Whether you don't have much time, or you just want to challenge yourself, giants sets will be your friend. Just make sure you can handle them!
Giant sets. Even if you don't know what they exactly are, their name is talkative. You'd think it's some kind of madness – and you're pretty much right. This is just one huge set – but not just from one single exercise.
Supersets are well known, so they don't need to be introduced. Tri sets maybe neither. You know, that's when you execute one or two exercises without any rest. One set of a bench press, one set of dumbbell flyes, and then you rest. This is a superset. One set of push, one set of a pullover, one set of flyes, then you rest – this is a tri-set.
It turns out, giant sets are even more advanced than these. When performing a giants set you have to do more than three exercises with the same logic. Let's stick to the chest workout: you perform one set of bench press, followed by a set of incline bench press, one set of pull-overs, one set of dumbbell flyes, then you sit down to take a rest. "Simple" as that.
Of course, you can mix things up with additional tricks. The order of exercises is important as well, for example. You have to anticipate that by the time you reach the end of the giant set, your aerobic performance and level of strength will be decreased brutally. It's worth to select the order of exercises so you don't get short of breath (or strength) by the end – unless your goal is the exact opposite, but more about this later.
Yes, during techniques like this, it's smart to supplement your body with things like Ami-NO Xpress, or a combined EAA product. They help you to be able to keep up with the pace and let's face it, you will need this.
A few examples to understand the logic behind giant sets
We'll show you one example for each muscle group, and explanation too about how can you combine exercises so that you don't become weak in the middle of your giant set.
Pull-ups–straight-arm pulldowns–bent-over rows–narrow-grip pulldowns. Pull-ups take the back and the biceps under heavy tension, but your arms can rest during pulldowns, so you'll be able to do the rows as "freshly" as possible, where your core will be exhausted, but that's not a problem because they can rest during narrow pulldowns. This is a possible example. But if you don't want to row with free weights, then the pullups–hyperextension (arms are resting)–seated machine rows–straight-arm pulldowns (arms are resting again) combination may be a great solution for you. When it comes to back, it's worth to spice things up with exercises that let your biceps rest and you should avoid performing back-to-back exercises that fatigues your core muscles.
During chest workout, you have to pay attention to your triceps, so an incline bench-flyes-bench press-pullovers system may work flawlessly. You may change the order of the two pushing types of movements obviously, they can be done with dumbbells, etc. This system fails if your goal is to work out with smaller weights, but you can read about this more below.
Squats–leg extensions–leg curls–stiff-legged deadlifts. As you can see, the quads and hamstrings receive tension alternatively.
Shoulder presses-side lateral raises-bent over lateral raises-upright rows. Here the pressing movements and the upright rows put your front delts under pressure, that's why we don't do them one after another.
You could do separate giant sets for each muscle group, but since these are relatively small muscles, it's more effective to do it in combination: 2-2 or even 3-3 biceps and triceps exercises alternatively, without rest. For example, barbell curls-close grip bench press-hammer curls-cable pushdowns-Scott curls-dips. If possible, avoid single-arm exercises here. If you really want to destroy your biceps from time to time, try this for a giant set: barbell curls-Scott curls-hammer curls-low pulley cable curls. Version for triceps: close grip bench press-seated triceps extensions-reversed grip triceps pushdowns, dips.
Pre-exhausting giant sets
Based on the pre-exhausting supersets, you can also perform pre-exhausting giant sets. This means that you start the giant set with isolation exercises that exhaust the targeted muscle so you can lift smaller weights during the compound exercises. Of course, it doesn't matter what your first exercise is, giant sets will totally exhaust the targeted muscle fibers, but if you start your giant set with dumbbell flyes at your chest workout, and then you do the pressing movements, your arms won't be the weak point at the second and third giant set. Besides, you can decrease the amount of weight lifted, which is good if you have to train carefully because of your bad shoulders, knees, etc.
A good example for pre-exhausting giant sets is the following combination: dumbbell flyes-pullovers-incline bench presses-bench presses during a chest workout, and a leg extension-leg curl-leg press-squat combo (it hurts to even write about it) at a leg workout.
What can you gain by performing giant sets?
The question of how much weight to use, what is the perfect time under tension during a repetition, what is the optimal training frequency will probably remain to be questions forever. We don't say that giant sets will make you Mr. Olympia. We don't even say that giant sets will make you lean and shredded. But one thing's for sure: giant sets will save you shitloads of time, your workout will be much shorter. Your cardio will also be improved. If you have weak bodyparts due to previous injuries and you need to avoid heavy weights, this technique will solve this problem for you, because you'll be able to brutally stimulate your muscles with lighter loads. And last, but not least, maybe this new challenge, this extra stimulus will get you through the plateau.
All in all, try out giant sets, but beware: this will be tough as hell!
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