Thursday, June 2, 2016

Time-Saving Techniques: The Giant Set

One of the challenges you may run into in your fitness quest is lacking enough time for an effective workout. However, there are various ways and techniques to overcome this challenge. One of these is the Giant Set. Generally for a giant set, you will use three different exercises that emphasize training a particular muscle group from three different angles and three vastly different rep ranges. They are brutally effective for muscle development, and are also useful for lowering body fat and increasing strength, although usually the primary goal is hypertrophy. If I wanted to train my chest with muscular development in mind, my routine might look something like the following;

-Warmup 5-10 minutes (Gradually work up to weights to be used. )
-Giant Set. Barbell Flat Bench (6 reps, use a 3 second count to lower the weight to my chest) superset with Incline Dumbbell Press (10 reps, use a 5 second count to lower the weight to your chest) and cable flies. (20 reps, pump them out.) Rest 2-3 minutes in between sets. No rest between exercises.
-3-5 sets of this and your chest should be smoked. One great thing about this training method is you can get a lot done in a small amount of time. (3 sets would give you 9 total sets from 3 different angles and rep ranges for your chest in about 20-25 minutes counting your warmup. With 5 sets, 15 total sets for your chest in 30-40 minutes). You are also getting a longer time under tension for the target muscle group(s), which is important for muscular development.
-Since they are so hard and so different, giant sets can be a great plateau buster. A way you can use this technique to increase strength would be to start your first exercise in the 1-5 rep range, and then increase the muscles' time under tension with two additional exercises. You can make the next two exercises more strength/ power focused ( paused reps or plyo metrics, for example), or keep them in higher rep ranges. Both will work. Any type of increase, especially in the first set over time ( Say going from 300 lb for 2 reps to 4) will result in a strength increase. One of my favorites for legs that has helped me with squatting strength would look like this;
-Normal warmup
-Barbell squats (3 seconds to lower weight to the bottom squat position. 1 second pause before driving the weight back to the standing position. 3 reps). Superset with 45 degree angle leg press (15 reps) and leg extensions (30) reps. 3 sets. 2 minutes rest between sets.
-Giant sets can also be helpful if you are lacking enough weight to make a workout effective. For example, if all I have are two 20 lb Dumbbells, and I want to train my biceps, but I ideally need 35 lb-70 lb dumbbells, I can use a giant set to make the workout more challenging, and long eccentrics/ shorter rest periods if it's still too easy. A possible giant set for the biceps in this situation would be;
-Standing dumbbell curls. 10 reps, using a 10 second count to lower the weight to the starting position. Superset with spider curls ( 15 reps using a 5 count to lower the weight) and hammer curls ( Burn out, as many reps as possible).

These are just examples. Don't be afraid to get creative based on your needs. I don't know if I would train this way all the time, but for at least a training cycle it can be very beneficial. When life gets busy, the giant set can be your best friend.

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