstrings, quads, glutes, core 

Balance the bar across the tops of your shoulders and brace your core. 

3 Bulgarian split squat

Sets 3 Reps 8 each side 

Target: hamstrings, quads, glutes, core 

Rest the foot of your non-working leg on the bench behind to deactivate it. 

4 Gym ball jackknife

Sets 4 Reps 8 Target: core, abs 

Brace your abs and bend at the hips as you roll the ball in. 

5 Gym ball dumbbell Russian twist

Sets 4  Reps

Target: side abs, core 

Twist to the right and then to the left to complete a single rep. 

6 Medicine ball curl-up

Sets 4  Reps

Target: abs 

Curl your chest up towards your knees and squeeze your abs at the top.

Nick Hutchings worked for Men’s Fitness UK, which predated, and then shared a website with, Coach. Nick worked as digital editor from 2008 to 2011, head of content until 2014, and finally editor-in-chief until 2015.