Giant Sets are super sets and tri sets weird, misunderstood cousin that no one wants to sit next to at family functions.
But in reality when used properly they can bring a level of results that few other methods can.
If you've been around the gym for a while you've probably done super sets or tri sets at one time or another.
You know, do one exercise for a muscle group then with minimal rest go straight to a second exercise for the same muscle group if you were doing a super set and then if you were doing a tri set you would go to a third exercise for that muscle group. For example.
A1 Bench Press
A2 Low incline dumbbell press
A3 Cable flyes Rest 2 minutes then repeat
Most leave it there. After 2 or 3 exercises have their rest then get ready for the next set and go at it again.
Giant sets are the same except you do more exercises. How many? As many as you can think of or handle. Four or six or even nine for that matter.
Why would you use giant sets?
Giant sets are best used in your programming for hypertrophy, fat loss and muscular endurance. If a client wants to add size and already has solid training experience, technique, and a decent strength base giant sets is a great option to get the job done.
The above is important because when you get into giant sets you are going to be performing exercises under a great deal of fatigue so you need to be able to maintain technique and keep the weight under control to avoid injury. If your technique is lousy when your fresh then it's going to be much worse when you're on your fourth round of a giant set.
Why do giant sets work so well?
If you've been doing straight sets in your last few programs doing giant sets for a training phase or two will be a very different and disrupting stimulus for your body.
Increased Time under tension
A normal set will have the muscle working anywhere from 20 to 60 seconds. A giant set will have the muscle almost continually working for three to six or more minutes.
Increased blood flow, pump and cell swelling
Keeping the muscle working for this long increases blood flow to the muscle dramatically while having the muscle under tension during the set stops blood and waste products like lactate leaving the muscle which increases cell swelling, a known component of hypertrophy
Improved work capacity and muscular endurance
When you first start doing giant sets your going to get gassed from the huge amount of work you do in a short amount of time. On top of this you will be creating plenty of lactate which may make you feel nauseous at first but will quickly subside as your muscular endurance improves.
Huge metabolic effect
These type of sets cause a massive increase in EPOC (excessive post-exercise oxygen consumption) lactate, and other waste products.
Increased training volume
Doing 4+ exercises in a row without rest will likely mean your total reps and tonnage for a given workout will be higher. Total volume is arguably the number one factor in muscle hypertrophy.
Increased training density
Training density simply refers to doing more work in less time pretty self explanatory.
While there a plenty of positives of giant sets there are a couple of drawbacks or times when you wouldn't use giant sets.
1) Your not going to get stronger following this type of training system. But thats not whats its designed for.
2) In your average gym trying to do this kind of workout when its busy can be tough with every mug taking your equipment as you go through your set and rest time.
shameless plug: This is why its great training at a specialised facility such as ours that only does personal training where you can do these kind of workouts with out a problem and have no worry of losing your equipment.
How to set up a giant set training program
First pick your training split anywhere between 3 and 5 training days is going to be best.
A bit of thought needs to go into the setup of the workouts especially the order of the exercises but also the reps, sets and tempo as well.
My preferred way to do it is to go with the most complex, heavily loaded free weight compound movements first. Think Barbell squats, deadlifts, pull-ups and the like. Then you progress to simpler exercises that are not as technically demanding. So finish with exercises like leg press, flyes, seated rows.
With the reps I'll start lower for the earlier exercises and move up to higher reps for the later exercises. Because after each giant set you will be relatively fresh for the first exercise it still allows you to get a bit of heavier loads in the workout for the major lifts.
Generally the first exercises will have a slower tempo of 4 or 5 seconds for the eccentric phase and possibly some pauses as well. The later exercises in the giant set with higher reps will have faster tempos of 2 or 3 seconds for the eccentric phase.
Obviously theres unlimited variation with tempo, pauses and holds but I'm just showing you the basics and an effective way to set it up.
Sets and Rest
Rest between rounds will be anywhere from 2 to 4 minutes. When you first start a giant sets routine rest a little more and as you become more conditioned reduce the rest period. For the amount of giant sets you'll do that will depend on a few things but 3 to 5 sets is where you'll be most of the time.
Full Example workout. Just because we are awesome
Now you should pretty much know how to put a giant set workout together but to make your life easy I'm going to give you guys a full giant set workout that we have used with one of our clients. Along with a video of a leg session from the program so you can see exactly how to execute it and the level of intensity you need to have to get great results.
In this program there is three training days and you'll rotate through the workout every five days. You'll see the ideal set up at the top right of the first picture below.
You'll also notice next to 'notes' that the first time you go through each workout you do 3 giant sets for each body part to allow you to get used to it.
Second time around you'll do the full workload of 4 giant sets
Week 3 you go back to 2 rounds which is a deload week
Finally in week four its back up to 4 giant sets a body part. If you wanted to and were progressing well you could do another 2 weeks of this program before changing it up.
First up here's a video of Ricky going through his 4th giant set for quads. You'll see that to do this workout at this intensity you need someone pushing you through it. Its really fucking hard when done properly.
Here's Ricky on his 4th round of giant sets for quads. As you can see he does six quad exercises in a row with out stopping. Its brutally hard but when done right it can get awesome results.They are one of our go to methods for rapid changes in body composition and hypertrophy. But you can't just slap any old exercises together. There is a few things you need to know to get the most out of them.Check out the blog here where we show you -What giant sets are good for -Why they work so well-How to set up a giant set workout-We even include one of our complete giant set training programs you can download and use today.
Posted by Cosnett Training Systems on Sunday, July 26, 2015