Sunday, January 17, 2021

Giant Sets (1988)

 

 
 
In your quest to develop your ultimate physique, you have no doubt run the gamut of training principles, exercises and routines. In my experience [article "written" by Phil Hill] the best technique for combining maximum mass, the sharpest possible muscularity and a thick network of veins lying over the muscles is giant sets. 
 
There are three main ways in which you can increase training intensity for a particular muscle group:
 
 - increase your poundage for an exercise while keeping reps, sets and rest intervals constant.
 
 - increase repetitions while keeping sets and rest intervals constant.
 
 - reduce reset intervals between sets while keeping the number of sets and reps constant.
 
Most bodybuilders increase intensity by increasing repetitions and poundages. Reps on each set are worked up to an established maximum number; then the weight is increased and reps decreased; only to begin working the reps upward again. In this manner progressive resistance induces the skeletal muscles to continue growing.
 
Prior to peaking, most bodybuilders also increase training intensity by progressively reducing the length of rest intervals between sets, a technique that is usually called quality training. This is where such compounded exercise techniques as supersets, trisets and giant sets come into play. 
 
By doing two or more movements in a series with the minimum possible amount of rest between exercises and then following with a normal rest interval of one to two minutes, the average length of rest intervals between sets is reduced. And this type of workout intensity is one more of the ways to build muscles with a more polished, quality look. 
 
In order to build up to using giant sets - series of 4 to 6 movements done with no rest between exercises - you should first progress through supersets and trisets. Supersets consist of two compounded movements, while trisets involve three. Using these two methods for one or two peaking cycles will condition your mind, muscles and cardio-respiratory system for the use of giant sets. 
 
I do not recommend giant sets to gain mass, because the technique is intended more to increase muscle definition and quality. Giant sets will usually hold your muscle mass - perhaps even increase it a tiny bit - but in most cases what the technique will do is give you deeper separations between the muscle groups and an increase in vascularity. 
 
Working up a ladder of training intensity, four-exercise giant sets for two antagonistic muscle groups [e.g., biceps/triceps] is the least intense, followed by four-movement giant sets for a single body part, five-exercise compounds for two muscle groups, five for one body part, six-movement giant sets for two muscle groups and, finally, six-exercise compounds for a single, large body part.
 
Antagonistic muscles are ones that act against each other, such as the biceps, which bends the arm, and triceps, which straightens it. Other antagonistic muscles are the quadriceps and hamstrings, pectorals and lats, and forearm flexors and extensors. 
 
Following is a four-movement giant set for the antagonistic biceps and triceps that you can give a trial before designing something of your own making.
 
Barbell Curl
to
Lying Triceps Extensios
to
Barbell Concentration Curl
to
Pushdown.
 
Moving up one step on the training intensity ladder, here's a sample four-exercise giant set for a single muscle group, the chest.
 
Incline DB Press
to 
Pec Deck Flye
to
Dips
to
Dumbbell Pullover
 
Following are five-exercise giant sets for both two antagonistic body parts and a single muscle group.
 
Antagonistic:
Chin Behind Neck
to
Decline Press
to
Bentover Row
to
Incline DB Flye
to 
Front Lat Pulldown
 
Single Body Part: 
Dips
to
Incline DB Flye
to 
Close-Grip Bench
to 
Cable Crossover
to 
Pec Deck Flye
 
And finally, here are six-movement giant sets for both two antagonistic body parts and a single muscle group.
 
 
Antagonistic: 
Seated DB Curl
to 
Incline Barbell Triceps Extension
to
Incline DB Curl
to
Two-Arm DB Kickback
to
Cable Preacher Curl
to 
Reverse Grip Pressdown
 
Single Body Part: 
Front Chin
to
T-Bar Row
to 
Stiff-Arm Lat Pulldown
to 
Behind the Neck Pulldown
to 
Machine Row
to
Behind the Neck Barbell Shrug
 
Keep the reps in the 8-10 range.  

Notice how I have picked exercises each giant set to attack different sections of the body part(s) involved in that compound set. In this manner I'm able to work each aspect of a complex muscle group, such as the trapezius, latissimus dorsi, rhomboid and erector spinae sections of the back, with ultimate intensity. 

Progress slowly and surely as your work up to supersets, trisets, four-, five- and six-exercise giant sets. Compound sets severely tax the cardio-respiratory system - to say nothing of the skeletal muscles - and it's important that you gradually condition both your muscles and respiratory endurance before jumping into a full course of six-movement giant sets. 
 
When you work into the slowly and push every giant set to the limit, you'll enter a whole other kind of training experience.
 
Enjoy Your Lifting!  
 
    
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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