Ever feel your shoulders or triceps during a bench press? Or do you ever think your biceps are the only muscle screaming after a chin-up? Both are classic cases of poor mind-muscle connection and poor muscle fiber recruitment in target muscles.
To fix it, use pre-stimulating isolation movements before compound lifts. These are a great addition to your warm-ups. They improve muscle fiber recruitment of stubborn muscles before you use them with compound exercises.
The goal with these isn't pre-exhaustion. There's no need to tire out a muscle to the point where you can't emphasize it later. Just do 2-3 sets of 10-12 reps purely focused on squeezing the target muscle.
Here are three examples of pairing a pre-stimulation exercise with a compound exercise:
- Do cable flyes (see photo above) before you bench press. The goal: Improve the mind-muscle connection in your pecs instead of allowing the triceps and delts to take over.
- Do 45-degree banded back extension before you squat. The goal is to pump the glutes, hamstrings, and erectors to improve the stability of the knee and enhance the mind-muscle connection in your posterior chain instead of a quad-dominant squat.
- Do straight-arm pulldowns before you do pull-ups. Here's coach Christian Thibaudeau with more details on the exercise:
The goal is to improve the mind-muscle connection and recruitment of the lats, and to a lesser extent, the teres major, rather than your biceps and forearms in pull-ups.