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Priority Training: What Is It?
by Justin Leonard
Written on October 29, 2000

What is priority training and how can I benefit from it?

Priority training is when a weak muscle group is trained with first priority. It's the perfect solution for muscular imbalances, be it either strength or size.

How is it done? You can go about priority training in several ways:

One example of priority training is to train the weakest body part at the beginning of a workout week. For example, most people begin their workout week with a chest routine on Monday.

Some people have skinny leg muscles, which do not match their well-sized upper body. If they train their legs [as opposed to chest] early in the week when energy and motivation levels are high, they can get good results. Another way to prioritize is to train or focus on one particular body part more than others. It's an easy fix.

If you know your legs are lacking, do the same thing you did to get your chest to look the way it does. You may need to train them twice a week or spend more time per workout training them.

What if my arms are big, but my chest is flat? This can also be fixed with priority training, or better yet isolation.

Isolation movements are exercises that specifically work only one muscle at a time. For example, the bench press actually works the chest, back, shoulders, biceps, abs, and triceps. Isolating the chest in this case would be performing dumbbell flies, or using a machine movement that requires squeezing the chest together. Isolation minimizes the use of secondary muscles.

But why do my arms grow and my chest doesn't grow?

What's happening in this case is the triceps are actually sucking up the weight poundage that the chest muscles cannot handle. You may need to lower the weight.

"If you know your legs are lacking, do the same thing you did to get your chest to look the way it does."

- Justin Leonard, ISSA CFT

If you're feeling the burning sensation in the triceps instead of the chest, you definitely need to use less weight. Another way to combat this problem is to pre-exhaust the chest before executing another exercise movement. Pre-exhaustion involves making a particular muscle fatigue so that it gets priority over all other muscles. Since the prioritized muscle is already tired, it will be forced to work harder than the other muscles. In the case of the chest and triceps, pre-exhaustion would allow the chest to burn instead of the triceps.

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